Join Here   |   Log In

Skin Aging: Using genomics to solve wrinkles and age spots

Time marches on, we all get older, and our skin shows the signs of aging.

Some people age beautifully with great-looking skin; others slather on creams in a futile battle to chase away wrinkles and age spots.

Before you go to the Kenny Rogers-style facelift solution, read on to discover how your genes and the environment interact to cause aging in the skin.

What causes skin aging?

Both genetics and environmental factors influence how your skin looks as you age.

Environmental factors that influence skin aging include:[ref]

  • Sun exposure (UV, visible light, and infrared)
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Air pollution
  • Nutrition
  • Cosmetic products

Wrinkles, loss of elasticity, age spots, and loss of tone all contribute to your skin looking older. But what causes all of these signs of age?

Many of the aging skin issues we encounter result from oxidative stress in the skin. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between ROS (reactive oxygen species) and the ability of the cell to counter this with antioxidants.

  • ROS is a byproduct of cellular metabolism (e.g., mitochondria producing energy for the cell) and is increased by UV radiation.[ref]
  • ROS is also produced during the detoxification of many different toxicants (pesticides, phthalates, BPA, heavy metals, etc.).[ref]

Increased oxidative stress causes an increase in matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). The MMP proteins degrade collagen, which decreases the elasticity of the skin. Additionally, too much sun exposure results in the breakdown of collagen and elastin, which combines with a slower rate of collagen synthesis.[ref]

Why is collagen so important? Collagen is a protein that forms connective tissue and the extracellular matrix. It is like a structural net or scaffolding that keeps the skin smooth.

There are multiple types of collagen in the body. Type I collagen is the most abundant in the skin, and there is a little type III collagen as well.

Sun exposure (ultraviolet radiation) causes an increase in the expression of MMP1, which causes an increased breakdown of collagen.[ref]

Skin Aging Genotype Report:

Members: Log in to see your data below.
Not a member? Join here.
Why is this section is now only for members? Here’s why…

Member Content:

Not a member?

Join Here



What can you do to fight the genetics of wrinkles? Read on for a few solutions — or just embrace getting older and be grateful for your years on earth :-)

IRF4 variant – inflammation-driven skin aging?

Research shows that IRF4, which is important in the immune response in the skin, is also impacted by TNF-alpha, an inflammatory cytokine.[ref]

Decreasing inflammation through targeting TNF-alpha with supplements may help.

Rosmarinic acid (found in rosemary, basil, holy basil, lemon balm, and perilla oil) is a natural TNF-alpha inhibitor.[ref] In addition to adding herbs to your food, holy basil can be found in a tea (called Tulsi tea) or as a supplement.

Curcumin is another natural TNF-alpha inhibitor.[ref] Turmeric is a spice that is a good source of curcumin in the diet; curcumin supplements are also available and may be easier to take daily.

Natural MMP1 inhibitors:

Member Content:

Not a member?

Join Here

Related Articles and Topics:

Boosting NAD+ to Reverse Aging? Overview of NR and NMN
Explore the research about how nicotinamide riboside (NR) and NMN are being used to reverse aging. Learn about how your genes naturally affect your NAD+ levels and how this interacts with the aging process.

Longevity Genes: Hacking healthspan based on genetics
There is a lot of research going on right now to determine exactly why and how we age — and why some people naturally live longer. Several genes have been identified as longevity genes, linked to an increase in lifespan. Most importantly, these genetic variants are linked to a longer ‘healthspan’. Check your genetic data to see if you carry the FOXO3A and IGF1R variants associated with healthy longevity.

Sudden Hearing Loss: Viruses, Vaccines, and Genes
Genetic variants can significantly increase your risk of sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Learn more about the current research on sudden sensorineural hearing loss, including links to viral and vaccine causes.

VMAT2 gene: The God Gene and Neurotransmitters
An examination of the current research for the ‘God gene’, explaining what it does and its importance in Parkinson’s disease.


Davinelli, Sergio, et al. “Astaxanthin in Skin Health, Repair, and Disease: A Comprehensive Review.” Nutrients, vol. 10, no. 4, Apr. 2018, p. 522. PubMed Central,

Day, Doris, et al. “Assessing the Potential Role for Topical Melatonin in an Antiaging Skin Regimen.” Journal of Drugs in Dermatology: JDD, vol. 17, no. 9, Sept. 2018, pp. 966–69.

Genovese, Licia, et al. “An Insight into the Changes in Skin Texture and Properties Following Dietary Intervention with a Nutricosmeceutical Containing a Blend of Collagen Bioactive Peptides and Antioxidants.” Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, vol. 30, no. 3, 2017, pp. 146–58. PubMed,

Humbert, P., et al. “Bateman Purpura (Dermatoporosis): A Localized Scurvy Treated by Topical Vitamin C – Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.” Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology: JEADV, vol. 32, no. 2, Feb. 2018, pp. 323–28. PubMed,

Inoue, Naoki, et al. “Ingestion of Bioactive Collagen Hydrolysates Enhance Facial Skin Moisture and Elasticity and Reduce Facial Ageing Signs in a Randomised Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Study.” Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, vol. 96, no. 12, Sept. 2016, pp. 4077–81. PubMed,

Ito, Naoki, et al. “The Protective Role of Astaxanthin for UV-Induced Skin Deterioration in Healthy People—A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Nutrients, vol. 10, no. 7, June 2018, p. 817. PubMed Central,

Kammeyer, A., and R. M. Luiten. “Oxidation Events and Skin Aging.” Ageing Research Reviews, vol. 21, May 2015, pp. 16–29. PubMed,

Komatsu, Toshiyuki, et al. “Preventive Effect of Dietary Astaxanthin on UVA-Induced Skin Photoaging in Hairless Mice.” PLoS ONE, vol. 12, no. 2, Feb. 2017, p. e0171178. PubMed Central,

Laville, Vincent, et al. “A Genome Wide Association Study Identifies New Genes Potentially Associated with Eyelid Sagging.” Experimental Dermatology, vol. 28, no. 8, Aug. 2019, pp. 892–98. PubMed,

Law, Matthew H., et al. “Genome-Wide Association Shows That Pigmentation Genes Play a Role in Skin Aging.” Journal of Investigative Dermatology, vol. 137, no. 9, Sept. 2017, pp. 1887–94.,

Lee, Hyun-Jun, et al. “Orally Administered Collagen Peptide Protects against UVB-Induced Skin Aging through the Absorption of Dipeptide Forms, Gly-Pro and Pro-Hyp.” Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, vol. 83, no. 6, June 2019, pp. 1146–56. PubMed,

Lee, Jong Hee, et al. “The Effects of Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate on Extracellular Matrix Metabolism.” Journal of Dermatological Science, vol. 40, no. 3, Dec. 2005, pp. 195–204. PubMed,

Li, Yi-Fang, et al. “Caffeine Protects Skin from Oxidative Stress-Induced Senescence through the Activation of Autophagy.” Theranostics, vol. 8, no. 20, 2018, pp. 5713–30. PubMed,

Liu, Fan, et al. “The MC1R Gene and Youthful Looks.” Current Biology, vol. 26, no. 9, May 2016, pp. 1213–20.,

Nusgens, Betty V., et al. “Topically Applied Vitamin C Enhances the MRNA Level of Collagens I and III, Their Processing Enzymes and Tissue Inhibitor of Matrix Metalloproteinase 1 in the Human Dermis1.” Journal of Investigative Dermatology, vol. 116, no. 6, June 2001, pp. 853–59.,

Parrado, Concepcion, et al. “Environmental Stressors on Skin Aging. Mechanistic Insights.” Frontiers in Pharmacology, vol. 10, July 2019, p. 759. PubMed Central,

Pittayapruek, Pavida, et al. “Role of Matrix Metalloproteinases in Photoaging and Photocarcinogenesis.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol. 17, no. 6, June 2016, p. 868. PubMed Central,

Poljšak, Borut, and Raja Dahmane. “Free Radicals and Extrinsic Skin Aging.” Dermatology Research and Practice, vol. 2012, 2012, p. 135206. PubMed Central,

Rinnerthaler, Mark, et al. “Oxidative Stress in Aging Human Skin.” Biomolecules, vol. 5, no. 2, Apr. 2015, pp. 545–89. PubMed Central,

Rui, Yehua, et al. “Rosmarinic Acid Suppresses Adipogenesis, Lipolysis in 3T3-L1 Adipocytes, Lipopolysaccharide-Stimulated Tumor Necrosis Factor-α Secretion in Macrophages, and Inflammatory Mediators in 3T3-L1 Adipocytes.” Food & Nutrition Research, vol. 61, no. 1, 2017, p. 1330096. PubMed,

Sauermann, Kirsten, et al. “Topically Applied Vitamin C Increases the Density of Dermal Papillae in Aged Human Skin.” BMC Dermatology, vol. 4, no. 1, Sept. 2004, p. 13. PubMed,

Scheuer, Cecilie. “Melatonin for Prevention of Erythema and Oxidative Stress in Response to Ultraviolet Radiation.” Danish Medical Journal, vol. 64, no. 6, June 2017, p. B5358.

Shao, Nan, et al. “Curcumin Improves Treatment Outcome of Takayasu Arteritis Patients by Reducing TNF-α: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Double-Blind Clinical Trial.” Immunologic Research, vol. 65, no. 4, Aug. 2017, pp. 969–74. PubMed,

Sirvent, Sofia, et al. “Genomic Programming of IRF4-Expressing Human Langerhans Cells.” Nature Communications, vol. 11, no. 1, Jan. 2020, p. 313. PubMed,

Vierkötter, Andrea, et al. “MMP-1 and -3 Promoter Variants Are Indicative of a Common Susceptibility for Skin and Lung Aging: Results from a Cohort of Elderly Women (SALIA).” Journal of Investigative Dermatology, vol. 135, no. 5, May 2015, pp. 1268–74.,


About the Author:
Debbie Moon is the founder of Genetic Lifehacks. Fascinated by the connections between genes, diet, and health, her goal is to help you understand how to apply genetics to your diet and lifestyle decisions. Debbie has a BS in engineering from Colorado School of Mines and an MSc in biological sciences from Clemson University. Debbie combines an engineering mindset with a biological systems approach to help you understand how genetic differences impact your optimal health.