Logo Meline
Logo Meline

I had the chance to spend some time in Costa Rica last month and saw the most spectacular butterflies that I could have ever imagined. Colorful silk wings of vivid colors fluttering around with amazing grace, they moved as if they were dancing…How does this image differ from the creeping furry caterpillar they used to be? It astonishes me to think that they, the caterpillar and the butterfly, are the same subject with exactly the same genetic information, how can it look and act so differently? The answer to this question resides in Epigenetics.


Epigenetics, whose etymological meaning is ‘above genetics’, is the science that studies the combination of chemical reactions and other processes that modify DNA activity without disrupting its sequence.

A gene is a sequence of DNA which has codified information that determines the traits that make every subject different from each other. When the gene expresses, this information is copied into RNA (RiboNucleic Acid) and decoded, the RNA will then form proteins using this decoded information. These proteins will create tissues which will later form, and constantly renew, our organs (including skin, hair, etc).  Therefore, our organism, its appearance and running are the result of our gene expression.

Environmental factors – health habits, lifestyle, etc. – can trigger some mechanisms that modify the gene expression, in other words, they can silence certain genes and activate the expression of others. To visualize the effects of gene expression we can imagine identical twin brothers who, despite having the same genotype (genetic constitution) and being identical during the first stages of their lives, may present many differences in adulthood due to the expression and silencing of different genes according to their environment and lifestyles. These noticeable characteristics or traits are the phenotype; therefore, the twins and the caterpillar/butterfly share the same genotype but present different phenotypes.


New discoveries in the field of Epigenetics open a new door in medicine. In a near future, specialist will be able to modulate the level of expression of certain genes which will make possible a new and more effective approach to treat and prevent some illnesses, aesthetic disorders or skin alterations.

Currently, scientists are studying and testing how to use epigenetics to prevent some aesthetic alterations such as obesity, acne or psoriasis, among many others, and the results so far are promising.

Concerning antiageing, thanks to epigenetics we can stimulate the production of collagen or elastin, promote skin’s Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF) and reinforce the skin hydrolipidic film to effectively prevent and retard skin ageing. Nowadays, the most innovative antiageing products already include some active ingredients with epigenetic properties to boost their effects.

However, Epigenetics is still a young field in science that needs to be studied in depth.  For the moment, the perspectives are good, and everything indicates that continuous investigation will lead to a host of possibilities.

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