The Von Luschan’s chromatic scale made by anthropologist Felix von Luschan. The riginal was self-made from scratch with the paint program in the likeness of the chart originally printed in Voelker, Rassen, Sprachen (1927). The skin colors used were copied from the original chart box per box using the paint program’s dropper tool.
Date 1927; 2007-10-05
Source Own work with Inkscape with color RGB values from en:Image:Felix von Luschan Skin Color Chart

Von Luschan’s chromatic scale
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Not to be confused with Lüscher color test.

Von Luschan’s chromatic scale

Geographic distribution of skin colors for native populations prior to 1940.
Von Luschan’s chromatic scale is a method of classifying skin color. It is also called the von Luschan scale or von Luschan’s scale. It is named after its inventor, Felix von Luschan. The equipment consists of 36 opaque glass tiles which were compared to the subject’s skin, ideally in a place which would not be exposed to the sun (such as under the arm). The von Luschan scale was used to establish racial classifications of populations according to skin color; in this respect it is in contrast to the Fitzpatrick scale intended for the classification of the skin type of individuals introduced in 1975 by Harvard dermatologist Thomas B. Fitzpatrick to describe sun tanning behavior.[1]
The von Luschan scale was used extensively throughout the first half of the 20th century in race studies and anthropometry. However, it was considered problematic, even by its practitioners, because it was very inconsistent. In many instances, different investigators would give different readings of the same person. The von Luschan scale was largely abandoned by the early 1950s, replaced instead by methods utilizing reflectance spectrophotometry.
The following table shows the 36 categories of the von Luschan scale in relation to the six categories of the Fitzpatrick scale:[2][3]
Fitzpatrick type von Luschan scale Also called
I 0–6 Very light or white, “Celtic” type[4]
II 7–13 Light or light-skinned European[4]
III 14–20 Light intermediate, or dark-skinned European[4]
IV 21–27 Dark intermediate or “olive skin”[4]
V 28–34 Dark or “brown” type
VI 35–36 Very dark or “black” type
Jump up ^ Fitzpatrick TB: Soleil et peau [Sun and skin]. Journal de Médecine Esthétique 1975; 2:33-34
Jump up ^ Nina Jablonski, Michael P. Muehlenbein (ed.) (2010). Human Evolutionary Biology. Cambridge University Press. p. 177. ISBN 0521879485. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
Jump up ^ “Fitzpatrick Skin Type” (PDF). Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
^ Jump up to: a b c d these are commonly encountered names for the types, e.g. US Army “Healthy Skin Campaign”, etc. Archived August 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.


von Luschan scale

I Very light or pale Often Occasionally 1–5
II Light or light-skinned Usually Sometimes 6–10
III Light intermediate Rarely Usually 11–15
IV Dark intermediate Rarely Often 16–21
V Dark or “brown” type No Sometimes darkens 22–28
VI Very dark or “black” type No Naturally black-brown skin 29–36

Sunless tanning[edit]

Main article: Sunless tanning

To avoid exposure to UVB and UVA rays, or in sunless seasons, some people take steps to appear with darkened skin. They may use sunless tanning (also known as self-tanners); stainers which are based on dihydroxyacetone (DHA); bronzers, which are simply dyes; tan accelerators, based on tyrosine and psoralens. Some people use make-up to create a tanned appearance[10] while others may get a tanned appearance by wearing tan-colored stockings or pantyhose.

Many sunless tanning products are available in the form of creams, gels, lotions, and sprays that are self-applied on the skin. Another option is the use of bronzers, which are cosmetics that provide temporary effects. There is also a professional spray-on tanning option or “tanning booth” that is offered by spas, salons, and tanning businesses.[11]

Spray tanning does not involve a color being sprayed on the body, instead it uses a colorless chemical which reacts with proteins in the top layer of the skin, resulting in a brown color. The two main active ingredients used in most sunless tanners are dihydroxyacetone and erythrulose.[citation needed] The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of DHA spray tanning booths because it has not received safety data to support this specific use. DHA is a permitted color additive for cosmetic use restricted to external application. When used in a commercial spray tanning booth, areas such as the eyes, lips or mucous membrane can be exposed to the DHA, which is a non-permitted use of the product.[12]

Other agents include afamelanotide and melanotan II, which induce the production of dark dermal pigmentation (melanogenesis) without sun exposure.

Health aspects[edit]

Main article: Health effects of sunlight exposure

The most-common risk of exposure to ultraviolet radiation is sunburn, the speed and severity of which vary among individuals. This can be alleviated at least to some extent by the prior application of a suitable-strength sunscreen, which will also hinder the tanning process due to the blocking of UV light.

Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation is known to cause skin cancer,[13] make skin age and wrinkle faster,[14] mutate DNA,[15] and impair the immune system.[16] Frequent tanning bed use triples the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.[17] The International Agency for Research on Cancer places the use of tanning beds in the highest cancer risk category, describing them as carcinogenic to humans, if used as the manufacturer recommends. Tanning bed use under the age of 35 increases melanoma risk by 87%. In Australia, 1 in 6 melanomas in people aged 18 to 29 are caused by tanning beds, and they have been attributed to an estimated 281 new melanomas a year, 43 melanoma-related deaths, and 2,572 new cases of squamous cell carcinoma.[18]

Several tanning activators have used different forms of psoralen, which are known to be photocarcinogenic.[19][20][21] Health authorities have banned psoralen since July 1996.[22]


Various home-made remedies are suggested to remove sun tans including lemon juice, yogurt, tomato juice, aloe vera, raw potato, cucumber juice, etc.[23][24][25]

Cultural history[edit]

See also: Human skin color § Social status, colorism and racism

La promenade (1875) by Claude Monet. End of 19th century in the upper social class, people used umbrellas, long sleeves and hats to avoid sun tanning effects.
Throughout history, tanning has gone in and out of fashion. In the United States before about the 1920s, tanned skin was associated with the lower classes, because they worked outdoors and were exposed to the sun. Women went to great lengths to preserve pallid skin, as a sign of their “refinement”.[26]

Women’s outdoor clothing styles were tailored to protect against sun exposure, with full-length sleeves, and sunbonnets and other large hats, headscarves, and parasols shielding the head. Women even went as far as to put lead-based cosmetics on their skin to artificially whiten their skin tone.[13] However, when not strictly monitored, these cosmetics caused lead poisoning. Light-skinned appearance was achieved in other ways, including the use of arsenic to whiten skin, and lightening powders. The preference for fair skin continued until the end of the Victorian era.

By the early 20th century, the therapeutic benefits of sunlight began to be recognised.[27] In 1903, Niels Finsen was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his “Finsen Light Therapy”.[28] The therapy was a cure for diseases such as lupus vulgaris and rickets. Vitamin D deficiency was found to be a cause of rickets, and exposure to the sun would allow vitamin D to be produced in a person. Therefore, sun exposure was a remedy to curing several diseases, especially rickets. In 1910 a scientific expedition went to the island of Tenerife to test the wider health benefits of “heliotherapy”,[29] and by 1913 “sunbathing” was referred to as a desirable activity for the leisured class.[30]

Shortly thereafter, in the 1920s, fashion-designer Coco Chanel accidentally got sunburnt while visiting the French Riviera. When she arrived home, she arrived with a suntan and her fans apparently liked the look and started to adopt darker skin tones themselves. Tanned skin became a trend partly because of Coco’s status and the longing for her lifestyle by other members of society. In addition, Parisians fell in love with Josephine Baker, a “caramel-skinned” singer in Paris, and idolised her dark skin. These two women were leading figures of the transformation that tanned skin underwent, in which it became perceived as fashionable, healthy, and luxurious.[31][32][33] Jean Patou capitalised on the new tanning fad, launching the first suntan oil “Huile de Chaldee” in 1927.[34]

Just before the 1930s, sun therapy became a popularly subscribed cure for almost every ailment from simple fatigue to tuberculosis. In the 1940s, advertisements started appearing in women’s magazines which encouraged sun bathing. At the same time, swimsuits’ skin coverage began decreasing, with the bikini radically changing swimsuit style after it made its appearance in 1946. In the 1950s, many people used baby oil as a method to increase tanning. The first self-tanner came about in the same decade and was known as “Man-Tan,” although it often led to undesirable orange skin.[13] Coppertone, in 1953, marketed its sunscreen with a drawing of a little blond girl and her cocker spaniel tugging on her bathing suit bottoms; this is still the same advertisement used today. In the latter part of the 1950s, silver metallic UV reflectors were common to enhance one’s tan.

In 1962, sunscreen commenced to be SPF rated, although SPF labeling in the US was not standardised by the FDA until 1978. In 1971, Mattel introduced Malibu Barbie, which had tanned skin, sunglasses, and her very own bottle of sun tanning lotion. In 1978, both sunscreen with an SPF 15 rating as well as tanning beds first appeared. In 2009 there were an estimated 50,000 outlets for tanning, whereas in the 1990s there were only around 10,000.[35] The indoor tanning business was a five-billion-dollar industry in the United States in 2009.[35] The popularity of indoor tanning spawned auxiliary industries in tanning bed skin care and indoor tanning lotions including bronzers, intensifiers, and accelerators. In China, darker skin is still considered by many to be the mark of the lower classes. As recently as 2012, in some parts of China, ski masks were becoming popular items to wear at the beach in order to protect the wearer’s face from the effects of the sun.[36]

Visible tan lines are regarded by many people to be un-aesthetic and embarrassing. Many people want to avoid tan lines on those parts of the body which will be visible when they are fully clothed. Some people try to achieve an all-over tan or to maximize their tan coverage. To achieve an all-over tan, tanners need to dispense with clothing; and to maximize coverage, they need to minimize the amount of clothing they wear while tanning. For women who cannot dispense with a swimsuit, they at times tan with the back strap undone while lying on the front, or removing shoulder straps, besides wearing swimsuits which cover less area than their normal clothing. Any exposure is subject to local community standards and personal choice. Some people tan in the privacy of their backyard where they can at times tan without clothes, and some countries have set aside clothing-optional swimming areas (also known as nude beaches), where people can tan and swim clothes-free. One such beach in the United States is Mazo Beach in Mazomanie, Wisconsin. Some people tan topless, and others wear very brief swimwear, such as a microkini or thong. A 1969 innovation of tan-through swimwear[37][38][39] uses fabric perforated with thousands of micro holes that are nearly invisible to the naked eye, but which let enough sunlight through to produce a line-free tan. Tan-through swimwear typically offers protection equivalent to SPF 6 or less, and an application of sunscreen even to the covered area is recommended


About Harold L Carter

Bachelor of Science, Columbia University Masters degree, Ohio State University Undergraduate National Officer, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Eastern Asst Vice President, when a student at Columbia University Profile Photograph: Mom & Me, when I was a graduate student
This entry was posted in CULTURAL HISTORY OF TANNING "TRYING TO BE BLACK" - IN AMERICA, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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