Join our Societe Club for 25% off all treatments

Understanding your Skin Colour

by Robyn Eathorne 26, August 2016

The natural colour of skin without any pigments is yellowish. However, we are all aware of the different colours of skin and these differences are determined by the thickness of the skin, the blood supply (redàblue) of the dermis, the concentration of carotinoids (orange) in skin and melanin (brown à Black).  These basically control the amount of red, yellow, blue and brown that are nature’s palette for colouring skin. 

Embrayce Beauty and MediSpa - Fitzpatrick skin colour scale

Redness comes largely from the amount of oxygen-enriched blood that is flowing in the skin.  Oxygenated blood is red and this shows through the skin. 

On the other hand blue comes from oxygen-poor blood that is laden with carbon dioxide. We see this dramatically as cyanosis in people with congenital heart defects. 

The yellows and oranges of carotinoids like beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene and zeaxanthine are important in modulating the colour of skin and are dependant on diet.  I am sure we have all noticed how orange-yellow the skin becomes in people taking high carotenoid supplements

Surprisingly there are only two forms of melanin, eumelanin and phaeomelanin,  that give all the shades of skin.  The most common is brown melanin, called eumelanin, whereas the red melanin (phaeomelanin) is less common.  It is not really that simple because melanin is an extremely complex polymer and there may be very minute differences between the melanin of different people.  White hair has no melanin whereas blond hair actually has traces of yellowish or brown melanin.  Black hair is laden with very dark big granules of melanin.


Lets concentrate on melanin and find out more about how it is made and what happens to it:

Melanin is produced by melanocytes and almost all the melanocytes are found in the skin and the eyes.   These melanocytes have a very interesting history.  In the foetus they start off in the area (the neural crest) that will develop into the brain and spinal cord.  For that reason they are very much like nerve cells in their shape.  Imagine that they are like an octopus with lots of tentacles reaching out for other cells.  So melanocytes have a main body of the cell and a number of long thin tubules (dendrites), which act as communication highways.  As the foetus develops its form, these particular cells start migrating away from the neural crest and travel through the various layers of the body until they arrive in the dermis.  Most settle in the very lowest region above the basal membrane that separates the epidermis from the dermis.  Each melanocyte has numerous dendrites which is the name of the long thin tubules extending from the main body of the cell and making contact with a number of surrounding keratinocytes and fibroblasts.  It is estimated that each melanocyte makes contact through the dendrites with about 30 to 36 keratinocytes.  This is called a melanocyte unit.  All those cells will reflect the pigmentation pattern determined by that melanocyte. 

The basic colour of the skin is determined by the concentration of melanocytes.  We each have a colour of skin that has been roughly divided into 6 categories.  Our skin has a different colour in different areas. There are more melanocytes in darker areas like the neck as compared to lighter areas  e.g. the face.  However, the concentration of about 1000 to 2000 melanocytes per cubic millimetre is the same for all race groups!   So it does not matter if you are a black-skinned person from the tropics, or a pale northern European, you will still have the same number of melanocytes.

The melanocyte is really the melanin-producing factory but the paradox is that the melanin inside the melanocytes is colourless!  The melanin is contained in little packets called melanosomes. The melanosomes pass down through the dendrites from where they are transported across the cell membranes into the keratinocytes that then technically becomes the melanophore i.e. the cell carrying melanin.   These melanosomes vary in size and colour in different racial groups.  In dark skinned people, the melanosomes are larger and blacker than in light skinned people.

The production of melanin

We all have a basic skin colour that is genetically determined and sets the rate at which melanin is produced without regard to sun exposure. Skin can be made darker by exposure to the sun in most people by exposure to sunlight.  We are not sure about so many things in relation to melanin production but we know that the damage that occurs from uv irradiation stimulates the production of melanin.  Light carries energy and when it penetrates our skin, the energy is either absorbed and neutralised (e.g. by melanin), or it may cause damage and the production of free radicals.  We know we can stimulate melanin production by exposing skin to weaker energy green light but it becomes more effective when skin is exposed to higher energy light and the best rays are ultra violet light.  Melanin is a most amazing chemical because it can absorb the energy of all visual and uv light without becoming a free radical.

The production of melanin is a complex chemical reaction that basically converts tyrosine through a number of steps to dopaquinone and then to eumelanin.  You have all heard about tyrosinase inhibitors and this is where they work.  Tyrosine s converted to Dopa and in order for that to happen, an enzyme catalyst is necessary. The enzyme is tyrosinase.  Tyrosinase needs an oxidising atmosphere to work and that is why anti-oxidants like ascorbic acid limit the amount of melanin that is made.  If you can block tyrosine then you can reduce the amount of melanin that is made.  Another way to reduce pigment formation is to block the production of tyrosinase.

On the other hand increased pigmentation can result from stimulating the production of tyrosinase.  Hormones, antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs amongst others can stimulate the production of melanin.

Combining dopaquinone with cysteine makes Phaeomelanin.  Eumelanin protects us from sunlight whereas phaeomelanin actually becomes a free radical and aggravates the damage caused by light.  As a result, people with red hair and reddish skin with freckles, tend to get more damaged when exposed to sunlight.  That explains why they have a greater chance to get wrinkles and skin cancers.


Melanin production occurs in the melanosomes which are tiny round packets with little threads in them.  The melanin is deposited on these little threads in varying concentration depending on the basic colour of the skin.  More melanin is deposited after sun exposure.  These little packets or droplets move down through the cellular matrix towards the end plates of the dendrites.  These end plates attach to the keratinocytes and the melanosomes are transferred across into the keratinocyte. 

Melanin in the keratinocyte

Once the melanosome has been transferred into the cytoplasm of the keratinocyte it becomes darker and visible as melanin.  Not all the melanin is as dark as it could be, but when the skin is exposed to prolonged sunlight, the melanin is rapidly converted to its darkest colour and this is responsible for immediate pigment darkening (IPD) which is different from delayed pigment darkening (DPD) which is in fact a tan.  IPD occurs within a few hours of going into sunlight, whereas DPD follows in about two or three days.  In black-skinned individuals the melanosomes are darker, denser and larger.  When skin is exposed to sunlight, the melanosomes tend to become positioned above the nucleus of the keratinocyte and thereby give better protection to the DNA of the cell.  The melanin acts as a protective umbrella. This phenomenon is more marked in darker skinned people than in lighter skinned people.  In dark skin the melanin remains darkly coloured as the keratinocyte migrates right up to the horny layer.  In light skinned people the melanin becomes colourless once more as it moves into the spiny layer of the epidermis.  An acid pH can change melanin into colourless melanin and this is why a glycolic acid type of product can cause fairly rapid reduction of colour.

Melanin is part of our safeguard against exposure to sunlight and pigmented blemishes are almost always the result of excessive stimulation by sunlight.  This pigmentation should be considered to be a warning sign from the body that the affected area has received too much sun damage.  The excessive pigmentation is most likely caused by DNA damaged by uv irradiation.  As a result, the normal control mechanisms of melanin production are lost.  The melanocyte then deposits more melanin in all the keratinocytes and/or fibroblasts that comprise the melanocyte unit.  Progressively, with time, more melanocytes in the area are affected and the mark gradually becomes perceptible.  This may happen years after the initial insult.  One thing for certain is that with the weakening of the ozone protective layer, more UV rays are getting through to earth and as a result pigmentation problems are becoming worse.  If we understand that increased melanin production is absolutely dependent on exposure to light, then we must realise that any treatment of a pigmented blemish must be accompanied by a severe restriction on sun exposure.  If the DNA has been damaged then that cell will always have the potential to produce more pigment granules.  Since we cannot reach the cell and at this stage we do not have the means to remedy the DNA abnormality, the treatment of a pigment blemish has to depend on the suppression of the enzymes that facilitate melanin production, and reduction of the stimulus through sunlight.


By now you should know a lot more about the different colours of skin and how that affects our work in maintaining healthy skin.

Robyn Eathorne
Robyn Eathorne


Also in Our Blog

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Greek Yogurt Tiramisu
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Greek Yogurt Tiramisu

by Robyn Eathorne 08, February 2018

I found this recipe on the internet, whilst looking for something different over Christmas, I have made it several times since and everyone LOVES it and asks me to make it over and over, it is super simple and would be a perfect Valentines or Easter Treat – ENJOY !

Read More

Hypnotherapy - An Insight From Tania
Hypnotherapy - An Insight From Tania

by Tania Behrns 08, February 2018

Imagine tapping into an inner resource where all the answers, for healing, motivation, stress relief, inspired change can occur.

We all know, how change can be difficult and letting go of old limiting beliefs is not easy, some of these beliefs are linked to our core values and still provide our identity, it’s working out which ones serve us, and which don’t .

Read More

Embracing your skin in your 30s.
Embracing your skin in your 30s.

by Bianca Punt 01, December 2017

During your 30’s the growth hormones start to slow down, so the skin won’t repair itself as it did in your 20s. Breakouts can often occur and you may be dealing with dark spots, acne scars and fine expression lines that were never there before. 

Read More




This website is operated by Embrayce Skin and Beauty Limited, a New Zealand owned and operated business. Throughout the site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Embrayce Skin and Beauty Limited. Embrayce Skin and Beauty Limited offers this website, including all information, tools and services available from this site to you, the user, conditioned upon your acceptance of all terms, conditions, policies and notices stated here.

By visiting our site and/ or purchasing something from us, you engage in our “Service” and agree to be bound by the following terms and conditions (“Terms of Service”, “Terms”), including those additional terms and conditions and policies referenced herein and/or available by hyperlink. These Terms of Service apply to all users of the site, including without limitation users who are browsers, vendors, customers, merchants, and/ or contributors of content.

Please read these Terms of Service carefully before accessing or using our website. By accessing or using any part of the site, you agree to be bound by these Terms of Service. If you do not agree to all the terms and conditions of this agreement, then you may not access the website or use any services. If these Terms of Service are considered an offer, acceptance is expressly limited to these Terms of Service.

Any new features or tools which are added to the current store shall also be subject to the Terms of Service. You can review the most current version of the Terms of Service at any time on this page. We reserve the right to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Service by posting updates and/or changes to our website. It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes. Your continued use of or access to the website following the posting of any changes constitutes acceptance of those changes.

Our store is hosted on Shopify Inc. They provide us with the online e-commerce platform that allows us to sell our products and services to you.


By agreeing to these Terms of Service, you represent that you are at least the age of majority in your state or province of residence, or that you are the age of majority in your state or province of residence and you have given us your consent to allow any of your minor dependents to use this site.
You may not use our products for any illegal or unauthorized purpose nor may you, in the use of the Service, violate any laws in your jurisdiction (including but not limited to copyright laws).
You must not transmit any worms or viruses or any code of a destructive nature.
A breach or violation of any of the Terms will result in an immediate termination of your Services.


We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason at any time.
You understand that your content (not including credit card information), may be transferred unencrypted and involve (a) transmissions over various networks; and (b) changes to conform and adapt to technical requirements of connecting networks or devices. Credit card information is always encrypted during transfer over networks.
You agree not to reproduce, duplicate, copy, sell, resell or exploit any portion of the Service, use of the Service, or access to the Service or any contact on the website through which the service is provided, without express written permission by us.
The headings used in this agreement are included for convenience only and will not limit or otherwise affect these Terms.


We are not responsible if information made available on this site is not accurate, complete or current. The material on this site is provided for general information only and should not be relied upon or used as the sole basis for making decisions without consulting primary, more accurate, more complete or more timely sources of information. Any reliance on the material on this site is at your own risk.
This site may contain certain historical information. Historical information, necessarily, is not current and is provided for your reference only. We reserve the right to modify the contents of this site at any time, but we have no obligation to update any information on our site. You agree that it is your responsibility to monitor changes to our site.


Prices for our products are subject to change without notice.
We reserve the right at any time to modify or discontinue the Service (or any part or content thereof) without notice at any time.
We shall not be liable to you or to any third-party for any modification, price change, suspension or discontinuance of the Service.


Certain products or services may be available exclusively online through the website. These products or services may have limited quantities and are subject to return or exchange only according to our Return Policy.
We have made every effort to display as accurately as possible the colors and images of our products that appear at the store. We cannot guarantee that your computer monitor's display of any color will be accurate.
We reserve the right, but are not obligated, to limit the sales of our products or Services to any person, geographic region or jurisdiction. We may exercise this right on a case-by-case basis. We reserve the right to limit the quantities of any products or services that we offer. All descriptions of products or product pricing are subject to change at anytime without notice, at the sole discretion of us. We reserve the right to discontinue any product at any time. Any offer for any product or service made on this site is void where prohibited.
We do not warrant that the quality of any products, services, information, or other material purchased or obtained by you will meet your expectations, or that any errors in the Service will be corrected.


We reserve the right to refuse any order you place with us. We may, in our sole discretion, limit or cancel quantities purchased per person, per household or per order. These restrictions may include orders placed by or under the same customer account, the same credit card, and/or orders that use the same billing and/or shipping address. In the event that we make a change to or cancel an order, we may attempt to notify you by contacting the e-mail and/or billing address/phone number provided at the time the order was made. We reserve the right to limit or prohibit orders that, in our sole judgment, appear to be placed by dealers, resellers or distributors.

You agree to provide current, complete and accurate purchase and account information for all purchases made at our store. You agree to promptly update your account and other information, including your email address and credit card numbers and expiration dates, so that we can complete your transactions and contact you as needed.

For more detail, please review our Returns Policy.


We may provide you with access to third-party tools over which we neither monitor nor have any control nor input.
You acknowledge and agree that we provide access to such tools ”as is” and “as available” without any warranties, representations or conditions of any kind and without any endorsement. We shall have no liability whatsoever arising from or relating to your use of optional third-party tools.
Any use by you of optional tools offered through the site is entirely at your own risk and discretion and you should ensure that you are familiar with and approve of the terms on which tools are provided by the relevant third-party provider(s).
We may also, in the future, offer new services and/or features through the website (including, the release of new tools and resources). Such new features and/or services shall also be subject to these Terms of Service.


Certain content, products and services available via our Service may include materials from third-parties.
Third-party links on this site may direct you to third-party websites that are not affiliated with us. We are not responsible for examining or evaluating the content or accuracy and we do not warrant and will not have any liability or responsibility for any third-party materials or websites, or for any other materials, products, or services of third-parties.
We are not liable for any harm or damages related to the purchase or use of goods, services, resources, content, or any other transactions made in connection with any third-party websites. Please review carefully the third-party's policies and practices and make sure you understand them before you engage in any transaction. Complaints, claims, concerns, or questions regarding third-party products should be directed to the third-party.


If, at our request, you send certain specific submissions (for example contest entries) or without a request from us you send creative ideas, suggestions, proposals, plans, or other materials, whether online, by email, by postal mail, or otherwise (collectively, 'comments'), you agree that we may, at any time, without restriction, edit, copy, publish, distribute, translate and otherwise use in any medium any comments that you forward to us. We are and shall be under no obligation (1) to maintain any comments in confidence; (2) to pay compensation for any comments; or (3) to respond to any comments.
We may, but have no obligation to, monitor, edit or remove content that we determine in our sole discretion are unlawful, offensive, threatening, libelous, defamatory, pornographic, obscene or otherwise objectionable or violates any party’s intellectual property or these Terms of Service.
You agree that your comments will not violate any right of any third-party, including copyright, trademark, privacy, personality or other personal or proprietary right. You further agree that your comments will not contain libelous or otherwise unlawful, abusive or obscene material, or contain any computer virus or other malware that could in any way affect the operation of the Service or any related website. You may not use a false e-mail address, pretend to be someone other than yourself, or otherwise mislead us or third-parties as to the origin of any comments. You are solely responsible for any comments you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any comments posted by you or any third-party.


Your submission of personal information through the store is governed by our Privacy Policy. To view our Privacy Policy.


Occasionally there may be information on our site or in the Service that contains typographical errors, inaccuracies or omissions that may relate to product descriptions, pricing, promotions, offers, product shipping charges, transit times and availability. We reserve the right to correct any errors, inaccuracies or omissions, and to change or update information or cancel orders if any information in the Service or on any related website is inaccurate at any time without prior notice (including after you have submitted your order).
We undertake no obligation to update, amend or clarify information in the Service or on any related website, including without limitation, pricing information, except as required by law. No specified update or refresh date applied in the Service or on any related website, should be taken to indicate that all information in the Service or on any related website has been modified or updated.


In addition to other prohibitions as set forth in the Terms of Service, you are prohibited from using the site or its content: (a) for any unlawful purpose; (b) to solicit others to perform or participate in any unlawful acts; (c) to violate any international, federal, provincial or state regulations, rules, laws, or local ordinances; (d) to infringe upon or violate our intellectual property rights or the intellectual property rights of others; (e) to harass, abuse, insult, harm, defame, slander, disparage, intimidate, or discriminate based on gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, race, age, national origin, or disability; (f) to submit false or misleading information; (g) to upload or transmit viruses or any other type of malicious code that will or may be used in any way that will affect the functionality or operation of the Service or of any related website, other websites, or the Internet; (h) to collect or track the personal information of others; (i) to spam, phish, pharm, pretext, spider, crawl, or scrape; (j) for any obscene or immoral purpose; or (k) to interfere with or circumvent the security features of the Service or any related website, other websites, or the Internet. We reserve the right to terminate your use of the Service or any related website for violating any of the prohibited uses.


We do not guarantee, represent or warrant that your use of our service will be uninterrupted, timely, secure or error-free.
We do not warrant that the results that may be obtained from the use of the service will be accurate or reliable.
You agree that from time to time we may remove the service for indefinite periods of time or cancel the service at any time, without notice to you.
You expressly agree that your use of, or inability to use, the service is at your sole risk. The service and all products and services delivered to you through the service are (except as expressly stated by us) provided 'as is' and 'as available' for your use, without any representation, warranties or conditions of any kind, either express or implied, including all implied warranties or conditions of merchantability, merchantable quality, fitness for a particular purpose, durability, title, and non-infringement.
In no case shall Embrayce Skin and Beauty Limited, our directors, officers, employees, affiliates, agents, contractors, interns, suppliers, service providers or licensors be liable for any injury, loss, claim, or any direct, indirect, incidental, punitive, special, or consequential damages of any kind, including, without limitation lost profits, lost revenue, lost savings, loss of data, replacement costs, or any similar damages, whether based in contract, tort (including negligence), strict liability or otherwise, arising from your use of any of the service or any products procured using the service, or for any other claim related in any way to your use of the service or any product, including, but not limited to, any errors or omissions in any content, or any loss or damage of any kind incurred as a result of the use of the service or any content (or product) posted, transmitted, or otherwise made available via the service, even if advised of their possibility. Because some states or jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion or the limitation of liability for consequential or incidental damages, in such states or jurisdictions, our liability shall be limited to the maximum extent permitted by law.


You agree to indemnify, defend and hold harmless Embrayce Skin and Beauty Limited and our parent, subsidiaries, affiliates, partners, officers, directors, agents, contractors, licensors, service providers, subcontractors, suppliers, interns and employees, harmless from any claim or demand, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, made by any third-party due to or arising out of your breach of these Terms of Service or the documents they incorporate by reference, or your violation of any law or the rights of a third-party.


In the event that any provision of these Terms of Service is determined to be unlawful, void or unenforceable, such provision shall nonetheless be enforceable to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, and the unenforceable portion shall be deemed to be severed from these Terms of Service, such determination shall not affect the validity and enforceability of any other remaining provisions.


The obligations and liabilities of the parties incurred prior to the termination date shall survive the termination of this agreement for all purposes.
These Terms of Service are effective unless and until terminated by either you or us. You may terminate these Terms of Service at any time by notifying us that you no longer wish to use our Services, or when you cease using our site.
If in our sole judgment you fail, or we suspect that you have failed, to comply with any term or provision of these Terms of Service, we also may terminate this agreement at any time without notice and you will remain liable for all amounts due up to and including the date of termination; and/or accordingly may deny you access to our Services (or any part thereof).


Embrayce Skin and Beauty Limited will deliver to the address indicated by you within New Zealand. Embrayce Skin and Beauty Limited can only deliver to a delivery address which is a home or office address. We cannot deliver to PO boxes or Parcel Lockers. Deliveries will be done on business days, not being a public holiday.
Embrayce Skin and Beauty Limited is entitled, insofar as reasonably possible, to make split deliveries so that you receive the ordered products as soon as possible. There are no additional costs associated with such split deliveries. However, in the event that you request that Embrayce Skin and Beauty Limited deliver the order in parts, Embrayce Skin and Beauty Limited may charge you for extra delivery costs. Each split order shall constitute a separate sales contract. If Embrayce Skin and Beauty Limited is late delivering a part or one split order is faulty, that will not entitle you to cancel any other split order.
Delivery periods are indicative and are therefore not regarded as strict deadlines. The mere fact that a delivery period is exceeded does not entitle you to compensation. Embrayce Skin and Beauty Limited must first be served with a notice of default.


The failure of us to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Terms of Service shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision.
These Terms of Service and any policies or operating rules posted by us on this site or in respect to The Service constitutes the entire agreement and understanding between you and us and govern your use of the Service, superseding any prior or contemporaneous agreements, communications and proposals, whether oral or written, between you and us (including, but not limited to, any prior versions of the Terms of Service).
Any ambiguities in the interpretation of these Terms of Service shall not be construed against the drafting party.


These Terms of Service and any separate agreements whereby we provide you Services shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of New Zealand.


You can review the most current version of the Terms of Service at any time at this page.
We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Service by posting updates and changes to our website. It is your responsibility to check our website periodically for changes. Your continued use of or access to our website or the Service following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Service constitutes acceptance of those changes.


Questions about the Terms of Service should be sent to us at