Why My Skin Color - What is Melanin?

What is Melanin?

So, what exactly is melanin? Melanin is a pigment that determines the colour of our skin, hair and eyes, and it’s produced by cells called melanocytes. Although we all have the same number of melanocytes in our bodies, we all produce different amounts of melanin in our skin. The amount of melanin produced is determined by genetics, length of exposure to the sun, disease, and/or the size of the melanocytes. 

There are two types of melanin associated with the skin: pheomelanin and eumelanin. Pheomelanin is a reddish-yellow colour found in some European descendants (usually in those with red or blonde hair), but the most common type of melanin, eumelanin, is a brownish colour predominantly found in African descendants. The presence of eumelanin in the skin explains why people of colour have a naturally darker complexion when compared to Caucasians.

The intensity of one’s complexion depends on the amounts of melanin produced in the skin: the more eumelanin produced, the darker the skin. 

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