We have all dreamt of finding a beauty routine that works perfectly for us, tailored specifically to every need and desire. After spending countless hours and not to mention a hefty price on ‘trial and error’ products, there must be a better way of finding the right products.
The secret to perfect skin may be hidden within our genetic makeup.
Skincare has never been a one-size-fits-all, a cleanser that cleared your friends acne could very well be the cause of your latest breakout. Now more than ever we are striving for a more bespoke approach. In 2018, the global DNA-skincare products market was valued at 7.4 billion dollars.
The science-driven skincare trend involves prescribing products based on their compatibility with our genes and with DNA testing now available to be carried out from the comfort of our own homes, it seems it’s popularity is set to continue to grow.
Turns out, our DNA doesn’t just tell us about our family tree but can help us to treat or even prevent skin concerns.
A recent study conducted by Allél – A swedish DNA-skincare brand – suggests our genetics account for 50 to 60 percent of ageing, meaning a large part of how we age is down to our individual genetic makeup.
Our genetics also account for other skin issues and can be the reason why some of us suffer with acne as teenagers whereas others may find it shows up later in life, so even if you are rigorous with your skincare regime and use every product suggested, the issue may be more to do with your genes.
Human bodies house between 20,000 and 25,000 different genes, which are made up of DNA, and these genes determine everything about us, including our skin types and concerns. Genetics are largely responsible for our skin type, whether we’re dry, normal, or oily, some skin conditions and even how and when our skin begins to show signs of ageing.
When genes work like they’re supposed to, they regulate skin cell production—telling the body to create new skin cells as older ones die. However, when a gene does not function correctly, cells can begin to grow too quickly, causing skin-clogging problems such as acne, or may limit the skin’s ability to repair and rebuild itself following injury, causing scarring or discoloration.
Research has identified gene mutations or alterations to the normal structure and function of a gene, in many skin conditions, from eczema to melanoma. Even acne has a hereditary component. While there’s no acne gene per say, it can run in the family and can also be more difficult to treat when there is a family history of it. Today, as a result of further research, there are many treatments for reducing the appearance of acne, one of the most common skin conditions, even when it’s genetic.
Revealing just how much of a vital role our individual DNA has on the appearance of ‘good skin’.
As we know, the science of DNA beauty goes way beyond oily, dry or combination. At Allél, 16 different genetic markers are analysed throughout the five main types of ageing: structure, energy, pigmentation, defence, and sensitivity.
This is obtained through a DNA sample. This may sound scary, but no needles or blood is involved, a simple swab inside of the mouth that is then sent off to the lab for testing. Most brands will send a kit by post and once complete can be sent off quickly and efficiently without having to step foot into a spa or treatment centre.
A week later, you receive your results along with a consultation explaining what this means and a personalized three-month regimen of skincare and nutritional supplements is prescribed. Other factors are also taken into account, such as environmental factors and lifestyle in order to give the most accurate and specialised treatment for your skin, think skincare haute couture.
This DNA analysis allows you to take care of your skin at an earlier stage, before specific signs of ageing begin to appear. A way of taking a peek into the future of your face and staying ahead of your game, tailoring products to not only treat but prevent, after all preventing signs of ageing is far easier than treating them once they have already occurred.
DNA test kits have grown in popularity in recent years. The ability to identify hereditary health issues and diseases for prevention is a key driver. Now, the possibility of defining skin issues according to our genetic makeup, has made it possible to foresee our future and even slow the ageing process.
Although this kind of technology has been around since 2016, the demand for individually tailored beauty routines is growing and this mirrors a tuned-in consumer base who are no longer ignorant to their specific skincare needs and are far more clued up on ingredients and efficacy.
In 2018, a report for the Royal Society of Public Health found that millennials felt the most negatively towards ageing. A 2017 study also found that 30% of women under the age of 35 were regularly using anti-ageing skincare products.
Our desire to retain our youth for as long as possible is clear to see and perhaps with the promise of a more guaranteed effect from products will drive demand for DNA-skincare.
How accessible is this trend?
Bespoke skincare is set to become an industry standard, although prices start at £150 for a test kit and can reach around £1200.
There are tons of options to choose from with new brands getting in on the action. Such as SkinGenie, who provide reports on skin and hair traits, and curate the best products personalized for your skin or bio-tech company Orig3n, who pride themselves in making the consumer part of the process by breaking down information and educating users on their specific skin needs. Even bigger brands like Nutrafol are getting behind the trend and have created a Hair Mineral Analysis Test to help customers determine the stressors that affect hair health.
Despite high prices, popularity is driven by the ability to access information that would otherwise be reserved for medical analysis. As technology continues to advance and work its way further into our everyday routines, DNA-based skincare is here to stay and in order to reach a more varied market, the opportunity for high street brands to offer a more bespoke treatment for consumers.
Popular brands such as L’Oreal launched their advanced AI skin analysis tool to analyse skin issues and suggest suitable products, they are said to be exploring the opportunity to break into the DNA-beauty trend and could be one of the most accessible brands to do so.
As more and more brands start relying on genetic science to formulate products, bespoke skincare is bound to become the status quo. Rather than spending money on an extensive routine that might be doing nothing for your skin, you’ll be able to tailor your shopping basket to suit you entirely.
Despite its extensive scientific backing, many are still sceptical of the connection between DNA and skincare and argue that the effects of everyday life such as stress or environment can have a greater impact on skin.
This is correct, even if you have won the genetic lottery in some respects, environmental factors also directly change how your skin looks and how your genes function, ultimately influencing your skin’s overall health and appearance.
However, this doesn’t mean that our genetic makeup doesn’t have a huge impact on this. A 2009 study that compared nearly 200 sets of identical twins showed that sun damage, pollution and smoking can add years to your face.
UV exposure, for instance, is responsible for 80 percent of visible facial aging signs like deep wrinkles and pigmentation, or sun spots. Researchers in the 2009 study also found that stressful life events can age you significantly. Divorced women in the study appeared 1.7 years older, possibly due to stress.
We know that the regular use of SPF can help to limit the sun exposure our skin encounters and therefore helps to prevent signs of ageing. But how much of a difference depends on genetics and environmental factors.
The benefits of analysing our DNA to create bespoke skincare routines are clear to see, the opportunity to glimpse into the future and identify hereditary skin issues for a more tailored treatment is a desirable concept. It goes hand in hand with the daily habits we put in place to combat environmental factors and lifestyle such as limiting stress.
It will also feed back into product development, and brands could soon start addressing customers’ needs that aren’t currently being met by the mainstream product offering.
New beauty trends will always have their sceptics, but a trend so personal and bespoke will give very different results depending on the user. Whether for or against, this trend is set to continue to grow.
Will DNA testing become a part of your latest beauty routine?