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Chapter 3: Genetics
Inherited Skin Types and Conditions
Scientists estimate that we have 20,000-25,000 different genes.
Much of what we deal with when it comes to our skin is the result of a genetic predisposition.
Indeed, some of your biggest skin conditions and concerns might have been a gift from dear old Mom and Dad.
Almost everything can be traced to a branch of your family tree.
Today, we’re going to look at how genetics affect our skin and what we can do to make sure our skin is it’s best no matter what we’ve been handed down.
One of the biggest factors of skin type is DNA, which means you may be genetically predisposed to how your skin behaves at a baseline level or how it is regularly.
Different skin types include:
- Dry - Your skin often feels tight or itchy, doesn’t produce much oil, or feels like it can’t get enough moisture.
- Oily - Your skin produces a lot of oil, often feels greasy or looks shiny, and you might be more prone to blemishes.
- Normal - Your skin is pretty even-keeled, not too dry or oily, and has minimal blemishes.
- Combination - You’re more oily in your T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) but dry or normal on your cheeks and jawline.
- Sensitive - Your skin reacts or becomes irritated, dry, itchy, or red when exposed to things like fragrances, dry weather, heat, cold, etc.
Skin conditions can also be inherited and are likely also be shared by someone in your family.
These are more specific concerns that can be a result of environment, biology, allergies, etc., and they come and go.
People across different skin types can experience the same conditions.
For instance, people with oily, normal, combo, and sensitive skin can all struggle with acne.
Skin conditions can include:
- Keratosis pilaris
It’s also been suggested the genetics could play a role in your likelihood of getting some skin cancers.
This has much more to do with the fact that if you've got lovely fair skin that freckles and burns easily, you may be at a higher risk for skin cancer.
No matter what, make sure to wear sun protection and get your yearly skin cancer screening to stay on top of things.
And, if you ever have a suspicious spot, don’t wait to call your doc and get it checked out!
Heredity even determines how we age.
Dermatologists suggest that genetics play a role in how, when, and the degree to which we’ll develop wrinkles.
If you want a glimpse into the future, look to your Mom and Grandmother to see at what age and in what way they started noticing fine lines.
Were you given the gift of oily skin? Good news!
One study showed that skin that produces more sebum (oil) may help in preventing wrinkles.
You may have your parents to thank for youthful skin!
Your skin tone can also factor into how you’ll age.
People with fairer skin tend to experience more wrinkling and sagging than those with olive or darker complexions.
This could be due, in part, to fairer skin being more vulnerable to sun damage which breaks down collagen and elastin and leads to those pesky fine lines and loss of firmness.
Did you grow up with someone who slathered on suntan oil rather than sunblock to achieve that perfect golden glow?
The thought of that makes dermatologists and skincare specialists shudder.
Sometimes we can develop our skin concerns simply by mimicking what we saw growing up.
Just because your older sister never washed off her makeup before going to bed doesn’t mean you should do the same!
When we adopt behaviors such as smoking, eating a poor diet, being super stressed all the time, or not practicing good skincare, those habits can stick with us, sometimes without us even realizing it!
Bottom Line: It’s important that you listen to your skin’s unique needs and take the best care of your skin that you can!
Change Your Skin's Destiny
No matter what hand you’ve been dealt when it comes to skin and aging, you can still make choices that can break cycles and positively affect your skin!
A study examined around 200 sets of twins to see if they were “genetically programmed” to age the same.
However, it was discovered that the twins with lifestyle habits such as smoking, high stress, and excessive sun exposure showed more signs of aging and looked older than their twin counterparts.
While you may not be able to change your skin type, skin conditions don’t have to be a life sentence.
Here are some of the things you can do to change the course of your skin’s future!
Practice good skincare - Whatever your concern, make sure you address it with a regular skincare routine that targets your unique issues. Your skincare regimen is your skin’s first line of defense for health and to battle signs of aging.
Eat a healthy diet - If you were raised eating lots of sugary, salty, or processed foods, it doesn’t have to be your forever diet. Break up with junk food and enjoy what eating a good, balanced diet can do for your health and your skin!
Stop smoking - Did you know that smoking increases your chances of developing skin cancer by 52%? It also causes wrinkles and inhibits circulation to your skin. Quit today! Your skin (and the rest of your body) will thank you.
Get your beauty rest - Inheriting a tendency toward stress, or not valuing a solid night’s sleep, can really wreak havoc on your skin. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and practice those breathing exercises to stay chill.
Exercise - Researchers actually found that the skin of people who exercise looks younger than those who don’t. It’s science!
Wear your SPF - Protecting your skin is one of the best moves you can make since sun damage accounts for up to 80 - 90% of aging. So make sure you’re wearing a broad spectrum SPF of at least 30 every day! And don’t forget your hat and sunglasses. I can hear my mother now: “Don’t squint, honey. Put on your sunglasses.” Thanks, Mom. Always looking out for me!
Bottom Line: You don’t have to adopt an “I guess this is just how my skin is” attitude when it comes to some skin conditions. We can affect how our skin will behave with some good and healthy choices. Change the course of your skin’s destiny. Be a skincare pioneer!
I know it can be hard, but sometimes we've just got to accept there are circumstances out of our control.
Your skin is one of them.
As much as you're frustrated with psoriasis or oily skin, for example, focus on keeping your skin (and yourself) healthy with proper care.
For skincare products made with natural ingredients and that actually work, check out my Alana Mitchell All Skin Types Set.
Give yourself some TLC and know you're not alone.
I'm always here to help!
Beauties, do you have any other questions about family history and your skin? Let me know in the comments!