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What is the color of the Asian skin tone?


There is no single Asian skin tone. Asia is an enormously diverse continent encompassing over 4 billion people across 48 countries. Asian skin tones range from very fair to very dark due to this diversity. However, there are some generalizations that can be made about common Asian skin tones.

What are the main factors affecting Asian skin tone diversity?

There are a few key factors that contribute to the diversity of Asian skin tones:

  • Genetics – Certain ethnic groups tend to have darker or lighter skin tones due to their genetic ancestry. For example, those with ancestry from Southern India tend to have darker skin than those from Northeastern Asia.
  • Geography & Sun Exposure – Areas closer to the equator like Southeast Asia and Southern India receive more direct sunlight. This increased UV exposure leads to higher melanin production and darker skin tones as protection.
  • Climate – Cooler more temperate climates cause lighter skin tones to develop while hot tropical areas lead to darker tones.

These factors have resulted in a wide spectrum of skin tones ranging from pale through tan, olive, brown, and very dark brown. Despite this diversity, there are still some common tones that are considered typical for broad regions of Asia.

Common Asian Skin Tones by Region

Northeast Asia – Fair to Light Tan

This region includes China, Korea, Japan, and Mongolia. The most common skin tones are fair to light tan with yellowish undertones.

Some key facts:

  • Fair complexions are common, especially in women, as lighter skin is considered beautiful in many Northeast Asian cultures.
  • Skin gets gradually darker towards Southern China where there is more sun exposure.
  • The yellowish undertone is due to higher levels of carotene pigments compared to Caucasians.

Well known skintone numbers:

Fitzpatrick Scale II – III
MAC Foundation NC15 – NC25
Pantone 1163U – 1235U

Southeast Asia – Light Tan to Tan

This region includes Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Common skin tones range from light tan to medium tan with golden undertones.

Some key facts:

  • Tropical climate leads to higher melanin production and darker tan skin.
  • Southern regions like Malaysia and Indonesia tend to be darker than northern areas.
  • Golden undertones are common due to higher carotenoid pigments.

Well known skintone numbers:

Fitzpatrick Scale III – IV
MAC Foundation NC25 – NC35
Pantone 1345U – 1447U

South Asia – Tan to Dark Brown

This region includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. Typical skin tones range from tan to very dark brown.

Some key facts:

  • Southern India has some of the darkest skin tones due to intense UV radiation.
  • Northern India is moderately tan as it experiences less intense sunlight.
  • Yellowish to golden undertones are common.

Well known skintone numbers:

Fitzpatrick Scale IV – VI
MAC Foundation NC35 – NC45
Pantone 1545U – 1815U

How do Asian skin tones compare to other ethnicities?

Here is a quick comparison of common Asian skin tones to other ethnic groups:

Ethnicity Typical Skin Tones
Northeast Asian Fair to Light Tan
Southeast Asian Light Tan to Tan
South Asian Tan to Dark Brown
Caucasian Fair to Light Tan
Hispanic Light Tan to Tan
Middle Eastern Tan to Olive
African Tan to Very Dark Brown

As you can see, there is significant overlap with other ethnicities. Many South Asians and Southeast Asians have skin tones similar to Africans while Northeast Asians overlap Caucasians. Overall Asians cover the entire spectrum from fair to very dark due to the continent’s vast diversity.

How do Asian skin tones vary by gender?

There are some slight differences between Asian male and female skin tones:

  • Women tend to have fairer skin than men of the same ethnicity. This is often culturally driven as fair skin is associated with beauty and high status in many Asian cultures.
  • Men’s skin gets darker due to greater sun exposure from outdoor work and activities. Their skin also has higher collagen density leading to a thicker dermis.
  • Hormonal differences lead to women having more even skintone while men are prone to issues like ruddiness or acne scarring.

However, these gender differences are relatively minor compared to the overall ethnic diversity across Asia. The main tones for each region generally apply to both men and women.


To summarize, there is no single “Asian skin tone” due to the vast ethnic and geographic diversity of the continent. However, Northeast Asians tend to have fair to light tan skin, Southeast Asians light tan to tan, and South Asians tan to dark brown. Tones overlap significantly with other ethnicities. Women typically have slightly fairer and more even skintones than Asian men. But the regional differences based on genetics, climate and sun exposure are far greater than gender differences overall. With greater mixing, the skin tone spectrum of Asians will likely continue diversifying.