Skin Health Matters -

Latest Research on Sun Tanning

Importance of photo-protection

Yin Yang Skincare Scientific Advisory Panel Member Professor Desmond Tobin presented a paper to the 39th Annual Meeting of European Society for Dermatological Research in Budapest in September 2009, on a newly discovered mechanism controlling the transfer of melanin granules [our inbuilt colouring agent] from the pigment producing cells (melanocytes) to the recipient skin cells (keratinocytes). Prof. Tobin proposed that photo-protection would be increased if melanin distribution in skin could be optimised in order to shield the delicate DNA in skin cells from the damaging effects of sunlight.

Professor Tobin joined several research scientists from across Europe to present the latest research on the regulation of pigmentation in human skin at this tanning symposium.

Process of tanning is poorly understood

Tanning is the process whereby ultraviolet radiation from the sun stimulates pigmentation in our skin, but despite this being a process we have all experienced, the mechanisms by which melanin is increased in human skin upon exposure to sunlight remain poorly understood. This is surprising when you consider that we Britons spend around £3.00 per capita on sun care products every year – something close to £190m. And this in itself may be a problem, for despite a rising use of sun screening products, there is also a rise in skin cancers with a link to sun exposure. The manufacturers of sun screening products are careful to explain that their products cannot claim to prevent skin cancer, and within the “green lobby” there are many who argue that the screening agents in these products may not be good for the health of the skin. Our health depends on a sensible exposure to sun light – but whether hours of baking in fierce heat, in a slick of sun screen is sensible, is very open to question! Yin Yang Skincare recommends a maximum of 20 minutes full body sunbathing in midday summer sun to top up your levels of important Vitamin D and to protect the skin from drying with the use of Vitamin E rich face and body moisturising lotion Yin Yang pH-Amino Gold Defence Lotion.

“Ground-breaking” research

The symposium heard about some of the significant research investigation now taking place to better understand the tanning process:

Role of the peptide alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone

  •  It can have pro-pigmentary effects, anti oxidative effects and can reduce DNA damage on UVB exposure

The role of skin fibroblasts in regulating pigmentation

  •  Fibroblasts (the collagen-producing cells of the skin’s dermis) can influence the activity of the pigment-forming cells in the skin’s upper layer (epidermis).

The link between melanocytes and melanoma

Objective determinants of tanning

  • Better ways to assess pigmentation change in the skin
  • Distinguishing between skin reddening (erythema) on sun exposure and increased melanin production

Modulation of skin pigmentation by gene delivery systems

The transfer of melanin in human skin cells (Prof Tobin).

  • This mechanism involves a so-called “motor protein” not previously suspected to be involved in the tanning process.

The “motor protein” identified by Professor Tobin may ultimately be useful in the regulation of skin pigmentation for therapeutic purposes and possibly also for cosmetic uses.