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Epigenetics as the Future of Skin Care

By: Steve Herman
Posted: April 29, 2013, from the May 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Among current brands, Christie Brinkley Skincare is perhaps the most forward in promoting “Active Epigenetic Technology.”4 On its website, the skin care brand describes, “The Epigenetic process is constantly interacting with our genes by continuously transmitting information that affects cellular function. Restoration, repair, nutrition and cellular division activities can all be impacted by negative Epigenetic interactions. However, by applying both the Daytime and Overnight Treatments specifically formulated to promote and restore positive Epigenetic gene interaction, the positive genetic markers are switched on and the negative markers are switched off. This amazing new science delivers younger, healthier and more radiant looking skin in just 14 days!” This is achieved using a brew of natural actives, including Laminaria digitata extract, ergothioneine, plankton extract, Arabidopsis thaliana extract, Limonium narbonese extract, micrococcus lysate, aminoguanidine, decarboxy carnosine HCI, and Citrullus vulgaris fruit extract.

Those looking for hard science can consult a paper by Beiersdorf researchers where epigenetic changes in skin caused by aging and sun exposure were studied.5 Their results identified age-related DNA methylation changes that may contribute to the changes associated with skin aging.

Skin Care of the Future?

Cosmetic science used to resemble cooking, making simple recipes of hand lotion or shampoo. Now, it is increasingly looking like peer-reviewed genetic research squeezed into a jar. Functionality is being directed to fundamental processes at the cellular and genetic levels. It is exciting but also a bit scary—are we sure that “cosmeceuticals,” a category with no legal standing, should aspire to altering our genes? Some would say that in reality, beauty products have always done that to a certain extent. We are now just more aware of the mechanisms and can thus create more efficacious products.

One thing is certain, however—if skin care continues to target the epigenetic material to achieve results, it will launch an exciting new era in product development.


  1. J Watson, The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA (Norton Critical Edition), WW Norton & Company, New York (1979)

(All web addresses accessed Mar 20, 2013.)

Steve Herman is president of Diffusion LLC, a consulting company specializing in regulatory issues, intellectual property, and technology development and transfer. He is a principal in PJS Partners, offering formulation, marketing and technology solutions for the personal care and fragrance industry. He is the New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists' 2013 chapter chairman and an adjunct professor in the Fairleigh Dickinson University Masters in Cosmetic Science program. He is also a Fellow in the Society of Cosmetic Chemists.