Is the secret to good skin hiding in our DNA?

The future of skin care just got personal

BEAUTYcrew Beauty Editor / October 28 2021

Ever splurged on a premium skin care product that just does not want to work for you and your skin?

Honestly, there is nothing more frustrating than spending exorbitant amounts of money on skin care only for it to completely disrupt the balance of the rest of your routine and subsequently your skin.

But then, what’s the solution? Testing everything through trial and error? Sure, it’s fun for a while but we only have so many friends and family members who can repurpose our poorly thought-out skin care purchases.

Well, it turns out the answer may lie a little closer to home – in the decaying flesh palace we call the human body, no less. Still not following? We’re talking about DNA of course! (Geez keep up guys).

Yep, DNA-based skin care is a thing and it’s taking beauty personalisation to a whole new level. 

Thinking tongue scrapes and hair samples? You’re not far off.

To learn more about the futuristic beauty phenomenon, we spoke to a couple of leading DNA skin care experts:  Synergie Skin founder and skin scientist Terri Vinson and  SkinDNA and Biomimic founder Stefan Mazy; the Australian entrepreneur responsible for the technology behind Vanessa Hudgens and Madison Beer’s KNOW Beauty.

Here’s what they had to say about all things DNA and how we can be better utilising our genetic data when it comes to skin care.

Image credit: @terri_vinson

Image credit: skinDNA

How much can a DNA test reveal about our skin?

Sure, a DNA test can be used to determine a baby daddy, but what it can tell you about your skin is way more impressive.

“Each person possesses their own unique genetic fingerprint” says Vinson. “And skin type, susceptibilities and concerns are often linked to your specific DNA.”

The beauty of this genetic individuation, explains Mazy, is that through DNA testing (which is as easy as a simple cheek swab or spitting into a test tube) experts can understand and determine the “signs of ageing you are genetically predisposed to – even before they happen – helping you to make informed decisions about the ingredients, supplements, and professional treatments most suitable to address these skin health issues.”

Vinson says the information gathered is invaluable for targeting very specific skin issues; we’re talking about everything from “how your skin will likely respond to factors like solar radiation damage and hyperpigmentation,” to “dehydration, inflammation, susceptibility to developing wrinkles, and ability to fight free radical damage.”

“Forewarned is forearmed,” says the Synergie Skin founder. “Given the information from a genetic test, we can change the way our skin will respond by targeted intervention with active evidence-based ingredients.”

How does DNA testing compare to professional dermatological advice?

According to Vinson and Mazy, dermatology and DNA-based skin care have a symbiotic relationship, in the sense that DNA testing makes it easier for a dermatologist to reach a conclusive diagnosis and subsequent treatment of any underlying skin issues that might be present.

DNA tells a story of skin factors undetectable to the human eye, “which isn’t possible to understand simply by looking at your skin,” says Mazy. “Essentially, it fills in blanks for the skin specialists to paint a full picture of what, why and how your skin is ageing.”

“From there your therapist will be able to recommend a routine suitable to your genetic predispositions, susceptibilities and skin type,” explains Vinson.  

“This routine will give you the best cosmeceutical ingredient combination to protect and nurture your skin and take you into a healthier, more youthful and more informed skin future.”

How do current DNA skin care tests work?

Modern DNA tests are relatively simple; all they require is a saliva sample and for you to register your details to a database.

Some companies like skinDNA and Synergie Skin also provide a supplementary lifestyle quiz that you will need to take when you register your details in order for them to get a more holistic understanding of your skin.

In fact, when you order a DNA-based skin care test like Synergie Skin Skin Geneius or the skinDNA Genetic Test you will receive an at-home cheek swab kit for you to safely self-administer. 

Synergie Skin Skin Geneius, $199

skinDNA Genetic Test, $249

Once you have collected your saliva sample, this is then sent to a laboratory where your DNA is compared against a variety of genetic markers on that company's database, which consists of DNA samples from other skin care die-hards just like yourself. 

It usually takes about two weeks for this data to be processed but once the lab’s job is done, your results will be supplied to you via your registered online account. The results then remain available for you to view at any time, should you wish to reference the findings when you’re on the hunt for your next skin care purchase. 

Synergie Skin and skinDNA also provide a product roundup based on their own respective ranges if you’d like to try a scientifically-formulated product that will align with your results.

So what does the future of DNA skin care look like? 

With DNA skin care kits from brands like Synergie Skin and skinDNA on the rise, it’s likely the concept will begin popping up more frequently in the beauty space.

“As with all areas of the skin care industry − ingredient technology, treatments and genetic testing − the landscape is constantly evolving and improving, and genetic testing is no exception,” explains Vinson.

“Over time, I believe more genetic markers will be tested and the ability to understand how your skin will respond will become broader as well as more specific,” she says.

The skin scientist does warn, however, that if you’re going to hand over saliva samples, “it is important to ensure the DNA testing laboratory is experienced and based on a large database.” 

Why? Well, “results must be based on accumulating large amounts of quality genetic data from a wide population to deliver the most accurate results,” explains Vinson.

It’s a point that Mazy reiterates, saying skinDNA “not only factors in lifestyle considerations to guide its recommendations [and] address your skin health needs, but also assesses a broader range of gene types across its own advanced assessment criteria.”

The brand utilises a database of over 400,000 genetic samples as well as a lifestyle questionnaire in order to gauge a complete genetic profile through ancestral comparison. 

The skinDNA founder also shares that while DNA testing is leading the market to more personalised treatment pathways, “we’re really only at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding the role of genetics on skin health.”

And while many people may want a more tailored and personalised approach to skin care (and want it now), only time will tell if DNA testing will become an easily accessible (and affordable) answer.

Loved this? Read more from our digital issue.

Main image credit: Getty

Briar Clark got her start in the media industry in 2017, as an intern for Marie Claire and InStyle. Since then, her keen interest in fashion and beauty has landed her gigs as a Digital Content Producer and Beauty Editor with titles like Girlfriend, Refinery29, BEAUTYcrew and beautyheaven. She loves the way seemingly innocuous topics like skin care and style have the ability to put a smile on people’s faces or make them think about themselves a little differently. A big believer in self love and experimentation, Briar has made a point of becoming the Australian beauty industry’s unofficial guinea pig for unusual treatments and daring hair trends. When she’s not testing out the latest beauty launches, Briar is big on broadening her horizons, mostly in the form of food but she’s also partial to travelling to new destinations both near and far (and of course, allocating an extra bag to bring their best beauty offerings home with her).