Genes in action: My skin care

Last updated: 15 July 2021

The first step in effective skincare is understanding that skin health comes from within. No cream or treatment will benefit your skin more than a deep understanding of how it works and what it needs. And a lot of those answers are in your genes.

Vitamins Have you ever been seduced by a skincare product claiming to address your most pressing skincare issues? Soft and glowing skin, a stop to breakouts, no more wrinkles! And when you pay a hefty amount for this miracle face cream, you quickly realise that the claims were empty.

Skin – our biggest organ

Its primary role is to protect our body from the elements and microbes. It also regulates our temperature, prevents dehydration, and helps us feel. An average person's skin covers the area of approximately 2 square meters and accounts for around 15% of their entire weight.

It is thickest on your feet and thinnest on your eyelids (remember that the next time you're washing your face or removing makeup). Your skin renews itself in around a month, more specifically, in 28 days.

Being continuously in contact with the world, our skin faces many threats to its health. We need to boost its protective abilities with proper nutrition and protect it from dehydration, smoke, and excessive UV radiation.

If your skin lacks crucial nutrients or is exposed to too much environmental stress, it can result in dryness, itching, inflammation, acne, wrinkles, and more.

Skin health from food

Skin health depends on a delicate balance of nutrients and environmental factors. While we can't control the environment, we can control what we put on our plates.

Here are some examples of how what we eat influences our skin:

• Vitamin B9 is essential for optimal cell turnover, which contributes to healthy skin and the prevention of unclear skin.
• Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Without it, our body can't make collagen, a protein essential for skin firmness and elasticity.
• Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for preventing inflammation and slowing down ageing.
• Vitamin D regulates cell growth, reduces inflammation, and increases skin's elasticity. It can also help with many skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, rosacea, etc.
Make sure your nutrition includes plenty of three essential skin-friendly nutrients: omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants.

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What is the best skin care for me?

If you ask a dermatologist about selecting your skin care, they will probably start by determining your skin type – is it normal, dry, oily, combination, or sensitive? They will explain that different skincare products were designed to address different needs of your skin. Your skin type can change with age and is influenced by your environment and your genes.

Your genome is often overlooked when thinking about skin care. But it is an important factor, influencing your skin's elasticity, hydration, susceptibility to cellulite, and even which nutrients, essential for skin health, are you likely to lack.

Therefore, the best skin care takes into account your unique genetic predispositions. You can further fine-tune it according to your lifestyle and the environment in which you live (cold, hot, dry, polluted).

Skin and genes

Let's take a look at two women in their thirties: same age and the same goal – to keep their skin healthy and glowing. For a truly personal approach to skincare, they did a DNA test to find out their genetic predispositions for the most relevant factors – skin's appearance and how food affects it.

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Eat your way to a healthy skin

Vitamin C promotes skin elasticity. Lisa's tendency for higher levels somewhat negates her genetically predisposed lower skin elasticity. Her genes also indicate that salt and inflammation could worsen her skin's condition.

Even though her blood test shows optimal levels of CRP (a protein whose production increases as a response to inflammation), Lisa would be wise to include more antioxidants in her diet because of her genetic predisposition to high CRP. She can easily get them by eating various fruits and vegetables daily.

She is predisposed to high sensitivity to salt, which can affect her skin's as well. Because too much salt can negatively impact our general health, Lisa should try to limit her intake. Good advice is to replace salt with herbs, which will intensify the flavour of the food just like salt does.

Lisa's skincare should be based on antioxidative and hydrating ingredients; coenzyme-Q10 (CoQ10 or ubiquinol) and hyaluronic acid. CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant and crucial for energy production in our cells. The amount of CoQ10 in our skin plummets with age and as a result of environmental factors (exposure to UV light). Hyaluronic acid is the key molecule involved in our skin's hydration. It has the ability to bind and thus retain water molecules.

Let's get back to our ladies and take a look at Anna's DNA test results. She is prone to lower levels of vitamin C, which could affect her otherwise normal skin elasticity. To make sure she has enough of the nutrient to support her skin’s elasticity, she should focus her attention on increased intake of vitamin C – raw peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, citruses and other fruits, etc.

Anna is not prone to high inflammation, and her blood test reveals that her levels are normal, which is good. Her genes also indicate that salt probably doesn't influence her as much as Lisa. To reach her goal, her nutrition and skincare should be focused on vitamin C.

Healthy lifestyle for healthy skin

Knowing your genes is half of the equation, and the other half is our environment – very cold or very hot climate, pollution, solar radiation. Another step both Anna and Lisa can take for their skin is to protect it from those threats.

If you want to read more about protecting your skin, we've got you covered. Discover both summer skin tips and the best care for the colder weather, or read more about the importance of stocking up on vitamin D.

Learning about your genetic predispositions, following personalised recommendations, and monitoring important blood markers are the building blocks for creating a comprehensive skin-friendly lifestyle care routine, diet, and lifestyle that will work in your skin's favour.

Skin and beauty Nutrition About genetics

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