Epigenetics: Can we really alter the genetics that age our skin?
According to scientists, approximately 75% of skin ageing is due to external factors whilst around 25% is down to our genes. It was previously believed that we have no control over the genetic factors that cause the ageing of the our skin. New research has shown that external factors such as lifestyle and the environment have a huge effect on how well our genes can maintain healthy skin. This study of how external factors affect the genes is called Epigenetics and it has led to the discovery that, to a degree, we can actually influence the behaviour of our genes to achieve their optimal performance.
To get how this relates to our skin, we need to understand the basics:
- Our cells make up our entire bodies, including our skin.
- Skin cells produce proteins that are essential for the their function.
- Using these proteins, the cells regenerate which is crucial for youthful skin.
- Within each cell is our DNA: The complete set of instructions that tell our cells what to do
- Each individual instruction is called a gene.
Now here’s the thing: Our genes (or instructions) can be silenced or activated due to certain circumstances in life. So whether or not those genes can get their message to our cells or not can depend on factors like the environment, what we eat and who we interact with among millions of other things!
For skin to be healthy and youthful, our cells need to regenerate and for that, they need to be good at producing proteins. Put simply, our genes are the instructions for creating these proteins and if they are not readable by the cell, it won’t be able to. When this happens, the cell can’t function effectively, leading to the visible signs of skin ageing.
The science of epigenetics
Whether a gene is ‘active’ or not is controlled by a structure called the epigenome. This structure is made up of chemical (or “epigenetic”) tags, attached to the DNA that react to signals from the outside world. These reactions cause the epigenome to alter, switching our genes on or off. Although your DNA never changes, the gene’s functionality is effected.
The term ‘Epigenetics’ was born in 1942 and research into the topic has been evolving ever since – most prominently into how it affects illness such as cancers and mental disorders.
The simplified definition of Epigenetics, according to whatisepigenetics.com: “Epigenetics, essentially, affects how genes are read by cells, and subsequently how they produce proteins.”
Epigenetics and Skin Ageing
The influence of the epigenome in controlling our genes (and in turn, our skin cells) becomes stronger as we age but there is good news: it’s effects are reversible. By reducing the negative epigenetic tags, we can “switch on” the dormant genes, making them successfully produce new proteins again. This drastically reduces the effects of ageing on the skin.
Germaine de Capuccini has recently developed an exclusive ingredient called Epigenol. Extracted from the Cannula flower, it is able to limit the negative modifications of the epigenome, allowing dormant genes to communicate effectively again. The cells can again produce youthful proteins, increasing cell function and therefore reducing the global signs of skin ageing.
Preventing Negative Epigenetic Alterations
This new research reveals how important our lifestyle choices are. We always knew that stress, diet, pollution and environmental factors are highly influential to the ageing process of our skin but now it is clear that these factors play an even bigger part as they have an intrinsic effect on our genes themselves.
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