• Núria Estapé, science journalist

    What’s melanin for?

    16 May  What’s melanin for?



    Photochemistry and Photobiology

    When we refer to the sun and to tanning, we refer to melanin. Melanin is produced when the sun touches the skin, making us go brown. This pigment darkens the skin to protect it from the damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays. Our hair and the iris of the eye also contain melanin. But what exactly is melanin and what is it for?


    Melanin is not unique to humans, but is to be found in most living things. Thanks to melanin, some animals can change their colour as camouflage and plants have different colours. The melanin pigment is derived from tyrosine, an amino acid essential for our body to function properly. Melanin is made in the melanocytes (epidermal cells) and also in the hair follicles. It’s a bit like a coloured crayon, responsible for brownish and reddish tones in the skin and hair. But its main function is, in fact, to protect us against the damaging effects of UV radiation. Read More

  • Anna Solana, science journalist

    Queen Letizia: against the sun

    21 Mar Queen Letizia: against the sun

    She acknowledges having stupidly sunbathed without protection, like almost anyone else. But she also says she’s learned her lesson. Queen Letizia of Spain, inaugurating the 1st International Symposium on Cancers of the Skin, held in Madrid last January, insisted that "we don’t need to get burned to get a good tan."


    The data prove her right. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cases of skin cancer triple each decade. Skin cancer annually affects about 160,000 people worldwide; in Spain, incidence has increased 38% over the past four years. The sun takes its toll on the skin. In her talk the Queen very much emphasized this; avoiding excessive and uncontrolled exposure to the sun is key to preventing skin cancer, she said. Read More

  • Anna Solana, science journalist

    Confirmed: sunscreen prevents wrinkles

    20 Dec Confirmed: sunscreen prevents wrinkles



    Annals of Internal Medicine

    Just over a year ago we published scientific evidence on the effectiveness of sunscreens against wrinkles. Since then the cosmetics sector has included sunscreen in many products, like make-up, with good results. The message is clear: sunscreen is crucial. Always.


    In June 2013, the Annals of Internal Medicine published the results of a major study, conducted in Australia over four years, which underlined that wearing sunscreen daily helps prevent wrinkles. In fact, the study, a milestone for professionals in terms of duration and scope, underlined that a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 is more effective than taking nutritional supplements, such as beta-carotene, to preserve the skin. Read More

  • Fede Montagud, editor

    How the sun sees you…

    4 Oct



    Ultraviolet vision cameras penetrate under our skin better than our normal vision, which only sees the epidermis’ surface. The same applies to the sun's UV rays, which penetrate the skin and, year by year, damage the deeper layers without us being aware of it. This video shows how exposure to the sun alters our skin’s protective layer.


    Thomas Leveritt is an Anglo-American artist who decided this summer to help dermatologists raise awareness of the importance of using sunscreen. That’s why he made this video on the streets of Brooklyn (New York).  Using an ultraviolet vision camera, he filmed anyone willing to pose and then showed them images of sun damage on their skin not visible to the naked eye. Read More