age spots

The cause

Here’s the scoop: There’s a little-known culprit, one that results in one of our biggest skin woes – age spots. Its name is lipofuscin, aka age pigments, which are yellow-brown pigment granules made up of fat and protein molecules. According to Dr Georgia Lee, a GP with an interest in aesthetics, it is released as a waste product when cells undergo oxidative stress (the process in which cells are unable to neutralise free radicals). And what makes lipofuscin harmful is that it’s like a bad penny that keeps turning up. More and more of it is produced as we grow older, says Dr Lee, due to ageing cells’ reduced ability to cope with oxidative stress.

Dermatologist Dr Lam Bee Lan adds that our bodies cannot get rid of lipofuscin naturally either. “It’s non-degradable and ends up accumulating (in skin), which contributes to pigmentation problems like liver spots.”

In the reformulated Timetreasure EX range: the Renovating Eye Cream EX ($558), Renovating Serum EX ($338), Renovating Water EX ($142) and Renovating Cream EX ($408).

The solution

It’s a bleak picture, but Korean beauty brand Sulwhasoo now claims to have a fix with its recently reformulated anti-ageing line, Timetreasure EX, which is also its most expensive. Meant for women aged 35 and above, it not only promises to reverse the dreadful signs of ageing, but also to specifically address the spotty damage caused by lipofuscin.

The secret lies in the upgraded range’s new ingredient. Dubbed De-Ageing Active (DAA), it’s extracted from the needles of the Korean red pine tree and is present in every product in the line – the eye cream, serum, essence water, emulsion and cream.

Although the brand refrains from revealing precisely how DAA works (it’s now in the process of being patented), one of its key powers is reportedly the ability to prevent the formation of lipofuscin and remove it from cells. 

The verdict

Could Timetreasure EX really be the Benjamin Button of beauty products? Dr Lee agrees that reducing the amount of lipofuscin in skin would translate into a decrease in visible signs of ageing, such as age spots, dullness and even wrinkles, although she believes the waste product cannot be completely removed from our bodies.

I put the range to the test, and the short-term results have included progressively smoother and firmer skin – both important steps for a younger-looking complexion. Another plus: the soothing pine and ginseng scent, as well as how every item – whether in a creamy or watery texture – absorbs quickly without leaving a sticky residue.

Main photo:

An adapted version first appeared in Female’s November issue, out on newsstands now.

Like this? Check out the new – and first-ever – Sulwhasoo boutique at Capitol Piazza.