Ginger-haired people DO tan... they just react badly to the sun at the same time
Ginger-haired people actually produce as much melanin in their skin as olive-skinned sunbathers, researchers say.
If you're pale and ginger, here's the good news: your skin is potentially five times BETTER at tanning than olive-skinned sunbathers, according to scientists. However, before you throw on a swimsuit and head to the nearest sunlounger, be warned. You're just as likely to burn because your skin also produces another chemical which makes it very sensitive to UV light.
Researchers previously thought that those with the red-haired gene such as model Lily Cole got sunburned because they did not produce enough melanin. But they were surprised to discover that those with strawberry locks actually produce up to 500 per cent more melanin than those with a darker complexion. But their melanin-releasing cells, called melanocytes, also produce another chemical that causes skin inflammation, so Celtic-types burn easily when exposed to strong sunlight. Melanin is a pigment which is created and stored in our skin cells to protect us against the sun's ultraviolet radiation.
Scientists at the University of Bradford who conducted the study hope the discovery will pave the way for treatments that will let people with pale skin to tan safely. Study author Professor Desmond Tobin, said: 'When people with fairer skin sit in the sun they burn and we used to believe it was because people with the pale skin were not producing melanin.
'But in the laboratory, pigment cells isolated from very fair skin were in one case able to make up to five times more melanin than cells from olive skin 'Something is stopping the cells from working in people with paler skin. Olive skinned people don't make inflammatory cells when exposed to UV. 'Targeting melanocytes with anti-inflammatory interventions could offer a new way of protecting more vulnerable skin types from sunburn.'