Our Current Study

This study aims to assess the extent of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) damage following significant exposure to natural or artificial ultraviolet radiation (UVR) such as a summer holiday, winter breaks or the use of a tanning bed. The human skin is constantly exposed to damaging environmental stressors such as UVR due to being the outermost barrier between the body and environment.

Our study involves the collection of skin swabs from the inner arm and nose before and after exposure to high intensity UVR. It is expected that mtDNA damage in both the inner 

arm and nose will increase following UVR exposure, with the nose showing a greater increase in damage due to being more frequently exposed. Results obtained from a previous study show that individuals have varied base levels of mtDNA damage in their arm and nose due to being influenced by lifestyle habits such as sun exposure and the use of cosmetic products. Participants will also be asked to complete a lifestyle questionnaire which will help us to understand the psychological and social predictors of sun protection and skin damage.

Inclusion criteria:

  • Over the age of 18 years old
  • Any Fitzpatrick skin types 1 and 2 (fair skin, fair hair, burn easily)

If you are interesting in reading more about the study and/or would like to be involved, contact us

Different Skin Types

In 1975, Fitzpatrick first described sun-reactive skin types I through to IV to classify individuals with white skin and later modified it to include types V and VI for more highly pigmented skin. Fitzpatrick skin phototype (FSPT) is the most common method used to assess

 sunburn risk and is frequently estimated based on an individual’s appearance. A lower FSPT corresponds to skin that is more sensitive. Skin types 1 and 2 are classified as those that burn frequently and tan rarely.

Meet our researcher – Lizzie Ruddy

I’m a first year PhD student focussing on the extrinsic and intrinsic influences on skin aging with its ethnic specific manifestations. My current research involves quantifying skin damage in frequently and rarely sun exposed sites of individuals with different skin types and seeing how this differs following exposure to high intensity UVR such as during a summer holiday. This sits within a wider study which aims to develop a skin swab assay to test “personalised” skincare products and determine whether they

show greater results on specific skin types. 

I am working with Hexis Lab with the aim of gaining an understanding of a significant aspect of the skincare industry that is currently underserved by major cosmetic companies. The unique characteristics of individual skin  responses, in particular with ethnic skin types are currently considered the shape of future clinical and pharmacological interventions as a basis for personalised skincare.