Have you ever seen someone who looks much younger than their age? A fascinating study identified distinct patterns of gene expression in women who appear younger than they really are—the so-called “super young.”
While lifestyle factors such as smoking and sun exposure affect how the skin ages, we are now discovering that there are also a number of genetic factors at play.
Genetics and Youthful Skin
The recent study, led by dermatologist and researcher Alexa Kimball, examined the genetic profiles of women ranging from their 20s to their 70s and found that those who looked younger than their age showed increased activity in genes relating to DNA repair, protein metabolism, cell replication, and response to oxidative stress.
Biologically, these women had younger skin.
“We were particularly surprised by the identification of a group of women who not only displayed a much more youthful skin appearance than would be expected based on their chronological age, but who also presented a specific gene expression profile mimicking the biology of much younger skin. It seems that their skin looked younger because it behaved younger.” – Alexa Kimball, MD
Genetic Health Testing for Personalized Skin Care
This study is one of many that demonstrates the great potential of genetic health testing for optimizing skin health. Genetic health testing has been successfully used to create personalized nutrition plans and fitness plans, and now we can add personalized skin care plan to that list. Gene variants affecting the skin have been found that influence the natural level of protection an individual has against factors like:
• UV rays from the sun
• Skin irritation and inflammation
• Skin damage from free radicals
• Collagen breakdown
Genetic health testing can determine if a person is at a low risk, medium risk, or high risk for traits like premature wrinkling, sagging skin, and the effects of photoaging (from the sun or indoor tanning), such as pigmented spots, uneven skin color, and texture changes. Understanding your genetic predisposition allows you to make the best lifestyle and nutrition choices to prevent or delay these effects.
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Aging
How youthful the skin appears and how well the skin ages are determined by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic aging is aging that occurs as an effect of the natural decline in hormone levels and the body’s accumulation of free radicals, which is influenced by genetics.
Extrinsic aging encompasses the effects of external factors, such as UV exposure, smoking, pollution, diet, quality of sleep, and repetitive muscle movements like squinting and frowning. There can even be an interaction between genetic and lifestyle factors. For example, UV exposure can influence which genes are activated and when.
Lifestyle Changes for Youthful Skin
Fortunately, we have a lot of control over the extrinsic factors of aging. To keep skin healthy and delay signs of aging, the Mayo Clinic recommends the following steps:
• Protect against UV – wear sunscreen or protective clothing and avoid the midday sun if possible
• Don’t smoke – smoking reduces the oxygen and nutrients that reach the skin and also weakens collagen
• Stay hydrated – hydrated skin is resilient and less prone to wrinkles
• De-stress – stress accelerates cellular aging and weakens collagen
• Sleep well – poor quality sleep is linked to fine lines, uneven pigmentation, and reduced skin elasticity
• Eat healthy – especially antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to fight free radicals, whole grains, and fish or fish oil supplements
The right nutrition can support healthy skin. Nutrigenomics, an emerging field of study, examines the interaction between nutrition and genes, reveals how different individuals process nutrients differently—for example, variations in carbohydrate and fat metabolism, predispositions to vitamin deficiencies, and the presence of food sensitivities that cause inflammation.
Vitagene Skin Report
Genetic health testing by Vitagene can be used to determine the unique genetic variants that affect your skin’s aging, hydration, oxidation, and inflammation levels, such as genetic variants associated with increased sensitivity to sun damage or increased collagen breakdown. Understanding your personalized genetics through nutrigenomics can help you know which foods, supplements, and topicals would be the most beneficial to you and which to avoid. The Vitagene Skin Report can help you make the smartest lifestyle choices to keep your skin healthy and glowing.
1. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. (2017). Expression of certain genes may be key to more youthful looking skin. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171128102918.htm
2. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. (2017). Expression of certain genes may be key to more youthful looking skin. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171128102918.htm
3. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Skin care: 5 tips for healthy skin. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/skin-care/art-20048237