Why did Michael Jackson’s skin turn white?

Why did Michael Jackson’s skin turn white?

   72 AnswersDaisy Jackson, M.A History, University of Delhi (2018)Updated Mar 23, 2019 Originally Answered: Why did Michael Jackson’s skin turn white as he grew older?

Shortly after the release of his Thriller album, when he was around 24 years old, Michael Jackson started developing a rare skin disorder called “vitiligo” in which the skin’s pigmentation is destroyed, making the skin appear lighter and lighter. People with vitiligo are extremely sensitive to sunlight hence, hence the umbrella wasn’t an odd fashion statement as many thought

He supposedly inherited vitiligo from father’s side of the family, which unfortunately, has now passed on to his elder son Prince too. (I hope this puts to rest rumours that the kids are not his own!)

Michael Jackson was also known to have suffered from “Lupus erythematosus”,a achronic “autoimmune disease” just as Vitiligo and both tend to go together.


An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body. The immune system normally guards against germs like bacteria and viruses. When it senses these foreign invaders, it sends out an army of fighter cells to attack them. Normally, the immune system can tell the difference between foreign cells and your own healthy cells. But this isn’t the case with an autoimmune disease. Doctors don’t know what causes the immune system misfire. Some autoimmune diseases are more common in certain ethnic groups and they run in the families. For example, lupus affects more African-American and Hispanic people than Caucasians.

Lupus is characterised by a rash that appears on the face, neck, and scalp, and it does not affect internal organs.


Although doctors in the 1800s first described lupus as a skin disease because of the rash it produces, it actually affects many organs, including the joints, kidneys, brain, and heart.

Photosensitivity is a common feature of Lupus. That’s why he always under an umbrella!

“Michael’s lupus had gone pretty bad as his entire body was speckled!” (Dr. Arnie Klein, dermatologist to the star, told CNN’s Larry King in an interview.)

Source: Jackson’s doctor: I worried about surgeries, Diprivan

All of this obviously was devastating for any pop icon who was at the peak of his musical career. One could imagine the level of Michael’s insecurity at the time.

Vitiligo usually starts from a small area as a white patchy blotch and gradually spreads to the rest of the body. Now we know how the white glove came about. I hope now we understand why MJ always dresses the way he dressed. Only if the tabloids would stop calling him “wacko Jacko”. It’s the worst thing you could do to someone who is suffering deep within.

Everyone is fighting a silent battle, struggling to find a place for themselves, in hope that they may find love and happiness.

Kindness costs nothing people.

If we were a little sensitive and compassionate, the world would have been a better place for all. And perhaps, we would not have lost Michael Jackson.

As Micheal sang:

“Heal the world, make it a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race”.

Anyway, Michael got help from his dermatologists in evening out his skin tone. His doctors prescribed him hydroquinone and Benoquin to treat his vitiligo.

He also used lots of makeup before making a public appearance, to conceal the white blotches and blend in the discolouration with his natural skin tone so as to make his skin look more evened out.

And, he didn’t bleach his face nor underwent any plastic surger. He had rhinoplasty because he thought his nose was big and hello… that’s not even a big deal in the glamour world!

Initially, due to personal reasons, Jackson felt uncomfortable with the idea of addressing his skin condition out in the public. He dealt with it quietly and why shouldn’t he? He wasn’t bound by any moral standard to share his health condition with the public.

Deepak Chopra :

“I met Michael more than 20 years ago; I went to teach him meditation at Neverland. He was very shy, very introverted, but very curious about consciousness and spirituality. You know, while the world called him weird, he wondered why the world was so weird. He’d ask me, Why do people go to war? Why is there genocide? What’s happening in Sudan? Why have we killed the environment? Why is there racism and bigotry and hatred and prejudice? We talked about starving children in Mumbai, and he would start to cry. Or we’d start to talk about the trophy-hunting in Canada of the grizzly bear, and he would start to cry. In his mind, the world was psychotic.

Michael had a skin disease called leukoderma, which created huge patches of white. He had, as a result, a very, very poor image of his body. He was almost ashamed of it. That’s why he would cover it up. Why do you think he wore a glove and all that stuff? He would not go into his swimming pool in his own house with his clothes off. He would just jump into the pool at the last moment, you know, take his robe off, but he was ashamed that people would look at all the blotches on his skin.

(Read about Jackson’s mysterious medical history.)

After his trial, he started getting these medical prescriptions from doctors and they were all for narcotics, and he asked me for a prescription, and that’s when I became suspicious of what was going on. It was the drugs. Totally enabled by these Hollywood mafia drug-dealer doctors who have medical licenses and should be brought to justice. The same thing happened with Anna Nicole Smith, the same thing has happened over the years with — and I’m not going to mince my words — Elizabeth Taylor. I know these guys, and they should be in jail.”


Knowing how quiet, shy and introverted he was, nobody expected him to even talk about it so his haters kept pushing his buttons until he got annoyed with the media frenzy. The entire world started speculating about him having undergone a plastic surgery or skin bleaching or whatever. This compelled Michael to speak up.

Finally it was during an interview in 1993 with Oprah Winfrey when confronted with the question about his skin, Michael hesitatingly admitted that he suffered from vitiligo and lamented how he just couldn’t help it and that there was nothing he can do about it. 🙁 awww…

(Below: 1993 Oprah interview)

And for people who still find it hard to believe he didn’t bleach his skin, might want to take a look at his autopsy report where there is a clear mention of “VITILIGO”.


Deepak Chopra, long time friend of Michael Jackson, in an interview with Larry King on CNN said :

“Children who have suffered abusive and trauma will go on to get autoimmune diseases (Lupus & Vitiligo) 20–30 years later. The post-traumatic stress disorder Michael suffered from due to his childhood triggered his Vitiligo & Lupus.”

-Deepak Chopra.

In an interview in 2002–03 with Martin Bashir, MJ made a shocking revelation about how his father (Joe Jackson) forced him & his siblings to call him Joe! Michael wistfully lamented to Bashir how all his life he had only longed so bad to call him daddy !

(Below: Martin Bashir-Michael Jackson interview)

In a telephonic conversation with a friend Glenda, Michael opened up about his relations with his father (Joe), recounting frightening childhood experiences of being beaten up black and blue with belts and iron cords and at times, being thrown against the wall or being locked up in the basement just for singing the wrong note or missing a dance step at rehearsals while his mother Katherine would beg and scream:

“Joe…Joe you’re gonna kill him! You’re gonna kill him! Stop! Stop! ”

(Below: Michael & Glenda’s secretly taped conversation where he discloses about his abusive father and Johvonnie, his half sister.)


Michael was never happy with himself. His mother Katherine recounted how he grew up to be extremely shy and self-conscious. He felt different and odd like he was a “spotted cow” (as told by Katherine) and rarely looked at himself in the mirror.

Getting an early start in the Jackson-5 boy-band in 1964, meant losing out on the precious years of childhood as he found himself tossed around from one city to another to perform at the local concerts with his elder brothers. He was 6 years old when he joined the band. He was the youngest and also the most promising among his brothers, this we know from the fact that he was the lead vocalist and dancer at six and also from the fact that music director Quincy Jones spotted the star in him the first time he saw him perform!

Video: Michael talks about his childhood in an Oprah interview

In the early days of the band, when they had to be far away from home, little Michael would be the one who would always get homesick being the youngest. He hated those days. If it was’nt for his family he would have quit already because he didn’t like being away from his mother, his friends and home. They were 9 kids, and with the parents included they were a family of 11. Life in those days for the Jacksons was hard. His father’s income at the mill wasn’t sufficient to feed the entire family so the band was their only hope. And that’s how the Jackson 5 was born!

Joe Jackson, groomed the kids into big stars, and he would accompany them on their tours. Michael was a precocious child. As he grew up away from the protection of home, he soon learned the ways of the world. The more he learned of the world, the more he loathed the people (except children) in it. This was one of the reasons that contributed to his social anxiety.

On the contrary, the older he got the more shy and reserved he became, which was unlikely of someone who grew up in the limelight! And being a perfectionist, someone who confessed to never being happy with the way he looked ever since childhood and worse being made fun of for his big nose and acne by his own father were enough to kill Michael’s self esteem.

As Michael became lonely and withdrawn, he found solace in books (an avid reader, he owned a collection of 10,000 books!) and cartoons, his favourite was always Peter Pan, with who he identified himself best with.

And the good Christian values his mother instilled in him at childhood, turned Michael into a man of unshakable faith (Believe it or not but he always prayed, and read the Bible), an extremely humble and selfless person (he supported 39 charities!!).

Pages from his bible notes:

It’s these qualities that made him, MICHAEL JACKSON, the King of pop, rock & soul, the genius, the greatest entertainer of all time whose music crossed borders and touched the heart of millions of people.


We all know how fondly Michael loved children and also how fiercely they loved him back. In his 1993 Grammy acceptance speech he said:

“Today I would like to thank all the children of the world. Including the sick and the deprived. I am so sensitive to your pain.”

He even said in a interview that he would just kill himself if all the children in the world were to disappear and how he would rather slit his wrist than lay his hand or his eye on a child when the child molestation case surfaced (he was acquitted of all charges when the case was proven to be was a conspiracy to extort money from him and to end his career).

He even opened up the gates to his home at Neverland Ranch to kids so he could have them around in the zoo, at amusement park or at the theatre that he had built for them.

Michael had the heart of a child. He enjoyed all the things that children did, which was why he bonded much easily with children than adults. He continued to enjoy playing games with kids. Although he grew old but he never he grew up.

The qualities that made him so fine and child-like, were also the qualities that made him so naive & vulnerable to the cruel, merciless world. He became victim to cheaters, backstabbers, and gold diggers who used him for their selfish gains.

I’m a very sensitive person.”

“A person with very vulnerable feelings. My best friends in the whole world are children and animals. They’re the one who tell the truth and love you openly and without reservation. Adults have learned how to hide their feelings and their emotions. They can lie. They will smile to your face and say bad things behind your back. Children haven’t learned those things yet, and they can’t hurt you.”

-Michael Jackson in an interview.


It was in the year 1984 that Michael’s worse nightmare began.

During the shoot of the Pepsi commercial, he was met with a pyro accident which left him permanently bald at the top of his head due to the severity of the burn (second-third degree burn).

The autopsy report below mentions Michael’s hair loss.

Below: the infamous 1984 fire accident

Karen Faye, Michael’s hair & makeup artist, in her testimony:

“Up till now the general public had no idea that after the burn in 1984 and the initial healing Michael had to go through additional surgeries to stretch his skin in order to cover the bald spot on the top of his head.

Now we learn that these operations lasted at least until the year 1993 when Michael was to go on the Dangerous tour. In fact the balloons stretching his skin was taken out just on the eve of his Bangkok concert on August 23, 1993 which was exactly the time when the Chandler case (child molestation) was breaking. And this means that in addition to the pain of the horrendous false accusations he was going on a tour having a fresh wound on his head!

If we calculate how long this burn treatment took it will make no less than 9 years.”

“…His schedule was so busy that he never had time to heal from the surgery. He did a short film Addams Family Values, or something like that. His scalp was healing from the operation, but he was getting chronic migraine headaches from this operation. It caused incredible pain.

The effect of all those surgeries was so devastating that the initial small bald spot turned into a vast baldness which finally demanded wearing a wig. And the wig means perspiration especially during the show and Botox injections as it fights sweating. The need for it was also mentioned by Karen in her testimony.

The surgeries left Michael not only with baldness but with terrible migraine headaches.”

“…….But continuing with the surgery when Michael had lupus was an extremely reckless thing too as lupus prevents scars from healing. Moreover all that surgery formed Michael’s dependency on painkillers.

Who is ultimately to blame for it? Doctors only – the final decision is always theirs. A patient cannot do surgery on his scalp all by himself.

Source: AEG-Jackson trial. Days 8 and 9. KAREN FAYE’S Sad Thriller Silenced by the Press

To cover the baldness, Mike donned wigs and hats; and makeup, for hiding those blemishes from Vitiligo. And he was surviving on opioids to kill the pain, both physical and emotional. Yet in spite of his personal sufferings he never stopped giving to the world the gift of his talent for it was music that had kept him alive, the only thing the world couldn’t take away from him .

The following is an autopsy report of Michael which described his physical injuries :

But the world was so caught up with his outward appearance that it became oblivious to see how broken and fragile a person he was on the inside!


Michael was drastically losing weight as evident from visibly his skinny figure. His weight loss signalled his deteriorating health. He weighed only 61 kg at the time of his death, which was depressingly low for a man 5 feet 9 inches tall. HOW and WHY did that happen?!

The pain killers he had been on from time to time since 1984. The repressed childhood memories. The public mockery and ridicule. The tabloids and paparazzi frenzy. The false pedophilia charges. Insomnia. All of this terribly broke Michael down and tore him apart to the point that it marked the beginning of his dependence on opioids, which certain “enablers” fed him like candy. This had taken a toll on his physical and mental well being.

Karen Faye’s (Mj’s makeup artist) described Michael’s health :

“He wasn’t eating. He was getting thinner. His physical pain. His back pain. He started losing weight. He said he couldn’t eat because he didn’t want to throw up. He had to watch all the people that he loved and cared about, be worried about him. He wouldn’t go to the bathroom at the court because the guard would stand behind him and he was too shy for that, he was too much of a gentleman. He could never go to the bathroom with someone watching him. So he wouldn’t drink before we left. Then he had fallen and hurt his back. The media called it “pajama day.” You all saw it. He was taken to the hospital. They gave him some pain killers. The court said he had to be there or he would be put in jail. They put him in the car. We followed in another car with his clothes. We hoped we’d be able to dress him somewhere, but there was no time. They kept saying: He has to be here or he goes to jail. So he had to go to court in his pajamas.”

Here’s an article on New York Daily describing chilling details:

She (Karen Faye) said Michael was cold as an “ice cube” on June 19, 2005, after a costume fitting.

He couldn’t get warm. I had a space heater, (and) I put it next to him and put him on the sofa and wrapped him in blankets and held him very close to me,” Faye said.

She said she watched tour director Kenny Ortega try to feed the ultra-skinny singer some chicken and pleaded with him to call a doctor.

The next day, Faye sent a frantic email to Jackson’s manager, Frank DiLeo. A fan who had a recent meeting with Jackson had contacted her with concerns, and she told DiLeo she agreed with the fan.

Jurors and Jackson’s 82-year-old mom watched as the fan’s email was projected on a courtroom screen.

“(Michael) took his jacket off, and I saw something horrible. A skeleton. I watched his back. It was only bones. I am still in shock,” the fan said of her June 2009 meeting with the star, during which he tried on a jacket.

“It is humanly impossible for a human being to be a skeleton and dance for two hours straight without any danger,” the fan wrote.

Link: Jackson’s makeup artist: I fought with doctor to keep Jacko offstage

Michael would find it hard to fall asleep right after his rehearsals for “This Is It” due to his increased adrenaline said his brother Jermaine (check the video below). These were warning signs his record companies overlooked because they wanted to make more money out their star performer. So Mike would be anaesthetised to get him to fall asleep. Imagine, being put to coma every time to fall asleep!


Michael’s insomnia got so much worse just months prior to his 2009 “This Is It” world tour.

MJ had signed up for only 10 shows for the tour. But the tour promoters at AEG Live changed their mind and booked him to do 50 shows instead of 10. There was no way a 50 year old who was already frail could have done 50 shows let alone 10! MJ was in a bad shape and had even collapsed several times during his rehearsals. MJ never wanted to do 50 shows!

But despite his objection, AEG Live coerced him and hired a full time physician for him to treat his insomnia so MJ would be able to do back to back rehearsals and perform on the big day.

Dr. Conrad Murray had been putting Michael to sleep using the powerful sedative –Propofol from two months prior to his death, despite knowing the fact that it was life threatening and wasn’t supposed to be used anywhere but in a hospital setting. And even if it was used outside a clinical setting, full precautionary measures were to be taken and the patient’s heart beat constantly monitored.


On that fateful morning of 25 June 2009 when MJ returned home exhausted from his rehearsal, Dr. Murray, drugged him to sleep forever. The king of pop who always struggled with his sleep, finally slept so well that he could never be woken up again.

We remember you Michael, always and forever. You’re always in our hearts. Thank you for the music. You’re beautiful. May you find peace in the arms of the angels.

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Related QuestionsMore Answers Below

Esmeralda Rokaj, Studying Michael Jackson’s life and cases since 10+ years.Updated Mar 10, 2016 · Author has 860 answers and 4.8m answer views Originally Answered: Did Michael Jackson bleach his skin?

Michael Jackson didn’t bleach his skin, I don’t even know if that is possible. He had a rare genetical disorder  called ”Vitilgo” which destroys the pigmentation of the skin by making it lighter and lighter. I creates spots but Michael used make up to even his skin color. He talked about this in an intervew with Oprah Winfrey, you can check it on youtube if you want:

Here are some images:It started since he was a kid. It developed faster on his hand and that was why he started to use the Billie Jean glove!

Then as he grew, so did his vitiligo.

Proof that he had it: His grandfather had it t…Continue Reading Marina Gkane, studied at National Kapodistrian University of AthensUpdated Jun 1, 2019 · Author has 877 answers and 8.1m answer views  

Michael Jackson did not change his skin because he denied his natural belonging to the black race. He was proud to be a black man. He had universal vilitigo, this form of vitiligo is the most aggressive, it destroys the melanocytes of the skin eliminating all pigmentation and leaving the skin without color and without protection, it spreads more and more until the skin is completely white without pigment. Vitiligo is suffered by thousands of people in the world. Michael jackson used the same treatment that all people who have this type of vitiligo use by medical prescription, this treatment…Continue Reading   

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En Español: ¿Qué le pasó a Michael Jackson que su piel quedó blanca?En Français : Pourquoi la peau de Michael Jackson est-elle devenue blanche ?Auf Deutsch: Warum wollte Michael Jackson unbedingt “weiß” sein? Und was sagt uns das evtl. über die Gesellschaft?In Italiano: Perche’ la pelle di Michael Jackson èdiventata bianca?Dalam Bahasa Indonesia: Apa yang menyebabkan kulit Michael Jackson menjadi semakin putih?Em Português: O que Michael Jackson fez para se tornar branco?हिन्दी में: माइकल जैक्सन अचानक कैसे गोरा हो गया था?About · Careers · Privacy · Terms · Contact

Why did Michael Jackson’s skin turn white?

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