Ep 52: A Magic Silver Bullet- On Beauty, Blush and Being Yourself
In this week’s podcast episode, Dr Teo Wan Lin shares about the active ingredient, Astaxanthin, which is the ideal blue light blocking ingredient incorporated in the multifunctional Happy Blush Stick-a blush and lipstick in a handy bullet case. This superfood is a micronutrient that occurs naturally in bacteria and algae. It has evolved to be protective against ultraviolet light in its natural environment because of its role in marine algae and translates into a powerful ability to fight oxidative stress. Sun protection plus next gen blue light blocking skincare makeup is precisely what we need to prevent and treat hyperpigmentation.
A study shows that individuals with pre-existing hyperpigmentation are susceptible to developing worsening hyperpigmentation when chronically exposed to blue light. This skincare makeup with blue light blocking Astaxanthin is applied as a blush stick. It addresses the effects of blue light that worsens hyperpigmentation. It works synergistically with Crocus Sativa (saffron extract) to provide anti inflammatory benefits.
Tune in to listen to her sharing about a 2-in-1 blush and lip colour that simultaneously tells a happy story of a mood-boosting nutraceutical. Finally, Dr. Teo spills the secrets of lasting charisma, which is ultimately all about being completely and utterly yourself. Don’t try to be someone else!
Hi guys, welcome to my podcast Dermatologists Talks: Science of Beauty. I am Dr. Teo Wan Lin of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre. Today’s podcast is going to be all about Astaxanthin and its blue light blocking benefits in skincare makeup. You may have heard me mention that in the previous podcast episode. I am going to share more details about this superfood active ingredient incorporated in my latest blush and lip formula.
What is Astaxanthin?
We actually consider Astaxanthin a micronutrient. More specifically, it is a carotenoid naturally occurring in bacteria and algae. It has been well established to have diverse biological properties. This is both in the laboratory setting as well as in clinical studies.
Superfood in Blue Light Blocking Skincare
Carotenoids refer to the pigment-producing micronutrient that we identify in orange, red, yellow coloured fruits and vegetables. Common sources of carotenoids in foods include tomatoes and capsicum. Astaxanthin is very unique in that it derives from marine algae. Because of its evolutionary background, it adapts very well to ultraviolet light and consequently is also blue light blocking. It’s ability to fight off oxidative damage is very much closely related to this.
Let’s start with the topic of nutraceuticals here. We could perhaps consider nutraceuticals to be an offshoot of the cosmeceutical industry. These are pharmaceutically active health supplements that are not prescription medications. In addition, they purport to improve skin health specifically via its ability to reduce oxidative stress. This is relevant when we talk about aging as part of the skin exposome concept, which both genetics and environmental factors critically involve in .
Blue Light Blocking Makeup with Astaxanthin
In particular, I want to emphasize the evidence behind the photoprotective properties of Astaxanthin. We postulate the properties to be a result of its natural occurrence in marine algae due to chronic exposure to ultraviolet light. This is very relevant because we have heard about the effects of blue light on hyperpigmentation. We also question whether conventional sunblock is sufficient for protection against blue light induced hyperpigmentation in individuals who have pre-existing pigmentary disorders like melasma or solar lentigines. In this case, Astaxanthin does have a very unique role to play. We know that it adapts very well to blue light blocking. This is due to its innate antioxidant properties as a member of the carotenoid family.
Having innate antioxidant properties means that it enables the cells to repair damaged DNA. This is a key reason why younger people, and even children, may expose to ultraviolet light, but do not develop skin signs of aging the way adults after the age of 25 do. Whatever DNA repair required to keep your skin looking youthful, young skin cells are well equipped to do that naturally.
Anti-aging Blue Light Blocking Skincare
We also talk about inflammation, being a core driver of the process of inflamm-aging. This is very relevant too because these botanical antioxidants, also have anti-inflammatory benefits. I am going to reference this study, which is a systematic review published in the Journal of Dietary Supplementation. This is a 2021 study, where the office studied the effect of Astaxanthin supplementation on skin health.
Astaxanthin: An Effective Blue Light Blocking Supplement
In total, they found six randomized placebo controlled double blind trials. The results were pretty promising in that Astaxanthin supplementation, in the form oral supplementation, actually improved skin texture. The appearance of wrinkles and moisture content in skin were also improved at the end of the study period. Additionally, it seemed to protect against ultraviolet induced skin damage. This is consistent with the data that we have on topically applied Astaxanthin.
For now, we should note that these studies were mostly on healthy Japanese females. To date, there is no report of serious adverse events in these studies. The relevance of edible cosmetics does open up our eyes to a new world of nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals. These can work synergistically in a holistic way to improve skin health and combat photo-aging. In terms of a paradigm shift from what has been practised in the field of cosmetic dermatology, I feel that this is a promising milestone.
In the last decade, we find non-dermatologists to increasingly practise in the field of aesthetic dermatology. This field of aesthetic medicine, where physicians are usually general practitioners dedicated to only performing these procedures or advising on methods to combat photo-aging, has emerged. There is certainly a role for injectables and lasers, as I do perform these in my practice. For example, we do often use injectables such as fillers and Botox in conjunction with skin treatments such as lasers and chemical peels.
Blue Light Blocking Part of Anti-aging Treatment
However, these procedures are actually just a small part in the practice of dermatology and cosmetic dermatology itself. At the end of the day, these are not quite the full representation of what a true skin expert, a medical expert, should have the expertise and knowledge in. At the core of our practice and our training, is to first identify skin pathology. And that’s purely missing from the field of aesthetic medicine. In this, we want to be aware that we are first of all concerned with photo aging. Not only because of its unwelcome cosmetic manifestations, but also because of the increased propensity for individuals who have photo-aged skin to develop ultraviolet associated skin pathology.
Chronic actinic dermatitis is a medical term for advanced photo-aging. Individuals suffering from this condition have a high risk of developing skin cancers. We have heard of melanoma, and non melanoma skin cancers, precancerous lesions such as actinic keratosis. All of these associate with ultraviolet induced photo aging. I feel that the active direction that dermatologists ought to be taking in the field of cosmetic and aesthetic dermatology, is to emphasise the importance of a health-based approach to photo aging. This is rather than an approach where we are simply looking at the reversal of signs of skin aging.
Sustainability of Anti-aging Treatments
Procedural reversals are all unfortunately temporizing measures. This means that after six months, the effects are deteriorate and then you need to do it again. As an approach, I feel that these temporal reversals are not sustainable. I think we all had a taste of what that means in the post-COVID era, where on and off lockdowns makes it impossible for us to regularly visit physicians for these treatments. Moreover, these are also all activities that require you to remove your face mask. Something I spoke about in my latest book launch with Edible Beauty, which has just been released on Amazon Kindle, is on nutraceutical interventions in anti-aging and the role of superfoods. Astaxanthin in that aspect is considered a superfood, and we have included this in the latest Happy Blush Lip-Cheek Stain formula.
Dr.TWL Happy Blush – Lip-Cheek Stain consists of 100% edible ingredients to deliver both antioxidant benefits for your skin and your lips, and also intense moisture barrier repair function.
Blue Light Blocking Blush Stick Targets Cheek Hyperpigmentation
Ultimately, I feel that the messaging here is far more meaningful. As a woman, we wear makeup for ourselves. It is not just about feeling good and looking presentable. Lipstick in particular, is the very thing that would change your look, in a matter of seconds. The cheek area is also important, being part of the larger surface area of your face, and also the part where we are concerned with pigmentation the most. This is because the cheek prominences are in a sense, less sheltered from ultraviolet exposure compared to the other parts, which are less prominent on the facial or in terms of the facial bone structure.
Our perception of beauty, and certainly this podcast, is not just about the medical aspect or the scientific aspect of it, but also the psychological perception of beauty. I think it is important for us to touch on the fact that we use our five senses to interpret all the information that we are perceiving. It is very intuitive that in our pursuit of beauty, we are also looking on the inside. We must not overlook the therapeutic aspects of beauty. This is the very symbolism of the Happy Blush, as something that I created in a post-COVID world. We started research into this active ingredient in 2019 and it has taken us two years to bring it to fruition.
Blue Light Blocking Skincare Makeup with a Mood Boost
The Saffron Extract, also known as Croucus Sativa, is actually a very interesting evidence-based ingredient in terms of it enhancing your natural endorphins. The studies are from edible sort of saffron supplementation. However, when we incorporate this into a skincare product, I think it opens up a new world of using food to color for skin. This is especially when we know that there is such a beautiful story behind happiness and saffron extract. A Happy Blush or a happy glow, something that we all would certainly need more of in today’s depressing climate. In addition, these botanical actives are themselves innately full of antioxidants that help to fight pigmentation. They are also anti-inflammatory and all that actually helps to address the inflamm-aging process that’s part of skin aging.
Croucus Flower from which Saffron Extract is derived
Blue Light Blocking Makeup with 100% Mineral Pigments
I think the other aspect that we should touch on here is the constituents of coloring in our blue light blocking makeup. Ultimately, makeup serves a function of covering up imperfections and enhancing your skin tone. Makeup also improves color and adds some sort of dynamism and interest to an individual’s face. However, with a lot of the commercially available makeup, we find that these pigments are adulterated with fillers. This is simply because it is more economical to produce these types of cosmetics rather than pure minerals. Therefore, it is certainly the premise that we built on with 100% pure mineral pigment formula. This is possible in our Custom Lip Lab, simply because we do manufacturing in very small batches. Consequently, we also addresses the concept that mass produced makeup will have inadvertent lead contamination because of environmental exposures, since small batch production actually eliminates this risk.
At the end of the day, I feel with the launch of the Happy Blush, I really want to bring forth this message to all our supporters, my followers, this message of being unique and just being yourself. As an individual you have to be authentic, don’t copy anyone else, because other people can see through it. While we are all chasing after perfection and you may find that someone else is doing things far more perfectly than you are, good, get inspired, but don’t copy them, because it is inauthentic. Human psychology is very interesting in that it can pick up inauthenticity. This is why we are naturally draw towards individuals who seem authentic and genuine, who subconsciously, communicate to other people that they are altruistic, simply because they are who they are.
What is True Beauty?
I think that one can only be truly happy when you are absolutely yourself, not trying to be anyone else. If you are, you won’t look beautiful to another person or at least an individual with maturity. After a while, I think we all can tell that at the end of the day, we do desire authenticity, above everything else. This is why they often say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, rather than a threat. However, by imitating an ideal of beauty, I feel it is rather artificial. If you try to use nature herself as a barometer, as a standard, you will find that this path that we take, may well go wrong.
In any case, my true calling is as a physician. The heart of medicine is preservation of your body health, and as a dermatologist, we prioritize skin health. This brings us to the end of today’s podcast episode. We have touched quite a bit on this superfood Astaxanthin and nutraceuticals, as well as the importance of embracing imperfections, authenticity, and preserving your individuality. All of these are critical in your pursuit of true beauty.
Get Your Happy Blush Stick- Edible Lip Cheek Stain here.
Edible Beauty: A Dermatologist’s Guide to an Anti-Ageing Diet, is written by Dr. Teo Wan Lin as a comprehensive compilation of superfoods that have been proven to have positive effects on your skin and slow down the ageing process. It is now available on Amazon Kindle.