Riding on the success of her Crystal Tomato skin-lightening oral supplement - distributed across 200 local clinics islandwide, and 18 international markets including Australia, China and South Africa - local entrepreneur Catherine Tan recently launched the new whitening topical Crystal Clear Skin Clarity Cream.
A little bit of luck favoured the bold, in her case. How she came to produce the cream was serendipitious.
Ms Tan had sent the Crystal Tomato supplement for voluntary clinical trials at the National Skin Centre (NSC) to prove that it lightens pigmentation. This was a bold move, as the tests were not required by law.
"The product was already doing well, but I wanted to get the scientific data on it and there is nothing like a proper clinical trial," says the single 64-year-old.
"It was a big risk for me. If it was proven that the product doesn't work, I'd have to pull it off the market."
The 84-day clinical trial was conducted by the head of the pigment clinic at NSC, adjunct associate professor Steven Thng.
Half of the 44 test subjects were given the Crystal Tomato supplements, and the other, placebo pills.
To ensure that all subjects were treated while on the trial, adjunct associate professor Thng requested a lightening cream for them.
Ms Tan refused to use any of the skin-lightening products available on the market for the tests, so she had her Spanish scientist contact whip up a batch of creams instead.
The formula contained ultraviolet filters, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredients, a mild exfoliant to get rid of superficial dark spots, as well as a complex that inhibits the production of tyrosinase, an enzyme which kickstarts the pigmentation process.
Skin pigmentation is caused by a variety of factors, from genetics, ageing, exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays and environmental pollutants, to bad lifestyle habits such as smoking. The reasons for dark spots and patches vary among individuals.
Most the test subjects had previously undergone other lightening therapies and did not achieve their desired outcomes.
The results surprised everyone.
"The tests showed that the cream worked well on its own; but the results were even better when the supplement was used together with the cream," says Ms Tan.
Thirty-two per cent of the trial subjects who used the cream and took placebo pills had their pigmentation problems reduced by more than half, while 53 per cent of the patients who took the Crystal Tomato supplements while applying the cream saw their condition improve by more than 50 per cent.
Seeing the potential of the "trial cream", the savvy businesswoman quickly manufactured and marketed it as the Crystal Clear Skin Clarity Cream.
The Crystal Tomato supplement (from $169 for a box of 30 caplets) and Crystal Clear Cream (from $159) are sold at clinics, such as the Woffles Wu Aesthetic Surgery & Laser Centre, and Joyce Lim Skin & Laser Clinic.