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Dermatoendocrinol. 2013 Apr 1;5(2):319-24. doi: 10.4161/derm.25366.

Age and ethnic variations in sebaceous lipids.

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Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc.; Skillman, NJ USA.


This study was conducted to compare lipid components of sebum from persons from three ethnic backgrounds-Caucasian, African American and Northern Asian. Men and women with no acne in two age groups (18‒25 y and 35‒45 y) were recruited. Skin surface hydration (SkiCon 200EX and NovaMeter), barrier function (Delfin VapoMeter), high-resolution clinical imaging, self-assessments and two pairs of sebutapes on the forehead that extracted the lipids on the surface of their skin were used. Significant differences (p < 0.05) in skin hydration between African Americans and Caucasians in both age groups were noted, with the order from highest to lowest absolute values: African American > Northern Asian > Caucasian. Transepidermal water loss (TEWL) measurements demonstrated that African Americans and Caucasians were significantly different (p < 0.05), with the trend being the inverse of the hydration trend-Caucasian > Northern Asian > African American, which would indicate better barrier function for African Americans with a lower TEWL. African American women had more total lipid production than Northern Asian or Caucasian women. When analyzing the three lipid classes (free fatty acids, triglycerides and wax esters), the trend became significant (p < 0.05) in the wax ester fraction when directly comparing African Americans with Caucasians. Additionally, six lipids were identified in the wax ester fractions that were significantly different in quantity (p < 0.05) between African Americans and Caucasians. These results identified significant differences in sebaceous lipid profiles across ethnic groups and determined that the differences correlated with skin barrier function.


age; ethnic; fatty acid; lipid; sebum; skin; squalene

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