Surprisingly (or not), it’s more than just melanin that separates a black person from a white person, and a white person from an Asian.
Scientists have discovered structural differences between black, white and Asian skin in terms of its:
- water content
- lipids (fat and fat soluble vitamins)
Differences between black skin and white skin
- The epidermis of black skin contains less glutathione than white skin. (Reduced glutathione may be responsible for skin color. Inhibition of epidermal glutathione system leads to darker skin, and glutathione in the epidermis has been shown to inhibit melanogenesis.)
- In the epidermis of white skin, hyperpigmentation or tanning is always followed by a drop in glutathione reductase and reduced glutathione.
- Black skin have larger melanosomes than white skin.
- Black skin has a higher electrical resistance than white skin, which suggests greater cohesion and thickness.
- Black skin has more and larger fibroblasts than white skin. The fibroblasts in black skin are also more multi-nucleated. This can lead to more abnormal scarring and keloid formation.
- Black skin also has larger mast cell granules than white skin, which may also play a part in keloid formation.
- The stratum corneum of black skin has more layers and stronger cells than in white skin.
- Black skin and Asian skin have thicker and more compact dermis than white skin. This is also why blacks and Asians have fewer facial wrinkles than whites.
- Black skin has more casual lipids and more moisture in the stratum corneum than white skin.
- Black skin sheds its outer layers more (increased desquamation) than white skin
- Black skin has 50% lower ceramides than white or Hispanic skin. Asians have the highest skin ceramide levels.
- Black and Indian skin has two times more alkali-insoluble melanin (darker DHI-enriched eumelanin) than white skin, hispanic skin and Chinese skin.
- Black skin has a lower pH than white skin.
What does this mean?
The structural differences between our skin can determine several things.
- The effectiveness of topical creams and lotions
- The safety of chemical peels and skin laser treatments
- The skin’s healing response to wounds and scarring