Will you actually age like your mother (or is it a myth?)

AKA who can we blame for our crow's feet?

Digital Beauty Editor / May 06 2022

Mums bless us with many things, there’s no doubt – but does getting her gift of banter and lifelong love for Gilmore Girls mean you’re also destined to inherit her crow’s feet?

Well, kind of. As it turns out, the age-old cliché (mainly among men) of ‘if you wanna see how a woman will age, look at her mother’ is actually not a complete farce. You can indeed tell a fair bit about what your future face will look like by assessing your genetics – the ways (and places) in which you age can definitely mirror your mum’s experience. Even if you don’t look all that much like her, you still might age like her.

There are two types of ageing: genetic-related ageing and lifestyle-related ageing, both of which generally hold equal power. “Your DNA is responsible for around 50 per cent of the way your skin will age,” confirms Stefan Mazy, founder of SkinDNA, a genetic test service that assesses precisely how your personal DNA will affect your skin over time.

“Of course, lifestyle factors play a big role, but we also know that there are specific genes, which can be carried by either parent and inherited by you, that can trigger visible signs of ageing earlier than you might like. Everything from skin type, bone structure, skin laxity, hyperpigmentation, collagen production and decline and general ageing patterns can be inherited – one study [carried out by SkinDNA] even showed a 61 per cent heritability factor for droopy eyelids,” he explains.

Long story short, while it’s your own job to limit things like sun damage and smoker’s lines, an assessment of your parents’ ageing processes (sorry in advance for staring, mum) can give you a good indication of what you can generally expect (and thus work in advance to correct).

Because while, yes, the arena of anti-ageing skin care can be a powerful one, you might not need all the products on offer. By finding out what you’re predisposed to, you can tailor your topical routine to suit and prevent as needed rather than employing a one-size-fits-all strategy. “In all aspects of our health, prevention is better than cure, and your skin is no different,” adds Mazy. “By understanding your genetic predispositions to various signs of ageing, you’re in a far more empowered position to decide how to care for your skin for years to come.”

Of course, if you’re determined to drill down into the details, you can try one of Mazy's SkinDNA® tests ($299 at SkinDNA). But in the meantime, there are a few key genetic areas possible to inherit from your parents, and we’re here to break down what they are and how to address them…

Collagen breakdown

Collagen naturally begins to break down across the board from the ripe age of 20, but did you know some people are actually more genetically predisposed to the depletion process than others? Yep, it’s one of the ageing processes you can indeed inherit from your parents – so yes, unfortunately if you’ve noticed your mum experiencing loss of volume, hollow eyes or deep wrinkles earlier than others in her demographic, that could mean you’re heading toward the same.

Mazy’s top tips for maintaining fullness for longer? Invest in vitamin A and C topicals to help stimulate collagen production – we’re big fans of the Phased Vitamin A Serum ($24.99 at Phased) and the JS Health Pro-Collagen Vitamin Serum ($74.99 at JS Health) – and opt for professional treatments such as dermarolling to generate collagen and ‘thicken’ the skin. Ingestible collagen supplements like The Collagen Co. Mixed Flavour Sachets ($49 at The Collagen Co.) are always an option too.

Phased Vitamin A Serum

JS Health Pro-Collagen Vitamin Serum

The Collagen Co. Mixed Flavour Collagen Sachets

Free radical damage

If either of your parents experience uneven skin, dullness or blotchiness, tone woes could also be in your future. Pollution is something everyone deals with, yes, but everyone’s face deals with it differently. “Genetically, there is variation in how one person’s skin deals with free radical damage from environmental pollutants. Your genes will determine to what extent you can produce the essential antioxidants that help protect your skin from the nasties that suck the radiance from your face,” Mazy explains.

“If you have a genetic propensity to free radical damage, the opportunity to damage cells is heightened, so seeking external antioxidant boosts through skin care, supplements and diet is recommended," he shares. After some antioxidant-rich beauty buys to keep tone issues at bay? Try the Paula’s Choice Antioxidant-Enriched Natural Moisturiser ($41 at Paula’s Choice) and the Esmi Skin Minerals Defence Antioxidant SkinTrients ($65 at Esmi Skin Minerals).

Another tone-refining tip? “Don’t forget to limit your alcohol intake and up the sleep – these lifestyle habits can darken the under-eye area and leave you looking much older than you are," Mazy adds.

Paula’s Choice Antioxidant-Enriched Natural Moisturiser

Esmi Skin Minerals Defence Antioxidant SkinTrends

Skin sensitivity

Yep, sensitivity can be hereditary, too, as can the ripple effects the condition causes. If mum (or dad) have experienced reactive skin, rosacea or acne as they've aged, there’s a pretty high chance you’ll deal with it too, even if you haven't yet. And here's the kicker about skin reactions; they speed up signs of ageing and slow down recovery time. “When the body produces too many inflammatory proteins it accelerates the skin’s ageing process by reducing collagen production and inhibiting cellular renewal and healing, like when a breakout takes forever to fade,” says Mazy.

If it looks like your genetics are going to bless you with the curse of a perennially peeved complexion later in life, try to limit your skin’s trauma now to do it a favour for the future. How? Opt for sensitivity-friendly, gentle products with soothing ingredients (like green tea and aloe vera) within your daily routine; we recommend the SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel ($105 at SkinCeuticals) and The Body Shop Aloe Soothing Day Cream ($25 at The Body Shop). Another tip? Steer clear of abrasive treatments or intense actives.

SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel

The Body Shop Aloe Soothing Day Cream

Here's the moral of the story: the way you age will be 50 per cent based on genetics and 50 per cent based on decisions you make, but with the right products and treatments on your side (to fight back against ageing signs your genetics have predisposed you to) you can help to swing things a bit further back into your control.

And hey, at the end of the day, ageing is a natural part of life, so try not to be too hard on yourself (or mum, for that matter); we're sure you both look brilliant anyway.

Main image credit: Getty Images

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