All About Melanin

SKIN VITALITY PROUDLY SERVING CANADIANS SINCE 1992

Melanin is a word that we hear a lot but that many of us may not completely understand. A good definition of melanin (and how it affects our appearance) is required for anyone that wishes to ensure that they can enjoy the benefits of healthy, beautiful skin, free pigmentation irregularities – something that can be achieved through Chemical peels or photofacials.

What is Melanin?

Melanin, also referred to as pigment, is the substance responsible for the colour of our hair and skin and the iris of the eyes. It’s naturally formed in our bodies as part of a process wherein specialized skin cells (melanocytes) metabolize an amino acid known as tyrosine.A simple way to look at melanin is by looking at melanin levels across skin tones. Higher melanin levels result in darker skin while lower pigment levels are characterized by lighter skin. In cases of extremely low melanin levels, humans, animals (and even some plants) can have albinism, a condition where the skin, hair and eyes are deficient in melanin. All of us have a proper amount of melanin that is correct for maintain our regular skin colour and tone and when too much or too little melanin is produced our appearance changes.

How Does Melanin Effect Us?

The effects of melanin go beyond just skin and hair tones. The substance is responsible for many different elements of skin health and appearance and can provide either benefits (when it’s at appropriate levels) or problems (when pigmentation is irregular).Melanin can cause many different positive effects in humans. One of the most important of these benefits is found in our skin’s ability to resist some of the damage caused through exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Higher melanin levels are able to more effectively ward off sunburns (although not completely). Melanin has also been linked to eyesight due to its ability to regulate light beam absorption.

Irregular melanin levels can be responsible for many different problems however. Melanin deficiencies have been linked with several health problems — most notably, skin cancer — but it can also have a great bearing on our personal appearance as well. Hyperpigmentation and vitiligo are two conditions that arise from irregular melanin production. Vitiligo is characterized by areas of the face and/or body where colour has disappeared, leaving behind skin that feels normal but is whiter than the surrounding area. Hyperpigmentation is more common and occurs when melanin is produced in higher than normal amounts. Many people will experience the effects of hyperpigmentation as the result of environmental or chronological skin aging and irregular melanin levels. Liver/age spots and freckles are both associated with this condition. Melasma, a more severe condition wherein the cheeks and bridge of the nose become discoloured, is also a form of hyperpigmentation.

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