Ever since I was a child, I loved to make people feel and look beautiful.

Your Genes May Play a Bigger Role Than You Think

Initially featured on Popular Science, online publication

The beauty and skin care industry is FILLED with products that make perfect skin seem like the standard (It ain’t the standard ladies & gents, we’re ALL BEAUTIFUL in our own right!). Anti-wrinkle creams, acne medications, expensive eye creams – No matter what you got going on, there is a product to fix it.  According to data compiled by the U.S. Census and Simmons National Consumer Survey, 1.35 million Americans spent $500 or more on skin care products in a three-month period in 2017. Lawd, I’m sure some of us Cheeky’s can relate to that stat!

But store-bought and prescription products are not the only factors that keep skin looking so fresh & so clean, clean. Our genetics also influence how our skin looks and acts, but researchers are still going through just how much of our skin health has to do with our DNA, and which genes affect our skin’s appearance is still just in the beginning phases of research.

Genetics play a large role, from what I’m seeing, but they are not the only role. We’ve touched on this before, but another main component of how we age is our exposure to UVB/UVA rays (research is saying it’s responsible for 80% of aging – that’s a crap ton!)! and other prominent environmental factors. Makes me wanna sing, ‘I got sunshine, on a cloudy day… When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May’… Are you singing? Gotta love them Temptations! I just yelled at bitchy Alexa to bump that! She never listens to me… Siri is WAY worse though. It’s probably cause I talk down to them. And I imagine they somehow correspond when I’m not paying attention to ensure that their ‘Master’ is never given the proper ‘listening ear’ that she deserves.

Anyways, our bods have over 25,000 different genes which are made up of good old DNA and that determines every ounce of us! Genetics are largely responsible for our skin type, skin conditions and even wrinkles. It’s really funny because I tend to have very similar skin issues as my dad where my mom and brother have more similar skin (or at least that’s my opinion). So I’ve always been really interested in how genetics play a role. My dad, Greg actually went to a ‘special’ doctor, I don’t know what they’re called, but the doc said that ‘Your daughter has the exact general makeup as you’, after comparing a lot of our test results and blood work. How crazy!? But I believe it, I’ve always thought that way. We look a lot alike, we’re both good athletes, fast & able to jump high, both have itchy skin conditions, deal with dark spots on our faces, both really funny 😉 Like how I threw that in!?… It’s just so interesting!

This is an interesting thought… ‘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, you may make too little or too much of a particular signal,” Friedman says, “which can cause cells to grow too quickly, causing skin-clogging problems such as acne, or limit the ability of the skin to repair and rebuild following injury.”’ – Popular Science And then what the research has found is that acne isn’t a ‘gene’ in and of itself, but acne runs in families and conditions can be harder to treat when there is a family history. And as a result, because of this, we now see TONS of ways to combat acne!

According to the article in Popular Science, ‘When it comes to aging, there are two important factors. “First, the genes you are born with affect how you age,” says Alexa Boer Kimball, a researcher and the chief executive officer at Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “But also, which genes are turned on over time matter, too. That can be affected by your inherent characteristics—but also what you are exposed to and what you do.”’

There was a study performed in 2009 that compared 200 nearly-identical sets of twins (OMG, can you imagine all of them in one room? It’s like the twilight zone!!) and it showed that sun damage, pollution and smoking can add years to your face. And not only that, but life stressors were also significantly aging these individuals. In fact, divorced women in the study appeared almost 2 years older than their twins due to the stress.

Then there was another study published in 2017 in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology that showed the increase of certain genes also has an impact. The study showed that certain proteins found in healthy skin were found in both young women’s skin and the skin of women who were older yet whose complexion made them look far younger than they were.

In the women who looked younger than their age, the study saw an increased activity in genes associated with DNA repair, cell replication, response to oxidative stress & protein metabolism, as well as a ‘higher expression of mitochondrial & epidermal structure’.

So in theory, if we can turn certain genes off and others on, we would see new gene patterns and that would theoretically improve the appearance of our skin as we age.

‘Things like sunscreen to prevent signs of aging; moisturizer, which help the skin look younger; and topical retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids, promote cell turnover and combat acne and signs of aging, are proven to make a difference. But how much of a difference depends on genetics and environmental factors.’

What do you think? Did you realize that environmental factors and your DNA play the largest role in how it is that we mature!? I knew that environmental factors like the sun were big players in this game, but I can’t say I ever really understood how our DNA can be passed down through our skin. I mean, I’ve seen it before… Where a parent has acne scars and you turn and see their child who has really tough acne issues to contend with. But like the article said, there isn’t an acne gene per say, but skin conditions can be passed down just like any other inherent gene – breast cancer, prostate cancer, mental health… The list goes on.

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