The mystery of why some people seem to age better than others may have been solved by a group of scientists who discovered a “younger gene.”
Scientists at Harvard University working on a study for Olay have identified the gene thanks to 23andMe, a private genetic database with information on nearly one million Americans.
The researchers found that one in 10 white people in the U.S. have this “younger gene” that helps them look 10 years younger than they really are. But for black Americans, the figure doubles to about 20% of the demographic.
Scientists say that this could explain why some celebrities, like 48-year-old actress Halle Berry and 59-year-old model Iman appear younger than they are.
Alexa Kimball, a researcher and professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, explained that people with darker skin were often thought to age better because they have better protection from the sun due to the pigment of their skin.
But researchers discovered that there was more to it. It turns out that genes fit into seven categories that affect how the skin repairs or protects against damage.
Dr. Rosemarie Osborne, a beauty research fellow for Procter & Gamble, which makes Olay, said that the findings could help others age just as gracefully. “What’s exciting about these findings is that the genes that make up the unique skin fingerprint of ‘exceptional skin agers’ may hold the key to successful ageing,” she said.
Olay and Harvard aren’t the first ones to see a link between melanin and youthful skin. Another dermatology professor, Chris Griffiths of Manchester University in the U.K., previously discovered similar benefits of black skin; he found that the extracellular matrix, which is like a sponge between skin cells, retains a better structure among those with dark skin.
Such findings could also help explain why more women go after cosmetic surgery and noninvasive beauty procedures, such as Botox or other botulinum toxin injections. Botox, the effects of which last about four months on average, is most frequently used to smooth wrinkles and reduce the sign of aging in skin.
Knowing that one doesn’t have the right genetics to look younger may even become a driving factor in pushing more women and men to seek such cosmetic procedures.
Many celebrities have undergone Botox injections, such as Elizabeth Hurley and Meg Ryan. Kate Winslet was recently the subject of rumors that she had had work done, but she denied them, meaning that maybe she is one of the lucky 10% with the “younger gene.”
Harvard scientists presented their findings at the World Congress of Dermatology earlier this month in Vancouver, BC.