Skin-care companies to turn back time

Can skincare treatments turn back the clock?

Based in a 19th-century hôtel particulier on Paris’s Champs-Élysées, the Biologique Recherche store displays its creams like rare specimens in a laboratory. But it’s not that weird when you see the company’s white-coated scientists who have been pushing the boundaries in the superhot field of epigenetics.

Epigenetics as a simplified definition, is the study of biological mechanisms that will switch genes on and off. As an organism grows and develops, carefully orchestrated chemical reactions activate and deactivate parts of the genome at strategic times and in specific locations. Epigenetics is the study of these chemical reactions and the factors that influence them.

The epigenetics research has been moving forward for the last few decades across the medical frontier, including in the fields of cancer and autoimmune diseases, but it’s in the skin that it is showing particular promise. Environmental factors such as diet, stress and sun exposure can affect the epigenome. So can time.

A gene that plays an active role in producing a crucial protein for skin elasticity at age 20 may have powered down by age 40. Navigating and correcting those impediments is where epigenetics comes in. At the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, in La Jolla, California, scientists tweaked epigenetic markers in live mice with progeria, a disease of premature aging, to revert adult cells back into their embryonic state.

The groundbreaking findings, published in 2016, revealed potential that goes beyond a longer lifespan for the mice. “The evidence we have now indicates that, yes, altering the epigenetics of the skin may have a big effect on its rejuvenation,” says Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, Ph.D., a professor at the Salk Institute and principal author of the study.

In May, Biologique Recherche released La Grande Crème, a peptide-powered formula engineered to address the genes involved with wrinkle formation and hyperpigmentation. And it’s not the only innovative company aiming to tamper with our genes. Sisley recently debuted Sisleÿa L’Integral Anti-Age Firming Concentrated Serum, which acts on the enzyme linked to elastin; and Estée Lauder’s Perfectionist Pro serum targets skin’s firmness and spring, while La Prairie boosts collagen with its Platinum Rare Cellular Night Elixir.

It’s a whole new way to bounce back. Will you be hopping on the bandwagon?

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