Your genetic blueprint, or genome, is made of approximately 25,000 genes—that’s around 3 billion letters of DNA. Every single characteristic you have, from cute feet to sugar cravings to crow’s feet, is held in that imaginary chain. And, like it or not, every single part of that chain comes from your parents.
So when it comes to aging, the inevitable, unavoidable truth is that you’ll end up looking—at least in some capacity—a lot like your mom. Sure, external factors like how much time you spend in the sun and whether or not you smoke (epigenetics) certainly influence the way you age, but genes are a major culprit when it comes to wrinkles, sagging skin, age spots, and everything else.
That’s why, in honor of Mother’s Day, we’re taking a look at the way genes influence aging, with a special consideration of how modern mothers and daughters perceive the aging process—and why they should spend a little more time talking to each other about it.
The Genetic Link To Aging
Traditionally, scientists have seen aging as a straight 50/50 blend of genetics and environment. In part, this was because specific genes responsible for aging hadn’t been isolated. But very recently, a study revealed that “white European people with two copies of variant forms of MC1R, a gene linked to pale skin and red hair, have faces that appear up to two years older than those who are the same age but don’t have both copies,” according to Scientific American. In other words, variant forms of MC1R could be responsible for making you look older. That’s a simplification, but the takeaway is that learning more about how our genes influence the aging process and understanding which genes in particular are doing the work could lead to the ability to manipulate those individual genes.
Sort of changes the way you look at your mom, right?
Earlier this year, Galderma surveyed mothers and daughters across the country as part of their Mom Genes campaign. Not surprisingly, 73% of daughters felt they were aging just like their moms, reporting that they experienced several of the same skin issues (fine lines, sagging skin, and forehead wrinkles).
One question asked participants to consider aging in the era of selfies: 90% of moms and 88% of daughters believe expectations to look younger longer are greater now than in past generations. Anyone feeling any pressure? Absolutely: a majority of moms wanted to look ten years younger, and nearly half of daughters would consider using an injectable to stave off the signs of aging (among those who hadn’t already done it).
Start A Conversation!
Charlotte’s Book-approved dermatologist Dr. Doris Day, who worked with the campaign, thinks talking about aging with your mom is the first step. When you think about skincare, beauty and aging, so much is linked to how your mother is aging—creating an open dialogue and discussion can be really valuable. “Women can learn a lot about how the process may affect them by observing and talking about the changes their moms go through,” she says. “Genetics and nurturing good skin health practices are big factors influencing the way the face ages,” adds Dr. Day.
Interestingly enough, many mothers and daughters aren’t talking openly about beauty, skin health and aging. We actually discuss aging more often with our friends than with the person whose genetics most closely resemble ours. In fact, the same study found that 82% of moms hope facial aging is easier for their daughters, but more than half actually never talk about it together.
Try striking up a conversation this Mother’s Day about what you eat, the products you use, and what treatments you’ve tried—you might learn more than you think.
Irina Shayk is beautiful. She has amazing genes, but she also takes papaya powder—where’s the study on that?
Plus, in case you missed it: the mother/daughter thing hit a new level at coachella this year.
FIND BEAUTY AND WELLNESS EXPERTS
Read client reviews of Dr. Doris Day, book appointments, and get expert advice. Only the best cosmetic doctors, skincare gurus, nutritionists, fitness and wellness professionals make it into our book.