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Are "Young Genes" the Secret to Gorgeous Skin?

 

Raise your hand if this has happened to you: Facebook's latest update means your timeline is now flooded with flashback photos. And suddenly, you're inundated with images of that one friend who, despite being the same age as you (also, you've spent perhaps one too many spring breaks together), never seems to look older—no noticeable forehead lines, no crinkles around the corners of her eyes. Just smooth, clear skin, like she had when you were freshmen. (Oh, are you that friend? How...nice for you.)

Let's call it the Halle Berry Effect. New York magazine reported earlier this month that it's not an A-list paycheck and access to a lifetime's supply of La Mer that keep Berry looking so sprightly. This seemingly eternal youthfulness could be courtesy of “younger genes.” Has the great nature-versus-nurture debate just been solved?

A recent study conducted by Olay in conjunction with Harvard University found that 20 percent of African-American women and 10 percent of white women have genetics to thank for looking younger than the rest of us. Though we all know a Halle, or Sandra Bullock, or two, it seemed like a strangely counterintuitive finding for a company that sells skin-care products to promote.

We reached out to Olay’s principal scientist, Frauke Neuser, Ph.D., to learn more about the findings she presented at the World Congress of Dermatology in Vancouver earlier this month. The Multi-Decade and Ethnicity (MDE) study examined the facial skin of 350 women with Caucasian, African-American, Asian, and Hispanic backgrounds (the data for Hispanic and Asian women has not yet been released), ranging in age from their 20s to 70s. A panel of study participants evaluated each woman’s skin and speculated on her age based on appearance. Most women fell in line with their actual age, but some looked significantly younger. "[These women have] skin that seems to defy the rules of aging," says Neuser. "They look ‘ageless’ compared to other women the same age, without having undergone a cosmetic procedure." When their RNA was examined, these women all had something in common no matter their race or age: They are "exceptional skin agers." [Head to Refinery29 for the full story!]

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