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Melanin-rich skin care

The Science Behind Melanin-Rich Skin | Black History Month

Shiri Feldman

Contributing Author: Nikki Williams

February 01, 2023

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In celebration of Black History Month, let’s delve into the science behind melanin, our skin’s natural defender. Read on to explore skin concerns specific for melanin-rich skin tones along with the top skincare ingredients to achieve an even, radiant complexion.  

The Science Behind Melanin

Your unique skin tone is determined by a pigment called melanin (produced by melanocytes) which is present in all skin shades but in different ratios. Melanin production is primarily based on genetics, but aging, hormones, and sun exposure can shift one’s melanin levels. The two types of melanin that contribute to our skin’s pigmentation are: 

  • Eumelanin: Responsible for brown and black skin tones (as well as eye and hair color).

  • Pheomelanin: Responsible for lighter skin tones–yellows and reds (as well as the pigment in our lips, nipples, and other pinkish areas of the body). 

Your distinctive combination of eumelanin and pheomelanin is therefore responsible for your skin, hair, and eye color. 

Sidenote: A third type of melanin, neuromelanin, exists. However, it doesn’t contribute to the skin’s pigmentation–It’s responsible for the color of our neurons. 

Melanin: Our Skin’s Protector 

When you spend time in the sun, your body produces more melanin. Melanin, therefore, protects the skin by absorbing light from harmful UV rays and redistributing it toward the upper layers of the skin. Lighter skin tones have lighter melanin and are more susceptible to cumulative DNA damage (which can increase the risk of skin cancers). Darker skin tones have more protection against DNA damage but are still susceptible to pigmentation irregularities including hyperpigmentation. 

Melanin also protects against reactive oxygen species (ROS), byproducts of our body’s cell processes that can accumulate in our cells and lead to stress, premature aging, and cancers. Melanin fights against ROS by boosting antioxidants and eliminating free radicals. 

Melanin-Rich Skin Concerns

While melanin-rich skin has some key benefits, it also comes with its own set of unique challenges. Common skin conditions that impact darker skin tones include: 

  • Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation: An overproduction of melanin in the skin, hyperpigmentation is often caused by acne and manifests as dark spots, patches, or unevenness of tone. A common form of hyperpigmentation, melasma appears as brown spots on the cheeks, forehead, and upper lip, among other areas. Caused by a combination of hormonal, genetic, and environmental factors, melasma is likely to return if your body produces it, making proper management and treatment essential. Topical maintenance and sun protection are critical. 

  • Dryness: Increased melanin can lead to a reduction in skin hydration, resulting in dryness and other related skin conditions including eczema (inflammation marked by itchy, dry, and cracked skin). 

  • Psoriasis: A condition where skin cells build up and form scales and itchy, dry patches, psoriasis can affect darker skin tones differently–increased skin cell inflammation can temporarily destroy melanocytes (pigment cells). 

  • Vitiligo: Characterized by patches of the skin losing pigment, vitiligo can affect any skin tone, but is more pronounced on darker tones. 

  • Excess Sebum: While oil production ensures skin moisturization, excess sebum secretion can make the skin prone to acne and subsequent dark spots.  

  • Increased Sensitivity: Darker skin tones are at an increased risk for skin sensitivity and allergic reactions to skincare products (especially those containing artificial dyes and other chemicals). 

Melanin-Loving Skincare Ingredients 

Melanin-rich skin tones can benefit from incorporating efficacious actives into their skincare routines that help improve texture, evenness of tone, cell regeneration, and skin brightening. 

At Revea, we formulate our custom formulas with the following melanin-loving ingredients:  

  • Tetrahexadecyl Ascorbate: Also known more commonly as vitamin C ester, this antioxidant-rich ingredient accelerates collagen production, as well as clarifies and brightens the skin by inhibiting melanogenesis (the production of pigment). It also inhibits tyrosinase, an enzyme that catalyzes melanin synthesis, in order to prevent over-accumulation of melanin. All Revea serums are formulated with this powerful ingredient to help improve overall radiance by restoring a more even skin tone and preventing oxidative damage. 

  • Rainbow Algae Extract: This active accelerates the natural mechanisms involved in melanin removal. By accelerating melanosome degradation, this ingredient accelerates the fading of pigmented spots. Custom Revea serums containing rainbow algae extract help brighten and lighten areas where pigment is over-accumulating. When combined with soothing ingredients, rainbow algae extract helps restore a more uniform complexion. 

  • Diglucosyl Gallic Acid: This biotechnologically created ingredient is a broad modulator of melanin biosynthesis and signaling pathways. It’s metabolized by the skin’s microbiome to progressively brighten your complexion and restore a more even skin tone, with the bonus of making pores less visible, and skin luminous. 

  • Marrubium Extract: Selected for its inflammatory properties, this powerful antioxidant acts as a control mechanism for aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), an important regulator of skin barrier function. Marrubium extract also helps refresh the skin from oxidative damage and pollution. It smooths and softens the skin, leaving it with a refined, radiant appearance.  

  • Hexylresorcinol: A moderator of melanin storage and production, this ingredient promotes tyrosinase inhibition and degradation, enhancing the skin’s natural radiance and minimizing local areas of hyperpigmentation. 

In addition to incorporating melanin-loving actives, we recommend applying sunscreen daily–as the last step of your morning skincare routine. Sunscreen with a broad-spectrum SPF 30 minimum will block out 98% of the sun’s UV rays, protecting the skin from hyperpigmentation, photoaging, and skin cancers. 

Skincare Powered By You 

At Revea, you’re the hero ingredient. You see, our precision technology measures the skin’s hydration levels, sebum production, and elasticity, among other factors, to reveal your unique biological needs. Based on more than 100 million data points, our chemists, scientists, and engineers get to work, formulating your custom Revea Precision Treatment Regimen. 

Each Revea treatment is custom-tailored and made-to-order based on your unique skin health data– collected via our free skin assessment. 

Take our skin assessment today to begin your journey toward better skin! 

Interested in learning helpful tips and advanced information about skincare? Follow us on Instagram @myrevea & sign up for our e-newsletter (we promise not to spam you!).