Back to home
in Grooming

Why does tanning make your skin darker? ft. Melanin and UV

  • November 20, 2018
  • By Rajat Mall
  • 0 Comments
Why does tanning make your skin darker? ft. Melanin and UV

Sometimes in life, nothing is more relaxing than soaking in some good old sun. Whether you’re lying down on the golden sands of Anjuna or its a January morning in Delhi and the sun’s rays are tearing apart that chilly fog( smog, lol). It does feel good, doesn’t it? Before we dig in about skin tanning, let us walk you down with some basics

Why does your skin colour vary from people to people?

As per common beliefs, your skin colour is not defined by the race you’re born in or the religion you preach. It is defined by a special polymer called Melanin.

Melanin is an umbrella term for a group of natural pigments found in the skin(epidermis) of most organisms. The melanin pigments are produced in a specialized group of cells known as melanocytes. They come in two forms Eumelanin and Pheomelanin, while the former is present in the skin giving it a black or brown texture, the latter is present in our hair giving it a yellow or red texture.

Melanin is an effective absorbent of light dissipating over 99.9% of absorbed UV radiation. Because of this property, melanin is thought to protect skin cells from UVB radiation damage, reducing the risk of cancer.

While everyone has melanin(light and dark skinned), it comes in different forms and ratios. The variance in the quantity of melanin from person to person has the phenomenon of natural selection behind it. People who live near the equator are prone to sunlight, hence to protect their skin from the UV damage, more amount melanin is produced by their skin. This causes their skin to turn darker; eg sub-Saharan regions, South America etc.

In conclusion people who have darker skin have more amount of melanin and vice-versa.

Why does tanning make your skin darker?

Sun tanning or simply tanning is the process whereby skin color is darkened or tanned. It is most often a result of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, particularly from the sun light. Moderate exposure to the sun contributes to the production of melanin and vitamin D by the body, but excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays has negative health effects, including sunburn and increased risk of skin cancer.

Excessive UV radiation causes sunburn along with other direct and indirect DNA damage to the skin, and the body naturally combats and seeks to repair the damage and protect the skin by creating and releasing further melanin into the skin's cells. With the production of the melanin, the skin color darkens. The tanning process can be triggered by natural sunlight or by artificial UV radiation, which can be delivered in frequencies of UVA, UVB, or a combination of both.

Ultraviolet (UV) is an electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength from 10 nm to 400 nm, shorter than that of visible light but longer than X-rays. UV radiation is present in sunlight constituting about 10% of the total light output of the Sun.

Melanin is an effective absorbent of light dissipating over 99.9% of absorbed UV radiation. Because of this property, melanin is thought to protect skin cells from UVB radiation damage, reducing the risk of cancer.

By Rajat Mall, November 20, 2018
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Newsletter Signup

Leave your email address and receive weekly updates.