Melanin is a pigment (substances that change colour of light through selective absorption of wavelengths) made from the amino acid tyrosine. It is the most universal pigment found in living organisms and among its many other functions, it determines the colour of skin and hair of an individual.
The colours of the skin are based on the amount of historical exposure to the sun of the population to which the individual belongs. Societies exposed to excessive amounts of sunlight, like the people of Africa, tend to have higher deposits of melanin in their skin, whereas Northern Europeans with minimal exposure to sunlight have the least amounts of melanin in their skin.
The thickness of the skin’s outer layer is another factor in determining skin colour. People with darker skin colour also have thicker layer of skin.
Melanin works like a filter to protect the deeper, more sensitive layers of the skin from penetration of ultraviolet light. The thickness of the skin adds to this protection by enhancing the filtering effect. Keratin, the material nails are made of, is also found deposited in the skin’s outer layer.
Heavy deposits of keratin produce a yellowing, brown tint in the skin, similar to colouration found in Mongolian populations. This is just a different way of protecting the skin from the damage ultraviolet light can cause. The reddish skin tone seen in Native American Indians is the result of combined melanin and keratin deposits.
What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation results when there is excessive melanin production in the body. This can be caused by long periods of exposure to the sun; tanning in fair skinned people is an example of this. It can also be brought on by acne, inflammation or hormonal imbalance.
Removing the stubborn dark patches produced by hyper-pigmentation and regaining the beautiful, even skin tone can be difficult. Turmeric, a common spice used in cooking on the Indian Subcontinent is a natural anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and a skin brightener.
It has been used in traditional Chinese and Ayurevedic medicine to treat skin wounds inflammation and many other ailments. Studies now even suggest that curcumin could slow cancer growth in some patients.
Curcumin, the active component of turmeric inhibits melanin production in human skin cells according to a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine.
Furthermore, curcumin is well known for its antioxidant properties which offer protection against environmental toxins and fight free radicals resulting from oxidative stress that causes skin to age prematurely.
The anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin can reduce the inflammation caused by acne, as well as cut down on pigmentation and blemishes to help produce a more beautiful even skin tone.