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The role of ‘longevity proteins’ in skincare

A researcher explains how sirtuin activators in daily routine can help maintain a glowing skin, the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and when the skin really starts ageing

Start your anti-ageing journey between the age of 25 and 30, says expert Nadine Pernodet
Start your anti-ageing journey between the age of 25 and 30, says expert Nadine Pernodet (Unsplash )

Humanity’s quest to stop ageing is a constant one. Several studies claim sirtuins, positive epigenetic signaling proteins (in other words, protective genes that control the rate at which we age), might hold the key to push back ageing and degeneration of the body. 

In fact, experts across the world have been testing the effects of sirtuins for various degenerative illnesses and skincare.

For example, Estée Lauder has come up with a new skincare product, Re-Nutriv Ultimate Diamond Transformative Brilliance Soft Crème, that puts to action the company's almost two-decade long research on epigenetics, along with its patented Sirtivity-LP technology. The product claims to offer healthy and glowing skin, thanks to sirtuins. 

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What are epigenetics and sirtuins? 

Epigenetics are beyond genetics, says Nadine Pernodet, senior vice president of global innovation and technologies, Bioscience, and R&D at Estée Lauder Companies, over a video call. The ageing process is related 25% to genetics and 75% to epigenetics, she says.

“The environment influences the way cells will behave. So if it is going to be damaged, it will change cell behaviour. We are understanding how epigenetic signals impact skin cells, accelerating ageing or protecting them. Sirtuins are also called epigenetic signalling molecules, as they help the positive epigenetic network,” says Dr Pernodet.

The study of epigenetics applies to skin of all races and helps create solutions for all skin types, as it works on the fundamentals of cell rebuilding and collagen reproduction. “What is different is the visible effects and consequences of ageing," she says. "Like with Indian skin, we see pigmentation issues very early, and lines and wrinkles with Caucasian skin.”  

Of course, using sirtuin activators in skincare will not work if you are leading an unhealthy lifestyle. “Nothing compares to following a balanced diet, and eating enough proteins,” says Dr Pernodet. 

When does the skin really start ageing?  Dr Pernodet explains that in your early 20s, skin cells are still healthy, producing proteins and all that one needs to protect themselves. Only in your mid and late 20s, skin starts to accumulate damage. “We see a rise in inflammation and a little loss of protein production. So if you want to keep what you have, start your anti-ageing journey between the age of 25 and 30 when the damage is starting, but is not visible for you to see," she says. “Sirtuin levels reduce in the 30s, which is when the skin starts accumulating damage and accelerates ageing. The best thing is to start and support the natural levels of sirtuins (by maintaining a healthy lifestyle), so they continue the lifespan and health span of skin cells.”

Dhara Vora Sabhnani is a Mumbai-based writer.

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