Pigmentation in African American skin decreases with skin aging

Anna L. Chien, Jean Suh, Sabrina Sisto Alessi Cesar, Alexander H. Fischer, Nancy Cheng, Flora Poon, Barbara Rainer, Sherry Leung, Jo Martin, Ginette A. Okoye, Sewon Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background Tristimulus colorimetry, which uses the Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage L*a*b* model to quantify color, has previously been used to analyze pigmentation and erythema in human skin; however, colorimetry of African American skin is not well characterized. Objective We sought to analyze skin color patterns in African Americans and compare them with those of Caucasians. Methods Colorimetry readings of the sun-protected buttock and sun-exposed back of forearm were taken from 40 Caucasian and 43 African American participants from March 2011 through August 2015. African American participants also completed a lifestyle questionnaire. Correlation coefficients, paired t tests, and multivariable linear regression analyses were used for statistical comparisons. Results Forearm skin was lighter in African Americans ages 65 years and older versus 18 to 30 years (P = .02) but darker in Caucasians ages 65 years or older versus 18 to 30 years (P = .03). In African Americans ages 18 to 30 years, the buttock was darker than the forearm (P < .001), whereas in Caucasians the buttock was lighter than the forearm (P < .001). A lighter forearm than buttock was correlated with supplement use, smoking (ages 18-30 years), and less recreational sun exposure (ages ≥65 years) in African Americans. Limitations Our study was limited by the sample size and focal geographic source. Conclusions Pigmentation patterns regarding sun-protected and sun-exposed areas in African Americans may differ from that of Caucasians, suggesting that other factors may contribute to skin pigmentation in African Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)782-787
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • African Americans
  • Caucasians
  • aging
  • colorimetry
  • ethnic skin
  • sun-exposed skin
  • sun-protected skin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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