| by: Dana Scripca
The paler the skin, the higher the class
Pale skin has had an exciting evolution. Greek and
Roman women used to do anything possible to whiten their face skin; the
whiter their face skin was, the more beautiful they were considered. Sun
tanning was out of the question. By using lead paints and chalks women
put themselves in great danger because that ancient beauty treatment
could cause death by slow poisoning. It was only too late when this was
The obsession with white, "porcelain"- like skin
evolved beyond cosmetic reasons, becoming more related to social
classes. Skin color became that visible definer separating working
classes from the ruling classes. A tanned skin disclosed a life of
outdoor labor; those wishing to be accepted in high-life had to conform
to this requirement: white, not tanned skin. The paler one's skin, the
higher the class. To achieve this, men and women had no limits; any
method, safe or not, was used, as being pale was extremely important.
Asia: white skin is considered a symbol of femininity
The tanning obsession and later, the sunless
tanning craze took over the world. Still, there are white "spots" on the
worldwide tanning roadmap. Asian people are not so excited with golden
skin. And this has a lot to do with their millenary culture, somehow
reluctant to these trends.
What do Asian females have and others don't? There
are few differences to take into account. Teams of scientists and
dermatologists who have studied eight Asian cities (Sendai, Japan;
Seoul, South Korea; Guangzhou, Shanghai and Harbin, China; Calicut and
New Delhi, India; and Manila, Philippines (representative of Malay skin)
have some interesting findings to reveal:
- Hyper pigmentation (dark spots) has an
earlier onset than wrinkles and laxity (loss of firmness) on Asian
skin (compared to Caucasians).
- The Japanese have the lightest skin tone;
thus, Japanese women have low melanin and skin redness. The Indians
have the darkest skin tone, and therefore high melanin content and
- Asian skin has a better behavior during
cooler months; because of reduced sun exposure, Asian women's skin
has better biomechanical properties such as elasticity and
- Skin becomes yellowish with age and this is
more visible in Chinese and Korean skin than other racial groups.
- Japanese skin has the best condition (least
deterioration with age), while Indian skin has the worst.
In fact, there are more differences across
populations depending on regions, age, geographical location, climate,
White, whiter, the whitest - this may be lethal
In Asian countries, pale skin has had the same
significance for centuries: sophistication, innocence, feminity and high
social standard. That is why Asian women have always been looking for
skin care products to whiten their skin. They used to prepare "skin
whiteners", by grinding pearl from seashells into powder and swallowing
it. Today's cosmetics are safer and more reasonable. New skin whitening
products appear every year, posing less dangers to women's health or
Still, these whitening lotions, serums, correctors
and essences may involve risks worth taking into account. According to
Asian dermatologists, the danger comes from mercury. If safety allowance
limits are exceeded, mercury (the best known whitening agent) may cause
death. Unfortunately, some products include high doses of mercury, which
are damaging to the central nervous system and the kidneys, and
especially to the development of the brain in a fetus or a child.
So, pale skin is not the happiest choice for an
Asian woman, after all. Neither is dark skin. So, what should they do?
Using proper skincare products and sunscreen (if exposed to real sun or
indoor session) is the best choice for life, not only for Asian women
but also for anybody who cares about skin and health.