Beautiful Skin of Color: A Comprehensive Guide to Asian, Olive, and Dark Skinby Jeanine Downie, Barbara Nevins Taylor, Fran Cook-Bolden, Fran Cook-bolden
It's a fact of DNA: if you can trace your roots back to Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, India, Latin America, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, the South Pacific, or any group of Native Americans, your genes react similarly to genes in people who have darker skin. Chances are you may have received confusing advice-or no advice at all-about how to care for your skin
It's a fact of DNA: if you can trace your roots back to Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, India, Latin America, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, the South Pacific, or any group of Native Americans, your genes react similarly to genes in people who have darker skin. Chances are you may have received confusing advice-or no advice at all-about how to care for your skin. Finally, Beautiful Skin of Color unlocks the particular secrets of your skin and provides the answers you've been searching for. In a quick reference, A-Z format, the book explains why problems occur and prescribes reliable remedies and groundbreaking new procedures specifically for people of color.
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
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- First Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.94(d)
Read an Excerpt
Beautiful Skin of ColorA Comprehensive Guide to Asian, Olive, and Dark Skin
By Jeanine Downie Fran Cook-Bolden
Regan BooksISBN: 0-06-052155-4
Chapter OneWe live in a skin-color-sensitive universe. Most of us are keenly aware of variations in our complexions and in the skin of others. How many times have you wondered, "Why is my skin this color?" How many times have you asked silently, "Why is my skin different?" These are really good questions. Too often, the answers are political or filled with some kind of rhetoric that has nothing to do with the basic questions.
The real answers about skin of color are deeply embedded in the very essence of your being. Skin of color has a unique cellular makeup and a special protein structure. The cells and the skin structure create and replenish the beautiful color. They also make the skin particularly susceptible to damage. There's a paradox. Although dark skin is delicate, the darker pigment protects the skin, to some degree, from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun.
Your skin reacts the way it does for various reasons. Everything that happens on the surface of the skin reflects something going on inside your body.
One guiding force determines everything. It is the most significant piece of our biological puzzle. It is DNA-the genetic pattern that you inherited from your parents. DNA is embedded in the nucleus of every one of your cells. In each cell, it acts like a set of instructions providing ablueprint for the way you are supposed to look.
When you smile and see your mother's grin, or suddenly notice that your eyes are like your father's, you've spotted the work of DNA. DNA carries the message that makes you who you are.
The message is transmitted at the moment of conception. When a sperm fertilizes an egg, cells divide and chromosomes are created. These chromosomes containing your parents' DNA develop in the nucleus of your cells. The instructions, of course, aren't all the same. There are separate sets of instructions, transmitted through about two hundred different types of cells to all parts of your body.
The skin is the largest organ of the body, with its own special cells. There are 30 million cells in one square inch of your cheek; each cell contains the plan for the way your skin will look. The instructions come to you from your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and an ancient family tree linking you to men and women who lived thousands of years ago.
The work of researchers in a number of fields is helping us learn more about our genetic lineage. An important discovery came after anthropologists found the remains of a man buried in the ice of the Italian Alps. They nicknamed him Siberian Man and established that he had been buried for five thousand years. In 1994, Oxford University professor Bryan Sykes traced Siberian Man's DNA. Professor Sykes determined that Siberian Man's DNA matched the DNA of Europeans who are alive today. This significant piece of scientific detective work has enormous relevance for us as we try to understand ourselves and the difference in skin of color.
Certainly, the physical appearances of men and women have changed over the centuries as we adapted and shape-shifted to meet the demands of nature and our cultures. It's unlikely that you'll find a look-alike for Siberian Man in Europe today. But there are people who share his DNA, and somewhere in their body chemistry or physical makeup, something of the five-thousand-year-old man lingers. There's plenty of research, and a great deal of speculation, about how different cultures evolved. We're not going to jump into that. But if your family history includes people from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, the Indian subcontinent, Latin America, the Mediterranean including Greece and Italy, and anywhere in the Middle East, Turkey, or the South Pacific, or if you are Native American, you have genes and cells that react similarly to genes in the darkest skin of color. You are in a world of company. Imagine creating a world map and identifying all the countries where people with skin of color live. White patches would include only European countries, Russia, Australia, Canada, and the United States. Even that is changing. The 2000 United States Census revealed a significant increase in the number of people with skin of color in the United States, and the report predicted that number will grow. People with skin of color-African-Americans, Asians, and Latinos-may account for half of the population in the United States as we move into the twenty-first century.
The statistics support trends we see in our daily lives. Skin color differences in the United States and elsewhere are blurring because of immigration and the marriage of cultures. Similarly, immigration is changing Europe's population. Cultures are blending, and faces are changing there, too.
The slow melding of cultures has occurred over the centuries. African-Americans and Caribbean-Americans dragged from their homelands as slaves often had little choice as to who would father their children. Native Americans and Latin Americans were frequently subsumed by rulers who changed the genetic patterns of their offspring. Of course, people also happily and willingly intermarried, creating new patterns of DNA.
There are very public examples. Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry's mother is white, and her father is African-American. Tiger Woods's mother is from Thailand, and his father is African-American. The Rock, the popular wrestler and actor, has a family history blending the DNA of his mom from Samoa, in the South Pacific, with his dad's African-American heritage.
In Thailand, Cindy Burbidge is a beautiful television host and model, and a former Miss Thailand. Her father is American, and her mother is Thai. With her blue eyes and fair skin, people question whether or not she's actually got any Thai blood. Cindy asked the rhetorical question of a New York Times reporter, "How can you prove that you're Thai? How can you prove that you're anything?" Cindy's mom, her dad, and her DNA provide the answer.
Many, without hard facts and information, can't trace their family history. Yet people you've never known, and never imagined, have had something to do with the way you look. Mixed ancestry may explain why people in the same family often have different shades of skin color. Yet the person in the family with the lightest skin is likely to share the skin sensitivities of the relative with the darkest complexion. The DNA in cells contains the historical tale and a distinct plan. It makes skin of color, regardless of the shade, much more sensitive and reactive than white skin.
Our Dominican-American friend Carlos appears to have milky- white skin. His dad and mom have olive skin. "Although I'm really light-skinned," he says, "I still get dark marks on my face after I get a pimple." Carlos develops dark marks because his DNA says he has skin of color. When his skin is traumatized by acne, his fair skin reacts like skin of color and produces dark marks.
Skin of color is particularly reactive because of its cell formation and the way its protein works.
How the Skin Works
Your skin is like a rich layer cake with amazing things filling every layer. The surface is a remarkable outer garment that serves as a protective barrier, warding off bacteria, the environment, chemicals, poisons, and the pushes and pulls of everyday life. The skin filters water and prevents you from getting waterlogged. It also helps to keep the water you need inside your body. Sweat glands in the skin regulate temperature. You sweat to cool off when you're too hot, and you get chills, or goose bumps, when you're too cold. Nerve receptors in your skin talk to you all of the time. They signal the tingling feeling at the moment of a sensual caress and make you flinch or groan when you're pinched or hit. Muscles deep in your skin cause tiny hairs to stand on end when you're frightened or aroused. What goes on bel
Excerpted from Beautiful Skin of Color by Jeanine Downie Fran Cook-Bolden Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Jeanine Downie, M.D., is director of Image Dermatology in Montclair, New Jersey, and is an assistant attending physician at Mountainside and Overlook Hospitals. In addition to traveling across the U.S. and in Europe and Asia as a leading lecturer on skin of color, she has appeared on The View, The Weekend Today Show, and Living It Up with Ali and Jack and in InStyle, Cosmopolitan, O, Essence, and other publications. She lives in West Orange, New Jersey.
Fran Cook-Bolden, M.D., is a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University, director of the Ethnic Skin Specialty Group, and has a private practice in New York City. She is an internationally recognized pioneer on the use of lasers in ethnic skin and provides cutting-edge research advice to the health and beauty industry. Her advice has appeared in Essence, YM, Honey, Lucky, Heart and Soul, and Black Men. She lives in Westchester County.
Barbara Nevins Taylor is a ten-time Emmy Award–winning investigative reporter for UPN 9 WWOR-TV in New York. She has won dozens of journalism awards, including a Laurel from the Columbia Journalism Review. She has written for the New York Times and other publications. She lives in New York City.
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