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How Our Genes Impact Our Skin

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When it comes to your skin type, there are many things that, quite literally, are going on under the surface. We’re all born with distinct and unique characteristics, and that’s what makes us all so beautifully different.

But the same factors dictate whether we have the type of skin that’s prone to dryness, oiliness, acne breakouts or any other type of contrariness. These factors include our hormones and our genes as well as our age and stage of life.

That said, there are also external factors that can affect whether or not we might get a pimple on our chin the night before an important date or a flare up of psoriasis when we’re on holiday basking in the sun (ah hot holidays, remember those?!).

These external factors can be as simple as the skin care products we’re using or they can be more complicated factors, such as the level of stress we’re under.

But there’s one major factor that impacts our skin and that’s our genetics. So this week, we’re going to talk about how our genes affect our skin and how we can overcome any problems, such as having acne prone skin, this might mean, with the right skin care and lifestyle. First though, a quick recap on those other important factors...

What factors affect our skin?

There are many factors that affect our skin, how it behaves and what it looks like. Our hormones, stress levels, diet, lifestyle and even the weather all have a say in the look and feel of our skin.

Our hormones play a major role, since they have so much control over our biology at various points in our lives. Puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding, the perimenopause, the menopause. They’re all under the influence of our hormones and these natural hormonal peaks and flows cause imbalances that can affect our skin.

Most of the time, hormone related spots and acne breakouts are caused by a rise in the level of the male sex hormones, or androgens. This triggers an increase in the amount of sebum, the wax like oily substance that protects the skin.

This increase in sebum production by the sebaceous cells in the skin can then lead to oiliness and blocked pores. Pores that are blocked with excess oil then contain trapped dirt, makeup and bacteria which can then lead to spots and acne breakouts.

Other skin influencing factors are stress, alcohol, a poor diet rich in processed foods and lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables, hot humid, sweat causing weather and cold, harsh weather.

But perhaps the biggest factor in whether or not we have well behaved, clear skin or contrary, stressed out skin is in our genes.

The impact of our genes on our skin

The most obvious impact our genes have on our skin is our skin colour. If we’re born to black parents then we’ll be black ourselves. Similarly, if we’re born to Asian parents, we’ll be Asian or to white parents, we’ll be white and so on. (Although not always, as this report from the BBC demonstrates - there is always the chance of a genetic mutation that might provide some surprising results!) If we’re born to parents of mixed heritage or race, we’ll be mixed race ourselves.

This is all down to the mix of genes we get from our parents, the dominant ones dictating what’s called our phenotype, or what we look like. The same goes for our eye colour, height, nose shape and everything else that makes us unique.

But our genes also dictate things about our skin that might not be so obvious. The melanin in our skin, that influences our skin tone, will also dictate how much UV light from the sun that we can tolerate. We all know someone who can lay in the sun for hours and emerge with a deep tan, whilst others burn, turn red and peel.

Even our levels of collagen, the skin plumping protein that keeps us looking youthful, are under the control of our genes.

Is having good skin genetic?

Since our collagen level is determined by our genes, it’s therefore true that youthfulness could well be passed down from our parents. If they maintain their youthful looks long to their older years, then the chances are, we will too and we’ll have plump, young looking, ‘good’ skin.

The same goes for skin that’s prone to acne and other skin conditions. If our parents have acne prone skin, then we’re more likely to also experience acne.

But just because having stressed out skin might be written in our genes, it’s not the be all and end all.

Our genetics affect our skin in many ways, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept a certain fate. Choosing how to care for your type of skin will ensure it keeps it as healthy as possible.

Caring for contrary skin

Sticking to a skin care routine that uses products that respect, nourish and support your skin type is the key to having clear, glowing skin. Our range of alkalising skin care products has been specifically developed with non conformist skin in mind, and works to tackle the root cause of conditions such as acne.

You can also help your skin by making healthy lifestyle choices. For example, avoiding cigarettes, excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption and eating a diet high in high fat, high salt, high sugar processed foods.

Instead, drink plenty of water and eat a varied range of fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, pluses, nuts and seeds. Avoid stress where possible, get plenty of sleep and take regular exercise.

This kind of holistic approach to skin care is the best path to clearer, happier and healthier skin. Despite what your genes might be saying! 


Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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