Understanding epigenetics in skincare

Geneticist Dr Neal Kitchen on how the study of DNA patterns is set to impact skincare

As an identical twin, I’ve always been fascinated by epigenetics; the science that studies change in the expressions of our genes without altering the actual underlying DNA sequence. 

My twin and I are alike in many ways, which makes sense as our DNA sequences are copies of each other. However, we are not truly identical because DNA expression changes as we age and in response to individualised experiences. It’s crucial to understand that DNA expression patterns affect everyone, not just twins. 

Different combinations of genes can be turned on or off in response to stimuli, and these combinations can be inherited or altered by lifestyle factors. Epigenetics describes how and why these changes occur and demonstrates that we can have a far greater influence on who we are and will be than perhaps we once thought. 

The impact epigenetics will have on skincare is particularly exciting. Skin is our primary protective barrier to the harsh environment we live in and has the biggest risk and potential to epigenetic changes. 

Scientists are now using these principles to create ground-breaking skincare formulas that impact cellular health and help change gene expression patterns over time, so skin looks and acts younger from the inside out. When we use the right kind of products for our skin we can help “reset” the epigenetic state of it by purging any damage and inflammation, strengthening its defences and preventing unwanted changes from occurring. Many now think the key to healthy, glowing skin is optimising its epigenetics. 

Dr Neal Kitchen is chief operating officer and geneticist at cosmeceutical skincare brand Hydropeptide, which uses the principles of epigenetics in its range.