Melanin – Types, Functions, Benefits and more

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 31/07/2023

One of the primary concerns every individual has is their skin complexion. It defines their appearance. Moreover, looking good gives a sense of confidence and a feeling of self-obsession.

So, what brings colour to the skin? Why does it differ between people? The underlying reason for the colour of skin, hair, and eyes is melanin. It is a natural pigment produced in our bodies and has many functions. There are different types of melanin, providing a range of benefits.

Here is a detail about pigment melanin meaning, its functions, benefits, and more!

What is Melanin?

Melanin is a dark biochrome pigment produced by the amino acid called tyrosine. It is present in animal and human skin in varying degrees, providing a unique colour to the hair, skin, and eyes. The melanin pigment is produced by cells called melanocytes found in the innermost layer of the skin and hair follicles.

Melanin pigment levels in the body are based on factors such as:

  1. Age
  2. Genetics
  3. Sun exposure
  4. Hormones

Types of Melanin

Having understood melanin meaning, it is time we know the melanin types. Melanin is found in three different forms in our body.

  1. Eumelanin

  2. Pheomelanin

  3. Neuromelanin

Eumelanin and pheomelanin are found in one of the layers of the skin called the epidermis. On the other hand, neuromelanin is found in the brain. Melanocytes produce the eumelanin and the pheomelanin in our body. Keratinocytes carry the melanin produced by the melanocytes to the skin's surface.

People with darker skin tones produce more melanin than people with lighter skin tones. Eumelanin is of two types, black and brown. People having a higher level of black eumelanin will have a darker colour, such as black hair.

Pheomelanin is the reason for the pink colour pigment on the lips, vagina, nipples, and penis glans.

Neuromelanin is a dark pigment present in the brain and provides the colour for the neurons. It is found to prevent cell death in the brain. The deficiency of neuromelanin can also affect the neurological disorder Parkinson's disease.

Functions of Melanin

Pigmentation is one of the most important functions of melanin. The varying degrees of the presence of the different melanin types will affect skin and hair pigmentation.

Here is a detail about the melanin functions.

  1. Pigmentation of hair - The varying degrees of eumelanin and pheomelanin is the reason for the different types of hair colour.

a. Black - Higher amount of eumelanin

b. Blonde - Extremely lesser amount of eumelanin

c. Brown - Moderate amount of eumelanin

d. Red - Predominantly pheomelanin with a lesser amount of eumelanin

  1. Pigmentation of skin - The unique pigmentation on the skin is based on two factors:

a. The ratio of eumelanin and pheomelanin present on the skin

b. The number of melanocytes present in the body

Melanin Benefits

Besides providing pigmentation to the skin, hair and eyes, melanin in our body is found to provide protection against certain health disorders and maintain overall good health.

Here is a detail about the advantages of melanin.

1. Protection from harmful UV radiation- Melanin protects against the harmful effects of UV radiation on the skin's surface. In particular, eumelanin protects the skin from harmful UV radiation, while pheomelanin does not. Therefore, people having a higher quantity of pheomelanin are likely to be affected due to sun damage. When the sun's rays fall on the skin, the body produces hormones that bind to the melanin-producing cells. This binding will produce melanin providing an additional layer of protection.

2. Protection against Reactive Oxygen Species(ROS)- Melanin is found to protect people from reactive oxygen species(ROS). ROS are produced as byproducts of some cellular processes in the body. Accumulation of ROS can cause cellular damage and stress. It can lead to diabetes and serious illnesses such as cancer. Melanin can prevent these ROS from affecting our bodies by boosting antioxidants.

3. Regulate body temperature- Melanin is also found to absorb and dissipate heat, which can help prevent overheating to maintain a stable body temperature.

4. Faster healing- Melanin can aid the growth of new cells and accelerate the healing process in case of any wounds that affect the skin.

5. Help maintain good health- Melanin is involved in the production of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium, which helps maintain good health by strengthening the bones. In addition, melanin can protect the scalp preventing dryness, scalp damage, loss of hair, etc.,

Melanin Imbalance And Related Disorders

Melanin imbalance in the body can cause different types of disorders in the body as it is required for the best health of the skin, hair, and eyes.

Some of the prominent disorders are:

  • 1. Vitiligo- Lack of melanin that causes paleness and results in white patches on the skin.

  • 2. Albinism- Occurs due to melanin deficiency affecting the skin and eyes to a great extent. As a result, it possesses an increased risk of losing vision.

  • 3. Melasma- Occurs due to the production of a large amount of melanin. It can result in the appearance of dark patches on the skin.

Therefore, it is vital to know about melanin, maintain it to the correct levels, and consult a doctor in case of dark or light patches affecting your skin.

Importance Of Having A Health Insurance Policy

While we take the necessary steps to be in the best health, there is always the probability of getting affected due to a disease or a severe illness due to higher imbalances in melanin levels. Ensuring adequate financial support in such scenarios can help you manage the situation smartly and wisely.

For example, critical illness insurance provides the necessary financial aid to pay for the expenses related to medical treatment during such emergencies for specific critical illnesses.

At Tata AIG, we provide various health insurance plan options that cover a range of critical illnesses, including cancer, blindness, etc. In addition, we offer health insurance plans online to make it easier for customers to access, compare and choose a suitable policy and purchase it online at a convenient time and space.


Melanin is a natural pigment that affects the health and appearance of our skin, hair, and eyes. It is produced by melanocytes and found in varying degrees in our body, providing a unique complexion. Eumelanin, pheomelanin, and neuromelanin are the three different types of melanin.

The primary functions of melanin are the pigmentation of hair and skin. In addition, it provides several benefits, such as protection from harmful UV radiation, regulation of body temperature, and faster healing of wounds. Moreover, melanin imbalance can cause disorders like vitiligo, albinism, and melasma. Therefore, maintaining the correct levels of melanin is vital for good health.

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