Skin Health - Others

What Is The Function of Melanin

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 16, 2017
What Is The Function of Melanin

If we talk about tanning, sun spots or skin, we're talking about melanin. This pigment found in our body is activated when in contact with ultraviolet rays, protecting our skin from its dangers and making us darker. But melanin is not only found in the skin, it is also found in hair or the irises of eyes as a pigment.

Now that you know what Melanin is, in the following oneHOWTO article you will find out what melanin is for. Learn to protect your skin and keep it healthy.

You may also be interested in: What Happens when Melanin Decreases

Steps to follow:


First of all, you should know that melanin is a pigment, the main function is to determine the color of your skin. However, a lack or excess of this component in our body can lead to skin problems and other issues related to the hair or eyes.

What Is The Function of Melanin - Step 1

The melanocytes (melanin) are present in the bottom layer of our epidermis (skin). The amount of these melanin producing cells determines the skin color. From albinos, who have very little melanin in their skin, to darker skin tones. The proportion of melanocyte molecules that are in our body will determine our pigmentation.

What Is The Function of Melanin - Step 2

There are also various types of melanin such as eumelanin or pheomelanin. The latter is found in greater amounts in our body and and levels of pheomelanin will determine whether a person is very pale or has darker skin; eumelanin on the other hand is much more common and abundant in people with darker skin colours.

On the other hand, grey hair is found less (with less eumelanin) in black, brown and/or blonde hair. Meanwhile, pheomelanin is very common in our skin, especially in redheads or fair-skinned people. Of course, excessive sun exposure can make it carcinogenic.

What Is The Function of Melanin - Step 3

You're probably wondering what the function of melanin is. Besides determining the tone of our skin, this pigment acts as a filter to protect our skin and avoid any damage that may be caused in different epidermal layers due to solar radiation. Therefore, it is vital to keep our skin healthy to help melanocytes function properly and protect the skin from UV rays.


Melanin is activated by light, i.e. our skin making contact with sunlight. Melanin soaks up UV rays, absorbing them, which makes the color of our skin change. There are various types of light absorbers or chromophores, which change skin tones like beta-carotene present in carrots, or chlorophyll in plants. You can learn more in the oneHOWTO article about what foods increase melanin.


The lack of melanin production in our body means the faster appearance of grey hairs or even albinism. There are also several hormones that can influence the good development of melanin, especially in women. For example, during pregnancy or menstruation, a woman may experience a change in skin pigmentation, either due to excess melanin (melasma) or underproduction (vitiligo). It is useful to know that there are some ways to create melanin in the body to counter a deficit of this pigment.


In short, production of melanin in our skin helps to protect us from ultraviolet rays from the sun, while determining our skin tone and hair. Tanning or greying are also caused by melanin. Take a look at what happens when melanin levels decrease for more information.

You have to be especially careful with skin, because if not properly cared for, you may experience cancerous changes, such as melanoma. So take good care of your skin and ensure it produces healthy amounts of melanin.

What Is The Function of Melanin - Step 7

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What Is The Function of Melanin, we recommend you visit our Family health category.

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What Is The Function of Melanin