What is melasma? Otherwise known as melasma, the brown spots that can pop up on your face seem to be the topic de jour. Lately I have had quite a few questions about how to treat melasma – so here goes! If you have dark brown patches on your skin that seem to have surfaced almost overnight, you may have melasma. Melasma is not the same as the hyper-pigmentation that is left-over after an acne blemish heals – instead, melasma is usually triggered by hormonal changes (such as the birth control or pregnancy), sun exposure and irritation – all of which can overstimulate melanocytes, which are the cells that create pigmentation in the skin. How do you prevent melasma? 90% of all melasma occurs in women, which suggests that a hormonal imbalance, specifically increased estrogen levels, may play a large role. This means that balancing your hormones is absolutely essential to preventing melasma. Hormone balance is achieved by eating an anti-inflammatory diet, supporting the liver, healing the gut and reducing stress. For a full guide on how to achieve hormonal balance check out my 7-Week Clear Skin Program and 8-Week Anti-Aging Skin Program – both of which take you on a step-by-step journey to balance your hormones. Other ways to protect yourself from melasma include wearing a zinc-based sunscreen on your face daily (I used a pressed mineral powder with an SPF 20 most days and a stronger sunscreen if I am spending more time outdoors) and avoiding irritating products and treatments. This includes using gentle skincare and avoiding harsh chemicals, derma-rolling and peels. How do you get rid of existing melasma?
- First and foremost, balance your hormones. Often melasma can fade dramatically once hormone levels have been normalized.
- Avoid treatments that irritate the skin, including derma-rollers and at-home peels. In fact, you should only do a peel under professional supervision, with someone well-versed in melasma treatment. Anything that causes your skin to become red and irritated should be avoided.
- Apply a gentle serum after cleansing that helps reduce and reverse melanin production in the skin. One of my favourites is simple serum containing aloe vera gel and lemon essential oil (mix 2 oz of aloe vera gel with 20 drops of lemon essential oil). Used daily, you should start to see great results in 6 months. I also like Eminence’s Bright Skin Licorice Root Serum and The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% Serum, both of which contain actives that are well-known for their ability to reduce melanin deposits.
- See your dermatologist. If your melasma is stubborn, many dermatologists offer an intense treatment, called Dermamelon, that can help fade melasma quickly. However – a word of caution. If your hormone levels remain unbalanced, it is likely that the melasma could return. Don’t waste your money – be sure to balance your hormones before investing in this procedure.