Dermagenetics Integrates DNA Testing With Skin Care
DALLAS — DNA evidence isn’t just for crime scenes and paternity suits. It also reveals faults in the skin — specifically, how susceptible it is to sun damage, wrinkles and other evidence of aging.
That’s the science behind Dermagenetics, a beauty cream customized for each individual based on DNA testing intended to pinpoint skin weaknesses.
Currently sold through 85 medical spas nationwide, the Dermagenetics brand is a unit of GeneLink Inc., a genetic research firm in Margate, N.J. The company focuses on isolating the genes involved in beauty and wellness and developing corrective products, including vitamins.
Using a swab of tissue from the inside of the cheek, Dermagenetics evaluates five genes in the DNA and subsequently formulates within two weeks a custom night cream with various minerals, enzymes, herbal extracts and acids.
“This is a product that will really change the way people look at skin care,” asserted John Souzais, director of sales. “Everyone is so used to going after the ingredient of the week, but the problem is they don’t know if [the skin] can metabolize that ingredient. The only way you can know is if you have a genetic test.
“There are no secret ingredients in skin care,” Souzais added. “There are only 500 or so active ingredients that are available to dermatologists or any cosmetic company. We’ve proved in two different studies that our active ingredients can regulate genetic functioning to give optimal balance to the skin. We analyze your genes and find out which ones are disadvantaged and give those genes what they would need to make them function as if they were perfect.”
Spas charge $100 to $200 for the genetic test, and the cream is $159 for 30 ml. As part of the service, clients also receive a report that analyzes the strength of each gene to combat oxidative stresses, sun exposure and environmental pollutants.
Souzais, who said a cleanser, an eye gel and a body-firming cream were in development, declined to project sales for the custom beauty cream, which the company has been selling since February. GeneLink’s first calendar quarter sales, which include the cream and a vitamin called Nutragenetics, were $155,581, compared with $25,208 for the three months ended March 31, 2004.
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This isn’t the first time the cream has been on the market. Back in 2002, Dermagenetics licensed the technology to LAB21, which sold the product through Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue for a few months. But the two firms came to legal blows when Dermagenetics claimed the licensee was stealing the technology and sued LAB21 in federal court. GeneLink signed a settlement agreement with LAB21 in December 2003 that prohibits LAB21 from using its gene profiling methodology until March 24, 2008. GeneLink decided to market the cream itself under the name Dermagenetics.
— Holly Haber
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