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Anthropology and skin

Beauty is a cultural related concept. Every culture has its own definition of beauty. Your hair and skin are part of your identity and your culture influences what is an appropriate way to decorate yourself.

In some African cultures for example the face is “decorated” with small scars representing the symbol of the tribe. In some Asian cultures piercings play a big role in decorating one’s body.  

Skin color also plays an important role in representation. People with a white skin on average enjoy the sun and find it beautiful once they have a tanned skin. In contrary people with a dark skin prefer to have a lighter skin. In several cultures skin color is related to wealth and a lighter skin reflects a profession indoors and not on the land.  

When skin and hair play such an important role it is more confronting when one faces problems related to these body parts. People feel ashamed and ignore their problems which can make the problems even worse. This can be related to the fact that skin is a representation of somebodies hygiene.

If you come across problems with dry skin or spots people may think you are not taking good care of your body hygiene. Hygiene can also have a contradictory effect. Showering every day can dry your skin and cause problems.

Other influences on the body, hair and skin can be allergies. Pets or food allergies can cause uncomfortable reactions on the body. But what if this is not it either? Ever thought of change of climate? Climate can cause many issues with the skin, for dark skins moving to a dry and cold climate can dehydrate the skin extremely which can lead to many unpleasant complaints. Next to many external factors also internal factors can play a role in skin problems. Viral or fungal infection can cause misbalance of the body.



Many cultures have their own medical system. If they don’t feel well they will visit witch doctors, shamans or a medicine man well known within their society. In western society these healers are not common anymore and we visit our house doctor or a specialist in the hospital. All these different medical systems are called Ethnomedicine.


In many societies in South America, Africa and Asia medicinal plants are still a very common medicine.  A first assumption is that medicinal plants are used because in third world countries pills and antibiotics invented by western world are not available. This is not always the case. We shouldn´t forget that the base of our western medicine is plant extracts and it is proven that many medicinal plants and their extracts are being used for their anti-viral activity. And let's not forget al the treasures of nature that help us cure fungal infections. Next to that medicinal plant use is preferred due to fewer side effects and low cost.