The Skin Aging Exposome

By The Cosmetic Chemist Staff
May 15, 2017

Exposome refers to the collective exposure of a person throughout a lifetime—from conception onwards—to various environmental elements that influence the overall health state of the individual. Exposure to certain elements is positive while other factors may negatively contribute to the health state of the human being. Exogenous sources could be solar radiation, chemicals, and infectious agents.1 We often think of exposure arising from exogenous sources; however, endogenous factors, such as metabolism can also play an integral role. Inasmuch, the exposome is also influenced by lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise.

The study of the exposome—exposomics—shares many commonalities with other state-of-the-art techniques, such as genomics, proteomics, metabonomics, lipidomics, etc., inasmuch that it utilizes large pools of data to arrive at conclusions regarding the link between exposures and health outcomes. A key to arriving to these conclusions relies on the pesistent measurement of biomarkers and obtaining a very accurate history of exposure.2

Typically, the exposome is defined for the entire organism or individual organs in the body. Until recently, there has not been much discussion in the skin research community about the exposome of skin. However, Jean Krutmann and coworkers paved the way by setting the stage for the skin aging exposome.3 Exposure to solar radiation, pollution, and tobacco use are well established factors that contribute to skin aging. Decades of research substantiate the role of UV light in photoaging.4 It should be noted, however, that genetic factors, such as melanin levels in the skin, determine the degree of damage suffered as a result of exposure to solar radiation. In more recent years, researchers discovered that exposure to infrared light also contributes to photoaging.5 In addition, air pollution also contributes to extrinsic skin aging.6 Other mediators, such as nutrition, sleep quality, stress, and temperature are also believed to play a significant role in skin homeostasis. These factors by themselves and in conjunction with each other may all contribute to the skin aging exposome.

The use of cosmetic products may also play an integral role in the state of the skin aging exposome. The toxocological and safety profile of cosmetic ingredients should be considered as paramount in the evaluation of their affects on the skin. On the other hand, cosmetic products designed to combat photoaging or other types of extrinsic aging may improve the health state of skin and contribute positively to the exposome. In addition, preventive measures can be taken by individuals to reduce their exposure to factors that negatively impact the skin aging exposome.

1. D. Balshaw, Exposure Biology and the Exposome.
2. Exposome and Exposomics, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
3. J. Krutmann, A. Bouloc, G. Sore, B.A. Bernard, and T. Passeron, The skin aging exposome, J. Dermatol. Sci., 85, 152–161 (2017).
4. I. Sjerobabski Masnec and S. Poduje, Photoaging, Coll. Antropol., 32 Suppl. 2, 177-180 (2008).
5. P. Schroeder, J. Haendeler, and J. Krutmann, The role of near infrared radiation in photoaging of the skin, Exp. Gerontol., 43, 629-632 (2008).
6. A. Vierkötter, T. Schikowski, U. Ranft, D. Sugiri, M. Matsui, U. Krämer, and J. Krutmann, Airborne particle exposure and extrinsic skin aging, J. Invest. Dermatol., 130, 2719–2726 (2010).