The Science Behind Skin Color

Ever wonder what makes your skin color different from a friend or family member's? Apparently, it all comes down to one little protein.

In 2005, scientists were able to determine that a gene called SLC24A5 is a major factor in skin color; and in 2008, researchers narrowed it down even further. A protein produced by this gene significantly impacts melanocytes, the cells that control pigment. When removed from these cells, melanin production decreased significantly.

Researchers are still working on identifying and understanding the exact mechanism that influences how these cells and proteins arrive at a specific skin color in individuals.