The role of melanin in spot control

Melanin is a fundamental component of your skin. It influences not only its color, but also its health and appearance. Yet few people really understand its importance. Unfortunately, this lack of understanding can sometimes lead to serious mistakes, resulting in not only hyperpigmentation, but also a host of skin conditions.

To combat blemishes in the long term, find out now how melanin can have a positive or negative impact on your skin. And to help you better understand the subject, we answer your most frequently asked questions.

I have black skin. Why is understanding the role of melanin so important to me?

Understanding the role of melanin is fundamental for everyone. But when you have black skin, it takes on a very special dimension in order to take optimal care of your epidermis.

Melanogenesis, the biological process of melanin formation, is orchestrated by specific cells called melanocytes. There are two main types:

  • Eumelanin, which produces brown and black tones
  • Pheomelanin, responsible for red and yellow hues

The color of skin, eyes, hair and body hair depends on the amount and type of melanin produced. In black, dark or mixed skins, melanocytes generate more eumelanin than in fair skins.

This intensified melanin production offers several advantages, including better natural protection against the sun's rays and free radicals. Melanin absorbs and disperses ultraviolet rays. Melanin absorbs and disperses ultraviolet rays, providing a shield against damage such as premature aging and increased risk of skin cancer.

However, the high production of this naturally occurring pigment can also lead to specific challenges. For example, an uneven distribution of melanin can cause spots. These brown or black marks are particularly common on darker, matte skins.

If you're fully informed about melanin, you'll know how to maintain its balance and avoid the appearance of spots. From then on, you'll be better equipped to choose an appropriate routine : high-protection sunscreen, cleanser, moisturizer and so on.

By understanding its key role in hyperpigmentation, the benefits of anti-spot treatment, whether preventive or curative, become clear.

Are brown spots on my dark skin caused by melanin ?

Yes, in the sense that the appearance of brown spots is due to an overproduction of melanin. However, precisely identifying the origin of this overproduction is a complex process.

It depends on a number of factors: genetic make-up, skin care routine, environment, etc. Melanin synthesis is influenced by various factors, including genetics, hormones, age and sun exposure.

On pigmented, matte or darker skin, this phenomenon is more frequent due to the naturally higher concentration of melanin. As a result, they are more susceptible to melanin overproduction in response to various stimuli.

In this context, the appearance of spots is most often explained by a convergence of multiple factors. Here's how.

Impact of sun exposure

Age spots, commonly known as lentigo, are not simply the result of aging. In fact, they are often the consequence of prolonged exposure to the sun. These spots, sometimes called sun spots in connection with UV rays, emerge as small areas of light to dark brown pigmentation.

They frequently appear on the least protected parts of the body, such as the face, hands, shoulders and arms. They can occur at any age, although they are more common and visible after the age of 40. This increased prevalence is linked to cumulative sun exposure rather than age alone.

Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes, such as those experienced during menstruation, pregnancy or menopause, play a major role in the appearance of these skin imperfections. These periods are marked by significant fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels. As a result, melanocyte activity can be disrupted.

This phenomenon is, for example, frequently observed in pregnant women. Hyperpigmentation is then referred to as "pregnancy mask" or melasma, manifesting itself as dark, uneven patches, mainly on the face.

Inflammatory reactions

Some inflammatory reactions also lead to the appearance of dark marks. This is the case with post-acne scars, which are particularly stubborn on pigmented skin. In these conditions, excessive melanin production is a response to skin inflammation. Unfortunately, once acne has been treated, long-lasting spots can persist.

 Note that these pigmentation disorders can also occur in other situations, such as scratches, insect bites, burns, eczema and so on.

Effects of depigmentation

Last but not least, depigmentation practices, although aimed at spot reduction, can actually disrupt melanin production and exacerbate the problem. Depigmented skin loses some of its natural protection against ultraviolet (UV) rays. As a result, it becomes more vulnerable to sun damage.

This increased sensitivity can not only aggravate existing imperfections, but also encourage the formation of new skin marks. Aggressive procedures can also lead to uneven healing and changes in skin pigmentation.

Overall, treatment to prevent the appearance of blemishes and erase those that have already set in takes place on several fronts :

  • Light exfoliation
  • Inhibition of melanin production
  • Blocking the distribution of melanin grains towards the superficial layers of the epidermis
  • Prevention through effective UV protection

Important information :  Certain medications can also disrupt the melanogenesis process. If in doubt, ask your doctor for advice.

What mistakes should be avoided to maintain melanin balance and achieve an even skin tone?

Overall, the secret to maintaining an even, radiant complexion lies in stabilizing melanin. Achieving this balance requires in-depth knowledge and constant vigilance to avoid common skin treatment mistakes.

To guide you, here is an exhaustive list of the most common pitfalls.

N° 1 : Never apply sun protection

Whether you have fair or darker skin, exposure to the sun without protective cream can cause significant damage to the epidermis. UV rays intensify melanin production, which can lead to uneven pigmentation. So it's crucial to use the right sunscreen, even on cloudy days.

N° 2 : Choosing products that are too aggressive for your skincare routine

Some products, containing overly aggressive ingredients such as fruit acids or retinol, can cause hyperpigmentation or scarring.

This is particularly true for sensitive skin. Choose gentle approaches, with dermocosmetics enriched with ingredients of natural origin.

N°3 : Using lightening products

A common and dangerous mistake is the use of skin-lightening creams or lotions. These products often contain hydroquinone or corticosteroids. Over time, these harmful substances can lead to blue or black discoloration, or even the appearance of white spots.

In some cases, side effects include inflammatory reactions, permanent skin lesions or hormonal imbalances. These skin alterations not only significantly affect the appearance of the person concerned, but also risk damaging their general health.

So, to treat pigmentation problems, it's essential to look for safe and effective alternatives.

You could, for example, turn to a spot-fighting technology specifically designed for pigmented skin. This is the case with In'Oya's targeted serum.

Equipped with a patent for black and brown skin, this product works by stopping the activity of Tyrosinase and inhibiting another crucial enzyme in the pigmentation of black and brown skin, the enzyme TYRP 1 (Tyrosinase-Related-Protein1).

This targeted spot-fighting care is part of a comprehensive program developed to address issues of hyperpigmentation and skin tone uniformity.

N° 4 : Excessive exfoliation

Exfoliating too often or too vigorously can damage the skin, leading to dryness, irritation and even inflammation. Contrary to popular belief, darker skins don't require repetitive or more vigorous exfoliation.

In fact, they benefit more from a measured approach. A gentle product, with natural ingredients and fine granules, is recommended to maintain the balance and health of the epidermis. Exfoliation should be limited to once or twice a week, to avoid disrupting the skin's natural protective barrier.

N°5 : Blindly following the advice of influencers or cosmetic trends

With the advent of social networks like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, it's common to follow the recommendations of people unqualified in dermatology. These platforms are brimming with a variety of advice, from cosmetic tests to the creation of beauty routines, often without any solid scientific basis.

In this context, the appeal of the cosmetics promoted by influencers can make us forget the importance of vigilance. Live demonstrations, while engaging, are not always based on rigorous scientific studies.

What's more, it's vital to find out what these products are made of, especially if they're sold online. Take the time to check their ingredients and origin. Look for reliable sources that validate their efficacy.

You should also be cautious about new methods popularized on social networks. Results can vary significantly from one person to the next. And some approaches simply won't work for your skin type, even if they look miraculous on video. What's more, you run the risk of exacerbating existing skin disorders.

Trust the advice given online by real health professionals (Doctor Aoun, dermatologist in Martinique).

Choose reliable sources such as qualified practitioners, dermocosmetic brands or medical publications. Similarly, when purchasing products, opt for those whose efficacy has been scientifically proven and clinically tested.

Genuine professionals like Dr Aoun, a dermatologist in Martinique, design quality content to properly inform the public. On our blog, our founder, a biomedical engineer, also answers your dermatological questions in our "Expert Opinions" section.

Their advice, based on recognized expertise, will help you to make informed and safe decisions in caring for your skin.

In short, a thorough understanding of the crucial role of melanin protects you from common mistakes with potentially dramatic consequences. By adopting the right skincare routine, and avoiding "quick fix" solutions, you can make an effective contribution to preserving your beauty and health over the long term.