Fair Skin, Red Hair and Sunglasses? Maybe This Isn’t So Cool…

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The pituitary gland is tied to your optic nerve and is sensitive to sunlight. When light enters your eyes, it triggers your pituitary gland to produce a melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) that activates your melanocytes to produce melanin. This means that wearing sunglasses can actually cause sunburn.

Our skin is the body’s largest organ, and acts as a barrier between our inner organs and the outside world. It’s made up of essentially two parts the epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis is the outer section and is comprised of a layer of living cells, topped by a layer of dead cells. The dead cells are the skin we see.

Even though the upper epidermis is just a lot of dead cells, it contains keratin, a tough protein that also makes up our hair and fingernails, Keratin is thicker on the bottoms of our feet and the palms of our hands for added protection against abrasions and other intrusions from the outside world.

Inside the dermis is where all the skin’s functioning equipment is located, These include nerves, sweat glands, hair follicles, blood vessels and special cells called melanocytes, which produce melanin, the material responsible for skin pigmentation, hair and eye color. Most humans have about the same amount of melanocytes, some just produce more melanin than others. Albinos, however, produce no melanin at all.


When our skin gets exposed to sunlight (particularly ultraviolet rays) melanocytes begin producing melanin to help protect the dermis, and keep the skin cells from getting fried. The melanin acts as an absorbing agent. So over time, as exposure to the sun continues, more melanin is produced and subsequently the skin becomes darker.

The hair is a different story. Hair color is also determined by melanin, but hair cells are dead, so sunlight doesn’t initiate melanin production but rather begins to break down the melanin already in the hair, and the hair’s color begins to fade or lighten.

Although you can still burn with or without them, when you wear sunglasses you actually are slightly increasing the chances of getting sunburn. When we are in the sun, our pituitary gland produces and releases melanocyte-stimulating hormones (MSH) into our bloodstreams, triggering melanocytes under our skin to produce more melanin, which in turn protects us from exposure of UV rays. (Melanin is also responsible for our skin color- more melanin means a darker color, and better protection from UV rays, while on the other hand albinos lack melanin, and burn easily in the sun.) Our skin produces melanin without the signals from pituitary gland, but it will turn up production when signaled to do so.

red head sunglasses

Our pituitary gland is tied into our optic nerve meaning that it can sense light, which kick starts the whole process of producing MSH based on the UV our eyes receive. When we wear sunglasses to shield our eyes, we are also shielding the pituitary gland from knowing to turn up our melanin production. This in turn, leaves us at greater risk of the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation.

I put together a blend of 10 drops lavender essential oil, 10 drops frankincense essential oil, and 10 drops peppermint essential oil  with some water which helped to soothe and take the heat out of the burnt area.

Most of what I shared in this article I got from reading others’ research and watching some dear Gingers cover up and still get burnt.  Please do your own research and protect yourself according to your own convictions.  🙂

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