People with pale skin, red hair, freckles, and an inability to tan—the “redhair/fairskin” phenotype— are at highest risk of developing melanoma, compared to all other pigmentation types 1 . Genetically, this phenotype is frequently the product of inactivating polymorphisms in the Melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) gene. MC1R encodes a cAMP stimulating G-protein coupled receptor that controls pigment production. Minimal receptor activity, as in redhair/fairskin polymorphisms, produces red/yellow pheomelanin pigment, while increasing MC1R activity stimulates production of black/brown eumelanin 2 . Pheomelanin has weak UV shielding capacity relative to eumelanin and has been shown to amplify UVA-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) 3–5 . Several observations, however, complicate the assumption that melanoma risk is completely UV dependent. For example, unlike non-melanoma skin cancers, melanoma is not restricted to sun-exposed skin and UV signature mutations are infrequently oncogenic drivers 6 . While linkage of melanoma risk to UV exposure is beyond doubt, UV-independent events are also likely to play a significant role 1,7 . Here, we introduced into mice carrying an inactivating mutation in the Mc1r gene (who exhibit a phenotype analogous to redhair/fairskin humans), a conditional, melanocyte-targeted allele of the most commonly mutated melanoma oncogene, BRafV600E. We observed a high incidence of invasive melanomas without providing additional gene aberrations or UV exposure. To investigate the mechanism of UV-independent carcinogenesis, we introduced an albino allele, which ablates all pigment production on the Mc1r e/e background. Selective absence of pheomelanin synthesis was protective against melanoma development. In addition, normal Mc1re/e mouse skin was found to have significantly greater oxidative DNA and lipid damage than albino-Mc1re/e mouse skin. These data suggest that the pheomelanin pigment pathway produces UV-independent carcinogenic contributions to melanomagenesis by a mechanism of oxidative damage. While UV protection remains important, additional strategies may be required for optimal melanoma prevention.