Everything You Can Learn From A Genetic Skin Report

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Everything You Can Learn From A Genetic Skin Report

Date of Content:  November 19, 2023
Written by: Avanthika Nityanand
Reviewed by: Maarit Tiirikainen, PhD



Genetic testing for skincare is a relatively new yet rapidly evolving field that merges dermatology with genomics to personalize skincare regimens. This approach is based on the understanding that genetics plays a crucial role in influencing skin traits such as elasticity, moisture retention, skin aging, and predispositions to specific conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

The process begins with collecting a DNA sample, usually through a saliva swab. This sample is then analyzed to identify specific genetic markers, or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), associated with various skin properties and conditions.

Here are some key aspects and potential benefits of genetic testing for skincare:

Life DNA Skin Report

Personalized Skincare

Each person has unique genetic variations that contribute to their distinct characteristics. These variations are not just superficial; they can significantly influence how a person responds to treatments and medications. 

The traditional medical approach focuses on treating symptoms or diseases with treatments suitable for  the general population. Personalized medicine shifts this approach to consider the individual’s unique genetic makeup when designing skincare routines and treatment strategies.

It is about tailoring the intervention to the individual rather than applying a one-size-fits-all solution. As we understand how genetic variations affect health and disease, there is a growing trend to incorporate this knowledge into clinical practice and daily care. It could mean developing drugs and treatments that are more effective for specific genetic profiles, reducing the risk of adverse reactions, and improving outcomes.

Preventive Measures

Identifying genetic risk factors for skin conditions such as acne or rosacea allows for early preventative care, potentially mitigating the severity or onset of these conditions. Past twin studies have estimated acne heritability at 80%, suggesting that shared genetic variants play a significant role in acne.

Scientists have identified several genes that show a potential association with acne development. Similar studies have shown that if one parent has psoriasis, there is a 20% chance their child will develop it. This risk increases to 65% if both parents are affected. Conditions such as eczema, contact dermatitis, and varicose veins have similar genetic links which we will see in more detail below.

Skin Aging

Numerous GWAS conducted in the European, Japanese, and Chinese populations have shown that some individuals are genetically more likely to develop wrinkles and sagging skin due to specific genetic variations.

Genetic tests can reveal markers associated with collagen breakdown, elasticity, and antioxidant capacity of the skin, helping to tailor anti-aging treatments more effectively.

Ingredient Response

Genetics can influence the skin’s response to specific ingredients in skincare products, such as retinoids, vitamins, and oils, guiding more efficient and safer product choices.

Allergy Risks

Genetic testing can also estimate the likelihood of allergic reactions to substances commonly found in skincare products, enabling individuals to avoid potential allergens. For example, several studies have shown that genetic variations can influence the severity of response in patients with contact dermatitis.

Routine Customization

The insights from genetic testing can help dermatologists and skin care professionals recommend daily routines that align with the patient’s genetic makeup, from cleansing to sun protection.

Role Of Ancestry In Skin Variations

Skin characteristics can significantly differ among different populations due to underlying structural and physiological traits determined by ancestral genetic factors. Here is a detailed breakdown:

White European Skin Characteristics

  1. Smaller melanosomes (organelles within cells that synthesize, store, and transport melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color)
  2. Lower melanin content (less pigment)
  3. Thinner stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin)
  4. Thinner dermis (the layer of skin beneath the epidermis that contains connective tissue, blood vessels, and hair follicles)
  5. Decreased Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL), which is a measure of the water that passes from inside a body through the epidermal layer to the surrounding atmosphere via diffusion and evaporation processes.

These characteristics make White European skin more susceptible to photodamage (damage from the sun) and loss of collagen (which provides skin elasticity), and therefore, an increased likelihood of wrinkles as part of the aging process.

Skin Characteristics with the African Ancestry

  1. Larger melanosomes and higher melanin content provide more pigmentation.
  2. Thicker stratum corneum and dermis are correlated with the level of pigmentation.
  3. More resistant to photodamage, resulting in preserved skin elasticity and delayed onset of wrinkles.
  4. However, this skin type is more susceptible to changes in pigmentation as it ages, such as uneven skin tone or spots.

In addition, African skin may experience dryness or xerosis (dry skin) more frequently, especially in conditions of low relative humidity and aging.

Skin Characteristics with the Asian Ancestry

Like African skin, Asian skin tends to be more resistant to photodamage. It shows delayed aging in terms of the appearance of wrinkles. It is also prone to age-related pigmentation changes, which are particularly noticeable in Asian skin.

Even within the major genetic ancestry groups, there can be significant individual differences in pigmentation and skin elasticity. Both genetic makeup and environmental factors influence these variations.

Genetic ancestry background plays a significant role in the skin’s response to environmental factors, aging of the skin, and potential skin issues. This knowledge is crucial as it emphasizes the need for tailored skincare and treatment regimens that consider the unique skin biology of people with different ancestry

However, there are also considerations to keep in mind:

  • Privacy and Ethics: Genetic data is sensitive, and there are concerns about the privacy of such information and the potential for misuse.
  • Complex Interactions: Genetics is only one piece of the puzzle; environmental factors, lifestyle, and diet significantly impact skin health.
  • Emerging Science: The field is still in its infancy, and not all genetic markers have clear implications for skincare, or have been found yet,  necessitating ongoing research.

Overall, genetic testing for skincare holds promise for more targeted and effective skincare practices. However, it is crucial to approach these tests with a clear understanding of their scope and under the guidance of knowledgeable professionals in genetics and dermatology.

Traits Covered In The LifeDNA Skin Report

Excessive Skin Dryness

People with excessive skin dryness have askin that lacks moisture to the point of flaking, scaling, or itching. Environmental factors, genetics, or underlying health issues can cause it.


Acne is a skin condition characterized by pimples, blackheads, and cysts, usually on the face, neck, back, and shoulders. It is caused by the overproduction of oil, clogged pores, and bacteria.

Acne is a multifactorial skin condition influenced by genetic and environmental factors. For example, a 2014 GWAS showed that imbalances in TGFβ-driven signaling play a significant role in acne vulnerability. Another study published in August this year (2023) implicated the influence of  TGFB2 variant rs1256580 in acne

Further Reading: The Genetics of Acne

Facial Pigmental Spots

Also known as hyperpigmentation, these are darkened patches or spots on the skin that can occur due to sun exposure, aging, or hormonal changes. A 2008 GWAS on over 10,000 men and women of European descent found that IRF4 SNP (rs12203592) was associated with skin color, eye color, and skin tanning response to sunlight. This finding was confirmed in a 2015 GWAS study, in the European population. A 2014 study highlighted rs10765819, an SNP located in the first intron (region of a gene that does not code for a protein) of the BNC2 gene, which was previously associated with human skin color saturation. 

Skin Tanning / Sun Burning

Tanning is the skin’s response to UV exposure, leading to darker pigmentation. Sunburn is an acute reaction to excessive UV light exposure, causing redness, inflammation, and, in severe cases, blistering. A 2018 GWAS on 176,678 subjects of European ancestry reported twenty genetic positions that influence skin tanning response. Of these 20,  six were confirmations of previously reported loci.


A chronic skin condition that causes redness and visible blood vessels, often on the face. It may also produce small, red, pus-filled bumps. Rosacea is a complex condition whose genetic causes are not entirely known. But, research has shed light on the role of specific genes that predispose people to the condition. For example, studies have shown that variations in the HLA gene can significantly influence predisposition to rosacea

Read More: The Genetics of Rosacea

Stretch Marks

Lines or streaks on the skin occur when the skin is stretched rapidly, such as during pregnancy, rapid weight gain, or growth spurts during puberty.

Interestingly, no known genetic variants were linked to the occurrence of stretch marks in the broader population until this 2013 genome-wide association study by 23andMe. Previous studies mostly addressed stretch marks as a symptom of other conditions like Marfan’s syndrome. The 23andMe GWAS shortlisted several candidate genes for predisposition to stretch marks. For a more detailed review of these genes, you can read our article on the Genetics of Stretch Marks.

Facial Wrinkles

Lines and creases that form in the skin, commonly as a result of the aging process, can also be exacerbated by factors like sun damage and smoking. A 2022 GWAS on 1,041 Japanese women identified five SNPs within the COL5A3 gene significantly associated with crow’s feet wrinkles. Additionally, several SNPs on chromosome 8q24.11 were associated with the expression of the RAD21 gene and linked to nasolabial fold (deep creases or lines that extend from the sides of the nose down to the corners of the mouth) wrinkles. 


Small, brownish spots on the skin often become more pronounced through exposure to sunlight, typically appearing on people with a fair complexion. Variations in the MC1R gene significantly influence predisposition to freckles. The MC1R gene encodes the melanocortin-1 receptor, which influences the color of the skin, hair, and eyes.

Read More: The Genetics Of Freckles


Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease characterized by red, itchy, and scaly patches on the skin. It is a chronic condition with periods of flare-ups and remission. Over the years, studies have shown that genetic variations related to the immune system and the skin, make the skin more sensitive and vulnerable to triggers.

Read More: How Genes Influence Your Predisposition To Psoriasis


It is a condition that causes inflamed, itchy, cracked, and rough skin. The most common type is called atopic dermatitis. Eczema runs in families, suggesting a close genetic connection. Children are more likely to get eczema if either one or both parents have it. Several specific genes, including the filaggrin gene, have been linked to eczema susceptibility. 


A condition in which the skin appears to have areas with underlying fat deposits, giving it a dimpled, lumpy appearance. It is most noticeable on the buttocks and thighs. While the genetic profile of cellulite has not been completely understood, studies have looked into at least 15 candidate genes that can influence its development.

Read More: How Genes Influence Development Of Cellulite


Dandruff is a common scalp condition marked by flaking of the skin on the scalp, which is sometimes itchy as well.

Skin Glycation

Skin glycation is a biological process where sugar molecules bond with proteins like collagen, leading to the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that can cause the skin to lose its elasticity and contribute to its aging.

Varicose Veins

Enlarged, twisted veins typically appear in the legs and feet caused by weak or damaged vein walls and valves. A 2018 GWAS, including nearly 10,000 cases and 300,000 controls, identified 30 genetic locations strongly linked with varicose veins. In this article, we delve deeper into the most studied genes influencing varicose veins.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis (CD) is a common occupational illness that significantly affects individuals’ quality of life and their ability to work. It comes in two main forms: allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) and irritant contact dermatitis (ICD). Both require skin exposure to an irritant or allergen, but interestingly, not everyone exposed will develop CD. Recent research suggests that genetic differences affect an individual’s risk of developing CD. 

Variations in genes related to inflammation, such as a polymorphism in the TNFA gene, have been linked to both ICD and ACD, suggesting a genetic component to inflammatory responses in CD. For ACD specifically, polymorphisms in genes that encode N-acetyltransferases (such as NAT2) appear to alter the risk of becoming sensitized to certain chemicals like p-phenylenediamine, a common allergen.

Why Choose LifeDNA?

LifeDNA has emerged as a prominent option for analyzing 23andMe raw data, owing to a combination of unique offerings and a commitment to personalized wellness. Here is why many regard LifeDNA as the best option for making the most of your 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and other raw data:

  • Holistic Approach to Wellness: Unlike many other platforms that focus strictly on health-related risks or ancestry, LifeDNA adopts a holistic approach. We analyze genetic data to offer personalized optimizations for nutrition (including a customized grocery list!), skin care, vitamins & supplements, wellness, personality & cognition, and fitness. This range lets users get a complete picture of their wellness needs based on their DNA.
  • Product Recommendations: We go beyond just providing insights. We offer specific product recommendations, skincare ingredients, or supplements tailored to an individual’s genetic profile. It makes our service actionable, allowing users to make immediate changes based on their results.
  • Data Security: At LifeDNA, we place a high emphasis on protecting user data. Our commitment to privacy ensures that users can trust the platform with their sensitive genetic information.
  • User-Friendly Reports: LifeDNA reports are easy to interpret. Our reports are designed to be accessible to the layperson without compromising on the depth and accuracy of the information.
  • Continual Updates: As genetic research evolves, so does LifeDNA’s platform. Users can expect their reports and insights to be updated with the latest scientific findings.
  • Dedicated Research and Development: At LifeDNA we invest in research to continually refine our algorithms, ensuring that the insights provided are based on cutting-edge science.
  • Educational Resources: LifeDNA also provides ample resources for users to understand their genetic makeup better. This education-first approach demystifies the complex world of genetics, making it approachable and actionable for everyone.
  • Scientific rigor: To create an unmatched commitment to scientific rigor, LifeDNA partners with CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited, and HIPAA-compliant laboratories.

Further, if you do not have your DNA raw data, such as from 23andMe, LifeDNA provides that too. Start your personalized wellness journey with LifeDNA’s state-of-the-art DNA kits here.

LifeDNA offers a basic DNA raw data analysis package to kickstart your journey. Users with raw data from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, etc., can access 120+ traits across interests such as Nutrition, Vitamins and Supplements, Personality, Fitness, Sleep, and Skin Care.


Customer Reviews

Christopher Devlin
Christopher Devlin
LifeDNA Customer
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I am so impressed with this service. I have even discussed these recommendations with my health care providers and they are all impressed too! I can’t compare it with other services as I have only tried this but I recommend. Also I think I pulled my genetics in from ancestry too which was super convenient.
LifeDNA Customer
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Great source of information I was looking for a platform to make use of my existing raw data from Ancestry. I’m glad I found LifeDNA. I originally took a DNA test to learn about my roots and it’s great to know that my DNA could also play a big role in my health, diet, and even my skin. Overall, all the reports are incredible.
Shiraz Dole
Shiraz Dole
LifeDNA Customer
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It is crazy how I felt that I had a strong understanding of my bodies needs, but after having my DNA analyzed by the LifeDNA team, I realized that there was so much I still did not know.
Doc Sheila Lim
Doc Sheila Lim
LifeDNA Customer
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I got some pretty useful insight that helped me with my diet.

*Understanding your genetics can offer valuable insights into your well-being, but it is not deterministic. Your traits can be influenced by the complex interplay involving nature, lifestyle, family history, and others.

Our reports have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The contents on our website and our reports are for informational purposes only, and are not intended to diagnose any medical condition, replace the advice of a healthcare professional, or provide any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult with a healthcare professional before making any major lifestyle changes or if you have any other concerns about your results. The testimonials featured may have used more than one LifeDNA or LifeDNA vendors’ product or reports.