Dr. Thienna Ho was born in Saigon, Vietnam, in April of 1968, just three months after Viet Cong Forces attacked that city during the infamous Tet Offensive. Eleven years later, her family fled communist Vietnam in a 50-foot wooden boat carrying 285 passengers. During their harrowing ocean voyage to Indonesia, this vessel was attacked five times by pirates. Less than a year later, Dr. Thienna’s family immigrated to the United States and settled in San Francisco. She went on to earn a number of academic degrees, including a BA in Economics, a BS in Microbiology, a Graduate Certificate in Genetic Engineering, an MA in Business Administration, and a Ph.D. in Scientific Nutrition. She also has performed significant additional study in the fields of chemistry, biology, and molecular biology.
Dr. Thienna is the founder of THIENNA, INC. She is the World Leading Authority on Human Skin Color. After seven years of independent scientific paito warna saigon research, Dr. Thienna solved one of the most enduring mysteries on earth that had intrigued scientists for centuries-the causes for the variation in human skin color! She is here to talk about that work and her new book “Unlocking the Mystery of Skin Color.”
Tyler: Welcome, Thienna. I have to admit I’m very curious to talk to you because you claim in your book that people have the ability to change or control the color of their skin. To begin, will you tell us how you first discovered this possibility?
Thienna: Thank you for having me here today. It is a treat. Tyler, this question is a very emotional one for me to answer as my mother just passed away last year and I want you and everyone to know how much I love her regardless of what I am about to say. I must admit I am very embarrassed to say this, but I was envious of my mother and siblings for having been born with beautiful light complexions, and I was the only child born with dark skin in the family. Since I was about four years old, I already knew that neighbors and friends always praised them for their beautiful fair skin but not mine. I learned at an early age from my family that my dark skin looked “dirty and unclean”-because my skin tone was so uneven that I counted at least seven distinct shades and the skin on my elbows, knees, feet, and ankles was embarrassingly alligator-like, rough, thick and dark ashen gray in color. I actually hated my skin. Every time, I looked at my mother, I longed to have her beautiful fair skin.
During my adult years here in the U.S., I tried every skin product under the sun to lighten and even out my total body complexion, but these products only darkened my skin color even more! When I was studying microbiology at San Francisco State University as an undergraduate student and genetic engineering as a graduate student, I was disappointed to discover that scientific research had not reached the stage that would help me to alter my skin color. I was so frustrated that I made it my mission to learn everything I could about the science of the human skin so that I could solve my own skin problems and eventually help others who had the same problems that I did and this was how I solved the mystery of human skin color.
Many people are skeptical that I was born dark. I must say I had to have a problem to solve a problem and to passionately see the world the way I see. People said, “Vietnamese people are not dark” and if I were dark it was because I must be hanging out in the sun! And when I moved here, the weather is colder so I would naturally get lighter or get back to my natural color. Well, this did not apply to my case. See the photos in my book and of when I was 12 years old and a photo taken with my brother when I was 18 years old. There was not much of a difference in my skin color after six years of living in the U.S. and I did not expose myself to the sun. Even when I was 30 years old, my skin color was the same from avoiding the sun.
In my book, I will prove to you that genetic heritage, solar radiation, and how close you live to the equator, do not have as important an influence on the development of skin color as we previously believed. You will learn that not all people native to the equator are jet black and not all people native to the Polar Regions are exactly white. Thus, living under a sun-deprived environment will not guarantee the development of light skin. You can cover your body up all you want and avoid the sun; you will still be dark unless you know my method!
Tyler: And what is the secret, Thienna? How does a person change his or her skin color?
Thienna: One of the most important factors in the determination of skin color and one that is commonly overlooked is the amount of sulfur in your skin. When skin of any color has less sulfur available for its use, it develops a darker shade. When skin of any color has plentiful supplies of sulfur available for its use, it develops a lighter shade. Thus, by changing the amount of sulfur in the pigment-producing layer of your skin, you can change your skin color!
What I must point out here is we need sulfur to survive. Sulfur is a natural mineral that is as fundamental to life as water and salt are. It is the eighth most abundant chemical element in all life forms and the third most abundant mineral in your body. You cannot live without it. Sulfur is found in every cell in your body. Your body needs sulfur to create skin, hair, nails, muscles, bones, and teeth. Without sulfur, your body cannot regulate its blood sugar or transmit messages from one nerve cell to another. Your body also requires sulfur to digest, absorb fat, and to excrete cholesterol. Therefore, factors in your lifestyle and diet do affect the amount of sulfur that your body uses.
In my book, I teach people how to enrich their diet with sulfur-rich foods and how to adopt behavior patterns that will maintain high sulfur levels in the body in order to lighten one’s skin color or to maintain a flawless complexion.