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Thread: Depigmentation in Hair and Skin

  1. #1
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    Milesian's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Depigmentation in Hair and Skin

    I was thinking how it appeared that the palest skin doesn't always equate with the fairest hair. It appears to me as if the lightest and most de-pigmented hair is to be found in Scandinavia and the Baltic states, while the skin of people on the western Atlantic fringe (Scots and Irish) is the fairest.

    On a personal note, I have dark hair and very pale skin (I used to be asked if I was anaemic when I was younger). My skin always burns before it tans and it freckles to some degree, though not exessively. I have frequently noted very blonde Nordics on holiday who despite their blondism manage to achieve a bronze / dark brown tan. Whereas my hair is far darker than theirs, the best I can manage is a light golden tan at best (after my sunburnt skin has peeled off after the first week ).

    Can anyone explain why people from North and North-East Europe seem to have their depigmented trait primarily in their hair, while for people in the Celtic fringe it is their skin more than their hair which is very fair?
    Is it possible that blonde hair is an Aryan(Indo-European) trait, while extremely pale skin is perhaps a UP trait? Is there any reason why they should have evolved so differently?

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    Senior Member Stríbog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Milesian
    Is it possible that blonde hair is an Aryan(Indo-European) trait, while extremely pale skin is perhaps a UP trait? Is there any reason why they should have evolved so differently?
    That's what I've always maintained. I tried to bring this up in the Tanning thread this summer.

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    Two Pigments are present in determining one's hair colour- eumelanin, which determines the light/dark gradient, and pheomelanin, which determines the rufous gradient.

    Redheads possess the inability to tan due to the abundance of the pheomelanin pigment, although one does not have to necessarily have to be a redhead to possess the inabilty to tan, as one can have very fair skin produced by high levels of pheomelanin, with the rufousity in the hair masked by darker shades derived from high eumelanin levels as well. This is probably the case for many of British Isles extraction. Another possibility is golden hair, created by the combined presence of both Pheomelanin and eumelanin, in which one has fair skin and does not have the same degree of difficulty in tanning by which a clear redhead would. If pheomelanin and eumelanin are both absent, then one could very likely be an ash-blond, and could tan at a relatively easy level.

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    I can't tan at all, i burn and have even gotten swollen in the past [don't ask] i have 'white' skin - typical for Ireland, and a red tint to my hair - which was blonde/red growing up. I probably have quite a degree of both eumelanin and pheomelanin.
    Do these differ significantly in different nationalities that anyone knows? I'd imagine so since redheads are most typical in Ireland and the UK and blondes are most typical in Scandinavia...

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    Account Inactive Polak's Avatar
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    Something I've noticed about Poles is that extremely blond hair is very common amongst us. So are grey and blue eyes.

    But really fair skin is unusual, and if you have a lot of freckles, you'll look really out of place.

    I have light blond hair. It's not really ashen though - it's almost white in summer, and has a golden tint to it in winter. But my skin tans easily, especially on my face, which always goes brown instead of burning.

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