My dad once told me that if I wanted to know what I would look like when I grew older, I just had to look at my mother. As much as I don’t want to turn into my mother or admit that my dad is right, that fact is, genes play a big part in how you look, what diseases you might be prone to, how your skin is going to age and even how well your body processes alcohol.
And yet, although my mother has almost perfect skin (in spite of her minimalist skincare routine) that has aged really well, I am battling adult acne and pigmentation. Could it be that I didn’t inherit her good genes? Or was there something lacking in my skincare routine?
To find out where I was going wrong with this whole skin thing, I took the Genelife Skin DNA test. It’s really simple and fuss-free: all you have to do is send your saliva via post and you get your results in about four to six weeks.
The Sciency Part
For the purpose of this test, Genelife studies three genes that are directly related to skin ageing: MMP1 which is linked to formation of wrinkles; GPX1 which is associated with formation of spots (i.e., pigmentation), and SOD2 which is responsible for antioxidant benefits in the body. Each of these genes has a sub genotype and how your skin ages is dependant on which sub genotype you have. Based on that, the skin ageing process genotype is divided into four:
- Type I: Those with this genotype have to be wary of external ageing factors like sun damage, pollution, diet and stress that cause free radicals to form in the body and contribute to ageing.
- Type II: Due to their genes, this subgroup sees a rapid decrease in collagen that leads to sagging, lines and wrinkles.
- Type III: This type is unable to tackle free radical damage in the skin due to their geno subtype which eventually leads spots and pigmentation.
- Type IV: This type is a combination of Types I and III, which means it experiences both a decrease in collagen as well as inability to fight free radical damage. This leads to lines, wrinkles and spots.
I had it the genetic jackpot with Type I! Thanks Mom and Dad, I have your varicose and spider veins, but at least the skin on my face looks good!
So what does this really mean?
Since I lucked out with the right sub genotype, it meant my skin would stay relatively firm and I was less likely to develop lines, wrinkles and pigmentation. In other words, I would age gracefully, like my mother and my grandmother.
But just because I had inherited genetic equivalent of a pot of gold, it didn’t give me a free pass to sit in the sun, smoke, eat junk food on the regular and sleep late.
In fact, it was exactly these things that my results warned against because while I might have inherited genes that slowed my intrinsic ageing, I still had to tackle all the external factors that were causing my skin to age. In fact, I wonder if some of my acne and pigmentation were a result of my younger days when I used to spend in the sun, the junk food I eat when I am stressed or those late nights I spent scrolling through social media or watching TV.
To prevent further damage, based on my sub genotype, here’s what I need to do for healthy, beautiful skin:
It’s a good thing then that my skincare regimen largely consists of serums and moisturisers that are rich in hyaluronic acid, glycerin, ceramides and lipids—all of which hydrate and nourish skin. According to the results, the production of the skin’s natural moisturising ingredients decreases as we grow older, leaving skin dry. This can lead to compromised functioning of the skin’s natural defence barrier, which in turn can lead to irritation and sensitised skin.
Sleep on time
It’s called beauty sleep for a reason. As a beauty editor, I am all to familiar with the fact that the skin rejuvenates and heals itself while you sleep—which is why your nightly skincare routine and getting adequate sleep are so important. But my results go further to say that growth hormones that promote skin cell turnover are most active between the hours of 10pm and 2am, and sleeping at 10pm regularly will boost the repair function of skin. While I would do almost anything for good skin, this might be a particularly hard one to incorporate into my daily routine!
Use UV protection daily
According to the test results, UV rays cause the MMP1 gene to trigger enzyme activity that leads to breakdown of collagen. Yikes! Thankfully, I’ve always been serious about sunscreen, wearing it daily under makeup even on cloudy and rainy days, and using a hat or umbrella on most days. In recent months, I’ve also started using Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) clothes—after all, there’s no escaping the sun in Singapore.
Maintain a balanced lifestyle
I don’t smoke, but I do enjoy the occasional cocktail and a good Shiraz every weekend. But going by my test results, I will need to give that up if I want to slow down my skin ageing even further because lifestyle habits such as smoking and excessive drinking lead to formation of free radicals.
Pollution, exhaust from cars and other environmental pollutants also cause free radical damage in the skin according to my results, but I combat those by adding in an antioxidant-rich vitamin C serum, and anti-pollution skincare in my routine. It’s really the wine I will miss. I could do with a glass right now!
So… what next?
The good news is, with the exception of alcohol consumption, I seem to be doing things right! But it doesn’t answer my question on why I’m getting breakouts, which Type III peeps are more prone to. Maybe I really should stop stress-eating or staying up late at night.