As one of the most noticeable variations of the human body, skin colour has attracted more scholarly attention than other aspects of variability.
Much research has been done and it is thought that one's colouring has evolved through natural selection and that there is a correlation between the distribution of melanin according to the intensity of the sun's ultra violet rays.
As a result people living in the tropics have deeper toned skins than their paler counterparts in far northern climates.
The anatomy of the skin reveals that the proportion of melanocytes [cells that produce colour pigment] is 1 per every 7 keratinocytes.
It may be mentioned that dark skinned people have the same proportion, but that the cells produce larger pigment granules.
If ever there was a dividing line resulting in an "ebony and ivory" scenario, this no longer exists due to mass migrations around the planet. In many cases ethnic minorities merge with different groups and inter-marriage alters the face of society. In other words the "purity" of colour which may define a race group has altered somewhat.
What sort of characteristics define one in society? Is it good looks, power, wealth or other attributes?
Unfortunately in many cases the colour of ones skin creates barriers, resulting in people becoming marginalized, can cause many a conflict and lead otherwise very normal people to become paranoid. The peculiarities of human beings is quite unfathomable, as many whites favour a darker complexion and blacks a white one.
The most common way of darkening the skin is exposure to the sun, or by visiting a salon that offers sunbed radiation.
Alternately one can use a "self-tan lotion" - an ingredient in the product stimulates the production of melanin minus sunlight or one can apply a tinted cream or lotion which will temporarily colour the skin.
Skin lightening can occur when cells no longer produce melanin as in the case of albinism and vitiligo.
Now, the real focus of this article is to highlight the obsession of many to have a lighter skin, more often than not with dire consequences...
Huge profits are made from over the counter skin lightening products, especially in some African and eastern countries, but fortunately are now banned in many.
Pakistani women are avid supporters, believing that better job opportunities will arise, that they have a greater chance of marrying well and that society will view them in a better light. Even men are known to have their faces bleached while at the barber shop.
Many of these lightening formulations are shrouded in mystery, having dangerous ingredients like steroids, hydro-quinone and tretinoin. Long term use can lead to irreparable skin damage, skin cancer and mercury poisoning.
Regarding colour in cosmetics, it is essential to select those best suited to the natural skin tone.
There are few restrictions applicable to colour when discussing body care products, unless allergic reactions are known.
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