Could Your Blood Type Determine How Well Your Skin Ages?

Photo: Stocksy/Reece McMillan
You can slather on as much sunscreen and buy as many anti-aging creams as you want, but how well your skin ages over time might depend on factors beyond your control—like your blood type. In fact, new research notes that your blood type, of all things, may play a big role in your susceptibility to wrinkles.

In recent a study from the Annals of Dermatology, researchers analyzed the skin of Korean women aged 66 to 84: 29 with type A blood; 26 with type B; 31 with type O; and 13 with type AB. After measuring the wrinkle depth and elasticity around the participants' eyes, as well as their skin color—including their levels of melanin, the darkening pigment that causes your skin to tan when exposed to the sun—they found that people with a B blood type produced less melanin and had deeper wrinkle formation. But why?

According to the study authors, having less melanin production may translate to less protection from chronic sun exposure, thereby leading to more wrinkles. Dermatologist Libby Rhee, DO, tells me that the extra-fine lines might be a result of how a person's blood-type genes interact with other nearby genes. "It's not just your blood type influencing your propensity to develop wrinkles around your eyes, per se, or the reactivity of the melanin in your skin. Rather, the neighboring genes located immediately next to or close to your [blood type gene] may have an influence on your skin," she says.

"You can't change your genetics or blood type, but what you can do is continue to protect yourself from other known causes of premature aging, wrinkling, and discoloration." —Dr. Libby Rhee, dermatologist

But, since research is still preliminary, not to mention that the sample population of the study is limited, Dr. Rhee says there's no need to worry just yet if you have an "unlucky wrinkle-prone blood type"—advice with which cosmetic chemist Stephen Alain Ko agrees. "I think before we start giving out skin-care advice based on blood type, we'd want to confirm these results with a much larger study, replication, and different population groups," he tells me.

In the meantime, there are some things people with B blood types—and, well, any blood type for that matter—can do to ensure their skin stays healthy over the years. "You can't change your genetics or blood type, but what you can do is continue to protect yourself from other known causes of premature aging, wrinkling, and discoloration," Dr. Rhee says. She suggests using sun protection, not smoking, eating an antioxidant-rich and healthy-fat-filled diet with foods like blueberries and avocados, exercising regularly, and enlisting a great skin-care routine.

And, the Dr. Rhee–approved way to jazz up your tired regimen? Gently exfoliate with a brush on a regular basis; apply an antioxidant serum with vitamin C or another agent; use a topical retinol, and invest in a quality moisturizer and sunscreen.

Just try to beat this epic skin-defense system, genetics.

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