Much like a majestic mountain becomes a humble hillside by the insistent pervasive deterioration of erosion, imperceptible in the moment – bluntly obvious over time, so similar are the effects of aging on our skin. Time and the elements are written in our wrinkles, fine lines mapping out the truth that we have born witness to a multitude of stressors as we have boldly lived in the moment and took life as it came to us, standing in the storm of heartbreaks and acid rain, over exposure to the sun and the blue light of electronic devises, hormone swings and startling spikes in our cortisol levels. You name it, we’ve faced it, and it is here on our faces that we see the most damage done, quietly making its mark.
But, what if there was something that maybe helped things along in the other direction? What if there was something that could seemingly rectify the wrongs and just as subtly, almost indescribably, bring back the beauty that our skin was made to have. A smoother texture, a brighter complexion, a tighter spring back in our skin. The skin we were born to have.
While we can’t stop what life throws at us, we can change the way we handle these stresses and by doing so also help the way our body handles the rigors of the day. Just because we may play hard all night and work hard all day doesn’t mean we don’t want to have the fresh face and glowing complexion of our youth.
Damien Zannetou, founder of Aenea Skin was always fascinated by the fact that how we deal with stress and what we use to care for ourselves can drastically change the way we age. His passion for prevention and savvy business acumen lead him down the path to tackle these big questions and even take on genetics. We had the opportunity to chat with Damien to learn more behind the massive success of AENEA SKIN and his inspiration for the cutting edge technology behind the brand.
What led you to the skincare and beauty industry?
When I was young as 12 years old, I would frequently visit hospitals with my mother who would be patch tested on what she could and couldn’t use on her skin, due to an unknown skin condition that would lead to beak outs, reactions and sores.
It was apparent she was sensitive and artificial colours, fragrances, sulphates, detergents and petrochemicals were a no no in terms of ingredients.
I saw how damaging it was to her self esteem and confidence and ultimately accelerated the ageing process due to a lack of products made available to her.
Throughout this process I began to understand ingredients and formulations, and became aware of the complete lack of natural and plant based ingredients that were available to the market that were more results based.
It was also apparent the number of ingredients that were being used that were chemical based in terms of preservatives and potentially damaging to the skin.
Coupled with the unique story of my identical Greek twin aunties from Cyprus and how they aged in opposite ways due to the environment with which they lived and the effects of pollution, stress and negative lifestyle choices in their skin, despite sharing the same DNA and genetic code, I became more and more interested in the industry and the study of Epigenetics, which is ultimately the study of heritable changes in the appearance of DNA without changing the DNA itself.
With no dermatology qualifications I sought to understand the industry better by studying Business Administration and Marketing with a focus on New Product Development, so I could set up my skin based Spa and Clinic in London, which later became award winning, a celebrity hot spot and the go to destination for skin care and advanced anti ageing in London.
This is where I learned my trade and applied this in to my own product line which was fused by all my adolescent experiences of my mother and twin Aunties and supported by over 200 men and women each week coming through my doors giving me feedback.
How were you inspired by your childhood growing up in Cyprus?
I actually grew up in London, but spent summer vacations in Cyprus with family, where I understood how different climates and cultures affected the skin, especially in the case of my twin aunties.
I soon realized the sun was a major contributing factor to the ageing process, something Cyprus had plenty of but the UK didn’t.
Equally I began to realize how much more relaxed Cypriot living was in comparison to the UK, whereby there was a constant supply of the family support system where cooking and home grown ingredients all played part of the culture in a more relaxed and positive lifestyle.
Where in the UK, there was a constant pressure to work and earn money, people were a lot more stressed and this caused a lot more ageing effects on the skin due to the production of cortisol and the breakdown of collagen and elastin which keeps the skin looking and feeling younger.
People in the UK were time poor, their diet and lifestyles were affected due to fast food and quick binging with processed meats and family tended to be located outside of the city which meant less family support and more intense pressure to young professionals etc., whereas in Cyprus fresh fruits, nuts and cleaner eating with good fats were readily available due to the climate that ultimately led to better skin.
Cyprus also had the luxury of the sea which mean salt water and constant hydration which seemed to be a positive passed time for Cypriot people, whereas in the UK the pressures of everyday life and lack of these types of luxuries would lead to weekends of bad diet, alcohol and a form of release amongst professional working people. This would lead to dehydration, inflammation, fine lines and of course wrinkles where the sea was not available or the exfoliating salt to assist.
A cornerstone to Aenea Skin is the use of epigenetic ingredients. Could you share a little bit about what epigenetics is and how you have begun to harness it?
Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in the appearance and therefore modification of DNA without changing the actual DNA itself.
It’s the ability to simply switch genes off and on.
The inspiration behind this study in the formulations are as previously stated due to my Greek family and identicalTwin aunties, as i became obsessed with understanding how two women with the same genetic code and therefore DNA could age in opposite ways. It was truly remarkable.
As I looked deeper under the bonnet and started to discuss the subject with scientists, dermatologists and aestheticians it soon became apparent that clinical trials on Epigenetics all link back to identical twins! You could imagine my amazement!
It soon became clear that despite two people having the same DNA and genetic code, they could in fact age differently due to the environment with which they live, for example the climate, the sun and UV rays, indoor dust pollution, outdoor car emissions and air pollution, blue light and radiation from our mobile phones and technology, what we eat and drink, too much alcohol, coffee, smoking, an over exertion at work, tiredness, lack of water and therefore hydration, essentially all of the components of modern day living which sometimes we can’t control.
The conclusion I reached was that we need to understand not just our genetic code but the environment with which we live. This was clear in the story of my aunties. They were both susceptible to these contributing factors in different ways and essentially this accelerated the ageing process.
We have to think deeper, we have to understand our lifestyle better and only then can we start to understand what is right and wrong for your skin, it’s not just about your genetics.
How did you know you were on the right track in the formulation of your skincare line?
I remember to this day meeting my formulator and telling my story. It seemed to strike a chord and resonate with her to which she responded saying ‘did you know according to Euro Monitor and the Stanford Institute of Research that Epigenetics is tipped to be the next biggest thing in skin care? What you are talking about is essentially Epigenetics?’ She has a smile from ear to ear.
Knowing this was someone who had developed some of the biggest brands in the business, I knew it was the right partnership and not before long we had our 4 heroes. I was blown away at the first samples which are called Bronze stage and the rest is history!
Excess amounts of cortisol have shown to breakdown collagen and elastin, making our skin begin to age and sag, what kind of steps should we take to combat this effect?
Cortisol is the biggest contributing factor in my opinion to the ageing process. You are correct that too much of it can be lethal as it breaks downs both the building blocks of healthier looking skin which can deplete vitamin E and D and lead to discoloration, inflammation and fine lines and wrinkles.
In order to prevent stress and thus cortisol I would always recommend at night before you sleep magnesium tablets and Valerian tablets which is from a natural plant that helps combat stress and reduce cortisol and thus leads to a healthy nights sleep thus rest.
I also always recommend in the morning a pint of lemon water which helps to not only hydrate the body after a good nights sleep but also hydrate the skin and alkaline the body and skin which may have a build up of too much acid and therefore toxins that can lead to skin issues.
Coupled with regular meals, plenty of water throughout the day and exercise you have all the right components of a less stress free and healthier lifestyle.
Sometimes however, we can’t control the modern world, so through the House of Aenea we have developed a series of products and ingredients that can break down cortisol and thus enhance the production of collagen and elastin.
An example of this would be Epigenomyl and Blue Indigo, both ingredients of which are know to help breakdown cortisol in a natural and chemical free way.
Omesia also helps enhance the natural defense system against environmental aggressors which ultimately creates a barrier of the skin against free radicals and oxidative stress that may lead to ageing.
If you couple this skin regime with the above points, and a healthier loving lifestyle, you have all the ingredients of younger looking skin!
You are known for using fascinating ingredients in your skincare such as the extremely rare species of Swiss apple called the Uttwiler Spatlauber that can stay fresh without refrigeration up to 4 months; and the high-density liquid fluorocarbon known as Perfluorodecalin which carries large volumes of oxygen gas and is loved by the science and medicine industries for its use in artificial blood substitutes and in liquid breathing. How do you find such groundbreaking components for your skincare?
That’s my secret! Not telling you that. ( lol )
What is your favorite go-to product?
I love the Anti Stress Super Hero, the Super Boost and the Modern Shield, not only for their preventative measures against stress, but also their lifting and muscle releasing components which reduce fine lines and wrinkles and protection and moisturization of the skin. They are in my opinion the Anti-Aging Antidotes for the Modern World!
Do you have any new products coming out that you are excited about?
Yes and very excited. ‘Blue Bloc’ is a new product that essentially helps reduce the effects of harmful radiation on the skin from modern day technology.
We also have an LED mask which has a blue light function so when combined with Blue Bloc the results are incredible.
Wait and see!
Where do you see Aenea Skin in the future?
The number one leading, globally renowned skin care brand in the study of Epigenetics.
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Photo Credits: Aenea Skin; Mike Baird
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