The Colors Of Our Skin

The Colors Of Our Skin

Our skin plays two key roles: to protect us from the harmful UV radiation of the sun, while still taking in enough sun to produce healthy amounts of vitamin D. Because of this need, those populations who live in lower latitudes, those closer to the equator, have adapted darker toned skin able to better protect from UV radiation, while those in the higher latitudes have lighter skin to maximize vitamin D production.

Skin color is determined by the amount of melanin, the pigment of the skin, and can create colors from blue to nearly colorless which gives the skin a reddish appearance because of the blood located just beneath.

Skin Color Map for Indigenous People

While skin color is determined by genetics, besides tanning, in our modern world we have additional drivers behind the colors of skin. With globalization more people are living in areas where their skin tone is not aligned with the environment with which they live. This movement, which started with colonization and slavery, unfortunately, gives an interesting situation for anthropologist who are able to study how the skin will adapt when placed in an unfamiliar level of sun. One interesting example of this is Australia. The Indigenous population of Australia has much darker skin tones compared to the now prominent European population, and it just so happens that Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer cases in the world, for guess who.

Of course skin color is constantly adapting, and it is interesting to wonder what the colors of our skin will be like in the future due to this voluntary movement and the constantly changing genetic mixtures of modern families.

Von Luschan's Chromatic Scale


The Von Luschan's Chromatic Scale consists of 36 opaque glass tiles which were compared to the subject's skin, ideally in a place which would not be exposed to the sun (such as under the arm).

Though the von Luschan scale was used extensively throughout the first half of the twentieth century in the study of race and anthropometry, it was considered problematic, even by its practitioners, because it was very inconsistent. In many instances, different investigators would give different readings of the same person. It was largely abandoned by the early 1950s, replaced instead by methods utilizing reflectance spectrophotometry.

The 36 colors of the Von Luschan scale from the COLOURlovers library:

Impale white_curtain

Crystal_shade rice

mirame Pooch

fairly_there iam_ghostlybeacon3

quasi_bianco creepy_white_eyes

Mozzarella STRANGERS

crossed Wilma

pleasantly almost_clear

a_touch jessica

Cosmetic_beige plastic

Sacred feline_fine

Democ dnc

brown Middle

true_brown my_my_mine

brick fido

just_began pan-world

active_part hair

late_check-out tangled_up_in_blue

Sources: Wikipedia: Human Skin Color, futurgasm, Wikipedia: Felix von Luschan & Map

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Showing 1 - 16 of 16 Comments
It would appear that I'm
except for the places where I'm

This is an interesting post about an interesting subject that is usually not mentioned often. Yes, people really do have different skin tones! What a surprise! Still, some would like to be completely blind to see this. Difference is beauty.

In the map it would seem that there's no data from above the arctic circle. There are huge cities in the upper parts of Finland, Sweden and Norway. How come those don't count?

Finnish People
this is what my skin looks like.

Leslie's Face.
My brother likes to mock me because I'm so pale, like I can help it that he got all the melanin in our family.
I'd like to think I tan well, but there have been more than a few times in life I've ended up a little:

P.S. If you've ever read Dr. Seuss' star bellied sneetches book, you'd appreciate more the culture of people in the west paying tons of money to be tan and the people in parts of Asia that pay an equal amount to have whiter skin...

I'm a fan of all colors in design, in art and in people.
Yes, this is beautiful. I happen to be very pale and living in California...
Made this a while ago...

awesome post!
i am SO VERY PALE. i know of one person that is paler than me - and actually, it's better to be pale. you don't get skin cancer as much. i live in chicago anyways, and six - eight months out of the year it's cloudy. :P but you know what? it's not about skin colour - it's what's underneath. ^^
if you take a picture of any human being and transform the RGB colours to HSV colours there is no difference in the H channel between skin colours (the hue). The notion of different "colours" of human beings is incredibly artificial since the chemical compounds responsible for skin tone are the same for all members of our species, only varying in concentration.

Assuming H is accepted as colour, we just vary in lighter and darker shades of the same colour .
I often say (in winter) that I'm so pale I'm:

i dont think that "Skin Color Map for Indigenous People" is accurate, according to it people living at the very far north should be blue like aliens, hehe! plus that where i live people are not brown at all as shown there!
The darkest color on the map is some sort of impossible.
A human skin can not contain so much pigment.
Tres interesting. I've learned my thing for today!

And now I have a strange craving for neopolitan ice cream . . . .

P.S.: As a heat stroke sufferer, I dislike being in the summer sun for long periods of time. Any long time sun exposure is usually accidental and usually results in

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