Tanning: Fast Facts

  1. Fair-skinned people usually burn rather than tan in the sun because they lack melanin, which is responsible for a tan's coloring. Learn more about sunburns.
  1. Skin is one of the toughest organs in your body, due to the fact that it must constantly protect you from the outside world. Learn more about skin's properties.
  1. Capillaries are crucial for your skin -- they provide nutrition and help cool your body. Learn more about how capillaries work.
  1. The epidermis, your outside layer of skin, does not have a direct blood supply. Instead, it's supported by the dermis, the inside layer of skin. Learn more about the layers of your skin.
  1. Melanocytes are special cells that produce melanin, the pigment that causes you to tan. Learn more about special skin cells.
  1. Melanoma, a form of skin cancer, emerges as a result of ultraviolet radiation damage to the melanin-producing melanocyte cells. Learn more about melanoma.
  1. The dermis protects you against burns, punctures and other damage by using nerve endings to alert you when something is hurting your skin. Learn more about nerve endings.
  1. Keratin, a protein in your cells, is responsible for keeping things tough. Fingernails, horns and hoofs are all strong because of their keratin content. Learn more about keratin.
  1. The pigment melanin helps you tan because the melanocyte cells that produce it react to ultraviolet light? The light stimulates production. Learn more about the biology behind tanning.
  1. Redheaded people produce more of one type of melanin (phaeomelanin, which is yellow and red) than the other (eumelanin, which is brown). Redheads typically have a hard time tanning because the increased phaeomelanin, a red pigment, means their coloring will be red instead of brown. Learn more about the role of genetics in tanning.
  1. Albinos are missing an enzyme called tyrosinase. As a result, their bodies cannot produce melanin. The missing pigment causes a lack of color in their skin, hair and eyes. Learn more about melanin.
  1. Sunburns don't just age your skin -- they can actually damage your DNA, which can cause mutations that lead to cancer. Learn more about sun damage.

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