How to increase melanin production for UV protection

Melanin Production – Our skins protective buffer

What is Melanin?

Melanin is the skin pigment produced that protects our skin from UV radiation and its coinciding damage. It could be considered our own natural sunscreen.

Low levels of melanin

Low levels of melanin mean that the skin is highly susceptible to receiving DNA damage with overexposure. This is typical of the fair-skinned complexions. This lack of melanin and protection against UV radiation means that those individuals with fair skin have a propensity to burn and risk more damage, being out in the sunlight without UV protection. It also means that their ability to develop a tan requires a lot of time invested to do so safely.

The amount of melanin in one’s skin also determines one’s vitamin D production.

Receiving an adequate supply of vitamin D from the sun without being at risk of developing melanoma is somewhat of a balancing act. Studies have already discovered that staying out of the sun to prevent melanoma is unhealthy and can cause vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency is attributed to skin cancer and increases the risk of developing other types of cancer.

How to increase melanin in order to safely develop a tan

How then might one develop a safe enhanced tan with all things considered? To get a safe enhanced tan, one must have the ability to stimulate the melanocyte stimulating hormone responsible for increasing melanin production.

Tanning process. Skin. Human anatomy
Tanning process. When ultraviolet light waves touch melanocytes, they begin to increase the production of melanin. The skin becomes dark color



How to increase melanin production with tanning peptides:

First synthesised at the University of Arizona, scientists discovered the use of a “tanning peptide” when investigating possible ways to treat skin cancer. The hypothesis was that by inducing the body’s natural pigmentary system through the process of melanogenesis, a protective tan could be produced before UV exposure, thereby reducing the potential for skin damage.

With just a little UV exposure, the release of a-MSH stimulates a natural increase in the production of melanin from the melanocytes in the skin. Use of the tanning peptide provides more a-MSH which results in more melanin being produced and greater tanning potential (skin pigmentation) regardless of your skin type.

Clinical trials have shown that use of the tanning peptide may hold the potential to promote melanogenesis, with minimal side effects.

The primary role of melanogenesis is to protect the hypodermis, which is the layer under the skin from the UV-B light that causes damage. How it works is that it absorbs all of the UV-B light, blocking its passage into the skin layer.

Our Skin – The Dermis and Epidermis

  • The dermis is located at the bottom, and the epidermis is the uppermost layer of one’s skin.
  • The epidermis plays the role of protecting the skin against the environment, toxins, pathogens, water and UV radiation.
  • The epidermis consists of approximately 90-95% keratinocytes, which produce keratin.
  • Within the epidermis, we also find the melanocytes. 
  • A “melanocyte” is a specialised cell responsible for determining one’s skin and hair colour.

One’s tanning potential is not due to the number of melanocytes present in the skin. It is due to the rate of melanin production and to the type of melanin produced.

ultraviolet rays overproduced melanin is accumulated and it appears as dark spots.

In the skin, there are two types of melanin

Eumelanin is brown-black and photoprotective. Eumelanin serves to protect us from UV Radiation

Pheomelanin is yellow-red and photo-reactive providing no protection against UVR.

  • People with darker skin (skin types III-VI) produce mainly eumelanin
  • Fair-skinned, blonde or red-haired people (skin types I & II) have high levels of pheomelanin, and therefore burn quickly.

Melanin and its protective mechanism

Ultraviolet radiation can cause damage to the DNA in the skin cells, which is counteracted by the production of melanin pigment from the melanocytes. Tanning essentially is a reaction from the body to prevent DNA damage and cancer from developing.