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Transdermal drug delivery: the forefront of smart skincare

December 14, 2019

skincare, smart skincare, transdermal

Dr. Teo Wan Lin is an accredited dermatologist and an expert on cosmeceutical skincare research and development. She is the author of “Skincare Bible – Dermatologist’s Tips for Cosmeceutical Skincare” which was published July 2019 by leading bookstores Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor and Apple Books and available in bookstores islandwide from January 2020. She heads up the Pi- Cosmeceutical Custom Makeup Lab and the Conscious Mask Bar.



Is masking actually more effective than simply applying a thick layer of moisturiser? While both moisturisers and overnight masks are formulated with leave-in ingredients rather than those that require you to rinse off, such as cleansers or exfoliators, overnight masks encourage the user to distribute a liberal amount of product onto the skin, whereas people often skimp on the moisturiser. In her book, The Skincare Bible, dermatologist Dr Teo Wan Lin writes that the efficacy of masks all depends on the concentration, type, preservative and vehicle of the active ingredients. When selecting a mask to deliver moisture, Dr. Teo suggests looking out for glycerin, ceramide, plant-derived antioxidants and hyaluronic acid 

Dr. Teo never recommends clay or astringent masks to anyone – even those with super oily skin – “it may give the feeling of your skin being clean but first of all, it will never cure the problem of acne or oily skin because it is the underlying inflammation that needs to be stopped in acne. Astringents such as salicylic acid, alcohol – which are present in these clay masks – and even calamine, which is a natural mineral that absorbs moisture and oil, will only temporarily give you a squeaky clean feeling. Subsequently [using these masks] can lead to, number one, skin irritation in the form of eczema, or even cause a condition called Reactive Seborrhea whereby you produce even more oil because your skin is feeling dehydrated, so this is a paradoxical reaction.” In Dr. Teo’s opinion, the most helpful mask for skin would be “one that delivers moisture as well as active cosmeceutical ingredients.” With these moisturising masks, there are no issues with leaving them on for longer than the recommended amount of time. Says Dr. Teo, “when I say to leave it on for a minimum of 15-30 minutes it’s really because of the principle of wet wrap. When your skin is in contact with a damp surface, whatever is on the skin will also be absorbed much easier.” 

It can be frustrating to try a multitude of different products – all of which don’t achieve anything beyond superficial results. Sometimes it isn’t the product, but the delivery method. Due to the impervious nature of the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the skin, applying topical formulations is not enough to create lasting results due to the inability for topicals to penetrate past the first few layers of the skin. This isn’t to say that all topical formulations are useless in skincare, but their limitations are often overlooked. Some of these shortcomings can be solved by using transdermal drug delivery to administer the product.   

When it comes to allowing active ingredients to pass through the stratum corneum and penetrate deeper layers to optimise the effectiveness of cosmeceuticals, transdermal drug delivery is at the forefront of “smart skincare”.  Some things to consider when selecting the appropriate polymeric materials for a transdermal delivery system are: bio and chemical compatibility with the drug, shelf life and effectiveness of delivery. By selecting the appropriate material, the active ingredient is able to diffuse through the membrane at a set rate – a rate controlled by the composition and thickness of the membrane (Kandavilli, Nair, Panchagnula). 

transdermal, skincare, smart skincare, mask

QRASER™ Transdermal absorption patch

While developing the QRASER™ Transdermal Absorption Patch, Dr. Teo and lead chemical engineer Mr. Teo Zhi Liang sought to optimise the delivery and absorption of cosmeceuticals so users could maximise the effects of topical formulations. The QRASER™ Transdermal Absorption Patch, part of the Dr. TWL Biomaterials range, enables cosmeceuticals to penetrate past the first few layers of the skin and allows bio-active ingredients to be released at a consistent rate. It uses polymer technology to create a microenvironment that imitates the skin’s natural hydration state, thus allowing cosmeceuticals to pass through the often impervious barrier. QRASER™ Polymer Patch employs a matrix system of transdermal delivery consisting of two polymeric layers: a backing that prevents the loss of active ingredients and a layer that doubles as an adhesive and rate-controlling membrane. By using this transdermal drug delivery system, the cosmeceutical is able to enter the microenvironment and target fibroblasts, the cells responsible for healing wounds. Pair it with Vita C Gold™ Serum, Elixir-V™ Recovery SerumRadiance Fluide™ Sleeping Mask for optimal results. In addition to enhancing the absorption of cosmeceuticals, QRASER™ Polymer Patch can also be used alone. The product encourages collagen production and speeds up the skin’s recovery process. The increase in healthy collagen reduces fine lines and wrinkles, thus creating an “anti-aging” effect.  

The QRASER™ Transdermal Absorption Patch is available in five unique cuts to cater to individual concerns: Smile Lines,  Eye bags/Undereye wrinkles, Crow’s Feet, frown lines or a custom cut

MoistureMax™ Skin healing polysaccharide facial mask

The MoistureMax™ Skin-Healing polysaccharide facial mask was developed by the Dr. TWL Biomaterials research team. Created in an ISO certified biotechnology laboratory, the mask employs a patent pending skin biocompatible polysaccharide membrane technology. At the Dr.TWL Mask Bar, counterpart to the popular Dr.TWL Lip Lab, patients can have masks cut to fit their unique facial contours and work with experts to create customised cosmeceutical treatment vials to be used in conjunction with the mask sheets. The mask’s porous structure allows for the delayed release of cosmeceuticals overnight by storing the active ingredients in mini-reservoirs within the mask. The mask is suitable for sensitive skin, including those with Eczema and Rosacea, and despite it being a 100% preservative, additive and chemical free product, the mask can be reused up to five times when stored under proper conditions. For optimal results, Dr. Teo suggests pairing it with the Radiance Fluide™ Sleeping Mask for moisturising and Amino Acid 360° Mask for anti-aging; finish with the MULTI-CERAM™ cream for skin repair.  

The Conscious Concept Mask Bar by Dr.TWL Pharmacy launches 12 December 2019 focussing on advanced eco-conscious materials engineering for improving skin absorption of skincare ingredients. Find out more here