Can An Increase Or Decrease In Melanin Actually Change Your Skin Color?
Human skin tone varies across the globe. This variation in skin color is attributed to geographical distribution. People who live near the equator have darker skin tone because of extremely high UV radiation. In such regions, the production of melanin pigment increases in the body for protecting the skin from sun rays, which subsequently causes darker complexion. On the other hand, people living close to poles exhibit the lighter-skin tone due to the low intensity of UV radiation.
Despite knowing the biology of skin color, millions of people across the world are obsessed with altering the skin color. Discrimination based on skin color is the vile side of society that is no longer new to anyone. Unfair obsession with fair skin is a strong reason for attaining lighter skin tone. However, many statistics reveal that people with lighter skin tone also feel obligated to have a tan. Racial prejudice not only sabotages one’s self-esteem but also permeates the discontentment and self-loathing in life.
Fortunately, the latest technology and new interventions in skin care and cosmetic worlds open the doorways for redefining your skin color and texture. Many research studies have claimed that by changing the natural pigment production pathway in skin cells, it is possible to tan or lighten the skin colors.
Role of melanin in the body
Melanin is a pigment in the human body that determines the color of skin, eyes, and hair. This skin pigment is produced by melanocytes in the outermost layer of your skin i.e. epidermis. These are the two main forms of melanin – eumelanin and pheomelanin. Eumelanin makes dark color in skin whereas pheomelanin is responsible for pinkish to red color in the skin. The role of melanin in the skin is to protect it from UV radiation. It acts as a barrier and prevents the UV radiation from penetrating the deepest layers of skin for damaging the DNA and causing skin cancer.
Ways to reduce melanin
- Laser therapy
- Topical creams
- Home remedies
1. Laser therapy
Before opting for any of these ways for reducing the melanin pigment, it is important to talk to experienced laser surgeons. It is a medical procedure in which a beam of light is used to reduce the melanin in the targeted area. It is further divided into two types –
- Ablative Laser Resurfacing – This is a wounding laser that removes the topmost layer of skin and a part of the underlying dermis for attaining the lighter skin.
- Non-ablative Laser Resurfacing – This is a non-wounding laser that stimulates collagen growth for improving skin tone and skin texture. Intense pulsed light (IPL) devices are most commonly used for this procedure.
2. Topical creams
- Vitamin C – Several research studies have demonstrated the skin lightening action of vitamin C. Vitamin C Its wonderful depigmenting action helps to brighten your skin by blocking the synthesis of tyrosinase enzyme which produces melanin. Being a potent antioxidant, it boosts the collagen formation which helps to improve the skin texture and tone.
- Glycolic acids – Board-Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Rogers explains that Glycolic acids are the safe and effective plant-derived compounds to achieve clear and birghter skin tone. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA’s) are the most common glycolic acids, which are used in various skin care products such as face wash, skin creams, etc. AHA’s gentle exfoliating action helps to clear the hyperpigmentation, blemishes, sunspots for maintaining the even skin tone.
- Retinol – Retinol is the synthetic derivative of vitamin A, which helps to enhance skin radiance and skin texture. Its topical application is considered good to improve the complexion of skin over time.
3. Home remedies
A study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences has also demonstrated the skin lightening action of lemon. Lemon is one of the common and effective home remedies for pigmentation. This natural bleaching agent helps to clear the dark spots and blotches from the skin.
Directions to apply
- Take a fresh lemon and cut it into two pieces.
- Rub the one-half on your face and let it for 5-10 minutes.
- Rinse it off with water.
Turmeric is a famous herb in Ayurveda since ancient times for restoring the natural glow of the skin. Its natural skin healing properties help to improve the texture of skin along with fading away the skin discolorations.
Directions to apply
- Take 4-5 tablespoon of milk in a bowl.
- Add two tablespoons of gram flour and one tablespoon of turmeric powder in it.
- Mix the ingredients well and apply this paste on your face.
- Let it dry for 20-30 minutes.
- Wash it off with normal water.
The presence of lactic acids, AHA’s (Alpha hydroxy acids) and many other nutrients make yogurt an outstanding home remedy for bright and glowing skin. Furthermore, Dr. Hellman explains that the topical application of a yogurt face mask is quite good to soothe the sunburned skin.
Directions to apply
- Take 1 tablespoon yogurt and half tablespoon of honey in a container.
- Mix the ingredients well.
- Apply the paste on your skin.
- Leave it for 15 minutes.
- Wash it off with lukewarm water.
Ways to increase melanin
Several research studies have claimed that increasing the intake of certain antioxidants and nutrients could help to upsurge the melanin levels in your body.
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin C
1. Vitamin A
Beta carotene is an antioxidant that gets converted into vitamin A in our body. As per many researches, beta – carotene (red-orange pigment) is quite effective to increase the melanin production in lighter skin tone individuals. Vegetables and fruits like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, mango, cantaloupe, etc are a good source of vitamin A.
2. Vitamin E
Vitamin E has been acknowledged as a highly beneficial vitamin for your skin. Along with fighting the free radical damage in the body, it may also help to balance out the melanin stimulation in the body. Another significant function of this vitamin for skin is that it protects the skin against sun damage. You can include grains, seeds, and nuts in your diet for attaining optimum benefits of vitamin E for your skin.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C plays an important role in regulating melanin production in the body. This is one of the most abundant vitamins found in both layers of skin (epidermis and dermis). The benefits of vitamin C for your skin, hair, and health are remarkable. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, pineapples, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and cranberries are a great source of Vitamin C.
American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) shares the important facts on the regular usage of sunscreen. Unprotected sun exposure is associated with serious risk of premature aging, hyperpigmentation, and certain kinds of skin cancers for all types of skin. You should apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going outdoors. Whether you are undergoing any sun tanning or skin lightening treatment, it is important to slather on sunscreen to minimize the potential harms of both UVA & UVB rays.
Many research studies have elaborated the different ways of increasing and decreasing melanin pigment in the skin. However, more evaluations are needed to validate the previous findings. Besides melanin, other factors also influence your skin color. New genetic research findings reveal the role of genes in the diversity of human skin color. Before you choose to undergo any kind of procedure for modifying the skin pigmentation, it is good to know the pros and cons.