In my profession, one is often faced by requests from patients to help make them fairer. Having practiced in India and abroad, I have experienced the difference of opinion in this regard. I have seen lighter skin patients frequenting tanning salons or spending their weekends at the beach trying to get a perfect tan, whereas in India, most patients would love to be at least one tone lighter. I believe it is human nature to be attracted towards what we don’t have.
But instead of just following trends, let us understand the basis of skin colour. As we all are aware, people living in different geographic locales have different colour of skin, with those inhabiting sunny, tropical regions like Africa, having darker coloured skins( with high melanin concentration), to protect them from the harsh rays of the sun, and people living in colder climates like in most European countries have fairer skin (with less melanin) , because their exposure to sun is limited.
Skin complexion is determined by genetic, racial and geographic factors. Melanin pigment is photo-protective, explaining lower incidence of skin cancers in the wheatish and darker coloured skins. The concentration of haemoglobin in blood also determines our skin tone, giving us a pale look in states of iron deficiency and a reddish healthy glow when we have adequate levels. Other than these, some medical conditions may be associated with other pigments being deposited in the skin like an excess of vitamin A can give a yellowish hue to skin.
Like other features in your personality, your unique skin colour is a part of your identity, it’s your unique quality which you should admire and embrace.
As dermatologists, we can help you in many ways to preserve the colour, texture and quality of skin you were born with. We can help you with preventive as well as corrective measures to reverse the damage to skin due to years of sun exposure, ageing related pigmentation and addressing any other causes of change of skin colour specific to you.
I am strongly against treatments aimed at purely lightening the skin or tanning the skin.
“I can’t be you, you can’t be me
But I can be happy for you and
you can be happy for me”