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The Sun (Aten), 2019 by Elisabeth Deane

Daughters of the Sun: Sunshine & Melanin

Bronze, beige, brass, khaki, coffee, cinnamon, café au lait, sand, almond, cocoa, sepia, sienna, walnut, mahogany, ginger, and so on; the varied and illustrious shades of brown are numbered to be more than fifty.

Melanin, a term that is persistently met with confusion, is present in every human being. It controls at least six genes and is also responsible for the darkening of skin and hair as well as the societal conversations we find ourselves in on a seemingly daily basis.

Melanin is produced by a  specialized cell in the epidermis called a melanocyte. There are three forms of melanin – pheomelanin, which is red to yellow in color; eumelanin, which is dark brown to black and neuromelanin, which colors neurons. Although all humans have nearly the same number of melanocytes, those with darker complexions have melanocytes that are more active in the production of melanin.

As their descriptions suggest, lighter-skinned individuals produce mainly pheomelanin while darker-skinned individuals produce more eumelanin. Pheomelanin is also responsible for the color of lips, nipples, and genitals. Your unique skin color comes from the unique ratios of these differing types of melanin. Skin color is also affected by blood flow to the skin, the presence of fat under the skin, and carotene, a reddish-orange pigment in the skin.

The Sun, which is closer to the Equator and certain climate zones than the Earth’s poles, has been revered and worshiped for centuries as a symbol of pure masculine energy, a supreme cosmic force, and the catalyst for all life on Earth. Mother Nature has chosen people with genetic makeup from the arid, tropical, and sub-tropical latitudes for a higher concentration of melanin. People of color have been blessed with melanin to protect us from the Sun’s rays; detecting ultraviolet radiation and producing the brownish-black substance that acts as a protective biological shield. In doing so, people of color have a natural defense against Sun damage, ultraviolet-B rays, the resulting change in genetic makeup, and thus, malignant skin cancers.

However, melanin does not act as a complete shield against ultraviolet rays, and it shouldn’t. The immediate responses of the skin to ultraviolet rays from the sun and oxidative stress include photo-damage, sunburn, inflammation & redness, disruption of skin microbiome, mutation, immunosuppression, synthesis of vitamin D, and tanning. Individuals who spend more time in the Sun may also experience photoaging or the rapid aging of skin continually exposed to harsh sunlight.

Conversely, the penetration of UV rays allows our skin to make Vitamin D which is vital for musculoskeletal health. The lack of sunshine and the barrier melanated skin must overcome to allow UV rays through is one of the main reasons why darker-skinned individuals of color tend to have a Vitamin D deficiency in colder climates.

Unfortunately, a circumstance has presented itself as a result of the western world’s capitalistic over-consumption and forsaking of responsibilities towards Mother Nature: climate change and the thinning of the ozone layer. A healthy ozone layer adequately absorbs the harmful ultraviolet-B rays of the Sun. An unhealthy one, allows these harmful rays to enter in our atmosphere, unrestrained. Considering this, preventative measures such as sun protective clothing (hats, sunglasses, etc.), avoiding sun exposure, and the use of sunscreen should be utilized whenever necessary.

But are these measures enough?

Antioxidants or phytonutrients, and the antioxidant capacity on and in the skin, are known to boost the skin’s ability to defend itself from ravaging UVB rays and environmental damage. However, the human body cannot produce any antioxidants to defend itself. Therefore, consumption of red, orange, yellow fruits and vegetables which are known to be high in levels of carotenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols, ascorbates, and tocopherols are needed to boost the skin’s antioxidant ability.

Topical antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, and E in the Kimia Renewal Facial Elixir, work best when formulated in with the support and synchronicity of other phytonutrients. Such combinations not only amplify antioxidant action but also lead to the improvement of the defense against free radicals or highly reactive molecules and pollutants.

What does this mean for the illustrious shades of melanin? Millenia of solar deifying has made a 180° movement to fear of the Sun’s effect on skin pigmentation and health. You can say it’s a blessing to be able to have the Sun kiss you and tan safely. It should be the ultimate joy to embrace hues that come alive in the sunshine. Darker skin tones only have a natural SPF protection level of 13, leaving a gap in protection from the Sun and environmental damage. We recommend that darker skin tones use all measures to protect itself from the Sun, especially since time in the sunshine is needed.

The Kimia Renewal Facial Elixir crafted with protective and calming phytonutrients to defend your skin in the morning and reinforce antioxidant protection at night.

Your morning ritual? After cleansing and toning your face, neck, and chest, apply 2-3 drops of Kimia on the cleansed and toned areas before applying sunscreen.

Bask in your newfound glow and for once, let the Sun worship you.

 

References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

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