SkinDNA takes Rachel Hunter to the Great Barrier Reef
SkinDNA takes Rachel Hunter to the Great Barrier Reef
Your genome is your body’s instruction manual. There is an identical copy of it in almost every healthy cell in your body. It is unique to you, containing all the information needed to make you, run you and repair you. Reading the first human genome cost $3billion and involved tens of thousands of scientists, taking 13 years. Today, a whole genome sequence costs around $1,000 and can be done in a day, making it available to a wider audience. And for those in the business of making skincare more effective and more personalized, the race was on.
“The Human Genome Project,” says Dr Veronique Delvigne, scientific director at Lancome, “allowing us to go back to the fundamentals and to start to understand skin.” Establishing that around 700 genes are active in normal skin, Lancome launched the first mainstream genomics skincare, Genifique in 2009, with Advanced Genifique, a youth-enhancing serum, following soon after.
“Older skin has a different genetic signature to younger skin,” explains Delvigne, “and genomics has rewritten the beauty bible on the cause of age spots, which are not caused by over-synthesis of the pigment melanin as previously thought, but are the result of activity by firbroblasts, (responsible for maintenance and tissue metabolism) in the dermis, Lancome’s Dream Tone pigmentation serum, for example, harnessed this finding by targeting fibroblasts. For the most part, though, claims center around altering “genetic expression” – not to be confused with the actual altering of genes themselves. There is never likely to be a single gene for youth, or collagen or dark spots or, indeed, anything else (apart from well-known single gene diseases such as Hungtington’s).
Rather, beauty companies are seeking to influence the activity of key groups of genes that have been identified as important in a particular skin process, be it hydration or aging. The way they do this is generally by increasing the signals to get them to switch on. Amore Pacific’s best-selling Time Response range, based on gene science, claims to reverse aging at a genetic level by, for instance, increamins hyaluronic acid production. Founded in Korea, the brand’s high-level research and development has led to it gaining a cult following in the USA.
Knowing what genes you have, or being able to increase their activity, will only take you so far, however. Knowledge of the genome is nothing without looking at the external factors that affect it. To which end we have epigenetics, which is essentially the way your genome makes sure you are best adapted to the environment you are exposed to.
Extra instructions in the form of chemical ‘marks’ are added to your DNA, particularly to those bit between genes (less than five percent of your genome is made up of genes. The DNA between genes is now known to be crucial in controlling gene activity). These might prevent or slow down one gene’s activity or enhance another’s. It allows your genome to be interpreted in a different way. It is why identical twins with identical genome can behave differently if they’re raised apart. The most obvious environmental markers are UV light, smoking and pollutants, but equally emotions – especially abuse in childhood – stress and diet can trigger epigenetic change.
Beauty companies are trying to mobilise epigenetic knowledge to increase activity of genes, particularly those whose activity has slowed with age. One of the best known epigenetic ‘marks’ is when a chemical methyl group gets attached to the genome. Amore Pacific’s Prime Reserve Epidynamic Activating Creme claims that by binding a methyl group to its formidable patented green tea extract it will latch itself onto the genome to “awaken the longevity gene… to prolong cell life”.
The marketing phrases are bold, but the fantastic reception for this product may be down to something far simpler – it contains and even more potent version of green tea extract, which has solid evidence behind it in terms of prompting cell activity. Chanel’s new “smart” cream Le Lift, has a different approach, aiming to reduce the number of epigenetic ‘marks’, thus neutralizing the skin’s ageing mechanisms and reactivating the production of good proteins.
Estee Lauder, too, has been looking at epigenetics. Its research into sirtuins (a family of genes that plays an important role in cell metabolism) forms the backbone for its skincare, including the new Re-Nutriv Ultimate Diamond Sculpting/Refinishing Dual Infusion serum. However, it is very early days for epigenetics in skin formulations. As Dr Nessa Carey, author of The Epigenetics Revolution, points out, companies “will find epigenome changes if they leave their cells [that they are using for testing] out of the incubator for too long, sprinkle crackers on them or add some aspirin… Almost everything will cause a statistically significant epigenetic change if you look hard enough.
But it doesn’t mean that the change has any real biological impact.” And there’s another truth here. We all have favourite brands and, yes, culture plays its part, but it is all about what works for us. No skincare is universally effective, in the same way that in pharmaceuticals one drug may work brilliantly for one person but cause another unwanted side effects. We are all different.
The Australian pharmacogenomics company, SkinDNA, founded by leading researchers and specialists in genetic analysis and skin therapies, takes a different approach (and, by the way, provides some of the best information of the effect of genes on skin on its website, skindnacare.eu). You are sent a DNA swab kit and lifestyle questionnaire (costing between $299 and $399), with 16 SNPs within five different areas affecting skin health: firmness and elasticity, wrinkling, sun damage, free-radical protection and sensitivity and inflammation. The results take a week and are presented as a low, medium or high risk in the five areas.
You are then advised about available products that are suitable for you, either through partner companies or from off-the-shelf brands. Founder Stefan Mazy says, “First and foremost, the advice provided is intended to answer the ‘whys’. Why should someone use this ingredient instead of another? Why is it beneficial?
The advice at the end of the day is designed to help justify the need to use specific ingredients rather than focus on brands and ‘product of the month’ advertising.” So what if you luck out and you are low risk for everything? Mazy is stern. “If you want to consume of box of donuts everyday, you override your luck.” SkinDNA’s technology is licensed to various partners including Dr Ruthie Harper of SkinShift, as well as DNAge and a number of other dermatologists worldwide. This approach is clearly gaining in popularity.
One person who is not 100 percent convinced is Margo Marrone, the highly-respected founder of the Organic Pharmacy group, who flirted with gene testing and was involved with IMperial College in early trials, Organic Pharmacy initially offered gene testing along with a 90-minute advice session, but now chooses to focus on changing the way genes are expressed in skin by looking at a client’s lifestyle. “It’s going to take quite a long time for people to get their heads around this,” says Marrone. “Our approach has always been holistic; genetics alone is not sufficient. It’s a balance between repair of damage and tissue longevity.
We can all see what stress does to people’s faces.” Her Gene Expression Lifting Serum has been clinically tested and in Marrone’s own words “works very well”. The use of genomics has already had a profound influence on our understanding of skin, leading to highly effective products. Epigenetics may yet emerge as a major force in skincare, but for my money, it has to be combined with knowledge of the genome – precision skincare based on an individual’s DNA and linked to lifestyle information. The future of beauty, it seems, is truly personal.
Forget testing skin care products on the back of your hand at the beauty counter – a cheek swab and lifestyle questionnaire could now be the ticket to identifying the ingredients and products that’ll give you your best skin yet.
An Australian skin genetic testing service, SkinDNA, looks at five categories in your DNA; skin firmness, glycation, sun damage, free radical damage and sensitivity. A skin therapist then uses the most suitable active ingredients to keep your skin looking younger, firmer and healthier for longer. Brilliant, right?
But personalized skin care doesn’t end there. Skin Inc, which is sticked at Sephora, has a personalized skin care product called My Daily Dose. It is a set of three serums that are custom mixed at home. The formula is comprised of up to three active ingredients, with the potency of each prescribed based on a questionnaire.
If you’re after custom hydration. Bespoque has got you covered. They have a service which tailors a moisturiser to your skin’s needs based on your skin type and lifestyle.
Seriously, what will they think of next?!
In recent years, genetic testing has jumped out of laboratories and into our living rooms, with tests that promise to shed light on everything from the type of exercise your body responds best to, to which skin-ageing concerns you should be most worried about, based on your DNA. Dubbed ‘lifestyle genetics’, here are a handful of tests available in Australia that promise to help you personalise your approach to staying healthy.
A personalised skin profile based on what your DNA reveals skin’s individual ageing risk factors, so you can tailor your skin care routine to suit. You’ll also be given suggestions about products and skincare ingredients to help tackle the problems you’re most at risk of.
Your mouth swab is assessed for 16 genetic markers linked to five different skin-ageing categories, including whether you’re genetically predisposed to premature wrinkling, based on how quickly your collagen breaks down; how well-equipped your skin is to cope with the sun; and how it fights free radical damage.
The test is only available via a face-to-face consultation at more than 400 clinics around Australia. Prices start at $299.
Trying to look after our skin as we grow older is a constant challenge. What areas of our skin will age quicker and how do we best care and protect it? The battle is getting a little easier with the introduction of marvellous new techniques which can help us in our quest for eternal youth. This week, we spoke to Amanda Di Cesare at Le Chic Skin and Beauty about their skin DNA testing techniques
It is a genetic test that uses science to identify how your skin will age and show your skin’s strengths and weaknesses based on your DNA. You will never waste another cent on skincare again. It takes the guesswork out.
SkinDNA is a quick simple, pain-free and scientifically proven test, that takes a sample swab of the cheek cells. This data is sent to SkinDNA laboratory to be tested and returns with an in-depth insight to your individual DNA imprint. We then follow up the results 14 days later and with an in depth consultation.
No. Doctors have been using a similar test for a few years. The SkinDNA test has been tweaked and tailored specifically to the skin and ageing.
You can’t argue with science. SkinDNA tells you what you are genetically predisposed to. Once the lab sends back the results we can work out a course of action together for your skin. The test tells you what ingredients, supplements and professional treatments are essential for your skin. We are able to intervene early and slow down the ageing process. Prevention and education is the key.Everyone wants to look younger for longer and sooner right?
We have value-added packages starting from $349. We also have a fun VIP information launch on September 9 at 6pm where there will be package deals and an opportunity to take the test on the night. Places are limited, so it’s best to book your spot.
With the test results we are able to intervene with the right ingredients, supplements and modalities suited to you. In some cases the skin may improve so much that it looks better than before, but we certainly can’t stop or reverse ageing – that is just a fact of life.
Viva has talked to experts in skincare, haircare, cosmetics, appearance medicine, spa services and retailing, to gain insights into the trends that will determine the way you may one day look, or may long to, and how you will shop and be served.
The near future promises a more personalise focus, catering to time-poor and information-overloaded consumers. Salons are gearing up to deliver quicker treatments and more luxurious experiences; to tap into the latest technology, but share it with hands-on attention. Though these aims might sound counter-intuitive, it’s all part of the idea of creating “magic moments” that meld efficiency, efficacy and indulgence.
But is this all wishful thinking and marking spiel? Maybe partly so, but there’s no doubt modern consumers are increasingly demanding and more fickle, so businesses need to be motivated to be nimble and innovative to survive.
Those that will thrive, are the ones who talk to being customer-focused is more than mere lip service. Key trends to watch for are a greater focus on analysis and diagnosis, more personalised streamlined service and beauty concerns widening to wellness. Examples include DNA testing to predict how your skin will age. This is with us already and will increasingly by used by skincare therapists.
The new SkinDNA test is an Australian-developed system that analyses a client’s mouth swab for genetic markers of ageing. Results include likelihood ratings about the extent of collagen breakdown and pigmentation problems, allowing consultants to explain and advise on prescription skincare.
“We’re excited by the opportunity to be able to provide something we haven’t had before,” says Dr Catherine Stone of The Face Place, one of the clinics introducing the service by Pro Beauty. Dr Stone says it is a base tool to be used in combination with visual analysis and discussion.
If only there was a magic mirror that could tell us how we would age. Unfortunately there’s not. But, I have found the next best thing – SkinDNA. SkinDNA tests your genes to determine how you will age. It identifies your skin’s overall genetic health in five areas – Firmness and Elastivity, Wrinkling, Sun Damage and Pigmentation, Free Radical Damage, Sensitivity and Inflammation. Then suggests active ingredients, not products, to counteract the ageing process.
Sounds good right – so will I sag or wrinkle overall? There’s good and bad news, I scored 100% ln a low risk for wrinkling – YAY!! So that’s why, at age 46, I don’t have a lot of lines. Bonus. But, unfortunately, I scored badly on firmness and elasticity; I will sag! Oh well! But what really won me over, was the information provided on Sun Damage and Pigmentation.
I have really weird pigment. I don’t tan evenly, I tan in patches. Which is kind of strange as I have olive skin. What my test showed me, was that I was not producing enough melanin in my body. My beautician has always thought that I had an overproduction of melanin; so recommended products that would inhibit melanin production. Ultimately, I still have really patchy pigment and the products weren’t working. The best solution for my skin, according to the test is to use a product that contains zinc oxide. Hmmm, the invisible zinc – simple!
The upside to this test is knowing how to prevent ageing. Isn’t that what we are all looking for? Like everyone says, prevention is better than cure. So now we can apply it to our skincare. Another bonus is that the test gives a summary which tells you what type of active ingredients should be in your skincare.
SkinDNA actually recommend that you look at the products in your bathroom cabinet to see whether these ingredients are in your skincare, before going out and purchasing new products. You even get suggestions on how to change your diet to assist in preventing ageing. But what I like, is in the long run, not only am I saving money that I don’t need, I can really focus on what will work – for me! Isn’t that what we all want?
The bespoke aspect of luxury brands is now transcending into the beauty industry with lotions, ingredients and packaging being personalized to suit an individual.
Pushing the envelope wide open was the advent of human genome mapping in 2003, which put a spotlight on how we manage our skin’s ageing by studying various genetics.
Stefan Mazy, founder of SkinDNA, an Australian skin genetic testing service, believes the possibilities are limitless. Capitalizing on the idea, SkinDNA therapists have found a way to personalize your beauty routine, right to the last detail.
It begins with a cheek swab for a saliva sample, and then a questionnaire which factors in your lifestyle and habits. From here, the SkinDNA labooratory analyses the saliva sample using 16 markers, or DNA sequences, within categories like firmness, glycation, sun damage, free radical damage and sensitivity.
The therapist then uses these results to customize a treatment program, focusing on the categories in which a patient is medium or high risk, using the most suitable active ingredients.
According to Sabrina Tna, founder and CEO of Skin Inc,
“In life, we customize a lot. Every morning we choose a different outfit and make-up palette. But what changes the most? The skin. So it’s important to customize skincare. This is not a trend. It’s a fact.”
Well, beauty solutions that claim to show guaranteed results and have science on their side are sure to do well, don’t you think?
“Our clients are concerned of aging earlier because of the harsh climate,” Shenae said. And with a new product they have brought to Rockhamptom, Shenae said they have taken the guess work out of skin care using a product called SkinDNA to tailor products to suit specific skin requirements.
“I think it is easier for clients to trust scientific results.”
Describing how they take a simple swab of skin cells from a client’s cheek (inside their mouth), a lab will then test for five different skin problems, which include elasticity and firmness, sensitivity, wrinkling, sun damage and pigmentation and free radical damage.
“It’s kind of like predicting the future.”
The results will enable Shenae and Deeann to not only prescribe the right products for their clients to use at home they can help with in salon treatments to further enhance results.
“Clients wants to see results immediately.”
By investing in the SkinDNA clients can save in the long run, as it takes the guess work out of what are the right products to use for various skin problems, saving both time and money.
“It is a quick and easy test, there is no pain, and the results come back 7-10 working days after the test is done.”
These advertisers are highly adept to preying on people’s insecurities about ageing, yet in the main there is little scientific basis for their claims.
In June L’Oreal USA was forced to settle charges of deceptive advertising about its Lancome Genifique and L’Oreal Paris Youth Code skincare products. According to the US Federal Trade Commission’s complaint, L’Oreal products falsely claimed to be providing anti-ageing benefits by targeting users’ genes.
In and among all this an Aussie firm has been paving the way towards understanding how genes can be understood to improve skin care. Specialising in collecting a person’s individual genetic fingerprint, SkinDNA claims it is leading the world in analysing skin ageing and other skin problems.
The company says it can analyse a particular person’s susceptibility to sun damage and propensity to wrinkling, putting a scientific perspective on what has long been an entirely subjective beauty application.
Founder Stefan Mazy, 27, began work at the tender age of 19 in a cosmetic clinic. It’s probably the only glass ceiling for a male, he says, but it was not his gender which altered his career path, but a glaring gap in the market.
“Nobody were I worked could explain to me why some ingredients were better than others. Why was layering important? For me it was all about the whys. All they said was that the collagen breakdown was all in the genes. So I said, what’s in the genes?”
Mazy’s ardent curiosity led him on a one-man beauty crusade. Convinced Australia was too small, he set up SkinDNA, found the right people to help him to create a test kit and analysis reports and took his concept to America. Through his US distributor he managed to spruik his concept on several television shows including CBS’s The Doctors and Good Morning America. “We’re still waiting for the call from Dr Oz, although we did make it into his magazine,” Mazy laughs.
SkinDNA sells the test kit to distributors, who then sell it down the line to cosmetic clinics and eventually to the end customer. A swab is taken of the saliva in a customer’s mouth which is then sent back to the SkinDNA lab to create an individual skincare profile.
Mazy’s company, of which he owns 70 percent, is highly feted: SkinDNA was a finalist in the 2013 NSW Export Awards, in the healthcare and biotechnology category. The company now has 400 clinics offering his testing kit and analyses across Australia.
Mazy says a typical treatment will usually be ongoing from three to six months, depending on each person’s specific needs and age. The cost of initial testing varies from $299 to $499. Interestingly, he says Aussies tend to suffer more skin damage from their diet than from the sun. “We are a sunburnt country but our problem is glycation – excess sugar.”
Excess sugar will bind to the collagen, causing it to go brittle and develop crevasses. Other problems relate to an excess of a protein known as MMP1 which leads to a decline in the skin’s health and appearance, leading to wrinkles, roughness and sagging.
Mazy has been approached by several big cosmetic companies to acquire his data. SkinDNA has collected more than 15,000 DNA samples from various ethnic groups, all of which would be of interest to cosmetics firms. “Proctor and Gamble have requested our information twice,” Mazy says. “L’Oreal has three brands interested in partnering with us for a total solution package.”
All the same, Mazy realises this kind of intellectual property requires scale to be effectective. “Skincare companies would kill to have it. Imagine – that amount of DNA date of our customers,” Mazy says.
“That’s where the value will be. But it’s not big enough yet. When it is, we will list the company.”