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Thanks to epigenetic research, it turns out that 70 to 75 per cent of skin ageing is up to your environment and lifestyle, instead of genes. We ask Prof Augustinus Bader, co-founder of his eponymous skincare brand, and Dr Nadine Pernodet, Estée Lauder's vice president of Skin Biology and BioActives more

Here’s a piece of good news and not so great news. Thanks to epigenetic research, studies have found that while genes play a role in your skin type and how it ages, 70 to 75 per cent of skin ageing is actually dependent of environment and lifestyle factors. The good—you have a chance at achieving youthful skin. The bad—you’ll have to put in some extra effort for it.

“Epigenetics refers to modifications that change the expression of genes but do not directly alter the DNA sequence. The science of epigenetics shows that factors such as environment and lifestyle can change your gene expression,” Dr Nadine Pernodet, vice president of Skin Biology & BioActives at the Estée Lauder Companies, explains.

“The genes in your skin are set. You were born with it, and it is a given, but you can influence them,” says Prof Augustinus Bader, founder of his eponymous skincare brand.

“Lifestyle factors, such as what you eat, where you live, when you sleep, how you exercise, even ageing—can eventually cause chemical modifications around the genes that will turn those genes on or off over time.”

Though cell care isn’t a new concept, it has increasingly taken centre stage in the skincare industry in recent years.

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Above Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronised Multi-Recovery Complex

Estée Lauder most recently reformulated its well-loved Advanced Night Repair Serum, boasting a new Chronolux Power Signal Technology that is powered by a proprietary blend of New Adansonia digitata extract and other plant-derived ingredients to boost cellular communication.

“Through seven years of research, Estée Lauder has proved for the first time that a specific micro-signalling molecule is essential to the skin’s natural repair and promotes multiple vital anti-ageing pathways.

Significantly, this molecule, helps skin increase its natural renewal of fresh cells and boosts its natural collagen production,” Dr Pernodet shares.

Hollywood favourite Augustinus Bader, whose star product is The Cream, has also always been informed by cellular science since its founding. The brand officially launched in Singapore in September.

“Our skincare technology works with the skin's own intrinsic repair needs by delivering various active ingredients that control and influence the skin cells in a targeted manner. This combination of active ingredients makes up our proprietary Trigger-Factor Complex 8 (TFC8),” Prof Bader shares.

“TFC8 functions like GPS: utilising a novel transporting mechanism made up of ceramide structures to deliver these nutrient compounds to the right location within the skin cell microenvironment. In short, the cream naturally causes the skin to undergo a physiological process of remodelling. When you can do that, you can influence epigenetic factors that enable the body to fix your skin according to your own needs.”

We find out more from both experts about skin ageing, and how to optimise your environment and lifestyle for a more youthful complexion.

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Above Augustinus Bader The Cream

What are the biggest culprits of skin ageing?

Signs of ageing skin is mainly characterised by dryness, dullness, lack of elasticity, and fine lines. According to Dr Pernodet, this can be influenced by the environment, such as “UV and blue light, pollution and ozone, travel, and varied climates” as well as “lifestyle choices, like diet and sleep patterns.”

Environmental factors such as UV and blue light exposure and pollution can result in oxidative stress on the skin, manifesting as wrinkles, roughness, pigmentation, and yellowish or greyish-yellow complexion.

Diets heavy in fat, tobacco, alcohol, sugar and baked goods can also compromise the skin’s barrier function, cause skin inflammation, and affect its lipid composition.

Can damaged and aged skin really be repaired?

“The skin completely renews itself approximately every 27 days. Since our skin is living tissue, it is also not a permanent structure; it is nourished and rebuilt every day. This rebuilding is called remodelling,” Prof Bader explains.

“Ageing correlates with a lack of elasticity due to a different form of remodelling of the skin over time. Positively rebuilding our skin can be achieved by returning essential components to the cells of our skin.”

The cells can then follow their natural role of rebuilding the skin in a healthy way, gradually replacing hardened forms of collagens in aged skin with elastin.

What role does our circadian rhythm play in skincare?

We often hear about the term circadian rhythm, and it’s more than just a body clock that determines when you wake up or sleep. As every cell in our body has a circadian rhythm, it can impact everything from our hormones and moods to our skin.

This means that different processes are occurring to your skin at different periods of the day, making them more susceptible to certain types of skincare at each period.

According to both Prof Bader and Dr Pernodet, night time is when the skin’s natural process is at its peak, and its barrier becomes more permeable for products to absorb effectively.

How can we boost skin repair?

“Nighttime is when the skin’s moisture barrier is at its thinnest, causing the most moisture loss. Dehydration can also accelerate skin damage. That is why hydration is so critical before bed to creating the optimal environment for skin to maximise its natural nightly repair of visible skin damage,” Dr Pernodet advises. The Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronised Multi-Recovery Complex includes a high level of hyaluronic acid—a moisture magnet—that promises to offer 72 hours of hydration. The night serum also offers eight hours of antioxidant power.

Products rich in antioxidants defend skin against further trauma from free radical damage and oxidative stress, which helps to improve signs of ageing.

“Life inflicts little traumas on the skin all the time. Your stem cells are there to heal these traumas. As you get older, your skin becomes less adept at healing itself, instead often favouring scarring—which you experience as your skin looking more aged,” Prof Bader shares.

Augustinus Bader’s The Cream is “designed to target these traumas inflicted by everyday stressors by providing the cells with everything they need to help fix the things that go wrong.” It does this with TFC8 complex, which replenishes key nutrients with a blend of natural amino acids, medical-grade vitamins, and synthesized molecules that are naturally found on the skin. The addition of antioxidant vitamins C and B5, as well as hydrolysed rice protein also helps to hydrate, condition and heal the skin.

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