Focus on: Melasma

Melasma is characterised by hyperpigmented patches, most commonly on the face, and may be triggered by hormonal fluctuations such as during pregnancy or when starting oral contraceptives. It is so common during pregnancy that melasma is also known as the “mask of pregnancy.” It is essential to use a daily broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 45 or 50 daily as UV exposure as well as heat are both well-known triggers of melasma and wearing regular sunscreen will help prevent the condition from worsening. Mineral sunscreen is best for melasma sufferers, I especially like Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 and Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily Mineral Defense SPF 50. When at the beach or on holiday in strong sun, it is important to reapply sunscreen every 2-3 hours, and always after swimming and/or heavy exercise. A broad-brimmed hat will also help to keep UV rays off your face.

How to Treat

Melasma is often more difficult to treat than other forms of hyperpigmentation and can be quite frustrating for those with battle this condition. I am very familiar with melasma as I struggle with it myself! Products that contain Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, can be helpful in preventing and treating hyperpigmentation. SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic serum and La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C10 are nice options for use during the day. Retinol can also help at night to fade existing melasma and prevent new patches from forming, I like SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3 and Medik8 Retinol 3TR Serum. Dedicated skin-lightening products that contain ingredients such as azaleic acid, kojic acid and arbutin are also helpful such as NeoStrata Pigment Lightening Gel and Obagi Blend Fx.

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Prescription Strength Products

Prescription-strength products that contain hydroquinone can be very beneficial for melasma, these are safe for use for three months at a time. There are also prescription-strength azaleic acid and retinoid formulations that help fade and prevent pigmentation. In-office chemical peels also help in treating the condition, I especially like a strong peel called Dermamelan and have had great results with it for melasma. I generally avoid lasers for melasma as they may improve the appearance temporarily but often have the potential to worsen the condition over time.