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What? GeneU is the world’s first and only high-street DNA test for personalised Skincare
What genes does it test for? There are two main factors that GeneU looks at – antioxidant repair and collagen breakdown. Antioxidant repair gives you an indication as to how your skin reacts to the damaging free radicals we are exposed to in our daily lives, whereas collagen breakdown looks at how quickly your skin will inherently lose its elasticity over time. These two things are the primary causes of ageing and occur at different rates for each individual; they are also dependent on environmental factors such as UV rays from the sun, pollution, smoking, diet and stress.
The U+ Profile: These are the unique results you will receive 48 hours after having an in-store cheek swab and results analysed in a private lab at Imperial College (my uni :)).
What is the benefit of knowing? Once you have obtained your unique profile, you are given two customised serums – one to target antioxidant levels and the other to improve collagen synthesis. Even the impressive case that these serums come in, is a patented design to dispense the optimum amount and keep the ingredients in perfect condition, as well as being fully customisable with your name and details!
My Experience with GeneU
Having elbowed my way down a jam-packed Oxford Street one Saturday afternoon, it was a welcome refuge to find the calm tranquility of Lancashire Court – the little side road where GeneU stores can be found, just off New Bond Street.
Upon my arrival at the incredibly clean cut and chic store, I was greeted by the lovely Sarah Pretorius, one of the Scientific Advisors and Cosmetic Scientists with an Msc from Imperial College London. I immediately loved that all the people working within in the company had a very strong scientific background, something that is often lacking in many areas of the health and beauty industry.
In fact, GeneU was created by one of the youngest professors to ever be appointed to Imperial College. Amongst his many other innovative achievements, professor Christopher Toumazou invented and patented the GeneU process through his company DNA electronics. You can find out more about the experts and founders on the GeneU website.
After a little history and introduction, I was taken downstairs to the lab-like part of the store. Here I was given an i-pad on which to fill out a lifestyle questionnaire which looked at areas such as sleep, stress, sun exposure and smoking. It was not intensively detailed but covered the main essentials and took about 3 minutes to complete.
You are then given a swab which is much like a cotton bud and asked to circle it around your cheeks and gums for around 5 minutes or so. This ensures that plenty of cells are collected for sampling. It’s a good idea to rinse your mouth out thoroughly beforehand so that nothing else is contaminating the sample and you are supplied with a cup and sink to do so, making the experience feel a bit like a trip to the dentist.
The sample is then analysed in a private lab owned by the company, meaning that results only take a maximum of two days! If you have ever sent off for your genes to be analysed online, you’ll appreciate that the process normally takes months.
You can choose to collect your results in store and have a face to face consultation with one of the advisors, or simply be emailed everything remotely and type up any questions you may have. I opted to have my results and serums sent over the following week.
I have to admit I was rather surprised to learn that I have a slightly faster than average rate of collagen breakdown! If there was every anything to make you regret all your sunny summer holidays in one go, this would be it… however, good news about the antioxidant levels I suppose. Naturally I had a few questions that I emailed over just to clarify a few points:
Does having a high level of antioxidant repair negate the effects of having a slightly faster than average collagen breakdown? In short, no. A high antioxidant activity means you will suffer less damage from free radicals (things like pollution etc), however you will still break down collagen at the same rate. These two factors are looking at two separate pathways involved in ageing.
Are the results influenced by any other external factors such as drinking liquid collagen drinks / supplements? No. These things do not affect your genes and so will have no impact on the results. However if you do break down collagen slightly faster than average, these supplements can contribute to maintaining collagen production and synthesis. To reiterate the point above – your genes will not change, therefore even after consuming these drinks and using the serums, your genes will be the same throughout your entire life. However what aids such as this can do, is to slightly reduce the effects by keeping skin healthy and hydrated and further encouraging your natural production of collagen.
The Treatment Serums
There are two types of serums: AOX for the antioxidant levels and COL for collagen. The AOX contains hyaluronic acid and Japanese blood grass for hydration, as well as photo protective peptides which can assist with UV protection and help to maintain antioxidant levels. The COL contains Oligopeptides and Tetrapeptides which are the building blocks of collagen / hyaluronic acid synthesis, boosting production. Wild Lupine is another ingredient thought to slow down collagen degradation and Marine Collagen is added to lock in moisture. The mix of all these ingredients helps to diminish fine lines and wrinkles, hydrate, rejuvenate, plump and provide additional defences against sun exposure and free radical damage – the two major causes of ageing.
Will I see a difference? According to GeneU, after 1 week the skin texture appears more hydrated and visibly smoother. At 6-8 weeks there are fewer fine lines and wrinkles and the skin appears brighter and more youthful. 12+ weeks skin contours are more defined, there is reduced age pigmentation and skin appears lifted and firmed. 2 pumps should be applied morning and evening, using a massage technique whereby circular motions are used to apply the serum all over the face. Even this in itself is beneficial as it improves circulation which in turn improves skin texture and health, no matter what serum you are using.
You can read the clinical trial data over on the website, whereby experienced dermatologists independently assessed a group of 86 participants age 31-65 over 12 weeks. The disadvantage is that only one study has been done and its a very small sample size, however the outcome was that they concluded that DNA prescribed skincare produce better results than an off the shelf product (although it does not say what off the shelf product they used for comparison). The factors they looked at to measure the effects included: overall facial appearance, skin texture, fine lines and wrinkles and facial tone, however it does not detail how each of these factors were measured or analysed.
How Much Does It Cost? The DNA-lifestyle test 89 pounds (down from 600 when the test first came out a few years ago) and a starter kit containing the two sets of the serums is around 200 pounds.
Overall: I have only been using the serums for about 1-2 weeks at the moment and I can attest to its moisturising benefits, however at the age of 25 I hardly have many wrinkles to cover! I do have a few areas of scarring or pigmentation and I shall very much look forward to seeing improvements here. The thing I love most of all however, is the silky and smooth feel of the serums, they are not sticky or heavy like many other moisturisers or ‘rejuvenating’ serums that I have tried in the past. I also appreciate that the case delivers the perfect amount so that nothing ever goes to waste and the ingredients are kept fresh and potent.
For the highly neurotic amongst you, I probably would not recommend getting your genes tested owing to the fact that fundamentally, they are not something you can ever change! However if you are simply interested and can accept this fact of fate, then it is a great way to satisfy your curiosity and probably helps your money go further than if you were to spend hundreds on high street products that never seem to deliver on their claims. As I mentioned earlier, I love the scientific backing and foundations of the company and felt that the staff were always on hand to offer truly honest and genuine, personal advice.