Skin Color

Human Skin - Its Color

  • wide variety of skin colors
    • skin color varies widely across the globe:
      • between different ethnic/racial groups
      • between individuals within the same ethnic/racial group
  • what determines skin color ? - skin color is determined by the interaction of a variety of factors:
    • skin thickness -
      • different areas of the body have different thicknesses of skin
        • e.g. - the skin of the lips is very thin, blood flow is abundant, thus they are more red in color because of the haemoglobin pigment present in blood
    • blood flow -
      • the richer the blood flow and the closer the blood vessels are to the surface of the skin, the more pink or red the skin will appear
    • pigment concentration -
      • the production of the pigment melanin, produced by the melanocyte cells found in the epidermis, determines the darkness of the skin
    • genetics / ethnicity -
      • people who can be traced their ethnicity to more tropical or sun rich areas have genetically higher concentrations of melanocyte cells, subsequently they produce more of the pigment melanin
    • sun exposure -
      • when exposed to sun, the melanocyte cells respond in a defensive manner, by producing more melanin to protect the skin against ultraviolet (UV) rays
      • as the amount of UV exposure increases, more melanin is produced, resulting in a proportional darkening of the skin's color
      • freckles, dense clusters of melanocyte cells, are another way the skin responds to UV exposure
    • people with a condition know as albimism (albinos), have very few to no melanocyte cells, and thus appear very pale skinned

The map below provides a good overview of the distribution of skin color across the world:skin color distribution across the world


this informational service is brought to you by Nancy K. Brown Aesthetics, Inc.