Skin 101

Skin Deep with Melanin

One of the greatest things I love about being black is to see the different shades people of color come in, but why do we come in so many shades? Why do people of color from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East have so many shades of brown? That comes from a word we throw around so much, a word called melanin, but what is melanin really?


I came across this cool map that shows the many shades of brown around the world. If you look at this map we are all a shade of brown; there is no “white people” or “black people,”we are all brown with melanin.

Where does it come from, how does it develop are the questions we should ask to understand our brown skin. Before I go into all these cool details, let me make something clear: Everyone has melanin. People of color are not the only humans on earth that have melanin. It comes down to the amount of active melanin cells you have in your body not if you have the cells or not. People of color just have more active cells than others. Let’s move on, we have large cells in our skin called Melanocytes and these produce and distribute melanin within our skin. We also produce two types of melanin in our skin; they are called Pheomelanin and Eumelanin. The cool part is that both types melanin produce two very different shades of color in our skin. The pheomelanin produces yellow to red shades and eumelanin produces Dark brown to black shades in our skin tone, really cool right? How about this fun fact, the melanin cells in our body also affect our eye color.  The skin layer covering our eye is really sensitive and transparent so if we were to look into the mirror we can’t actually see the skin, but it’s there.


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