|The pigment melanin is produced in melanosomes by melanocytes, this is quite a complex progress. This process is called melanogenesis. The melanocyte interacts with endocrine, immune, inflammatory and central nervous systems, and its activity is also regulated by extrinsic factors such as ultraviolet radiation from the sun and many medications hormonal or otherwise.
To effectively treat pigmented skin disorders we need to fully understand the melanogenesis process and the different stages in it.
Most of the time the process is totally started by UVR (Ultraviolet Radiation) or exposure to the sun, in NZ our levels of UVR are extremely high – even in the winter. It is the main trigger for what is about to follow.
POMC (Proopiomelanocortin) A precursor protein that produces the melanin stimulating hormone (MSH), corticotrophin (ACTH) and β-endorphin. It is produced by the Pituitary Gland upon exposure to UVR. Once the melanin-stimulating hormone (MSH) is produced by the Pituitary Gland it starts to regulate the synthesis of pigment granules. MSH also regulates the concentration and distribution of melanin within the pigment-containing cells (melanocytes).
The next step in the process is one of an enzyme and a amino acid. Tyrosine and Tyrorinase. Tyrosine is a amino acid made by the body that is responsible for the formation of the melanosome. Tyrosinase, therefore is an enzyme of human tissues responsible for the formation of the melanosome and other pigments from tyrosine by oxidation.
The process continues with the building blocks of Melanin, this happens with Dopa and L-Dopa Phosphates. It is initiated by the enzy-matic oxidation of L-tyrosine L- dopa by tyrosinase, in a reaction that uses L-dopa as a cofactor. The “Melanin” has now been produced, this is what is responsible for giving our skin colour. This colour is broken down into two categories Pheomelanin which is Red and Eumelanin which is Brown.
The final stage is the transfer of the Melanosome, the melanin is darkened upon the
transfer of the Melanosome to the Keratinocyte. The distribution to the surface to the epidermis then starts.
So what should we be looking for in our products and do we need each of these things for the product to be effective?
It is important to look for ingredients that are inhibitors for these actions. To really effectively treat pigmented disorders you must stop the process happening at each stage.
Stage 1 – UVR – Protection with Broad Spectrum UVA and UVB Sun Protectant
Stage 2 – MSH Inhibitor – Sepiwhite (Undecylenoyl Phenylaline)
Stage 3 – Tyrosinase Inhibitor – Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Glucosamine, Lactic Acid
Stage 4 – Dopa and L-Dopa Inhibitor – Aloesin
Stage 5 – Melanosome Transfer Inhibitor – Niacinamide
Antioxidants to help prevent oxidative stress in the pigment formation process – Vitamin E, Beta Carotene.
Be sure to check other ingredients within the products, what are these actives in? Do they help with barrier function and repair? Are the cells getting what they need?
This article was supplied by Rachel Robertson, founder and creator of Prologic Skincare.
For more information on Prologic visit: www.prologicskincare.co.nz