What is the reason for the colouration of the skin?

The colouration of the skin is provided by melanin.


Melanin is a complex polymer derived from the amino acid tyrosine. Melanin is responsible for determining skin and hair colour and is present in the skin to varying degrees, depending on how much a population has historically been exposed to the sun.

Melanin is found in:

  • The skin where it provides skin colour
  • Hair
  • Pupils or irises of the eyes
  • Stria vascularis of the inner ear
  • Areas of the brain, the substantia nigra and locus coeruleus
  • The medulla and zona reticularis of the adrenal gland

Types of Melanin

  • Eumelanin makes mostly dark colours in hair, eyes, and skin. There are two types of eumelanin: brown and black. Black and brown hair come from different mixes of black and brown eumelanin.
  • Pheomelanin colours the pinkish parts of your body, like the lips and nipples. You get red hair when you have the same amount of pheomelanin and eumelanin.
  • Neuromelanin Controls the colours of neurons. It isn’t involved with the colouring of things you see.

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