The film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) is the story of a man (played by Brad Pitt) who is born looking old and “ages backwards”. Watching the film, you see the ageing of the skin in reverse as Benjamin Button’s complexion eventually becomes more youthful, smooth, even, supple and luminous.
While the chance of this reverse ageing happening in reality is zero to none, scientists at Lancôme have pinpointed which genes are responsible for the complexion’s youthfulness.
GENOMICS OF BEAUTY
The Lancôme Research Laboratories joined forces with eminent scientists in the field to try to detect the messages expressed by skin genes (the study of genomics) and the impact these genes have on protein synthesis (the study of proteomics).
The skin’s beauty and youthfulness are largely determined by genetic inheritance. How the skin reacts and changes over time is coded in the genes from birth. However, our parents are not entirely to blame.
Gene activity in the skin includes the formation of thousands of proteins, the basic substance from which skin is created. These proteins determine the skin’s density, elasticity, strength and appearance. As we age, the expression of some of these proteins changes and therefore so does the skin tissue. What the researchers at Lancôme wanted to know is which of these thousands of proteins determine youthfulness.
Studying the most superficial layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, using samples collected from young and older women, the researchers were able to compare proteins and identify which ones typified young skin. Analysing 1300 proteins, they discovered that running over the surface of young skin like a watermark is a specific protein profile – a bar code of sorts for youthful skin. Better still, they discovered this marker of youthfulness could be reactivated in aged skin.
The second major find was the discovery that specific genes code the proteins that give the skin its youthfulness. By screening 4400 genes (the genes normally expressed in the skin) the researchers at Lancôme analysed how gene expression in young skin compared with that in aged skin.
They concluded that young skin appears to be much more active than aged skin, with peak gene expression detected six hours after stimulation in young skin and after 30 hours in mature skin. What this shows is the skin reacts less efficiently with age to the various aggressors to which it may be subjected.
Lancôme has applied this knowledge and understanding of age-related changes in the skin to the development of its latest product, Génifique Youth Activator, a serum formulated with active substances that relaunch the activity of certain genes whose expressions have dwindled with age and thereby boost the synthesis of the proteins that characterise young skin.
“We now know that to look younger we have to boost gene activity and synthesise specific proteins in order to restore the bar code of youth to our skin,” says Véronique Delvigne, scientific director of Lancôme International.
Testing the formulation on 100 women, it was shown that with regular use of Génifique Youth Activator (twice a day for 56 days) the proteins that characterise young skin reappear on the surface of the skin. What this means is the qualities associated with young skin start to reappear; the complexion becomes more smooth, even, toned, supple, hydrated and luminous. With ongoing use these improvements become more visible.
GÉNIFIQUE YOUTH ACTIVATOR
The Lancôme Research Laboratories put Génifique Youth Activator through a series of tests to prove its ability to recapture the appearance of youthful skin. Testing the formulation on 100 women, it was shown that with regular use of Génifique (twice a day for 56 days) the proteins that characterise young skin reappear on the skin’s surface. The complexion becomes more smooth, even, toned, supple, hydrated and luminous. Application is two or three drops twice daily. RRP $190 (30ml).