As we discussed in the skin care section, the bottom layer of the epidermis contains not only keratinocytes, but also melanocytes. Melanocytes produce melanin which is responsible for the colour of the skin. The melanin is actually transported into keratinocytes as this helps to protect the cell nuclei from UV radiation. .
The more melanin you have the better your protection against UV radiation – a little like a natural sunscreen. However, that does not mean you should not use SPF. People with darker skin colours can still get skin cancers and of course photoaging
Types of melanin
There are two types of melanin; Eumelanin and pheomelanin. Eumelanin is brown-black whilst pheomelanin is yellow-red. Skin pigmentation is therefore derived from the relative ratio of eumelanin to pheomelanin, and also the number of melanosomes within the melanocytes.
Melanin has a variety of functions including skin and hair pigmentation and also photoprotection of the skin and eye. Melanin production is thought to have developed due to the widespread loss of human body hair more than a million years ago. Therefore, people living closer to the equator tended to develop a greater proportion of eumelanin (brown-black colour) to try to protect themselves from higher UV exposure, act as an antioxidant and free radical scavenger.
Those living further away from the equator had more pheomelanin (yellow-red colour) because they did not have as much exposure to UV radiation. This is also important for vitamin D production which occurs cutaneously by using UV exposure. Unfortunately, it means that for darker skin colours living further north of the equator with less sun, often their vitamin D is less and therefore need to be screened for Vitamin D deficiency.
Often skin is described using the Fitzpatrick skin-type scale. This grades skin with regards to the ratio of eumelanin to pheomelanin and also how easy it is for the skin to burn. A discussed in other sections, darker skin colours can have issues with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation with certain treatments and skin conditions, so it is important to review this during the consultation.
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Here at London & Surrey Aesthetics we aim to help you through a journey of discovery about your skin, by discussing what your concerns and expectations are and coming up with a treatment plan designed for you.
We also aim to increase your knowledge about how to look after your skin at home and give you information.