Don’t Count On Genetics, Sunscreens are the Best Bet


In a podcast with P&G scientists Frauke Neuser, Ph.D. and Rosemarie Osborne, Ph.D., Cosmetics & Toiletries learned about genetic studies in support of the Olay brand, and more. The full podcast interview is available on our multimedia page.

C&T: Describe how genetics plays a key role in P&G research and product development.

Neuser: With the multi-decades and ethnicity study initiated a few years ago, we found some women looked more than ten years younger than their real age. We’ve now continued this research to understand what makes these women different. To do so, we partnered with 23andMe to conduct a genome-wide association study of more than 155,000 participants.

Osborne: In the 10% of women having younger-looking skin, we examined skin samples for molecular differences. In these “good agers,” even into their 60s and 70s, skin was in similar condition to women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. So we were interested in understanding to what extent it was genetics vs. lifestyle choices. As it turned out, two unique genetic differences in single nucleotide polymorphisms were identified, both relating to pigmentation. However, these only increased the chances of having younger-looking skin by 12-14%. That made us more curious about the habits, lifestyles and skin care practices of these women.

Additional research revealed other factors were far more impactful than the genetics. The most impactful, by far, was sunscreen use. Women who used sunscreen greater than 90% of the time had a 73% greater chance of having younger-looking skin. Also, interestingly, if they had a positive outlook on life, they had a 30% greater chance of looking younger. Of course, this could be a case of the chicken-and-egg.

Neuser: Hand in hand, we introduced new products that have been re-formulated based on these insights. Because, really, wouldn’t everyone like their skin to behave like that of the 10% “exceptional skin agers?” And this is coming through in new products: Regenerist Total Effects and Luminous.

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