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Study: Olay Examines the Nature vs. Nurture Beauty Debate

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Maybe they’re born with it…maybe it’s their sunscreen. The Nature vs. Nurture debate has always kept scientists and consumers alike guessing at what factors determine the characteristics of a person. In this case, Olay is shining a light on the characteristics of anti-aging.

The study was conducted with the joint efforts of Olay and personal genetics company, 23andMe. The focus of the study was to identify factors linked to exceptional skin aging. Both external factors (nurture) and two identified genetic variations (nature) were taken into account during the study.

Last year, Olay undertook the Multi-Decade and Ethnicities Study (MDE Study) and found that 10% of women looked more than 10 years younger than their actual age. According to Olay scientists, women who fell into this category all possessed a unique gene expression footprint. This allowed their skin to act like the skin of someone much younger. This inspired Olay to perform another study to find out: do they look younger because of their environmental and lifestyle choices or is it a genetic predisposition?

According to this more recent study, the external factors had a bigger impact on exceptionally youthful skin than the genetic variations. This focused explicitly on sunscreen usage and a positive attitude, which the study found had a positive correlation with younger-looking skin. Sunbathing and dry skin had a negative association with skin aging.

The study of more than 155,000 participants found…

  • Women who almost always used sunscreen were 78% more likely to age well when compared to women who rarely wear sunscreen.
  • Women who had a positive attitude towards themselves were 30% more likely to age well.
  • This indicates that women can take control to achieve successful skin aging.
  • Women who were frequent sunbathers were 35% less likely to age well.
  • Those always or frequently suffering from dry skin were 30% less likely to age well.
  • Indicating that women who partake in unhealthy skin habits will be less likely to achieve successful skin aging.

Additional positive factors include: activity and energy levels, living in an urban area, regular exercise, eight or more hours of sleep a night, multi-vitamin usage and high self-rated health.

Additional negative factors include: smoking cigarettes and a body mass index of over 25.

Frauke Neuser, PhD, principal scientist for Olay Skin Care at P&G, said about the study’s results, “These findings are incredibly exciting because they show that women can actively take beauty into their own hands. In this study, having skin that looks exceptionally young – ageless – was not down to luck; genetics plays some role, but factors within women's control have larger effects. Future genomics and genetics research might enable us to provide increasingly personalized services and product solutions for women around the world.”