Change your skin’s destiny
For years we thought it was a given that we’d inherit the lines and creases of our parents. But new research suggests that while we can’t rewrite our DNA, we may be able to persuade our genes to shift ageing into slo-mo
wo inﬂuences come into play with skin ageing: extrinsic (outside) forces, like UV damage, and intrinsic causes, which are dictated by our DNA. We know we can control damage from factors like sun exposure (with sunscreen and other protection), but science is discovering that we also have power over internal triggers – much more than we realised. The food you eat, the supplements you take, the lifestyle y ou follow, and even some things you put on your skin can shift your genes to interpret (or “express”) the in formation coded in your DNA in a way that actually slows ageing. “It all comes down to communication,” says Dr Ellen Marmur, an associate clinical professor of dermatology and genetics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. “You can inﬂ uence the way your body induces production of a protein or a gene product by affecting the communication among those genes. For example, after a day outdoors, the body may ask, How much protein should I make to counteract damaging UV exposure? We can sway the answer to that question.” These strategies do just that.
“Certain foods can
turn on good genes and suppress bad ones.”
EAT SKIN-FRIENDLY FOOD
The body’s strongest accelerator of intrinsic aging is probably inﬂammation, says Dr Nicholas Perricone, a dermatologist in New York City. “But if your diet speciﬁ cally combats that factor, you can counteract the damage.” The reason: Consuming anti- inﬂammatory foods lets genes focus on the processes they’ve been programmed for – like collagen production – rather than exerting all their energy ﬁghting inﬂammation. Up your intake of olive oil; fatty ﬁ sh like salmon and tuna; fruit and vegetables like strawberries, blueberries, spinach, watercress, and kale; and nuts like almonds and walnuts – and avoid processed meats, fried foods, and reﬁ ned carbohydrates. (Of course, this doesn’t take into account individual sensitivities that
may cause inﬂammation. If you have a food sensitivity to walnuts, for example, then eating those can make your skin worse, not better.)
Focus on antioxidants too (vitamins C, E, and A, resveratrol, and CoQ10). Antioxidants may inﬂ uence your genes positively because they combat free radicals that trigger
inﬂammation. There is no recommended daily allowance of skin-protecting antioxidants, though Dr. Marmur says “eating [ﬁ ve or more servings a day of] fruits and vegetables in a spectrum of colors will ensure you are getting a variety.” You can also ﬁ nd these nutrients in nuts, ﬁ sh, red wine, and ﬂaxseeds.
Elevated cortisol levels caused by chronic stress can “damage collagen, exacerbate acne, and trigger inﬂammation,” says Dr Whitney Bowe, a dermatologist in New York City and the author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin. There are myriad ways to lower stress, including yoga, sleep, therapy, and even herbal adaptogens, which you can apply topically or take orally. Dr Bowe stirs some into her coff ee. Adaptogen herbs come from plants like ashwagandha, reishi mushrooms, rhodiola, ginseng, wild indigo, and holy basil, and they may be considered gene regulator because they help reduce cortisol. Swisse Ultiboost Mood ($39 for 50 tabs, Guardian) is consumable while This Works Stress Check Face Oil ($63 for 30ml, Sephora) is a topical oil to protect stressed out skin.
Another skin-gene-friendly nutrient is ingestible collagen. “After age 30, we start to lose one to two percent of our collagen each year,” Dr Bowe says. Taking a daily collagen supplement may help replace what we lose. It might also encourage and support the genes that turn on or increase collagen production. Try Laneige Youth Collagen Drink ($150 for 30x25ml bottles). “Collagen synthesis requires vitamin C, so accompany your collagen powder with a dose of vitamin C either orally or topically,” Dr Bowe says. Try Skin Inc Vitamin C Serum ($68 for 10ml, Sephora).
USE CREAMS THAT AFFECT GENES New topical formulas can support the communication among your stem cells and keep gene activity robust. Augustinus Bader,
YOUR SKIN’S FUTURE IN A JAR
1 Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment ($148 for 30ml, Sephora) contains lactic acid to help skin repair itself.
2 Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell Bio-repair Gel Mask ($83 for 150ml) uses stem cell technology for younger-looking skin.
3 Starskin Pro Micro-Filler Mask Pack Hyaluronic Acid + Plant-EGF + Plant Cells + Floret DNA ($56 for 1 mask, Sephora) is a two-step transdermal treatment.
The invisible skin enhancer
Certain bacteria on and in your body can give you a clearer, healthier complexion. Here’s why.
SAVE FACE A thriving microbiome may be the key to great skin.
The idea of bugs hanging out on your face is the stuff of nightmares. But that’s what’s happening, at least on a microscopic level – and it’s actually the dream scenario. Your gut has its microbiome – some 100 trillion bacteria lining your gastrointestinal (GI) tract that are involved in everything
from brain function to your weight – and now researchers have found that skin houses its own special bacterial blend vital to its health. About a trillion strong, the microbes on skin diff er from those in the gut as well as from person to person. “Just as cacti grow naturally in Arizona but not the Midwest, every bacterium has an environment where it thrives,” says Whitney Bowe, a dermatologist and the author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin.
Getting to know your skin’s bacteria In the past, experts thought of these organisms mostly as foes or benign friends. Now, they’re discovering all the good that bacteria do, such as signal cells to perform key tasks and turn genes on or off . For example, speciﬁ c strains tell cells to produce the fats and ceramides needed to maintain the skin barrier. That’s crucial for keeping moisture in and irritants out, says dermatologist Dr Jeff rey Dover. And recent research from the University of California, San Diego, found one strain that produces a compound to help suppress cancer cells.
But there are bad apples too. Certain bacteria trigger inﬂammation and play roles in acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis. Obliterating them isn’t the answer – even if you could do so without also wiping out all the beneﬁ cial microbes. “No [one type of] bacterium is good in abundance; balance is key,” Dr Dover says. So is diversity; the more and varied the strains, the healthier the skin. When one pathogenic bug dominates, trouble ensues. In those with eczema, it ﬂ ares when a common strain of Staphylococcus aureus gains a foothold over others, Dr Bowe says. An off -kilter microbiome also compromises the skin barrier, contributing to dryness, sensitivity, inﬂ ammation and possibly ageing.
Healthy gut, healthy skin
Studies show that microbes in your gut affect skin too. Bacteria there make up 70 per cent of your immune system, Dr Bowe says. When the bacterial balance is off , “some people may experience gas or bloating, but for others, the sole manifestation is in the skin,” she says.
A healthy gut microbiome also maintains a tight intestinal barrier, which keeps toxins quarantined.
An imbalance, however, makes the gut leaky, releasing them into the body and triggering inﬂammation all over, Dr Bowe explains. The gut-skin link may go beyond immunity. “The literature is showing effects [of probiotic supplements] on hydration too,” says Gregor Reid, chief scientist at Seed, which has developed a probiotic supplement.
How to bug out
Support your microbiome through your lifestyle, diet and skincare.
Be kind to your skin’s inhabitants Avoid harsh antibacterial soap and hand sanitiser, and never scrub skin aggressively. “It disrupts the terrain where bacteria thrive,” Dr Bowe says. Instead, use cleansers and moisturisers with niacinamide or ceramides to bolster the skin barrier.
Get a little dirty
Our world is way too clean, Dr Bowe says. Because we indiscriminately kill bacteria with cleaning products, we’re not exposed to many of nature’s microbial goods. Researchers in China found that those who live in megacities have less-diverse skin microbiomes, which may explain why urban areas see more skin inﬂammation. “You don’t need to never shower,” Dr Dover says. Just limit cleansing to once a day.
Try microbiome-targeting skincare If
your skin is generally healthy and you use gentle products, you probably don’t need to overhaul your routine, Dr Bowe says. But if you have sensitive skin, dryness or
acne, microbiome-centric products could help. Consider those with prebiotics that feed skin bacteria, such as Oskia Perfect Cleanser (£32.50, or S$57, for 125ml, www. oskiaskincare.com), as well as those with probiotics, meaning actual bacteria, such as Tata Harper Purifying Mask ($93 for 30ml, www.sephora.sg).
Eat well, stress less Load up on ﬁ bre-rich produce and foods with probiotics and prebiotics – yogurt, bananas, onions and raw asparagus. Also, know that stress changes the diversity and number of bugs in your gut, according to a study in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. Counteract with exercise and sleep, which studies show directly help balance microbes.
Pop probiotics daily Preliminary studies show that various strains of probiotic bacteria may help improve skin quality by, among other things, boosting hydration, calming inﬂammation, and preventing UV-induced barrier disruptions and oxidative stress
(which triggers skin ageing). They do this not by worming their way from the GI tract to the skin, but by changing how your gut microbiome functions in ways that inﬂ uence the skin or even by releasing beneﬁcial metabolites that make it to the skin via the bloodstream, Gregor says. But be wary of supplements that make outrageous claims. After all, supplements are not a cure-all; intended to support the diet, they just offer a way to tip the scales in favour of better gut – and, hopefully, skin – health.
We won’t deny it: opinions are divided when it comes to the use of oils to wash your face. After all, the whole idea seems counter productive – why would you use an oil when you’re trying to remove makeup, grime, gunk and excess sebum?
Well, here’s the truth about cleansing oils: They are effective because they melt and dissolve everything while gently cleaning out clogged pores and ridding excess sebum without stripping skin of its natural oils. And when we say everything, we do mean everything – be it waterproof eyeliners and mascaras, matte foundations or long-wearing lipsticks.
But aren’t cleansing oils heavy, sticky and, well, oily? Thanks to modern technology, the cleansing oils of now often feel more like silky emulsions, with the high-performing ones typically infused with skincare ingredients that target speciﬁ c areas of concern. And, as with all skin care, they come in various formulations to cater to different skin types.
We’ve chosen seven of the best that do more than just cleanse and remove makeup. You’re welcome.
Chanel L’Huile Anti-pollution Cleansing Oil, $64 for 150ml
Designed to conter the damaging effects of pollutants on the skin, this cleanser-
cum-makeup-remover is infused with blue micro-algae and marine salicornia extract to mini mise free-radical damage as well as moisturise and strengthen the skin. Recommended for your evening cleanse, it has a lightweight, silky texture that transforms into a soft lather upon contact with water.
Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil, $67 for 150ml, Sephora
Taking its cue from a geisha’s beauty routine – legend has it that geishas achieve and maintain their youthful looks by applying a few drops of camellia oil on their skin daily – Japanese skincare brand Tatcha made camellia oil, a rich source of vitamins, fatty acids and antioxidants, the hero ingredient in its best-selling cleansing oil. This two-in-one makeup remover
and cleanser also boasts the brand’s proprietary Hadasei-3 Complex – a blend of Uji green tea, Akita rice and Okinawa Mozuku algae – to keep skin hydrated, supple and healthy-looking. Suitable for all skin types, it emulsiﬁ es completely, leaving no oily residue post-wash.
Kose Cosmeport Softymo White cleansing oil, $15.90 for 230ml
Suitable for all skin types, but especially loving towards drier skin, this lightweight cleansing oil has a host of botanical
oils such as rice bran oil, which is rich
in B vitamins and reinforces the skin barrier, soothes inﬂammation and stimulates cellular turnover for a brighter complexion. It is also formulated with organic olive, jojoba, sesame and
safflower oils as well as shea butter, all of which work to smooth and moisturise skin. Living up to the quality expected of Japanese skincare, it washes off sans a tacky feeling, leaving skin feeling refreshingly clean.
Kopari Coconut Cleansing Oil, $55 for 150ml, Sephora
Coconut oil is known for its skin-loving properties and it takes centre stage here, working to soothe, moisturise and counter the look of signs of ageing. Thanks to its nourishing properties, skin is cleansed without compromising the moisture-lipid balance – making this cleanser perfect for irritation-prone skin. Antioxidant-
rich green tea and rice oils reinforce the effects, helping skin look healthier and more even-toned, and improving its resilience.
Sunday Riley C.E.O. C + E Micro-dissolve Cleansing Oil, $55 for 100ml, Sephora If you are a fan of Sunday Riley’s C.E.O. serum and moisturiser, chances are, you’ll love this cleansing oil, which is suitable for all skin types. Powerful against makeup yet mild enough for irritation-prone skin, it has white willow bark and lime pearl extracts to gently exfoliate. Vitamin C, too, promotes a brighter complexion, stimulating cellular turnover as well
as inhibiting melanin production and lightening pigmentation. Other ingredients, such as the antioxidant-rich evening primrose extract, work on giving your skin a boost so it looks clearer, healthier and more radiant.
Shu Uemura Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil, $165 for 450ml
Backed by decades of cleansing oil expertise and an exclusive complex, this works on reconditioning the skin while removing makeup and impurities. At the heart of it is the Ultime8 Inﬁnite Complex, a proprietary blend of eight precious botanical oils enriched with Japanese camellia oil, a potent antioxidant and moisturising agent with anti-inﬂammatory properties; extracts of Korean ginseng and golden bamboo, both with excellent anti-ageing properties; and nourishing shea butter as well as olive, jojoba, corn and safflower oils. With a luxurious texture, the oil washes off cleanly, leaving skin soft, supple and, over time, younger-looking.
Skin Inc Pure Trinity Serum-infused Cleansing H2Oil, $78 for 150ml
Home-grown beauty brand Skin Inc
offers up a tri-phase formula anchored by its H2Oil technology, which
combines serum, cleansing water and
oil to effectively remove makeup while hydrating and purifying the skin. Infused with antioxidants, anti-inﬂammatory ingredients and decongesting actives, it thoroughly rids skin of gunk and impurities while reﬁning its texture. Expect a smoother, softer and more even-toned complexion over time.