How To Get Rid of Melasma
In my dermatology clinic in Miami Florida, I have treated patients with the frustratingly persistent dark spots from melasma every workday for the last 20 years. Melasma is common in women ages 40 and under, is very hard to get rid of, and tends to be worse in hot, sunny climates like Miami.
What is Melasma?
Melasma is caused by clumps of excess melanin pigment in the skin. These dark brown or greyish spots most commonly occur on the forehead, upper lip, mustache area, and cheeks but the dark spots can occur on any parts of the face.
How to Get Rid of Melasma Forever?
It is not easy- but it is possible to get rid of melasma permanently. This involves a commitment on your part to change your lifestyle habits and consistently alternate between a treatment skincare routine and a maintenance skin care routine. I recommend that you read this entire blog before spending a lot of money on a skincare routine. Educating yourself on how to prevent worsening of melasma is the best way to get rid of melasma.
Treating melasma involves understanding the causes of melasma and making lifestyle changes that help prevent this persistent skin condition from coming back. Melasma loves to come back and it tends to recur on the exact same part of your face every time it recurs.
Skincare Routine to Clear Melasma
The best skincare routine to treat melasma really depends upon your Baumann Skin Type. This is because your cleanser and moisturizers will dramatically affect how well your skin lightening skincare routine works. In fact, if skin care products for melasma did not work for you in the past- it is probably because you did not combine products correctly in your skincare routine. The order of the steps in the skincare routine matters! In fact- the entire point of Skin Type Solutions is to help you design a step-by-step skincare routine for melasma where you choose the products for each regimen step from a list of products our dermatologist have tested. You can choose which brand, what price point etc., and the best part is that you can be confident that you have the right products for your skin type and that you are using them in the correct order. All you have to do is take the skin type quiz.
Most of the time, melasma skincare routines take 12-16 weeks to clear melasma. One reason it takes so long to erase melasma is that it takes around 40 days for the old skin cells to desquamate off of the skin’s surface and get replaced with younger less pigmented cells. Plus- if you miss a day or one application of your skincare routine- your melanocytes make more melanin and - suddenly --you are back to the beginning and the clock restarts. So---- CONSISTENCY MATTERS!
What Causes Melasma?
Melasma occurs when the skin makes too much of the skin pigment melanin causing an uneven skin tone. The skin color of the melasma spots can be grey, brown or black depending upon the type of melanin and how deep the melanin is in the skin, and what your natural skin color is.
The reasons melasma occurs is not completely understood but we know that the following all play a role in causing and worsening melasma:
- Sun and light exposure (Yes -your cell phone and computer screen can worsen melasma)
- Heat (I had a patient who was a baker and an oven made her melasma worse)
- Hormones (Estrogen in pregnancy, birth control and hormone replacement therapy)
- Stress (The stress hormone cortisol can cause melasma)
- Over exfoliation (This causes inflammation)
Best Natural Melasma Treatments
- Avoid any of the melasma causes listed above. Sun avoidance is key!
- Eat a diet with fruits and vegetables to increase the amount of antioxidants in your body.
- Get 7 hours of sleep
- Reduce stress (mediate, yoga etc.)
- Supplements and Vitamins for melasma- click here to learn more
- Avoid infrared saunas or other heat exposure
- Don’t get laser or light treatments- they can make melasma worse
The chances are that these natural DIY and melasma home remedies will not be enough to erase stubborn melasma that won’t go away easily. If you have underlying skin inflammation, then the melanocytes continue making pigment and you cannot get rid of melasma until you turn the melanocytes off so that they stop producing melanin. So -what do you do?
How To Remove Melasma?
Should you get lasers and lights and other treatments for melasma?
My best advice is- don’t get treatments for melasma that can injure skin, cause inflammation, and ultimately make melasma worse. I know- you hear all the time about how good lasers are for melasma- but trust me- it’s not worth the risk. (It is possible that in colder climates with less sun exposure the experience doctors see treating melasma with lasers is different than mine). I often see patients who have had laser, light, microneedling, or radiofrequency with other doctors that improved the melasma for a few months, but the dark spots came back worse after 3-5 months. (It is possible that the ones who had successful treatments don’t come and see me because their melasma is cured.) The fact is that at least once a week I have someone in my office who had a laser treatment for melasma with another doctor and it made the melasma worse. So my advice is- do the slower safer approach—a good melasma skincare routine. Chemical peels to treat melasma are a safer option when performed by a well-trained aesthetician or medical provider. Even if you choose to do a medical procedure for melasma, you still need to combine it with a skincare routine.
What Skincare Products to Use to Get Rid of Melasma?
You will need to use skincare products with skin lightening ingredients twice a day. Do not miss any applications. You need to pair skin lightening products with the correct cleansers and moisturizers. The type of skin lightening product you choose, for example a cream or a serum, depends upon your Baumann Skin Type and if you are oily or dry. Which skin lightening ingredients to choose depends upon whether or not you have sensitive skin or aging skin.
Most important tips for getting rid of melasma:
- Know Your Baumann Skin Type
- Follow our melasma skin care routine advice customized for your Baumann Skin Type
- Use the products in the correct skincare routine order
- Use them consistently twice a day as directed.
- Change your lifestyle habits
- Avoid sun and heat
- Wear SPF every day even when indoors (because of light exposure)
- Change your routine after 3-4 months to a Melasma Maintenance Routine
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