By Dr. Teo Wan Lin

“Enter a world of conscious beauty, rooted in peace and harmony with nature. Join me in the launch of our #ConsciousBeauty journey with the Concept Pharmacy @drtwlderma. The pharmacy represents a culmination of my two passions- botany and dermatology. Ethnobotany- the study of medicinal plants, is evidence-based for treatment of skin disease, and holds promise for expanding our arsenal of “clean” cosmeceutical actives which are retinoid/ hydroquinone-free, the latter of synthetic origins, unsafe in pregnancy and irritating for the skin.

Our quest for beauty starts with our conscious intentions and ends with our individual decisions- which make a collective impact on our environment. The pharmacy is my personal endeavour and an expression of my gratitude towards this beautiful ecosystem we call Nature-the handiwork of a masterful Creator,” Dr. Teo Wan Lin, founding dermatologist of Dr. TWL Dermaceuticals.

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.

The amount of plastic waste generated by the beauty industry is significant. As a woman and a dermatologist, I do understand the need for beautiful yet hygienic packaging for makeup, and also the need for variety— which is why women own many lipsticks and makeup palettes. I came up with this all-in-one solution, a durable, protective palette that prevents UV-degradation of active cosmeceutical ingredients and plant oils, that has a fully magnetic base to allow rearrangement of makeup tins, and also allowing refills via our pharmacy-lab service where our custom compounding takes place.

The makeup lab embraces clean beauty, with chemical preservative- free moisturising formulas that is suitable for sensitive/troubled skin, while delivering makeup artist approved intense pigments. The products remain stable because of our proprietary infusion of plant oils which have been proven to inhibit bacterial growth under laboratory settings. The makeup lab concept is environmentally conscious—adopting Silvexia, a sleek reusable and refillable makeup palette with an inbuilt mirror as its primary packaging which can hold up to 20 magnetic tin pans of concealers, eyeshadow, blush, highlighters and lipsticks. The lab sells refills of the tins itself, or receive a discount if you reuse your existing tin when you opt for a refill.

Declutter Your Skincare and Makeup

The Science of an Efficient Skincare Regimen 

 Decluttering is always a good idea for any aspect of our lives including skincare. As a woman and as a dermatologist, I strongly believe that one should optimise the time/effort spent on a skincare routine for the best results. This was the inspiration for the Polysaccharide Mask, because it is an efficient way to optimise the absorption and efficacy of cosmeceuticals without adding on additional products. There is a limit to the amount of skincare that can be absorbed onto skin, which is why it can be futile and impractical to apply something 10 times a day, which is also the basis for a well-structured skincare regimen. Applying materials engineering technology to skincare transforms your regimen, making the cosmeceutical actives go the extra mile.

The Eco-Conscious Mask Bar

The eco-conscious Mask Bar is centred on a novel plant-derived facial mask.  It contains no liquid and is packaged freeze dried and reusable for up to 5 times. It is sustainably grown in our biotechnology facility, without any chemical additives and is fully biodegradable. 

As a manufacturer of cosmetic active ingredients, my team and I aim to make a difference to solve the problem of plastic and skincare waste generated by the beauty industry. Coming from the perspective of a skincare formulator, plastic is sometimes unavoidable to keep mass produced liquid products free of bacterial contamination in the transportation and storage. Unfortunately, plastic packaging remains the most economical, durable and safe method of transportation until new eco-friendly alternatives become readily available. Nevertheless, this does not mean that conventional processes are justified. The production of facial masks for example is a huge waste of material. The minimum order quantities per batch of manufacturing usually falls between 50,000 to 100 000 sheets. With the traditional method of impregnating the sheets with liquid essences, the expiry for all liquid products is stamped at 3 years or less. I solved this problem of waste by setting up the Mask Bar with on site Good Manufacturing Practices whereby the essences are compounded fresh per order, and my chemists run microbial tests regularly to check for product stability.

From a scientific perspective, this hydrophilic(water-loving) plant root membrane is engineered to deliver moisture and active skincare ingredients by a minimum of three times* absorption abilities when evaluated in instrumental tests.

Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals grows the Amorphophallus plants organically and in a pollution free area. The hyperabsorbent plant roots are used for the production of the MoistureMax ™ Skin-Healing Polysaccharide Mask— an eco-conscious facial mask that is engineered to increase delivery of skincare.

Organically-Grown Plant Actives 

It is important to define what is organic skincare is, because it is not a recognized term by either the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or Health Science Authority (HSA). ‘Organic’ is only pertaining to food sources when they are fulfilling certain requirements regarding the use of pesticides. I try my best to source organic produce for my food because as a botany enthusiast and researcher, I am convinced that the potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of plants are optimised when they are grown without pesticide residue.

I believe it is time to precisely define the role of organic plant extracts in the era of conscious beauty. As a dermatologist, I would propose that plant extracts used in skincare are most efficacious when grown in a pesticide and pollution-free environment.

Conscious Skincare

Conscious skincare, conscious beauty or conscious clean beauty are encompassing modern terms for this concept. Commercial formulations touted to be chemical or preservative-free are often misleading. In order to keep a liquid formulation stable and safe, to be sold off the shelf, there has to be a preservative or an alternative to inhibit the growth of bacteria.  I am conscientious with the use of these labels to refer to the solid-state formulations that we develop in our pharmacy, such as the cosmeceutical LipSerum and makeup products, as well as our Polysaccharide mask.

In terms of the buzz words “home-made, organic, green,” which we find commonly used for marketing conscious skincare. “Home-made” is incredibly misleading and as an expert on cosmeceutical formulation, I would like to emphasise that effective skincare is engineered under strict testing and involves an entire research and development team before it goes on to the stage of mass automated production under pharmaceutical engineering controls, as it is for for the main skincare arm Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals, by its parent biotechnology laboratory.

Effective Skincare 

On this topic of effective skincare, one obviously hopes to see results with the skincare we apply. “Home-made” is just not possible or just not true because while certain formulations can be mixed – the constituents cannot be readily or safely derived from raw materials. The process of pharmaceutical engineering is complex.  A sophisticated laboratory with mass manufacturing facilities and certifications is required, for production of a high quality skincare topical with clinically active ingredients.

Limitless Choices with Responsible Packaging

I think “green” as well is a much fairer term to use, and this ties in with conscious beauty and clean beauty as it refers to environmental sustainability. Wasted packaging is the largest culprit for the beauty industry’s environmental footprint. Under Dr.TWL Pharmacy, I incorporated the Custom Makeup Lab and the Mask Bar as prototypes of an eco-conscious beauty concept.

You can never convince a woman to use one lipstick colour for an entire week, let alone a month or a year. As a result, the average woman owns at least 5 to 6 lip colours (or more) which never get fully used up and ends up in the refuse. The Custom Makeup Lab’s packaging concept revolves around a refillable/reusable magnetic palette, which is also coated with anodized silver, to prevent UV-degradation of the sensitive cosmetic ingredients. It can hold up to 20 tins of makeup, which are also refillable/reusable.

The Science of Chemistry and the Physics of Light 

The makeup ingredients under Dr.TWL Pharmacy are truly preservative free because they are not liquids. For the eyeshadows and blushers, they are bonded together with a proprietary blend of antimicrobial plant oils that also nourish the skin. Pure mineral pigments in their natural vibrant colours are altered systematically by our Colour Scientists with our Pi-Mixer Callibrator. They are enhanced with natural micas which have beautiful iridescence— these substitute potentially irritating ingredients such as Bismuth Oxychloride (BMO) and Talc, which are unfortunately ubiquitous in commercial makeup. A solid-state crystal formulation for the lip serum and lip stain formulas are used, which are kept bacteria-free and stable with the presence of a natural antioxidant, Vitamin-E.

We can and should play a part in conscious beauty. Love ourselves and our planet.