Imagine going a gorgeous golden colour without having to bake for hours in the
sun or use a fake tan. To make your skin colour change chemically, all you would
need to do is pop a pill or apply a cream.
You may soon be able to alter your skin tone, and maybe even your eye colour, as
easily and as often as you dye your hair but with a lot less mess ? while
protecting your skin from sun damage and cancer.
Scientists are finally beginning to understand the mechanisms behind tanning.
And rather than just making it possible to darken pigments it has become clear
that it should be just as easy to lighten skin tone, too, an idea now being
taken up by cosmetic companies.
So whether you are a redhead who fancies a deep, dark skin colour and black
hair, or if you are black-skinned or Asian and would rather be a fair-skinned
blond with blue eyes, all you have to do is take a tablet or slap on a cream for
a couple of weeks. Or at least until you fancy changing again.
The cosmetics firms are excited and Avon has already filed a patent for a skin
lightening process that takes advantage of this latest knowledge.
Previous work by Fisher has shown hairs tend to go grey when melanocytes at
their roots die off. Other research suggests this can be remedied by applying
chemicals that trigger melanin production or cause genes to express it.
Latest glaucoma drugs have shown melanin levels in the iris can be influenced
chemically, causing eye colour to change.
So, in theory, the mechanisms that decide eye colour could also be manipulated
chemically or genetically.