Study identifies genetic markers in women with youthful skin

Your clients who look younger than their years could be “exceptional skin-agers”, a group identified by scientists in a new study, who have a specific set of genes that affect the biochemical functions associated with skin ageing.

The Multi-Decade and Ethnicity study, funded by consumer skincare brand Olay, was presented at the World Congress of Dermatology in Vancouver, Canada earlier this month and is led by Harvard professor of dermatology Dr Alexa Kimball.

This is the first wave of findings from the study, which aims to examine the relationship between genes and skin ageing, and is looking at women in most decades of life, from the 20s to the 70s, and across Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian and black ethnicities.

The “exceptional skin-agers” had in common a “unique skin fingerprint” of around 2,000 genes, which are responsible for the biochemical pathways such as cellular energy production, cell junction and adhesion processes, skin and moisture barrier function, DNA repair and replication, and anti-oxidant production.

Those genes are common in everyone, the research said, but are expressed more strongly in “exceptional skin agers”, and that can be influenced by environmental factors, lifestyle choices and even skincare habits.

Dr Rosemarie Osborne, beauty research fellow at Procter & Gamble, which owns Olay, said, “What’s exciting about these findings is that the genes that make-up the unique skin fingerprint of ‘exceptional skin agers’ may hold the key successful, and decoding which pathways they affect and why they are acting differently in these women – nature or nurture – can enable Olay researchers to help more women achieve skin that looks like the exception, not the rule at any stage of life.”

The research also identified the gene expression “tipping points” that occur in Caucasian women in each decade as we age. According to the research, white women experience a decline in antioxidant response in their 20s, followed by a decline in skin bioenergy in their 30s.

In the 40s, white women will experience an increase in cellular senescence, the process by which cells cease to divide and grow, according to the research. A decline in barrier function occurs in the 50s, and during the 60s, the whole process will accelerate.