Epigenetics explained simply and the rise of epigenetic skincare
Genetics was turned on its head when it was discovered that our genes have only a partial role on the way we look and feel. There are now many factors in our environment that can basically ‘tweak’ the operating system of our genes. These factors are known as epigenetic markers, which can have a massive impact on our lives and our appearance.
What is the epigenome?
The epigenome is the information that lies above the genome or chromosomes, in charge of controlling our genetic information. Think of the genes as ‘shy actors’ that can’t perform without a gentle nudge. In this example, the epigenome is the equivalent of a ‘director’, instructing our ‘actor’ genes what to do – whether to be expressed, suppressed, amplified, or diminished. Any time a gene is expressed in our skin, it is always directed by epigenetics. The epigenome essentially controls what our cells make and how they work. Our genes are really not the whole story, it’s the impact of the epigenome on those genes that really completes things.
Can epigenetic changes by passed to the next generation?
It has been recently discovered that epigenetic signals from diet, surroundings, molecules introduced into our body and even behaviour can be passed on to future generations without a single change to the genes in the cells. As bizarre as this may sound, what you put in your body today could have an impact on the wellbeing of your great-great grandchildren due to their inheritance of epigenetics. Crazy huh?
This fascinating field is now carrying over to cosmeceutical skincare and epigenetic ingredients in skincare. This relatively new aspect is truly booming in the industry. Cosmetic chemists can now harness ingredients to reprogram skin cells for optimal health and a more youthful appearance. In terms of our skin, there are hundreds of genes that relate to our skin structure and function. For example, there are 40 collagen-making genes, 200 genes involved with antioxidants, 400 inflammation genes, over 500 genes involved with hydration. With epigenetic ingredients in skincare, we can now be in control of how our skin genes are expressed and the destiny of our DNA.
Are epigenetic changes reversible?
Essentially, yes! Epigenetically active ingredients intentionally influence the genes of skin cells. For example, if UV light damages the skin cells to the extent that mutations occur in the genes of skin cells, retinoic acid and its active retinoid derivatives (found in our vitamin A serums) can reverse the mutation and direct the genes to repair. Retinoic acid also influences genetic processes, directing them toward actions such as regulating the rate of cell turnover so our skin cells are renewed, or stimulating collagen production to make our skin look more youthful.
Skincare to address genetic damage
There is also a new epigenetically active peptide called acetyl hexapeptide-51 amide. This cosmeceutical can combat genetic damage from solar radiation, protect skin cells from ultraviolet damage and activate the genes for overall DNA repair. Clinical studies even show that this ingredient is able to epigenetically direct cells to behave as if they are ten years younger by epigenetically activating fibroblast cells which make collagen! Deep within our skin, there is a vital cell called the fibroblast which is responsible for making collagen – the protein that gives our skin firmness and density. As we age, the fibroblasts begin to age and lose optimal function too. They are less efficient at making these ‘proteins of youth’ and our skin loses its youthful tone. This cool little peptide helps on a genetic level to restore our skin.
Regenerating the skin with epigenetic actives
Cosmetic chemists have now harnessed the positive effects of the botanical ‘marjoram extract’ to epigenetically restore ageing fibroblasts. This is achieved via the purified active ingredient directing the gene for collagen production to simply stay ‘switched on’! This epigenetic ingredient results in an 18% improved density and 15% improved firmness.
Even though all cells are genetically identical, through epigenetic control of these genes, we now know cells can be programmed to be optimised and improved – influencing cellular communication, chemical processes, and the physical health of our body’s tissues. This reprogramming can happen through your environment, nutrition, and yes, even with your skincare ingredients. Both hexapeptide-51 and marjoram extract are found in SuperSerum+.
Our epigenetic mission
Our goal at Synergie Skin is to make continual discoveries as to how the environment (both external and within our bodies) can impact the vitality of our skin. Through our understanding of epigenetics, we can harness the benefits of active cosmeceuticals to reprogram inherited genes and enhance the function of our cells. The result is that we attain the best version of the genes we are born with. Our genes may be the door to the fountain of youth, but epigenetics provides the key.
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[Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not substitute professional medical advice. Consult a dermatologist or skincare professional for specific concerns.]