Volume 17, Issue 1 (January 1972)
Quantitative Analysis of Skin Color from Melanin Content of Superficial Skin Cells
The color of human skin is determined by many factors. Blood supply, epidermal thickness, and pigments, both intrinsic and extrinsic, are responsible for the many variations we see. An important factor is the amount of the intrinsic pigment melanin, which absorbs and scatters ultraviolet radiation. In recent studies of the morphology of surface skin cells and their melanin content, we noticed a clear correlation between gross skin color and the average number of melanin granules per cell. This suggested that a quantitative analysis of melanin granules in skin cells from microscopic skin specimens, such as those present on clothing, could help to determine the skin color of the individual from which the cells came. This paper describes the methods of cell collection and staining followed and summarizes the results of the quantitative studies.