The role of melanin in aging

Melanin is a dark brown to black pigment occurring in the hair, skin and iris of people and animals. It is responsible for tanning the skin when exposed to sunlight. But there’s something even more significant about this enigmatic element: it possesses anti-aging powers.

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You’ve probably heard the expression “Black don’t crack”. Well, there’s more than some truth in that.

In 1975 researchers came up with the Fitzpatrick Scale to classify the response of different skin types to ultraviolet light. The scale divides skin into six tones, from type I-people with red hair and notably fair skin that burns easily, through to type VI: black skin that rarely burns and tans only faintly.

It turned out that people with skin types IV (Asian skin) to VI also seem to be less vulnerable to the formation of wrinkles – a.k.a. ‘photoaging’ – than type I to III-people. They tend to notice hardly any wrinkles before reaching their fifties or sixties. (Of course there is still some individual variation, and a minority will look in the mirror and see those tell-tale lines appearing at a younger age.)

An explanation for that came in 1979, when Kays Kaidbey and his colleagues found out that on average 55% of ultraviolet A (UVA) rays penetrate Caucasian skin while fewer than 18% of them get through African-American skin.

So, the tone of our skin decides whether it burns fast – or not at all – and whether you get outer signs of aging sooner – or later. It all comes down to that one little word. Melanin. Greater quantities of melanin give people with black skin some more protection against both wrinkles and skin cancer than people with lighter skin tones.

Does that mean that black people are immune to either of them? Absolutely not! Dark-skinned people stay prone to both wrinkles and skin cancer when being exposed to the UVA-rays all too violently.

Therefore, please keep in mind that including sunscreen to your daily skincare routine is an absolute necessity. Whenever you apply one of our creams, add a sunscreen too and feel soft and safe at once!