Can A DNA Test Prevent Skin Ageing?

geneu dna skincare

Can a DNA test prevent skin ageing?

Geneu certainly thinks so. The brand claims to be able, with the help of a microchip, to “assess human genetic variation in skin ageing” and provide a treatment, tailored to your own skin’s needs, that defies your genetic destiny.

It all sounds very sci-fi, but it is the beginning of the future of skincare. It is just too soon to invest in it. Here’s why:

How Skin Ageing Works

Ageing is inevitable, but the rate at which it happens isn’t. It can be slowed down. But it is not easy. Skin ageing is a complicated process that involves lots of factors, including the breakdown of collagen and elastin, two substances that keep our skin firm and elastic. As they deplete with age, skin becomes looser and saggier.

There are many things that can harm collagen. One of the main culprits is unprotected sun exposure. A diet poor in antioxidants and rich in sugars and high alcohol consumption play a part too. But there is also a genetic component to this. In some people, collagen and elastin naturally start to deplete sooner.

Smart lifestyle choices and antioxidant rich skincare products can help us slow down premature ageing somewhat, but we have no control over genetic factors yet. By understanding how the genes that control collagen levels in the skin work, we can figure out how to modify them so that we can prevent or retard the ageing process.

By this is not what Geneu does. And thank goodness. Messing with genes is a very risky business. Do it wrong, and it could lead to mutations, cancer, and other serious health problems. For a product like this to be approved for sale, it would have to undergo years of very strict tests to prove it is harmless to human health.

So, what does Geneu do?

First of all, Geneu takes a sample of your DNA. But don’t worry. This is not painful nor unpleasant. There are no needles, scalpels or other instruments of torture involved. Using a cotton bud, the people at Geneu simply collect a swab of your inside cheek.

This swab is analyzed by their “DNA BeautyLab on a microchip”, which identifies how high or low your levels of natural antioxidants and collagen breakdown are. The man behind this technology is Professor Christofer Toumazou at London’s Imperial College, who has also invented an artificial pancreas and hearing implants for deaf people, so there’s actually a chance this microchip is more than a gimmick.

30 minutes later, the results are in. They are used to formulate a personalized serum featuring the right concentrations of active ingredients your skin needs to enhance its natural antioxidant protection and collagen levels. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the list of ingredients anywhere. Their website only mentions it contains hylauronic acid and a plant-based active complex (probably antioxidants with collagen-boosting properties).

How much does Geneu costs?

As you have probably guessed, Geneu isn’t cheap. The test, which can only be done in their salon in Bond Street, London, and two week’s supply of serum costs a whopping £600! Refills can be purchased online at, and will set you back £300 a month. You can also get a Geneu Annual Subscription, which includes 52 weeks’ worth of serum plus a complementary re-test, for £3300.

Is Geneu worth it?

As much as I like the idea of personalized skincare, Geneu isn’t so innovative to justify its high price tag yet. If may be able to tell you what the levels of antioxidants and collagen in your skin are, but you could still get a pretty good idea of that by looking into a mirror.

The expensive serum may be personalized, but it doesn’t contain any innovative ingredients you can’t find anywhere else. Antioxidants, such as vitamin c, ferulic acid, green tea, and retinol, do a great job at keeping premature wrinkles at bay, and they are found in a lot of serums at much lower prices. But, just like Geneu’s pricier option, they will only do so much if you don’t follow a healthy diet and wear sunscreen regularly.

For now, I can only recommend Geneu to wealthy women who can’t be bothered to research cosmetic ingredients and hunt down state-of-the-art anti-ageing serums and moisturizers. For them, the convenience of a bespoke serum may be worth its high price.

The Bottom Line

The future of skincare is in bespoke, personalized products. One day, I’m sure, technology will allow us to figure out with even more precision what condition our skin is in and what problems we are predisposed to, and create treatments tailored to our own personal need. It will also allows us to modify genes to prevent or slow down ageing. But that day is still far away. Now, it is still too early to invest in Geneu. This technology isn’t as impressive as it is made out to be yet.

Would you give Geneu a try?

Pat or Rub: Which Makes Skincare Products Work Better?

skincare pat rub

Image courtesy of stockimages at

Do you rub in or pat on your skincare products?

I’m a patter, but not for the reason you think. Clarins, Hada Labo and a dozen other brands want us to believe that patting your lotions and potions on helps them to penetrate our skin better. I’m sorry, but that’s just nonsense.

The patting technique doesn’t enhance penetration (and neither does rubbing)

Our skin is a very underrated organ. We often think about how to prettify it, but rarely of what it does for us. Its outermost layer, called the stratum corneum, has a very important function. It forms a barrier between our body and the rest of the world.

This barrier is very difficult to penetrate. And that’s a very good thing. If getting through it were easy, pretty much anything we come in contact with would enter our bodies, and, worse, our insides would spill out!

When this barrier is broken (that may be due, for example, to severe dryness and irritation, strong acid peels, or laser vaporizations), our creams, but also bacteria, and other substances can more easily get inside our bodies. But this often causes irritations, infections, and other problems we’d rather not deal with.

There are also ways to get through a healthy skin barrier. Substances like propylene glycol and linalool can help other ingredients better penetrate into the skin. Applying creams to damp skin increases absorption by about 10% too. But to the stratum corneum, it doesn’t make any difference whether you rub in or pat on your creams. Either way, they seep in slowly, at the rate the stratum corneum allows them to.

skincare tips 30s

Why patting is really better than rubbing

Patting may not enhance penetration, but it can help you age better. How? Rubbing too vigorously stretches skin, causing the breakdown of elastin and collagen. This, in turn, promotes sagging.

It’s true, though, that a gentle massage, using circular motions, can be beneficial for skin too. It help increase blood flow, which gives your skin a pretty natural glow. But there’s an exception. If you have rosacea or overly red skin you should avoid rubbing. It can aggravate the condition.

Patting is also a better way to apply sunscreen. Sunscreen is not skincare. It is not meant to be absorbed. To work properly, it needs to sit on top of the skin and form a protective layer against UV rays. Rubbing gets in the way of that. A 2006 study has shown that rubbing sunscreen in vigorously can affect the formation of this even layer, leaving tiny holes that are impossible to detect with the naked eye but allow UV rays to get through and damage skin.

The bottom line

Neither rubbing nor patting enhance the penetration of your lotions and potions. But patting is gentler on the skin, and, unlike rubbing, doesn’t reduce the effectiveness of your sunscreen.

How do you apply your skincare products?

Can A Pillow Prevent Wrinkles?

wrinkle prevention pillow 01

Did you know that the way you sleep may actually cause wrinkles?

Yep, it’s not enough to wear sunscreen daily, eat a healthy diet, and use products chockfull of antioxidants. We also need to pay attention to how we sleep. Why? “No matter how soft your pillow, it puts pressure on your face each night,” explains Dr Matthew Hoffman. “Over years, this can etch lines into your chin, cheeks or forehead. Your personal pattern of sleep lines depends of how you tend to rest your face on the pillow.”

Dermatologist Neal Schultz agrees: “If you sleep on your side or front, rather than your back, it’s like you’re folding over your skin – except it’s sustained pressure. It’s breaking the collagen, which can give you wrinkles and make your skin look saggy.”

The solution? Sleep on your back. Problem is, that’s no solution at all to me, and, I guess, to many of you. I’ve tried many times to sleep on my back, but I’ve always given up up after a few minutes. It’s just so uncomfortable! I can only sleep on my side, but at least I alternate between my right and left, so, hopefully, I’m getting the same amount of damage everywhere.

But what if you don’t want any damage at all? Isn’t there another solution? Maybe. Some experts recommend you sleep on a tall, silk pillow, such as About Face The Wrinkle Prevention Pillow.

The Wrinkle Prevention Pillow

The Wrinkle Prevention Pillow was invented by Patty Colman, Beauty Sleep Expert and President of About Face Products. Understanding the importance of a good night’s sleep and its benefits, Patty wanted “to help people rest assured knowing that they no longer are causing permanent sleep wrinkles while sleeping.”

Apparently, this pillow help you sleep on your back, prevent wrinkles and eye puffiness, and even make your skincare products and treatments last longer! No wonder it has been copied by several rivals, launching a new category of products in the anti-aging industry. But does it work? Let’s investigate:

wrinkle prevention pillow 02

Can it prevent wrinkles?

Made of memory foam, the Wrinkle Prevention Pillow features a contoured center that makes sleeping on your back more natural and comfortable. So, if, like me, you find it impossible to sleep on your back on a normal pillow, this may help. But what if you sleep on your side or stomach?

According to the website, “if and when you do turn on your side or stomach, position your head so that it is at the edge of the C curve of the pillow [the right and left edges of this pillow are C-shaped]. Position the top ‘leg’ of the pillow so it supports the top of your head, and the bottom “leg” so it supports the bottom of your chin.” That may be easy to do as soon as you get into bed, but if you change position during the night?

Apparently, even then a silk pillowcase would lessen the chance of lines forming by allowing the skin to move on it with less friction. On a cotton pillowcase, your skin doesn’t move as well, so lines tend to form more easily. But, as Paula Begoun points out, this theory has never been tested in any serious study, so no one knows if it really works.

She doesn’t think it hurts to try it, although she warns us about another “danger”. Paula tried a silk pillowcase (not sure it was by About Face, though) but she kept sliding off of it: “really, I wake up in the morning and the pillow is somewhere else. It’s like on the floor.” That kinda defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? It’s a shame, cos I really like the idea of sleeping on a silk pillowcase, even if it shouldn’t help prevent wrinkles.

Can it make skincare products work better?

As the pillow helps you sleep on your back comfortably, your face won’t touch it. This prevents your lotions and potions from getting absorbed by the pillowcase rather than your skin. Silk is also slightly less absorbent than cotton. It also, as we’ve seen above, causes skin to move on it more easily, with less friction. Because of these benefits, even if you sleep on your side, most of your night cream should remain on your skin anyway.

These benefits also help hair form less knots during sleep, and your eyelash extensions and derma fillers (if you regularly have them done and sleep on your side, have you noticed how that side loses its fullness faster?) last longer.

wrinkle prevention pillow 03

Can it prevent eye puffiness?

Eye puffiness can be caused by several factors. One of them is fluid retention. When you keep your head flat during sleep, fluids collect in the tissue around your eyes. Luckily, there’s a very easy fix for this. Sleep with your head slightly raised. The wrinkle prevention pillow helps sleep like that. But, if your eye puffiness is caused by something else, like allergies or a diet high in salt, this pillow won’t help at all.

Where can you get the Wrinkle Prevention Pillow?

The Wrinkle Prevention Pillow by About Face is available in in ivory, purple, and pink, so you can choose the one that best matches your sheets. On their website, the pillow ($65.00) and pillowcase ($28.95) can be purchased separately, whether on Amazon, they are available together for $89.00 (but only the pink and purple versions are available there).

Should you get The Wrinkle Prevention Pillow?

While there is some evidence that sleeping on your back and with your head raised can prevent wrinkles, reduce eye puffiness, make your skincare products work better, and treatments such as derma fillers last longer, no study has confirmed the alleged anti-aging benefits of The Wrinkle Prevention Pillow or silk pillowcases yet.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to try one. If you’re on a budget, you may want to invest in just a silk pillowcase for your regular pillow. At the very least, it’ll add a touch of luxury to your sleep. As long as your pillow doesn’t end up on the floor!

Have you tried the Wrinkle Prevention Pillow, or even just a silk pillowcase?

Why You Should Use A Serum

why you should use a serum

When it comes to skincare, less is more. Toners aren’t necessary. For most people, neither are eye creams. And masks may provide a nice pampering experience and a much needed pick me up when your skin is particularly dull and lacklustre. But they’re not a must to keep your skin in top shape.

For a long time, I thought serums fell into the same category. Skincare gimmicks that suck your money dry but provide little benefits if you’re already using a well-formulated moisturizer. Of course, at the time I had no idea what serums were or what they were supposed to do. It’s only when, in my mid 20s, I started taking anti-aging seriously, that I began wondering whether I should add a serum to my skincare routine.

When I did, I never looked back. If anything, I regretted taking so long to jump on the bandwagon. Yep, a lot of skincare products are unnecessary gimmicks designed to separate you from your money, but serum isn’t one of them. As it turns out, a serum is the workhorse of your skincare routine.

skin actives vitamin c serum

Why you should use a serum

I used to think that, if my moisturizer already contained antioxidants, then buying a serum with antioxidants was just a waste of money. Why pay twice for the same ingredients? Because those ingredients are more concentrated in a serum, and therefore work better.

In fact, serums contain anti-aging or skin-lightening ingredients and barely anything else. Moisturizers, on the other hand, are full of occlusive emollients that help keep skin hydrated by forming a barrier that prevents water loss, and thickeners that give them a richer texture. These ingredients are good for skin, but they take up so much space that antioxidants tend to get lost in the formula. Their concentrations are often small.

Not in serums. With little else to fight for space for, antioxidants and/or skin-lighting agents take a prominent place. In serums, more of them are present, and in higher concentrations too. That’s why they work faster and better. You may get away with not using a serum when you’re still very young, but, if you haven’t added one to your skincare routine by your mid-20s, you’re doing your skin a huge disservice.

paula's choice resist intensive wrinkle repair retinol serum 01

How do you use a serum?

A serum should be part of both your daytime and night-time skincare routines. Pour a pea-sized amount on your hand and apply it on your skin after a AHA or BHA exfoliant but before your moisturizer. The barrier moisturizers create on the skin keep water in but can also keep active ingredients out. If you apply a serum after your moisturizer, it won’t penetrate skin, and therefore work, as well.

If your skin is oily, you may not need to apply a moisturizer at all. The serum may, on its own, provide all the hydration you need. I sometimes skip the moisturizer on my oily t-zone, but on my dry cheeks, it’s a must. If I don’t, skin feels tight and dry.

skin actives antioxidant serum ros terminator

My favourite picks

So, now that you know you should use a serum, which one should you pick? Here are a few of my favourites:

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution ($88.00): infused with antioxidants, retinol, glycolic acid, and a bunch of skin-lightening agents, this serum helps reduce all signs of premature aging, from wrinkles to dark spots.

MD Formulations Vit-A Plus Illumination Serum ($65.00): infused with glycolic acid, retinol, and antioxidants, this serum helps both prevent and reduce wrinkles and lighten dark spots. Ideal for mature skin, it provides a great alternative to hydroquinone serums.

Paula’s Choice Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum ($26.95): although not very hydrating, this serum contains a plethora of antioxidants that helps keep the signs of premature aging at bay. Vitamin C also helps slowly reduce dark spots.

Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum($31.95): a staple in my night-time skincare routine, this serum is loaded with antioxidants, retinol and anti-irritants that can boost collagen production, help prevent and fight the signs of aging, reduce discolourations and treat acne breakouts.

Peter Thomas Roth De-Spot™ Skin Brightening Corrector ($75.00): another good, but pricey, alternative to hydroquinone serums, it contains niacinamide and a bunch of berry extracts with skin-lightening properties that helps reduce dark spots. It also has antioxidant and hydrating properties, which makes it a great choice for mature, dry skin.

Skin Actives Antioxidant Serum With ROS* Terminator ($25.25): this serum features pretty much every antioxidant you can think of to help prevent premature aging. That’s not all. It also has hydrating and skin-lightening properties to make your skin soft and bright.

Skin Actives Vitamin C Serum ($15.50): a cheaper alternative to Skinceutical CE Ferulic serum, Skin Actives Vitamin C Serum is loaded with antioxidants that can stimulate collage production, reduce sun damage and hyperpigmentation, prevent wrinkles, and exfoliate skin. It’s another staple in my skincare routine.

Do you use a serum? If not, will you start soon?

Do Your Skincare Products Have To Be From The Same Brand?

skincare products same brand

Do all our skincare products have to be from the same brand? That’s certainly what brands want us to believe. Hey, they get all our money if we do. That’s why they are so fond of reminding us that all the products in their lines have been created to work synergistically together and, if we stray, we are just making them ineffective.

But is that really true? Well, while there are certainly cases when sticking to a brand can give good results, most of the time there is absolutely no need to do so. You may even hurt your skin (and your wallet) by being too faithful to just one brand. Yes, really. Here’s why:

Every line has a dud (or two)

Just because one product does great things for your skin, it doesn’t mean that all the others in the same line will too. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to find a line that features, for example, a serum formulated with state-of-the-art ingredients, a gentle, effective cleanser, a toner laden with irritants, and a moisturizer packaged in a jar which allows all its goodies to spoil.

And even when they are all well-formulated, one or more products may not be suitable for your skin type. A moisturizer can, for instance, be too rich for your oily skin and cause breakouts. Every line has one or more duds, and if you insist on using them, your skin won’t be happy!

Some ingredients just can’t be used together

Having said that, there is a grain of truth in the “our products are designed to work together, so mixing brands can reduce their effectiveness” theory. Some ingredients just don’t work that well together. For example, AHAs, such as glycolic acid and lactic acid, can neutralize retinoids, making them ineffective. And that’s the last thing you want.

While not every product in one line may be well-formulated, they are created with ingredients that work well together. But is sticking to the same brand even in this case worth it? That depends on the line. Are all its products formulated without irritants and work well for your skin type and needs? If so, by all means, don’t stray. But such a line is very hard to find.

So, what to do?

Research and experiment. Knowledge is power. By understanding which ingredients should never be used together, and which address any concern your skin may have, you will be able to create a skincare routine that satisfies your needs and keeps your skin in top condition. Remember, your skin doesn’t care what brand you use, it just wants something that suits its needs!

Do you stick to the same brand or, like me, do you like to mix and match skincare products?

5 Unnecessary Skincare Products

unnecessary skincare products

“Cleanse, tone, and moisturize.” “Don’t forget to buy a cream for your neck as well.” “And have you tried this facial mask as well?”

Every day we are bombarded by magazine articles and ads from skincare companies encouraging us to buy all sorts of products for our skin. But while some of them are very useful, others are just gimmicks that don’t work and only make us waste money. Here are 5 totally unnecessary skincare products you don’t need to invest in:

1. Toner

Toner is one of the most used, and yet most useless, skincare products. Did you know it was invented to remove the residue soap left behind? Well, these days we don’t use soap to wash our faces anymore. Most facial cleansers don’t leave neither a residue nor any dirt behind. If yours does, then it doesn’t work that well, so change it.

If you have oily skin and use astringents to keep it under control, don’t. This type of toner is full of alcohol, which irritates and dries out skin, causing it to produce even more oil. What about toners with antioxidants and moisturizing ingredients? These ingredients definitely benefit skin, but they are already included in well-formulated moisturizers so I personally don’t see the need to buy these toners as well.

2. Neck Cream

Your neck needs some TLC too, or it will show your age sooner than your face. But you don’t need any special products for it. Your neck needs what the rest of your face needs: moisturizing ingredients, antioxidants, retinoids, AHAs, and protection from the sun. So, choose well-formulated moisturizers, sunscreens, and exfoliants for your face and use them on your neck as well.

3. Face mists

I don’t really get face mists. Sure, the refreshing sensation they provide is very pleasant in the summer, but these products are little more than water in a fancy bottle. I’d rather stick to plain old tap water. But if you really feel the need to buy a face mist, choose an inexpensive one.

4. Anti-cellulite products

How I wish these worked! But they don’t. No topical cream can get rid of cellulite. What they can do, if they contain retinol, is smooth out the surface of the skin a bit so that your cellulite looks less obvious. But it is still there. Of course, improvement is minimal. Unless the cream contains too little retinol or is packaged in a jar that makes this ingredient useless. Then, it will not work at all. So eat healthy, exercise, and forget about your cellulite. We all have it. It’s normal, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it.

5. Facial Masks

I wouldn’t say facial masks are useless, but they aren’t as useful as most people think either. The moisturizing and antioxidant goodies they contain work best when left on the skin for hours, not removed after 20 minutes or so. They can be useful as a pick-me-up before a special occasion (that’s when I use them), but there’s no need to use them regularly.

What skincare products do you think are useless?