The latest development in skincare goes much further than skin deep. Several companies now offer genetic testing to help clients customize skincare regimes. The idea is to choose the most appropriate and effective skincare products and therapies by understanding your skin at the genetic level.

How does it work?

Cells from a cheek swab or saliva are sent to a lab and evaluated for genetic factors that influence skin elasticity, aging, and appearance. Skincare specialists then make specific recommendations based on test results. For example, if tests show that a person’s skin breaks down collagen quickly, they may be advised to use a product that increases the rate of collagen production.

Does it work?

There are currently no published studies that verify whether gene-specific skincare treatments actually improve skin’s health or appearance. Anecdotally however, some patients and skincare specialists say they see marked improvement in skin tone, texture and appearance.

Do you need gene testing to get great skin?

Dr Joyce Davis, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in New York City says, “DNA testing may not be all that useful for skincare selection.” In fact, Davis, like many physicians and scientists, say that skin appearance has more to do with environment and lifestyle than genetics. “Studies of identical twins show that the way skin ages is often more dependent on our habits than our genetics. For example, sun exposure and smoking makes the biggest difference in the way skin ages. The twin who has more sun exposure will have more wrinkles, brown spots, fine lines, and sagging. The twin who smokes will have more fine lines around the mouth and sallow skin.”

How do you get a customized skincare plan without genetic testing?

Davis says that a better way to choose a skincare regimen is to focus on your main skin problem or see a dermatologist for an individualized care plan. She says, “In addition to prescribing medication, your dermatologist can advise you on cleansers, SPF protection, makeup, hair care products (oil free if acne prone), and more."

For example, “Younger patients with oily skin who are acne prone need a regimen that normalizes oils and lessens breakouts. Products with glycolic or salicylic acid are ideal for skin in this category. Older patients dealing with dryness, lines, and sunspots need products that promote anti aging and moisturizing effects. People who have hyperpigmentation need products with kojic acid or licorice extracts to help reduce pigmentation. These problems are often environmentally induced and wouldn’t be predicted with gene testing.”

Where do you find the best skincare products for your skin type?

Davis recommends going to a store like Sephora that carries a wide range of products and asking for an individual consultation. “You don't need to purchase all your products from one cosmetic company either. You can choose a cleanser from one company, a sun block from another and a foundation from a third. You can also pick up some wonderful multitasking products that combine several anti-aging ingredients.”

To learn more about skin health, skincare, gene testing and the best products and treatments for you, visit your dermatologist or other skincare specialist or log on to the American Academy of Dermatology Association’s website.

Joyce Davis, MD. General and Cosmetic Dermatology, reviewed this article.


Joyce Davis, MD. General and Cosmetic Dermatology. Interview, September 9, 2015.

Shahbazi, Rudabeh. "DNA Testing Offered For Personalized Skin Care Treatments." CBS Miami. August 14, 2015.