Michael Jackson’s Skin: Why Did Michael Jackson Turn White?

Here's what you need to know about his skin condition.
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Despite Michael Jackson’s contribution to pop culture and music history, there always has been an air of controversy when it came to his skin colour.

But before we dive right into it, let’s take a look at some pressing questions.

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How Did Michael Jackson Turn White?

Michael Jackson’s loss of his dark complexion is mostly attributed to a genetic skin condition called Vitiligo, which caused patches of his skin to turn white.

Did Michael Jackson Have Vitiligo?

Yes, he did. It made him lose skin pigmentation. First starting as spots, then spreading across his body over time.

Did Michael Jackson Bleach His Skin?

Some sources have stated that he had been bleaching his skin, but Jackson and his close family members have never confirmed this.

How Did Michael Jackson’s Cosmetic Surgeries Impact His Skin?

The plastic surgery done on Michael’s face did not have an impact on his skin colour.

michael jackson skin
(Credit: Jackson in 1983)

Do His Children, Michael Jr., Prince, And Paris Jackson Have The Same Skin Condition?

Michael Jr. and Paris Jackson have not inherited their father’s vitiligo at this stage in their life, but Latoya Jackson has confirmed that Prince has already started to show signs of patched, pale skin. It is also speculated that Prince has undergone a procedure to halt the spread of vitiligo.

A Closer Look At Michael Jackson’s Transformation

Now that we have gotten that important questions out of the of the way, let dive deeper into the cosmetic journey that made Michael Jackson appear white.


Like many people who suffer the condition, Michael Jackson’s vitiligo was hereditary. Jackson had inherited it from his father’s side.
Jackson first noticed his skin condition as a teenager, where pale spots started to appear on his skin. Some people say that the dazzling white glove was inspired by his skin condition.


It is speculated by many people that Michael Jackson bleached his skin to even out his skin tone. Celebrity biographer, J. Randy Taraborelli, had stated that the late King of Pop uses over-the-counter skin whitening products to lighten his skin. American director, John Landis, had also stated that he has seen Jackson’s bleached chest.

Despite this proof, Michael Jackson would always deny this, and claimed that he wore thick layers of makeup to even out his skin tone. Even after his death, close family and friends would not confirm Michael Jackson’s use of bleaching products.


Plastic Surgery

It is a widely known rumour among tabloids that Michael Jackson’s first nose job procedure was performed in his very early 20s. After falling during a dance routine practice, he broke his nose and needed to get cosmetic surgery. After his first surgery, he had to make return trips to the doctors, as he had problems breathing with his new nose.

Many doctors had speculated that he didn’t just get a rhinoplasty, but also had a few other procedures done. He was assumed to have undergone a forehead lift, a procedure that lifts up eyebrows and smooths out worry lines. He was also speculated to have undergone cheekbone and lip surgery.
After his death, Jackson’s autopsy report revealed that he had tattoos on his eyebrows to shape them, and tattoos on his hairline to give the appearance of a thicker head of hair.

Michael Jackson’s Artistic Journey With Vitiligo

Michael Jackson’s skin disease was nothing more than a hurdle in the face of his incredible talent. He was able to use his skin condition to influence and shape some of his biggest hits. Let’s take a look at some pivotal moments where the King of Pop made the best of his autoimmune disease.

Black or White

Born as an African American, over the course of his young adulthood Michael noticed the deep injustices toward the black community in American society. Throughout his life, Michael strongly believed in racial equality; black, white, or otherwise.

Michael Jackson’s ‘Black or White,’ released in 1991, spoke both from his heritage as a black man, and appearance as a white man and aimed to tear down walls of racial tension. While the song mainly addresses racism, many people also speculate that the song is about Michael Jackson’s inability to identify as either black or white, due to his vitiligo.

Anti-Paparazzi Songs

With his constant success in the music industry, Michael Jackson’s appearance has forever been a hot topic for the media. Whether they were reporting on his skin condition, cosmetic surgery, or skin bleaching, the paparazzi never passed up an opportunity to ask Jackson and his family for a statement.

Anti-paparazzi themes come up a lot in Jackson’s music, with songs like ‘Leave Me Alone’ and ‘Scream’ (featuring his sister, the legendary Janet Jackson). From these songs, it’s been made pretty clear that the King of Pop detested the endless harassment from the paparazzi.

These two songs gained commercial success, with ‘Leave Me Alone’ peaking at number one on the Billboard Top 100, and the ‘Scream’ music video receiving stellar reviews from critics.

Oprah Interview

Michael Jackson decided to address the rumours himself in a sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey. They talked about being black in America and Jackson’s alleged skin bleaching.

He stated that he has pride in his black heritage and that he has always, and will always, identify as a black man; white skin or not.

Watch Below: Michael Jackson using his deep voice during a performance in Copenhagen 1997

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