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Nelson Mandela aged well, a proud man of color

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Former South African President Nelson Mandela had no wrinkles! You know his face. At 90 years of age, his complexion was comparable to a 40 year old.

People of color age well. To explain why, here is a simple lesson in dermatology.

Skin is an organ system that covers the entire human body, known as the Integumentary System. It protects the body from bacteria and water loss. What we see is as thin as paper. The outermost layer of the skin is the epidermis. Color comes from below the epidermis.

People of color possess melanin. Melanocytes are the cells that are found in the skin that produce melanin. Skin with color offers better protection from harmful sun radiation, however, sunburn and skin damage can still occur.

People who lack melanin show signs of aging more rapidly. Wrinkled skin, pigmented spots, and sagging are commonly seen. It’s the blood that circulates throughout the body in fair skinned people that produces coloring, rosy cheeks and blush tones.

Skin cells are produced constantly throughout life. The new cells are replications of the parent cell. Cell division, known as mitosis keeps cell production up. Injury, shedding and aging naturally eliminate cells. Cell aging is thought to be accelerated by environmental toxins, pesticides, alcohol, oxygen deprivation, clogged blood vessels and bacteria.

People of color maintain collagen and sebaceous lubricating glands. Collagen binds water which helps keep skin hydrated. There are 2000-4000 sebaceous glands per square inch. In others, glands that lubricate become deficient, that soft flexible feel in the face is lost, collagen decreases, skin becomes dry and stiff losing elasticity. Finally, the fat layer under the skin diminishes and leads to wrinkling when aging.

Mr. Mandela had no signs of baldness. Whereas, for some people the oily gland supply to hair follicles, known as sebum. can be excessive and with hormonal changes may lead to baldness in the ensuing years. African descendants have very little sebum going to hair follicles.

He had an intelligent forehead. The prefrontal cortex of the brain is located inside the forehead. The function of this area is working memory for spatial tasks, executive area for task management, working memory for object-recall tasks and solving multitask problems. He mastered all of these functions.

Nelson Mandela’s beauty went deeper than his skin, with passion, intelligence and ageless charm inside and out. He will be remembered.



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