Custom beauty? You have probably heard this term recently, with the launch of multiple custom skincare lines. Fresh off the press for us at Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals though, is our new division of Custom Cosmeceutical Makeup. Read on in the first of a 2-part interview with our founder, accredited dermatologist Dr. Teo Wan Lin
What is the Pi-π Cosmeceutical Custom Makeup Lab about?
ThePi- π Cosmeceutical Custom Makeup Lab offers scientifically created skin-tone matched cosmeceutical makeup, including colour correction concealers, as an extension of my established skincare arm, Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals. Our Flagship offering includes an in-house Dr.TWL Lip Lab which features a 100% edible, anti-ageing cosmeceutical, the LipSerum Stick™, which is a solid state lipstick customised to any shade you want! Our advanced colour science system recommends different shades of each color- pinks, berrys, reds, nudes and corals that would uniquely flatter different skin tones.
Why does makeup— including concealers, foundations, lipsticks— need to be customised? Why not a generic “works for all” product, like most mass produced brands?
Why a generic “works for all” product is not ideal for makeup is because of the variety and uniqueness of skin tones. Every individual’s skin tones is different—based on our scientific database, we have on record at least 100 shades of distinct skin tones, whereas most makeup brands have at most 6 or 7 colour shades for foundations and concealers. This variation in skin tones translates into different shades of each lipstick colour that would work ideally for each individual.
What are the advantages of the LipSerum Stick, compared to store bought lipsticks, other than the fact it can be customised to any colour?
Store bought lipsticks cause allergies in individuals with existing lip conditions like eczema and cheilitis. The lips are also one of the first areas to suffer ageing related concerns such as lip discolouration, wrinkles and loss of volume. I then came up with the idea of a topically applied lip cosmeceutical serum with anti-ageing salmon roe DNA, which is also suitable for eczema sufferers, that could also be customised with your favourite lip pigment.
What are the limitations of traditional lipstick selections?
Lipstick brands have a limited selection of colours. Everyone has a favourite colour for a different mood—pinks, berrys, reds, nudes and corals— but did you know that different shades of each can be created to flatter different skin tones? We worked with veteran makeup artists and scientist to create the Dr.TWL Advanced Colour Science System to recommend the perfect lip colour match for each skin tone, whether you want it classic, sweet, sexy or nude.
What’s so unique about this custom makeup lab? Is it just custom blend makeup?
It’s the first dermatologist-led custom makeup laboratory in the world which fuses both skincare and makeup, via the use of cosmeceutical bases and unlimited variations of colours for foundations, concealers, colour correctors to match every skin tone, via our Advanced Colour Science System developed by our team of scientists, in consultation with veteran makeup artists. It’s not just custom blended for you, it’s cosmeceutical base is adjusted to target underlying skin conditions such as pigmentation, blemishes and ageing.
What was your inspiration for the Custom Cosmeceutical Makeup Lab?
My patients who I treat for a variety of skin conditions such as acne, pigmentation, rosacea, eczema and sensitive skin. There is a lack of sensitive-skin compatible makeup for these patients who need coverage and camouflage during the skin healing process. Besides, Singapore has a diverse ethnic mix which includes darker skin tones that many makeup brands do not cater for. I treat a lot of darker skin toned patients in my practice who cannot find their perfect foundation/concealer match.
What were some of the problems with the mass market makeup products that you faced?
Previously, I would recommend patients with sensitive skin/eczema issues to use pure mineral makeup, which has the lowest risk for causing skin irritation and allergies, as pure mineral pigments are chemically stable/inert with no reactions. However, I soon realised that the these commercial brands also had additives such as bismuth oxychloride and talc which function as bulking agents, and these were irritating to skin, with some even reporting that they felt the texture was that of “cut glass”!
Skin irritation? Breakouts? Allergies? Think it may be due to bad diet and unhealthy lifestyle? Or maybe because of your dirty beddings or perhaps pollution? All of that may be possible contributors to your unlikely skin concerns but have you ever wondered that maybe the problem could be in the makeup that you use?
Makeup is all fun and games until you learn about the risk it comes with using them. If using makeup products is part of your daily routine, then it is important to know about what you put on your skin! Did you know that the average woman ingests about 6 tons of lipstick in her lifetime? You may not notice because you don’t literally eat your lipstick, but every time lipstick gets unto your teeth, or whenever it transfers on to your food when you eat, the main thing is it’s now down your tummy! So before anything else, it’s now time to question on whether or not the products that you use are safe for you.
You may be reading the ingredient list of your makeup products but do you think that’s all it is? Some companies hide “certain substances” or mask it under deceptive titles. Others may have listed them, but what’s lacking is that there is not enough information on the potential harm it may cause for their consumers.
Certain ingredients used in the production of makeup and cosmetics can cause more harm than benefits and these can cause problems that may put your health at serious risk. Issues related to the use of products with these harmful ingredients may associate with skin allergies, cancer, weakened immunity, and more.
“For patients who suffer from sensitive skin and allergies, it’s often a vicious cycle with makeup products which are used for concealing the skin imperfections, and the same preservatives and ingredients in these products cause an exacerbation of the underlying skin condition,” says accredited dermatologist Dr. Teo Wan Lin.
How about for those without skin problems? Dr. Teo says, “Makeup is in direct contact with skin, and as skincare can deliver benefits to skin via topical absorption, makeup can also be used as a means to improve the health of the skin when it is incorporated with cosmeceutical active ingredients as an anti-ageing formula— while at the same time offering concealing of imperfections, which can improve individuals’ self-esteem. For products applied to mucosal areas such as the eyes and lips, it’s worthwhile to switch to pure mineral colorants in cosmeceutical bases because these are sensitive areas that are prone to irritation, and have thinner skin that will cause any harmful substances to be directly absorbed.”
We have listed down below the Top 5 harmful chemicals that are used in the production, preservation, and manufacturing of makeup products that you may be using everyday. Guess what, these ingredients don’t have to be present in your makeup— if you switch to mineral makeup for the eyes and lips!
This chemical is most commonly found in perfumes, colour cosmetics, nail polish, and hair care products. Phthalates are linked to endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and cancer. Phthalates may be labeled as phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and “fragrance”. Some companies intentionally exclude this on their ingredients list. Products that list “fragrance” on the label should be avoided to prevent possible exposure to phthalates.
Paraben…paraben… One of the most famous ingredients for makeup. Though you may not know much about this chemical, you’ve probably heard about this already because you may have previously encountered the term “paraben-free” on some beauty products and wonder what does it mean. Parabens are preservatives used in a wide variety of personal care products and foods to prevent the growth of microbes. Parabens are not water soluble and can penetrate the skin. As a result, repeated application of a product or multiple products containing parabens could mean almost continuous exposure. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals can be absorbed through skin, blood and the digestive system.
Effect of Paraben: causes endocrine dysfunction, interferes with male reproductive functions, and can lead to rapid skin ageing and DNA damage.
Paraben may be labeled as ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, and other ingredients ending in –paraben.
Lead has continuously been a very controversial component of lipstick. But did you know that it is often used in makeup foundation and whitening toothpaste as well? High levels of lead may pose a very serious risk on our health and studies have shown that there is no safe amount of lead exposure as though even at small amounts, lead can be very dangerous. Medical experts are clear that any level of lead exposure is unhealthy. The FDA or Food and Drug Administration has been determined to limit the usage of lead in lipstick and in a variety of other cosmetics. Read here.
Exposure to lead has been linked to a host of health concerns:
Neurotoxicity: It has been linked to learning, language and behavioral problems.
Reduced fertility in both men and women
Hormonal changes and menstrual irregularities
Delayed onset of puberty in girls and development of testes in boys.
Talc is used as an ingredient in face powders, blush, and eyeshadows. The incorporation of asbestos in talc is due to poor regulations involving cosmetic-grade talc, which is also known as talcum powder. Talc and asbestos are minerals that form together. That means talc mined for commercial uses can be contaminated with asbestos — a known cause of lung cancer and mesothelioma. Before purchasing any product that has talc, make sure it is labeled as asbestos-free. Health concerns of asbestos may include skin irritation, cancer, organ system toxicity.
Mainly used for preservation of our beauty products and personal care products such as moisturizer, lip products, hair products, makeup, sunscreen, antiperspirant/deodorant, fragrance, creams. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are chemicals are linked to several health concerns including endocrine disruption and organ-system toxicity.
Don’t get fooled by this because butylated compounds are also used as preservatives in food like meats, sausage, poultry, baked goods, beer, etc.
We have no control over the ingredients or manufacturing of the mass market makeup available in the market, but is that where custom blend mineral makeup can perhaps fill a need? “Custom blend mineral makeup has its advantages especially for eye and lip makeup because pure minerals are utilised. The eyelid and lip area are high-risk locations and naturally have thinner and more sensitive type of skin—known as mucosal skin. “ says Dr. Teo, who remarks that she has been seeing an increasing number of patients in her practice with eyelid and lip eczema, often triggered by makeup products such as mascara, eyelash extensions and lipsticks.
Especially if the sources are clearly labelled and audited, the risk of manufacturing contamination for sensitive products such as lipsticks and eye shadows, which is of the highest concerns to regulatory authorities like the FDA and HSA as well, due to the risk of ingestion and absorption, is eliminated. “When produced in smaller batches, custom blended mineral makeup is preservative free and avoids the problems of lead contamination in mass market manufacturing, which is important in lip products because of the lead content which is inevitably ingested.” Dr. Teo says.
How does one avoid getting these toxic chemicals incorporated into your daily routine? Also, isn’t it time that skincare is infused into makeup, since both are applied for long hours on the skin? Head over here to get your hands on cosmeceutical make-up.
Dr. TWL Dream Concealer™
100% Mineral Pigments Without Bulking Agents
FDA Eye/Lip Approved
LARECEA™ Extract [Regeneration]
PEACH Covers dark circles on light skin
ORANGECancels dark circles brown spots on medium to deep skin
PALE PURPLEConceal brown spots on light skin dullness
PURPLE Brightens/Neutralizes dull yellow on medium skin
PINKBrightens/Neutralizes dull yellow on light skin
BLUE Neutralizes sallowness & hyperpigmentation on fair skin
Does makeup cause acne? The straightforward answer is no. However, certain ingredients in cosmetics can aggravate acne. We explain how and which products to avoid below.
How do cosmetics aggravate acne?
The two major causes of acne are genetics and a bacterium called Proprionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). Neither of these originate from makeup.
However, several substances in your makeup can be comedogenic or acnegenic, both of which can cause skin irritations that aggravate the acne condition.
Comedogenic substances cause comedones.
Comedones are small bumps that arise when pores get blocked by excessive sebum and dead skin debris. Closed comedones, or whiteheads, have a cover of skin cells that prevent oxidation. Open comedones, or blackheads, are exposed to the environment which causes the sebum to oxidate and turn black.
Comedogenic products trigger a disorder in the cells lining the pores. The normal process of cells shedding is interrupted by an excess of keratin. This causes dead skin cells and sebum to stick together and cause blockage.
Acnegenic products cause inflammation of hair follicles which leads to the formation of papules or pustules. Papules are small reddish raised bumps on the skin. They are often painful and hard when you touch them. Pustules are swollen and resemble blisters with a yellowish pus.
How to choose the right cosmetic product?
When choosing your cosmetic products, look for non-acnegenic and non-comedogenic labels. The former is less common than the latter.
The absence of a label does not mean a product is acnegenic or comedogenic though so look next to the ingredients.
Potentially comedogenic substances include cocoa butter, corn oil, lanolin, oleic acid, olive oil, paraffin, peanut oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, sodium lauryl sulfate, stearic acid and stearyl alcohol. Potentially acnegenic substances include fragrances, harsh chemicals and alcohols.
However, this list should also not be blindly followed. In any cosmetic formulation, it is likely that the substance that may be comedogenic or acnegenic in raw form is present in much lesser concentrations. Certain individuals are also more prone to comedone formation than others so some users can use a moisturizer formulated with cocoa butter without difficulty while others cannot.
As a result, the only way to know for certain if a cosmetic product is going to irritate your skin is to try it and observe what happens. If a breakout is due to cosmetics, it typically occurs 48 hours after application. Such breakouts usually disappear quickly after application is discontinued. In comparison, the development of acne takes about 2 to 4 weeks.
If breakouts continue even after discontinuing a product’s use, switch to dermatologist-recommended products or visit a dermatologist.
Are your makeup brushes clean?
If you find you’re having consistent reactions to cosmetics, the culprit may be your dirty makeup brushes. These applicators can provide the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive and cause an infection called gram-negative folliculitis. Gram-negative folliculitis causes pustules.
To avoid this, clean your makeup applicators weekly to remove bacteria, dead skin cells and sebum. Also, do not share your makeup brushes.
Keep your face clean and clear
To minimize breakouts and skin irritations, put greater care into removing makeup thoroughly. Use a gentle cleanser, preferably one that is formulated for acne-prone skin like Miel Honey™ Cleanser. A skincare regime for acne-prone skin should also include antioxidants, such as VITA C GOLD™ Serum. Antioxidants help to reduce oxidation of sebum, thus reducing the inflammation that can lead to acne.