Products by Beauty Doctors Aren’t Always Great. Here’s One We Trust (And Love)

Local skincare brand Dermagold might be founded by two doctors, but you won’t find any mention of this on its labels.

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Founding partners of Dermagold Dr Lim Luping (left) and Dr Grace Ling

Doctor-backed skincare brands are fast gaining popularity. They promise the latest technology, innovative active ingredients and potent formulas that are safe for over-the-counter use. Plus, they have an existing fan base made of the doctor’s loyal clients. Another thing all these brands have in common: the doctor’s name prominently featured on the label, with an emphasis on the medical background. Think Dr Brandt, Perricone MD Cosmeceuticals, Colbert MD and Murad. 

Which is why we were surprised to learn that local skincare brand Dermagold – with no mention of a doctor anywhere on its label, no claims to medical fame – was founded by two doctors, Dr Grace Ling and Dr Lim Luping.

The two childhood friends, both GPs, started the business in 2003 wanting to bridge the gap between medical-grade products and over-the-counter skincare. Dr Ling explains: “[Medical-grade] products are too strong to be used in the long term… and over-the-counter skincare might not be that effective.”

Dermagold Skincare SingaporeFrom left: Dermagold Skin Elixir ($128), part of the Radiant Essentials System, has antioxidants vitamins A and E, and alpha and beta carotenes and lycopenes for radiant skin. Miracle C+ ($69) is a serum with 18 per cent vitamin C ester, more than three times what you’ll get over the counter. Hydra Recovery Gel ($42) hydrates and calms dry, sensitive skin.

Drs Ling and Lim have adopted what appears to be a targeted solutions-based approach to skincare. The Dermagold range is made of different systems, each comprising a set of products that work together to meet particular skincare needs – there’s one designed to get you what the brand calls “the perfect bare skin”, another that’s specifically for pigmented, sun-damaged skin, and one that caters to sensitive skin. Our favourite product of the lot is the Hydra Recovery Gel – part of the Sensitive Skin System, it is formulated to calm dry, inflamed, scalded or sunburnt complexions, and soothe skin after aesthetic procedures.

On why they chose not to put their names or professions on the bottles, Dr Lim explains that when they first started the brand it was only intended for their own use and their friends’. “Also, we didn’t want people to think it was a prescription-based skincare (label). We wanted it to be more accessible,” she says.

Despite its low-key branding, Dermagold is becoming a favourite among beauty editors. This is mainly to do with the ultra-light textures of the products, which makes layering skincare easy and comfortable. Another reason why Dermagold has firm fans within beauty-industry insiders: Many of the products contain a higher level of active ingredient than similar products in the market. The Miracle C+ serum, for example, contains 18 per cent vitamin C ester. That’s more than three times the amount found in most over-the-counter products.

Photography Frenchescar Lim & Zaphs Zhang Art Direction Diane Ng Hair Kent Ling/Salon Runway, using Loreal Professionel Makeup Phoebe Pong, www.phoebepong.com, using Motives

This is adapted from the article The Divergents, published in Female January 2015.