Melanin is like the crayon box of our body. It is the substance that largely determines the color of our skin, our hair, and our eyes and can also be found in our brains and our inner ear. Obviously, some people have more melanin than others. Many people want to increase the level of melanin in their skin or other parts of their bodies, not only for the sake of their appearance, but also because melanin can act to protect the body from the ill effects of too much sunlight.
Get a tan. This is the easiest way to increase your melanin and darken the pigment of your skin. Unfortunately, the harmful effects of unprotected sun exposure such as skin-cancer can outweigh any melanin-related benefits from tanning. Also, the people most likely to want to increase their melanin—the fair of skin—are more likely to sustain sun damage than people with darker skin. If you do choose to tan, it is best to do it slowly with plenty of sunscreen. You can also control the intensity of your exposure if you choose to use a tanning bed rather than taking your chances with natural sun.
Buy commercial products designed to produce synthetic melanin in the skin. These products, including many popular self-tanners, are generally considered much safer than full-on sun exposure and are not known to increase cases of skin cancer. If you're looking for a nice, dark pigment change, however, these products are often disappointing, as they can leave skin looking orange rather than brown.
Add Vitamins A and E to your diet, as well as carotene. Foods containing these vitamins can increase your melanin production. Vitamin A and carotene-rich foods include carrots, melons, fish, eggs, and olive oil. Tomatoes are particularly rich in Vitamin E, as are pistachios. You may also want to increase your calcium intake, especially white cheeses.
Have a doctor inject melanin into your body. The substance used in these injections is not real melanin, but a synthetic hormone that acts like melanin in the body. These injections act like a sunless tanner and will actually darken the color of your skin. As with topical sunless tanners, these injections are not connected to adverse effects like skin cancer.
Tips & Warnings
- Use adequate sunscreen when tanning. Do not tan if your doctor advises you not to, as certain skin types are more prone to sun damage and skin cancer than others. Read all warnings and instructions on packages on any sunless tanning products.