There are differences in the way different genetic groups age, with a research project looking at people across the decades of their lives: 20s, 40s and 60s, with some groups of the same age having a 10-year appearance gap.
Each patient had a genetic test to verify their heritage, and photographs were taken to evaluate facial skin appearance. Comparisons to one another were made based on the age of the study participants to determine the different stages of the ageing process dependent on ethnicity.
One evaluation showed two patients, an African-American and a Caucasian, both aged 64, with a shift between them of 10 years. The African-American looked 10 years younger than the Caucasian.
Skin biopsies were taken from areas that were exposed to the sun (face, outer forearm) and areas not exposed to the sun as much (buttocks), to ascertain if there were differences. It showed that a 50-year-old Caucasian person has the equivalent protein transcription of a 60-year-old African-American, which is an important signal of activity in skin. In both groups, there was an increase in skin ageing in the sun-exposed areas, however sun has a more adverse impact on Caucasian skin than the skin of African-Americans.
Latinos and Caucasians have a similar ageing process at age 60.
It has been more difficult in the past to study the different ways we age besides physical pigmentation – results have been conflicting or not very definite. It was previously assumed that rates of ageing were more or less the same amongst all populations, but this isn’t true. Caucasians suffer sun damage more readily than other darker-skinned populations, and this causes more prominent signs of ageing at younger ages.
Caucasian faces: pale, easy to burn, earlier photoaging than other populations, thinner, less cohesive outer layer, reduced skin flexibility, loss of collagen and elastin with age, more fragile skin.
Asian faces: diverse population with limited research available. Japanese people have greater skin surface moisture at all ages. China had the highest levels of facial water loss (less barrier function). All Asian populations had moisture loss with age, but those from the Philippines and India saw the least variation with age. Those from Seoul, South Korea and Calicut, India, had the highest sebum levels, with sebum decreasing with age (except in the 25-40-year age group). Fertile-aged women had drier skin. Calicut, India, had the darkest skinned people, while Sendai, Japan, had the lightest.
Latino/Hispanic faces: diversity in skin types and facial structures. Increased melanisation with protection against photoaging, more like European Caucasians.
African faces: often mixed race in the United States, high melanin content, thicker outer layer, more active fibroblasts, collagen bundles resulting in strong, youthful skin. Less lip ageing.
Ageing across all skin types includes photodamage, fat distribution, bones that shift and reduce in volume, and the overall loss of connective tissue. Darker skin tends to fare much better when it comes to ageing, by being stronger and less prone to photoaging.