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Changing skin color: Evolution and modern trends

Author(s): Radhakrishnan N | Vijayachandra K | Ranganathan S

Journal: Indian Journal of Dermatology
ISSN 0019-5154

Volume: 52;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 71;
Date: 2007;
Original page

Keywords: Cosmetics | folate | human skin color | melanotoxicity | MSH | photoprotection | tyrosinase | vitamin D 3

The present article reviews various evolutionary events that resulted in skin color variation among humans. Skin of the early man is presumed to be colorless as that of the chimpanzees. During the course of evolution, hairless state of skin with sweat glands would have occurred for the purpose of thermoregulation. Thermoregulation was very important for brain development and function. In due course, pigmentation occurred in the naked skin of man in order to offer photo-protection. The physiological demand of vitamin D 3 and folate in human system and the effect of sun-light in their synthesis and metabolism would have further established some changes in the skin color of man in various geographic locations. Although genetics and physiological adaptations have determined human skin color in different groups/races, during the course of civilization, humans have developed a deep desire to change skin color. Current scientific research on development of novel agents for modulation of skin color is likely to benefit in pigmentary disorders and also in psychological well being through the use of cosmetics.

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