The magic of melanin: How melanin determines your skin color?

by Anush Bichakhchyan


Nature has created us so unique, and each of us is perfect in his way: skin, eyes, hair, and body. So different and so beautiful! We have talked much about skin types and skin treatment. Maybe it is time to talk about skin colors and how we have different eyes, hair, and skin colors. As a recap, let’s say we are going to talk about melanin.

WHAT IS MELANIN

Everyone has melanin, and the different skin tone is not about having or not having melanin but about having a particular amount of melanin. Melanin is created in cells and begins to function after the second trimester of birth. The amount of melanin produced determines the skin tone, hair, and eye color, and it may slightly change after birth. Aside from genetics, other factors can affect the color transformation:
- Exposure to UV rays
- Inflammation
- Hormones
- Skin pigment disorders
- Age

What are the benefits of melanin?

Aside from defining characteristic features, melanin is essential for skin protection:
- Protection against UV rays
- Reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenger.

Do we have the same amount of melanin?

We all have the same number of cells called melanocytes. So why do we all have different skin tones or eye colors? The secret is hidden not in the number of melanocytes but in the number of melanosomes (synthesizing Eumelanin and Pheomelanin responsible for dark tones and alternate hues, such as red and yellow).

What happens if you don’t have enough melanin?

The excess number of melanosomes makes skin darker but about the lack of melanin? There are two conditions when the body doesn’t have enough melanin:
Vitiligo. It is an autoimmune condition when the body doesn’t produce enough melanocytes. The skin and hair may have white patches, and it may get more over time.
Albinism. The rare genetic condition causes a severe lack of pigment where the body has no pigmentation at all.

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