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Crack Your Wellness Code: Send Your DNA To The Spa
You can get your DNA tested here? Yes. Imagine a world where a dermatologist, nutritionist, and health coach or personal trainer can literally see inside you. Based on what they observe, they tell you to use a certain kind of moisturizer (or create one specifically for you), advise against particular foods while recommending others, and propose a new set of exercises to really target your problem spots. That world is now, and they're looking at your DNA. Within the last couple years, DNA-influenced beauty and wellness techniques have been popping up everywhere. A recent New York Times article profiled GeneU, a London-based DNA-testing spa begun by Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, and Elle test-drove Dr. Ruth Harper's line of DNA-dictated skincare (more from Dr. Ruth later). The newest DNA-lifestyle innovation is happening at The Body Holiday, an exclusive vacation spa destination on the island of St. Lucia in the West Indies (pictured above). It's called BodyScience, and it promises the whole nine yards (of DNA), and more. In advance, guests who've elected to participate in BodyScience ($3k in addition to your room and board) receive a kit of DNA-mining accoutrement (mouth swabs) and an extensive questionnaire. The samples and questionnaire are analyzed by a team of experts, who, in league with an Ayurvedic specialist, assess your heart rate, blood pressure, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, determine cardio, arterial fitness, and lung capacity, analyze your body fat, provide a 3D map of your heart, and "establish your body type."
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You are then encouraged to follow a specialized, tailored diet (cooked to order by several on-site chefs), and an exercise regimen is established (there's the usual wellness centre, plus scuba school, tennis academies, Yoga, T'ai Chi and Pilates instructors). Because DNA isn't an isolating factor—so much of your health and body depends on your lifestyle, habits, and location—the experts rely heavily on questionnaires. “It’s the environment that drives aging,” Says Dr. S. Tyler Hollmig, an assistant professor of dermatologic surgery at Stanford University. “If you have one identical twin growing up in Belize and the other in Belgium, their skin is going to look completely different.” But Dr. Ruth Harper, MD, a former emergency room doctor turned skincare specialist, sees real potential in DNA-dictated skincare. She created Skinshift, a DNA-based program designed to individualize each person’s skin care regimen based on his or her unique genetic profile. "What your genetics give you is a road map," says Dr. Harper. "Then you can say, 'I like' or 'I don't like' that destination. That's where skin care products and supplements become very purposeful in terms of changing the outcome."
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According to Charlotte's Book expert Dr. Debra Jaliman, MD, board certified dermatologist and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From A Top New York Dermatologist, DNA repair can now be seen in all sorts of treatment products, including sunscreen. One such product is Neova DNA Damage Control, $39. This sunscreen (in addition to the usual suspects like zinc oxide and antioxidants) contains an enzyme called UV-endonuclease that's harvested from an extract of ocean bacteria. This extract, called micrococcus lysate, is enclosed in a tiny package of fat (called a liposome) that purportedly helps the enzyme penetrate deep into the skin. “Patients seem to like these products because they are not as irritating as retinoids,” says Jaliman. As with most aesthetic trends, she agrees it's very media-driven. “I think we will see DNA repair incorporated into other products in the future,” she says. “Maybe even makeup.” Treatments, Experts, and Concerns Mentioned In This Feature: Dr. Ruth Harper, MD Dr. S. Tyler Hollmig, MD Dr. Debra Jaliman, MD Search The Book: dermatologist, nutritionist, health coach, ayurvedic specialist