When dermatologist Dr Teo Wan Lin says she has an idea, she’s not to be taken lightly.
This is the woman who in 2019 invented a breathable fabric that enables those with skin conditions to stay cool in the heat. In 2016, she also started an eponymous makeup and skincare line that caters to eczema patients. But all these were not born of narcissism or greed.
As a dermatologist, Teo knows how difficult it is to have to wear a disease so visibly on one’s skin, and the toll it takes on one’s confidence. It can get especially painful when you can’t even conceal or treat the symptoms with regular makeup or skincare.
“Diseases of the skin and hair can affect self-esteem because their symptoms are visible,” she says. “As a junior doctor, my then-teachers in dermatology imparted not just their clinical acumen for diagnosing rashes, but also their kindness and empathy for sufferers of skin conditions.”
That’s why, after a five-year residency at National Skin Centre, Teo set up her own clinic, TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, in 2016.
But she wants to do more than just treat and heal. She rolled out her line of dermaceuticals and cosmeceuticals, essentially skincare and makeup for patients who are incapable of using commercially-produced products due to allergies and ingredient intolerances. Teo believes that people suffering from skin diseases should still be allowed to feel beautiful.
Her formulas employ pharmaceutical-grade ingredients that benefit patients with skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and acne. Besides a jewellery line wearable even by patients with severe metal allergies, Teo also invented a line of dresses made of Lyosilk — yes, the luxurious silk-like fibre she invented — to help address fungal acne or eczema by wicking away sweat and staving off bacteria growth.
And she’s not quite done. Later this year, she will be launching an e-commerce platform to make available refillable makeup packaging. Also in the pipeline is a mask bar that customises facial masks to address each patient’s specific skin concerns.
Her staff are “part-amused, part-stressed”, she shares jokingly, every time she tells them about her new ideas. While she gets ideas all the time, she refuses to let it stay a mere thought. “The beauty of being a dermatologist is to be able to not just heal the skin but to heal the soul too,” she says. “To me, medicine offers a ray of hope for humanity.”
This story first appeared in the March 2020 issue of A Magazine.