Have you ever been told “how white you are, get some sun "or" you don't have melanin? You never get tanned!”. Well, if it has never happened to you you are very lucky. If, on the other hand, you always hear the same story every year, welcome to the pale face club.
But why in the summer some people tan more than others? What is melanin and how does it work?
When we expose ourselves to the sun and UV rays hit our skin, a protective mechanism triggered by melanocytes is activated, epidermal cells, which produce melanin. Melanocytes are dendritic cells formed by a central body which in this case rests on the deepest layer of the dermis, and from extensions that reach the keratinocytes, other skin cells more on the surface. Imagine an upside-down jellyfish with its tentacles that go outwards.
Each melanocyte carries with it granules rich in melanin and stores them in the central body. When UV rays hit these cells, they begin to produce more and more melanin and push it to the surface thanks to their dendrites. Melanin is a dark pigment that absorbs the sun's rays that penetrate the epidermis and transforms them into heat. The accumulation of this substance is responsible for the tanning effect.
But why not all of us get the same tan?
Not all of us produce the same amount of melanin and this also depends on the number of melanocytes present in the body. Usually, those with fair skin tend to produce less melanin than those with dark skin and for this reason those with fair skin burn more easily.
Melanin, absorbing the sun's rays, acts as an umbrella for our skin cells, protecting us from the harmful effects that UVs can have.
The lobster effect is in fact due to the fact that the skin does not have the amount of melanin sufficient to protect itself from the sun's rays, therefore the DNA of the epidermal cells is damaged and these cells end up committing suicide by undergoing apoptosis, or cell death. When the body becomes aware of these apoptotic mechanisms that are taking place, blood flow increases in the affected areas so you turn red like lobsters and depending on the degree of burn you may or may not form bubbles.
Here it is, because we remind you to gradually expose yourself to the sun, possibly avoiding the hottest central hours and always protect yourself with sunscreen, both before and after tanning.
It is not true that putting the cream slows down the tan, rather, it avoids burns and scalds that could damage your skin in the long run and increase the risk of cancer.
With this we don't want to tell you that the sun hurts, rather, has numerous beneficial effects such as stimulating the synthesis of Vitamin D necessary for many body functions. However, like any medicine you have to take it in the right doses and be careful.