In this article, we review the current state of knowledge concerning the physical and chemical properties of the eumelanin pigment. We examine properties related to its photoprotective functionality, and draw the crucial link between fundamental molecular structure and observable macroscopic behaviour. Where necessary, we also briefly review certain aspects of the pheomelanin literature to draw relevant comparison. A full understanding of melanin function, and indeed its role in retarding or promoting the disease state, can only be obtained through a full mapping of key structure-property relationships in the main pigment types. We are engaged in such an endeavor for the case of eumelanin.