Skin is directly affected by a person’s genes, lifestyle, and diet. External factors, such as environmental pollution and ultraviolet radiation, influence the health and appearance of skin, as do internal factors like genetics and hormones. Telomeres are protein DNA complexes located at the end of chromosome strands. Often compared to the plastic tips on the ends of shoelaces, telomeres help prevent chromosomes from unraveling or deteriorating and have a direct impact on all aspects of aging, including the skin. “Telomeres protect the chromosome from fraying and fusing or joining with another chromosome strand,” says Tiffany McLauchlin, director of education at Lira Clinical. “As each one of our cells has a limited number of times it can divide, the telomere regulates this cell division. Every time a cell divides, the telomere protects the DNA from losing essential gene information, and the telomere becomes shorter. When the telomere becomes too short, it no longer can allow the cell to divide. Just like if the lace in our shoe is too short or breaks, we cannot tie our shoe properly.”
When it comes to telomeres, size really does matter. Because telomeres tend to shorten due to genetics, the environment, and stress as people age, this can directly affect a person’s health and life span. “As we get older, aging risk factors go up,” says McLauchlin. “The amount of oxidative stress we have been exposed to begins to pile up. Environmental assaults by free-radical oxidants damage our DNA, proteins, and lipids within our bodies.” Shortened telomeres can also lead to degeneration of the skin tissue and result in visible signs of aging. “Our skin is a living organism that looks young and beautiful as long as our skin cells are renewing themselves,” says Andrea Weber, head of the Babor Research and Innovation Centre (Aachen, Germany). “To do so, the cells need to divide in the lower layers of the skin and then be transported up to the surface. Every time a skin cell divides, the telomeres are shortened, and skin cells can only divide as long as the telomeres do not become too short.” According to Kate Somerville, founder and creator of Kate Somerville Skin Health Experts, when the telomere becomes too short, the chromosome reaches “critical length” and stops replicating, which means the cell becomes old and dies, causing visible signs of aging, such as dryness, wrinkles, and sagging.
To prevent premature telomere shortening, and thus enhance skin’s health, several skincare companies have created treatments and products that focus on protecting and extending the life of telomeres. McLauchlin believes this can be accomplished by creating products that utilize the proper ingredient combinations that aid in skin repair and enhance age prevention. For example, some experts claim that plant stem cells aid in DNA repair and promote healthy cell turnover; peptides are a non-irritating, non-wounding fibroblast ingredient that can be an alternative to harsher alpha hydroxyl acids; and antioxidants prevent oxidation and complement sun protection to protect from telomere erosion. All Lira Clinical products contain brightening agents to help reduce pigment disorders, even out skintone, and reduce inflammation through powerful antioxidants and plant stem cells. The Mystiq line, for example, also offers repairing properties, intense lightening agents, and concentrated anti-aging botanicals. These products are used in the Mystiq Anti-Aging Facial ($115, 50 minutes) at Pala Spa at Pala Casino Spa Resort (CA).
Kate Somerville Skin Health Experts’s Age Arrest features the company’s advanced Telo-5 Technology, which helps prolong the life of telomeres, as well as age-defying peptides, laminaria kelp extract, and a blend of algae plasma and sea whip extract. Age Arrest helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles, increase skin firmness and elasticity, improve the appearance of skin discoloration, and significantly hydrate the skin. “I like to think of Age Arrest as an insurance policy for the skin,” says Somerville. “Our Telo-5 Technology is based on Nobel Prize-winning science on the effects of telomere shortening and is formulated to take a comprehensive anti-aging approach to address the visible signs of aging—targeting wrinkles, roughness and dryness, uneven skintone, and loss of elasticity.”
Because telomere technology is a new concept in skincare, it is important for spas to do their research when deciding to offer telomere-focused treatments or products to clients. Geraldine Howard, cofounder and president of Aromatherapy Associates, recommends using marketing materials and display cards to effectively introduce clients to these new treatments and products. The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Boston promotes its Rose Infinity Facial (starting at $200, 80 minutes) at the spa, as well as on its website, social media pages, and e-newsletter. The treatment helps lift, tone, and firm the skin, leaving clients with a healthy and younger looking complexion. The facial incorporates the new Rose Infinity line by Aromatherapy Associates, which contains soy and yeast proteins that work on a cellular level to help support skin cell regeneration and its natural ability to repair aging DNA, specifically the telomeres. According to Sharon Holtz, director of spa, education is key when it comes to promoting telomere-focused treatments and products to clients. “Ensure all colleagues can properly articulate the ingredients, their benefits, and how telomere technology is incorporated,” she says.
Similarly, Babor developed a spa treatment to go with its HSR telomere-focused products, which contain the active ingredient HSR Telovitin, to ensure that the substances in the products effectively penetrate the skin. The treatment features a special facial massage that has been developed with the help of physiotherapists to intensively stimulate the tissue, improve circulation, and boost the skin’s metabolism. “In contrast to classic cosmetic massages, some of the massage movements can be felt penetrating deep into the skin and muscle tissue,” says Weber. “As a result, tensions in the facial muscles are released, and wrinkles are regulated.”
When it comes to intensive treatments intended to improve skin on the cellular level, all estheticians should go through thorough training to ensure they perform the treatment properly. They should also be able to accurately educate clients on the benefits and how the treatments and products work so that clients understand that the products do not affect their genes in any way. With that said, it is crucial that you remind clients that ultimately healthy skin starts from within. “Clients should be aware that lifestyle choices will affect the length of their telomeres,” says Somerville. Telomere-focused treatments and products help enhance a healthy lifestyle, but it is important to encourage clients to exercise and walk more to promote lymph activity; reduce stress to release negative tension; eat balanced, fresh, and antioxidant-rich meals; and get plenty of sleep to help the body restore itself at night. “Our skin is our body’s largest organ,” says McLauchlin. “When our internal systems cannot get rid of waste, stress, and negativity, it will be released through our skin in forms of inflammation and lesions.”
Telomere-focused treatments and products are designed to be both preventative and corrective, so they are suitable for just about any client who desires younger looking and healthier skin. And because anti-aging is such a huge category in the spa industry, it’s no wonder telomere-focused treatments and products are becoming the next big thing in skincare. That is good news for clients’ skin, as well as your spa’s bottom line. “As we all know, the spa industry has a very savvy clientele,” says Holtz. “Bringing them education on the benefits of telomere technology and treatments will only deepen their loyalty to your spa.”