Beauty Journal

Welcome to My Inner World

This is a collection of entries by Dr. Teo Wan Lin from her journal in which she shares her thoughts on mental and emotional resilience.

Our facial expressions make us human, and our expressions reflect our emotions and our thoughts.

Teo WL. On thoughts, emotions, facial expressions, and aging. Int J Dermatol. 2021 Feb 9. doi: 10.1111/ijd.15443.

Your feelings will leave a mark on your skin

Emotions of anger and sadness cause repetitive frowning and brow furrowing. Facial expressions are so closely intertwined with your emotions that botox injections (which paralyze facial muscles) have been shown to improve symptoms of depression.

In my paper, I discussed how facial expressions can communicate socially attractive traits of affiliation and altruism—kindness and compassion, which based on psychological research, are traits considered universally attractive.

Your emotions will affect others’ perception of you. Over time, quite literally, your feelings will leave their mark on your skin.

Being kind DOES make you beautiful.

©Dr. Teo Wan Lin 2021
Teo WL. On thoughts, emotions, facial expressions, and aging. Int J Dermatol. 2021 Feb 9. doi: 10.1111/ijd.15443.

Colour Your Face Beautiful.

The colours we use to describe our emotions can be an accurate non-verbal tool to determine our mood and mental state. Psychologists believe that our perception of the world is literally coloured by our emotions and expectations. Blue-yellow perception is consistently affected in depressed individuals, which is believed to be linked to the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Human faces are perceived as “lighting up” with happiness or excitement. All the colours we visualise are part of the sun’s rays (white light) which also boosts our serotonin “happiness” levels. In darkness, colour ceases to exist. When serotonin is depleted, we become depressed and have difficulty perceiving colour.

The science behind a radiant face goes beyond having a good complexion. Such faces a perceived as emitting a form of “light” which elicits a positive emotion in the viewer— which is considered beautiful.

©Dr. Teo Wan Lin 2021
Teo WL. On thoughts, emotions, facial expressions, and aging. Int J Dermatol. 2021 Feb 9. doi: 10.1111/ijd.15443.

Does our consciousness determine our reality?

That night I had a dream. I walked into a beautiful garden. There were fallen leaves at my feet. I recognised myself in the dream.

My thoughts were floating around me. I had a choice to assimilate the thoughts I wanted in my mind.

Whatever I took along became a part of me, as my chosen memory.

Dreams and reality.


What brings you clarity?

Our senses affect us- what I hear, see, smell and feel is processed in my mind which then creates a series of thoughts through the mental decisions I take- either out of habit or a conscious choice. The emotions come after, expressed in our faces- joy, disappointment, happiness, grief, anxiety or relief.

There are many mornings I used to spend alone in gardens, learning the rhythm of the trees, plants, insects and birds. I would enter the garden with my thoughts and emotions overwhelming me, and leave with a sense of beauty.

These days, I close my eyes whenever I wish to enter the secret garden of my dreams. In my mind, I hear a symphony of birds chirping, the insects buzzing and the trees whispering. I open my eyes and know I have consciously experienced Beauty.


Tell me… does a butterfly know its own beauty?

Anti-age your face with your mind.

“On thoughts, emotions, facial expressions and aging—

The face carries emotional residue from expressive experiences that reveal current, previous, or chronic emotional states – the rationale for how accurate person-perception occurs by facial assessment alone. While aesthetic interventions can alter the perception of a neutral aged face, predominant facial expressions throughout the individual’s lifetime undoubtedly play a role to “freeze” the neutral aged visage.”— Excerpt from my research letter published in the International Journal of Dermatology in February this year.

Human faces are not 3D models. They are more than dynamic, more than tissue volume, muscle mechanics or even bony structures.

Your face expresses your conscious state, a feedback loop that communicates via hormones controlled by the hypothalamic-pituitary-axis.

©Dr. Teo Wan Lin 2021
Teo WL. On thoughts, emotions, facial expressions, and aging. Int J Dermatol. 2021 Feb 9. doi: 10.1111/ijd.15443.

Do you know that our memories are rather like glass that can be molten and re-shaped? The key thing when I started journalling was that I framed even the negative in a positive light to encourage myself— in essence, my success was not in winning, but in developing an emotional resilience to minimise negative outcomes. In a fencing competition, you may start to lose right from the first point, the first bout, the entire round robin in the poules before you get to the direct elimination for the tableau. Each setback at every stage should not determine the final outcome, your mental state and response does. My journal helps me remember that. What about you? 

Shop Dr.TWL Girl Mindfulness Beauty Journal (available in Coral, Red, Berry, Pink) here to start chronicling your beauty journey and receive a full-size lip plumper. Journal includes fun activities to complete for more beauty vouchers and free gifts.

Those who know me know that I am (actually) rather self-critical about my own appearance- though I never say anything about it. Whenever someone says I look good in a photo- I’d thank them but secretly think they were being nice. That honestly the photographer and makeup artist did a good job. Or that my face and hair was just having a “good day”. If I would, I could point out a lot of flaws I saw in myself.

I think that’s the reason why as I got older and started practising as a dermatologist, I never liked the idea of telling anyone that their faces can be improved in this or that way.

In fact, for a long time, I simply decided that comparing “looks” was not going to get me anywhere in life -so I focused on excelling in sports, academia and my hobbies.

I realised caring about how I looked was simply caring too much about how others perceived me- which was a psychological dead end.

The concept of self-perception is interesting- and how we act on it even more so. For me, I just became really low maintenance as I matured- keeping my makeup, hair and wardrobe as simple as possible.

External beauty is, in a sense, a double-edged sword. Some people think it can get you ahead in life. But do you really want someone to like you just because you are pretty?

When you meet me, I hope you will not judge me based on my appearance- because one day, that will change. Yours too. And I hope we will still like each other then.

How do you perceive faces?

These snaps were taken 12 years ago when I was in my mid-twenties. Our emotional and mental states evolve with time- a product of our personalities interacting with our environment.

The elusive X-factor in an individual’s face is hard to define, and in my personal opinion- is not man-made. In a sense, an “aesthetically perfect” face can be boring, because traditional perceptions of beauty follow certain patterns.

Our faces evolve as we grow older, carrying emotional residue that affects how others eventually perceive us.

On thoughts, emotions and facial expressions…

Radiate beauty- from within.

“Why did you choose to become a dermatologist?” One may imagine that I get asked this question… quite a lot.

Most interviews I do aren’t in-person which made this first one-on-one with The Peak Magazine extra special. I didn’t know the questions before hand- and it was also simultaneously recorded for the video feature.

It’s interesting how we speak when we don’t have a script, or the time to think about a version of ourselves that we want to present- and that’s when we learn to speak from the heart.

Childhood memories, favourite things, the people who left an impact on us. How we find meaning in what we do everyday.

I don’t think I’m one to be excessively self-conscious, but I do sometimes wonder if I express myself imperfectly. So I was pleasantly surprised to see the dots connected in my story @thesecondmrhan in an interview where we chatted spontaneously about dermatology, emotional connections, my formative years in fencing and my hope for a better future.

Red for passion, energy and action.
That probably represents my personality. Interestingly though, I hardly ever wear reds and gravitate towards neutrals.

What’s beautiful to me is subtlety on the outside and boldness on inside. It’s an element of surprise that connects you to beauty.

What is your colour?

Be kind, be beautiful

Perceiving beauty.

Our eyes see differently in the dark.

Our perceptions are a product of brain ecology-a constantly evolving system rather than a fixed standard.

Differing perceptions of a single subject are a result of individual personality, shaped by personal experiences which include memories and subconscious influences.

Personality is the realm of the soul, evolving in our lifetime to make sense of the thoughts and emotions we experience.

Beauty, to me, is an emotion evoked- it directly connects the environment to our souls.

Can you learn to see differently?

Beauty isn’t … always in black and white.

Because… being kind makes YOU beautiful.

Beauty is— learning to see with your heart first and then your eyes.

The Science of Beauty -By Dr.TWL

I would like to tell you a story about nature, beauty, time and agelessness.

As you find yourself mesmerised by this infinitely regenerating visual-a fractal generated by a mathematical equation known as the Mandelbrot set-it is my hope you will develop compassion for your inner being.

Beauty in Nature is coded by her Creator as a fractal- in the infinite repeating patterns of trees, rivers and flowers, providing symmetry, geometry-yet they are never the same.

My story of beauty is one that evolved from that of self-criticism to that of self-compassion and acceptance. In this, I hope that you too, may find beauty.

My definition of beauty when I was younger was rather different from what it is today. When I first entered the world of modelling at the age of 19, I had the idea that it was all about glamour and fashion, and of course, the model being at the centre of attention. Not true, because I soon discovered that in the world of magazines, beauty was literally a produced image involving an entire team working tirelessly behind the scenes—the creative director, the makeup artist, the hair stylist, the photographer, the entire team of assistants, and then finally the model who presents the final image of beauty.

As I matured, my insecurities about my appearance actually lessened. Not due to any external factors, but it was really because I realised there was no point in feeling so. Early on as a model, I learnt that there will always be someone more “beautiful”, whose look was more “in- season”.

So this is my heartfelt truth about beauty today and it’s not about the individual. In fact, the more we focus on beauty as an ideal, the further we are from the truth of beauty in life.

Beauty is art—a symbol of its soul, apparent only to those who are willing to perceive it.

What makes you beautiful is what makes you YOU

What makes you smile, from the inside out?

It has been said that your favourite facial expression affects how you look like when you grow old. Our thoughts and emotions trigger off hormonal cascades that affect our body via the HPA axis, but on a daily basis, it affects how we use our facial muscles of expression.

Research in psychology shows that individuals are able to distinguish between genuine “Duchenne” smiles vs posed smiles. In my opinion, beauty isn’t necessarily about physical perfection, it really has to do with how someone (or something) makes you feel. Being authentic and honest— starting with your thoughts and emotions-that speaks much more than a posed smile.

Can you recognize a smile from the heart?

Conscious Beauty- An Environmental Concept by Dr.TWL Pharmacy

Enter an inner world, rooted in peace and harmony with nature. Journey into Conscious Beauty 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 in my definition, are retinoid/ hydroquinone-free actives, safe in pregnancy and without risk of irritation.

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 towards a sustainable approach to beauty.

Before we find ourselves in the mirror, may we first recognise her. The one true beauty. Nature’s signature and the handiwork of a masterful Creator.

What is on your heart today?

A new beginning. An era of Conscious Beauty. What are you conscious of today? #ConsciousBeauty#DrTWL

Conscious Beauty by Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals stars model-actress Sara Malakul Lane international burlesque performer Sukki Singapora and dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre Dr. Teo Wan Lin. Feminine beauty as a modern tale told by the girls themselves, through the lens of fashion model-turned photographer Sabrina Sikora.

Sara, one of Asia’s most successful model exports to the Hollywood movie industry, shares about the beauty of motherhood. Get inspired by Sukki Menon, also known as Singapore’s first burlesque artist who gained international recognition for becoming the first woman to perform a full legal burlesque show in Singapore in January 2015 after four years of campaigning. From being a former model to now dermatologist and founder of a skincare brand, Dr. Teo Wan Lin shares about the cut-throat business of beauty from her unique perspective.

In part two of the book, we go behind the scenes with beauty insiders—Canadian celebrity hair and makeup artist Andrea Claire, filmmaker and photographer @wolfmamma, fashion entrepreneur @anateodoro and Mumbai-based retoucher—who each take on the subject of conscious beauty in their respective fields. Before you make up your mind, watch till the end for a cameo by @wondersnatch, who unravels our own (un)conscious biases towards beauty.

100% of proceeds received from CONSCIOUS BEAUTY will go to charitable causes supported by @drtwlderma Action for AIDS Singapore and the United Nations World Food Programme. Available via @drtwlderma or @amazonkindle.

I’ve always been enamoured with science and chemistry, and I used to see beauty in exactness, precision and predictability— that is actually how beauty is commonly objectified. These days, I start to see beauty in possibilities, mystery and mastery. I think the definition of beauty is best summed up in the ancient Greeks obsession with mathematical infinity—and a modern symbol of eternal love. Beauty is as exact as it is unpredictable, as mysterious as it is objective and never complete without love.

What does beauty mean to you?