Scientists discover important beauty secret for balanced skin color and tone

Aug 22, 2007

In the timeless quest for healthier, younger looking skin, scientists from the University of Cincinnati and Tokyo Medical University have made an important discovery toward manipulating skin tone and color.

The implications of this research range from helping doctors develop more natural looking bioengineered skin grafts to helping cosmetics companies develop new products for achieving the “perfect” sunless tan.

The research study, published in the September print issue of The FASEB Journal, shows for the first time how to manipulate skin color and tone using cells previously thought to play no significant role in this function.

“Most immediately, this study should lead to bioengineered skin grafts that more closely resemble the natural tone and color of recipients, which may help reduce the appearance of scarring,” said Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “Down the road, however, this study opens doors to new types of cosmetics based on our understanding of how and why ‘skin deep’ differences in appearance evolved over millions of years.”

In the article, researchers describe how cells responsible for pigmentation, called melanocytes, can be controlled by the most commonly occurring skin cells, called keratinocytes, which produce no pigment of their own. Working with bioengineered skin, which is used for some types of skin grafts, the researchers juggled various mixtures keratinocytes from people with different types of skin colors.

In turn, the keratinocytes produced chemical signals to “tell” melanocytes to produce more or less pigment, called melanin, as well as how to distribute that pigment. The researchers found that using keratinocytes from light-skinned individuals had a lightening effect on the bioengineered skin graft material, while keratinocytes from dark-skinned individuals had a darkening effect. This is a significant finding as it shows a conclusive link between keratinocytes and melanocytes and because keratinocytes are much easier to manipulate than melanocytes.

Medical conditions that sometimes require the use of bioengineered skin grafts include severe burns, scleroderma, epidermis bullosa, diabetes, and venous leg ulcers. In addition, the study’s senior researcher, Raymond Boissy, says this study also could “help the quality of life for people with pigment diseases such as vitiligo, melasma and age spotting by making their skin more healthy looking.”

Source: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Explore further: Signal identified that prompts one kidney to grow larger when the other is lost

Related Stories

NSA winds down once-secret phone-records collection program

3 hours ago

The National Security Agency has begun winding down its collection and storage of American phone records after the Senate failed to agree on a path forward to change or extend the once-secret program ahead of its expiration ...

Pipeline that leaked wasn't equipped with auto shut-off

3 hours ago

The pipeline that leaked thousands of gallons of oil on the California coast was the only pipe of its kind in the county not required to have an automatic shut-off valve because of a court fight nearly three ...

Uber drivers fined in Hungary

4 hours ago

The Hungarian tax authority fined Uber drivers in its first probe against the ride-sharing service which the economy ministry said Saturday "ignores passenger safety" and must be made to follow regulations.

Recommended for you

How sleep helps us learn and memorize

12 hours ago

Sleep is important for long lasting memories, particularly during this exam season. Research publishing in PLOS Computational Biology suggests that sleeping triggers the synapses in our brain to both streng ...

Hacking the nervous system

20 hours ago

When Maria Vrind, a former gymnast from Volendam in the Netherlands, found that the only way she could put her socks on in the morning was to lie on her back with her feet in the air, she had to accept that ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.