How It Works

Are melanin and melamine related in any way?

In a word, no. Melanin is a brown pigment found in virtually every animal group; spiders are a rare exception. In humans, it’s made in the skin, eyes and hair, in cells called melanocytes. You have 1,000- 2,000 melanocytes for every square millimetre (0.04 inches) of skin, regardless of its colour.

But the amount of melanin each one produces depends on your ethnicity and the amount of UV light exposure you receive. There are different forms of melanin with slightly different chemical compositions, but the most common is eumelanin, which is a long chain of dihydroxyindole carboxylic acid groups. There are about a dozen steps in the synthesis of melanin, each one controlled by a particular enzyme. One of the intermediate steps is the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Melamine, meanwhile, is an organic molecule that looks like a ring of three nitrogen atoms with an NH2 group attached to each one. This molecule can be polymerised with formaldehyde to produce a thermoplastic, usually called melamine. It’s used to make a wide range of products from dishwasher- proof kitchenware, like utensils, to garden furniture.

Answered by Luis Villazon