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The Marvels of Melanin

The Marvels of Melanin

Melanin is the natural pigment that determines our beautifully diverse skin tones, as well as the color of our hair and eyes. ⁠

Many different genes influence the type and amount of melanin our bodies produce. Although everyone has about the same number of skin cells that make melanin (called melanocytes), some people make more melanin than others.⁠

There are a few different types of melanin with differing compositions. There is black to brown eumelanin, which is the most abundant type, and yellow to reddish pheomelanin. Variation in skin tone is determined by both the amount and the composition of the melanin in our skin.⁠

Melanin also plays a photoprotective role. When we go out in the sun, our bodies produce more melanin to shield our skin's natural barrier against the adverse effects of UV rays. However, the natural sun protection from melanin (SPF 13.4) is not enough to completely protect us. Our beautifully melanated skin needs more, so remember to protect it by wearing sunscreen (preferably mineral and at least SPF 30) every single day.⁠

Because people with darker skin tones have more melanin, we tend to age later and differently. We experience uneven skin tone and sagging more than fine lines and wrinkles. Our melanocytes are more active – reacting to any type of stimuli (breakouts, trauma, inflammation) and leading to excess melanin production which surfaces as dark spots and scars. (Another reason to use sunscreen.)⁠

If you are looking for ways to even out your skin tone, try products containing licorice root, niacinamide, or azaelic acid.⁠