Beauty Bender – 2014
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Instead of stashing and trashing products for your imagined skincare ailments, consider tailoring those formulas to your genetic needs.
Sure, it’s easy to blame the condition of our complexions on outside factors: cold, dry weather; sleep deprivation; too much humidity; stress or product sensitivity, to name a few. But these scapegoats aren’t always to blame. In reality, “our DNA determines virtually everything related to our skin’s health and beauty,” says Dr. Ruthie Harper, who practices personalized integrative medicine in Austin, Texas. Quite simply, the sooner we’re able to understand what our genes have predetermined in terms of our skin, the sooner we can deal with it effectively.
One’s DNA is unique only to them, but the genes that make it up are passed down from generation to generation. And while siblings can share similar skin factors, sometimes they’re very different in both health and appearance, according to Dr. Harper. “This is similar to siblings from the same parents having straight versus curly hair or brown eyes versus green eyes,” she adds. The M.D., who founded DNA-based skincare and supplement line SkinShift, is a proponent of genetic testing (which she offers through her line) to determine one’s skin’s strengths and weaknesses, something which essentially provides a reading of what ingredients and types of products to focus on. “Ultimately by knowing your skin’s genetics you can spend less on skincare and get better results,” she says.
Dr. Harper analyzes DNA—gathered from a cheek swab kit clients can request and send in—looking for five factors, all of which she claims are equally important “since they all target different factors that influence the skin’s health and beauty.” The categories are rated low, medium or high risk so one can determine which need to be top priority product-wise. Collagen formation (important in keeping skin plump and wrinkle-free), sun protection (how well it protects against UV damage), antioxidant protection (the amount it wards off free-radical oxidation), glycation protection (a process that accelerates aging) and inflammation control (the ability to ward off bacteria and chemicals) vary between zero and one. Once those genetic baselines are set, product and ingredient recommendations come into play.
Though Dr. Harper of course focuses her SkinShift products to the precise factors she tests, the understanding is also that her report will help any consumer better shop for products—whether at the drugstore, online or a specialty beauty shop. “When looking at the product recommendations that are part of your SkinShift report, the focus ingredients and their impact on a specific category are listed.” For example, vitamin C is key for improving collagen formation. She’s also a big proponent of supplements, which “feed our skin from the inside out.” At the end of the day, however, Dr. Harper stresses the importance of knowing what one’s skin needs. “If you’re low risk it means your body is functioning optimally in that category for skin health,” says the doctor, so “your beauty dollars would be more wisely spent addressing medium- and high-risk categories.” Essentially, this method removes trial and error with costly formulas. “We all have a budget as well as a threshold for the number of products we want to use each day, [thus] it’s important to pick our products wisely.”