Many resources state that light skin/pale skin absorbs more UV than dark-colour skin. Doesn't black absorb maximum radiation?

For an example, see this article:

Natural selection therefore favored a genetic solution to that problem by evolving to a pale skin that absorbs UV more efficiently.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ probably better suited for biology.stackexchange.com $\endgroup$ – Jimmy360 Apr 5 '15 at 21:42
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ As the linked article says "It's all about synthesizing vitamin D". Light skin doesn't really absorb more UV, it lets the UV penetrate past the melanosomes to where it can be used to synthesize vitamin D. It's what you get from a writer who probably doesn't understand the biology all that well, and is working on a deadline. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Apr 5 '15 at 22:56

You are looking at this incorrectly. Pale skin allows the UV to penetrate more deeply than dark skin (that has the melanin in the dead skin cells). Since dark skin individuals absorb the UV in the dead skin layer, it make no difference if it causes DNA damage.


Dark skin absorbs UV better than lighter skin. More specifically, melanin absorbs most of the UV radiation so that your skin cells don't have to.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ The point is that melanin absorbs the UV essentially w/o damage. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Apr 5 '15 at 21:46

protected by Qmechanic Apr 7 '15 at 18:58

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.