The complexion is the look of the skin, particularly on the face. A number of internal and external factors may influence a person's complexion. These factors include a person's genetics and hormones, as well as environmental factors, medications, and use of skin care products.
Skin hues vary on all people. While some people have skin with a yellowish hue, others have dark brown skin or a creamy white complexion. Skin color is determined by melanin, a chemical in the skin. A higher amount of melanin creates a darker skin color.
The cells containing melanin may become damaged or overstimulated, which can lead to hyperpigmentation. With hyperpigmentation, an excess of melanin appears in the form of age spots, freckles, and other types of dark spots on the skin. A deficiency of melanin in skin cells causes lighter spots on the body.
Complexion is also determined by the amount of sebum in the skin. Sebum is an oily substance produced by sebaceous glands. A large amount of sebum may clog pores, which may lead to acne breakouts. Acne blemishes are often a pink-red color, and inflamed pimples can be painful to the touch. Breakouts, which may be triggered by hormones, medications, cosmetics and other environmental factors, can alter the skin's appearance.
Dry skin, also known as xerosis, also influences the complexion. This condition often appears as patches of flaky, itchy skin. Some people are genetically predisposed to dry skin, while others have dry skin due to medication and skin products, some of which can diminish sebum production. Without the use of a moisturizer, the skin can be stripped of essential oils.
External factors may have an influence on the complexion. For example, people living in a drier environment, such as the desert, will usually have drier skin. The effects of sun exposure can also change the skin's texture or appearance. After prolonged exposure to sunlight, a person might form liver spots, also known as age spots, on the hands, shoulders, arms, and face. Liver spots are painless brown patches which occur in areas with the greatest sun exposure.
Aspects of a person's complexion may change with the use of certain products, such as whitening creams or cleansers containing hydroquinone, a whitening ingredient. A person with mild or moderate acne may alter his complexion using medicated cleansers and gels containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, which can help clear skin and prevent future blemishes. Rich moisturizers or creams containing collagen might increase the skin's elasticity and eliminate dry patches.