Can your DNA make younger skin?

Three little letters — DNA — may have the potential to change how we think about anti-aging skin care.

"Ten years ago, lasers were big; now DNA repair and stem cells are the buzzwords," says Sandra Lee, MD, a dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon in Upland, CA. "It's exciting, but there's a lot we don't know yet."

What we do know is that a connection between DNA and wrinkles exists. Every time you're exposed to UV rays, the DNA that codes your skin cells is, in essence, injured. Normally, your body fixes the problem, but the more sun exposure you get, the less effective this process becomes. Eventually some of the damage can start to stick, which may result in wrinkles.

Now some skin-care companies claim it's possible to bandage these genetic boo-boos with topical ingredients in facial skin care products.

"New 'miracle' creams may contain stem cells or epidermal growth factors, which studies show are effective in other ways, but at this point, there's no proof they affect DNA in present skin-care formulations," says Howard Sobel, MD, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

For now, buyer beware: "A product may be 'formulated with ingredients proven to repair DNA,' but that's not the same as saying 'this repairs your DNA," notes cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski. Of course, that doesn't mean these new products don't offer other tangible anti-aging benefits—and many do—but they're probably not mending your genes...yet.

Source: Virgina Sole-Smith