Skin Colour and Lightening

Hi everyone

Today we will look at what gives us our skin colour and the essence. Thereafter, we will see how the skin is lightened.
You are Welcome

Melanin is a pigment produced by melanin producing cells in the body. It gives colour to the skin, hair and eyes. In humans, Skin colour has a very wide range from the lightest to the darkest: which we all see. Many factors affect melanin production and as such the skin colour.
The most important are:

1. Genetic make up
Different ethnicities have different levels and types of Melanin. We Africans genetically produce more melanin that the Europeans and Asians as we all know. Melanin level therefore is used for race identification. In general, people who are dark have more melanin than those who are fair. Freckles are small areas of increased melanin.

2. Exposure to Ultra violet rays from the Sun. Melanin producing cells in the body produce more melanin in response to Sun exposure. This increased production is important to prevent damage to the DNA in the skin. This is the reason that you get darker after being in the Sun unlike those who are not exposed to the Sun (Air conditioned house, car, office). The increased production is for protection. In fact Caucasians actually engage in Sun tanning to increase their melanin production and darken their skin. Note that those who do not have much Melanin are at a higher risk of skin cancer. However, excessive tanning has some dangers.

3. Medical Conditions
Some medical conditions affect the production of melanin. The commonest one is a condition called Albinism where there is an inability to produce Melanin. This affects the skin, hair and eyes. The markedly reduced Melanin in their eyes leads to problems with vision.
Another medical condition is Vitiligo where the cells that produce melanin are destroyed.

4.Skin lightening agents
Skin lightening, toning or bleaching agents change the colour of the skin. There are so many lightening agents as follows:
Hydroquinone is about the most common agent used for skin lightening. It has been banned by the European Union since 2000. Painfully, it is still in most of our cosmetics.
Others are Mercury, Bethamethasone, Clobestol, Tretinoin Alpha hydroxy acids, Kojic acidArbutin/ Deoxyarbutin , Azelaic acid, Aleosin, Dimethicone ETC.

In fact the list is so long. It is wise to avoid any cream or soap that has any of these substances. Note that some of these chemicals are NATURALLY occurring; they are not all synthetic. In fact all the soaps, bath gels, and creams will indicate that they are used for toning, whitening, lightening, fairness, cleansing ETC.
There are many ways these agents act but they all achieve the same:

Tomorrow, we will look at the hazards of skin bleaching.

Thanks for reading

Published by berthaekeh

Medical Doctor/ Teacher/Author

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