My Mother, My Skin

My Mother, My Skin

Richard Parker talks skin-heritance, epigenetics and more. 

Sometime in their twenties, most women will look at their mother and think, ‘that will be me.’ At least in terms of skin health and appearance. 

For more than 100 years, we’ve been aware of the role of genetics in skin ageing and, until recently, ‘what you were born with’ was considered the most important determinant of how you will age. 

But the emerging science of epigenetics has changed all that. Instead of an irrefutable set of blueprints, our skin genes are more like a set of switches or levers we inherit from our parents. What we do in terms of health choices (diet, exercise, managing stress) and environmental exposure (mainly the sun) have come to the fore as the most important influences on how we will age. 

In regard to gender and skin, girls are more influenced by their mother’s skin genes, boys by their father’s. So it’s natural for a young woman to look at her mother and assume that this will be her skin destiny. But not necessarily… 

Baby Boomers were the most sun exposed and sun-damaged Australian women in our country’s history. Experiencing post-war prosperity, our grandmothers and mothers enjoyed the beaches and outdoor Australian lifestyle with abandon—and with little awareness of sun protection; tanning was a sign of a prosperous life. 

The stigmata of photoageing and skin cancer was to follow. 

Interestingly, our mothers’ mothers and their grandmothers told quite a different skin story. A pale ‘European’ complexion was considered desirable and despite having genetically ‘weak’ skin for this climate, these women aged well. Google “Australian women 1900” to see how women of this time prized pale skin, untouched by the sun. (Head-to-toe Victorian clothing also helped!) 

My point is that we can look at how our mothers are ageing and learn. And most importantly, we can be wise about which levers we let environmental influences push and pull. 

To fully understand your skin’s genetic heritage, a simple, non-invasive DNA test (performed as part of The RATIONALE Platinum Consultation in Australian RATIONALE Flagships) enables you to understand your skin’s strengths and weaknesses. This information will allow you to make the most intelligent, powerful skincare choices for the rest of your life, particularly in regard to your proactive strategies about environmental protection during the day and nightly skin repair. It’s the best skinvestment you’ll ever make. 

Try and find a photo of your mother when she was about 30. With the right skincare and solar defence strategies, it’s possible for you to look this good for the rest of your life. 

Armed with this knowledge, you can look into your mother’s face, give her a hug if you can, and thank her for your skin genes. 

Then make them better.