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Three Things to Know About DNA Skincare

Nicki Zevola's picture

It’s been almost a decade since the human genome was sequenced, and now it seems like everyone wants to get in on the hot “new” biological technology. From sequencing to splicing to cloning, you can’t walk into a Sephora without having someone ask you about your genes. Unfortunately, while some companies are utilizing the technology to make skin care bravely go where no product has gone before, others are being a bit deceptive in their approaches. Here’s what we know for sure.
1. That $150 Cream May—Or May Not—Contain Real Growth Factors
Granted, true growth factors do exist; biologists define them as substances capable of stimulating cellular growth, proliferation, and cellular differentiation.
Some skin care creams, like NEOVA Advanced Repair, Vitaphenol Cellustructure Serum, and Skinmedica TNS Skin Recovery Complex, actually contain an anti-inflammatory growth factor. However, other companies advertising that they contain “growth factors” may actually include ingredients that are proven to stimulate the production of growth factor, not the growth factor itself. While this could still be somewhat effective, I would choose a product with 2% “growth factor” over a product with 2% “ingredient that may stimulate growth factor” any day.
2. Telomeres are Overhyped
A telomere is a piece of DNA at the end of your chromosomes that protects the ends of your chromosomes from being lost through DNA replication. It has been noted that telomeres naturally shorten as we age. It is no wonder, then, that many scientists (and drug companies!) are interested in developing agents to increase or preserve the size of your telomeres.
One agent, telomerase, is a natural enzyme that increases the size of your telomeres. Unfortunately, no forms of telomerase in skin care products to date have been found to preserve telomere length through DNA replication cycles in human skin. Furthermore, it’s hard to say how much we want to increase telomerase in the first place—even though we know that shortening a telomere in an individual contributes to aging, two different people who are at completely different stages of aging can have telomeres that are the same size. Even worse, patients with lupus have increased amounts of telomerase! In other words, telomere technology has a long way to go before we can be confident about its effects in skin care.
3. Certain DNA Repair Enzymes Might Fight UV Damage
Certain enzymes have been shown to fight UV damage and increase skin’s defenses against the sun. Apparently, DNA enzymes contained within skin care products may be able to diffuse through cellular and nuclear membranes to affect the cell’s natural machinery. As to whether or not this is dangerous, Dr. Helen Torok told me, “We cannot say with complete certainty, but most likely not…the DNA repair enzymes detect DNA damage, remove the damage and then assist the body’s own natural repair mechanisms in restoring healthy DNA. The body can do this on its own, but repeated sun exposure— whether or not a sunburn forms—lessens the skin’s ability to repair itself. The DNA repair enzymes help to promote the recovery process.”
The Bottom Line
DNA in skin care is certainly a very interesting subject, and we are likely to hear about it many times more in the future. For now, beware of products that claim to turn on or regulate a particular gene, be careful when shopping for “growth factors,” and know that the current research looks most promising (right now) for growth factors and DNA repair enzymes. I’ll keep you posted when more research emerges!

Read more from Nicki at Future Derm, or to ask her a question about your own skin issue, visit her Facebook page



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