Do you have red hair and freckles? Then you should be particularly careful of being in the sun.
According to British experts, this is because of your relative genetic lack of melanin, which puts you at greater risk of damaging your skin.
Melanin is the dark-brown to black pigment that occurs in the hair, the skin, and the eyes.
Production of melanin by the so-called melanocytes in the epidermis of the skin is increased by the action of sunlight (producing tanning), which protects the underlying skin layers from the sun's radiation.
"How well a tan develops is built in from birth," write the authors of Understanding your skin: sunlight & skin cancer.
You were born with one of the following skin types:
- Type I: Always burns, rarely tans
- Type II: Usually burns, sometimes tans
- Type III: Sometimes burns, usually tans
- Type IV: Rarely burns, always tans
- Type V: Brown skin, very rarely burns
- Type VI: Black skin, virtually never burns
"People with types I, II and III tend to burn easily and tan poorly, being at greatest risk from the adverse long-term skin effects of sunlight – namely photoageing and cancer; those with types IV, V and VI are relatively protected, except for a tendency to photoageing," the authors write.
Photoageing refers to dryness, brown and red blotchiness, sagging and wrinkling of the skin.
Hawk, J.L.M. McGregor, J. (2000-2005) Understanding your skin: sunlight & skin cancer. Family Doctor Publications.