Best Cleanser For Melasma

Best Cleanser for Melasma

Melasma is a common skin condition caused by an increase in skin pigment called melanin that leads to discoloration and dark spots on the skin, particularly the face. Melasma is often referred to the ‘mask of pregnancy’ because the change in hormones seen in pregnancy can cause discoloration. Melasma is not easy to get rid of so you should become familiar with what causes melasma so that you can get rid of it faster.

Dermatologist- recommended face washes for pigmentation usually work by increasing exfoliation and helping other skin lightening products in the skincare routine to treat pigmentation work better.

What’s the Best Skin Care Routine for Melasma?

You need two different cleansers to treat melasma. However, they will work best as part of a complete skincare routine containing skin lightening ingredients. You can learn more here:

Selecting the best face wash for melasma depends upon your barriers to skin health such as : dehydration, inflammation and aging and what other products you are using in your melasma skin care routine.

Although I cannot give you the best advice on a cleanser to treat melasma without knowing your skin type- I can give you some facial wash suggestions. If you want specific advice, follow the step by step skincare regimen builder that will appear after you take the skin type quiz. You will be able to choose from many different brands of cleansers that work well with the rest of the suggested skincare routine.


It is not necessary to waste money buying face washes with skin lightening ingredients because these are not in contact with the skin long enough to affect melanin production. Skin lightening ingredients should go in melasma creams and serums, not in rinse-off products like facial cleansers.

The Best Cleansers to Use in the Morning to Treat Melasma

In general, low pH cleansers should be used as your morning cleanser when you have melasma. These prep the skin and help the products that follow penetrate into skin and work better. We do not advise using low pH cleansers twice a day because they can dry or irritate the skin when combined with other melasma treatment products or cause over exfoliation.

Dry Skin- Cleansers To Use in the Morning

The Best Glycolic Acid Cleansers For Dry Skin and Melasma To Use In The Morning

Glycolic acid is effective at boosting exfoliation and making skin more radiant by smoothing the skin's surface. If you have dry skin, glycolic cleansers are a good choice for you. These cleansers are also used in my patients who have dry skin and acne but are not irritated from acne treatment products. (Irritated skin will sting when you use a low pH cleanser.)

The cleanser I recommend the most to my dry skin type melasma patients is:

Essopi Glycolic 10% Cleanser, while gentler than the best scrubs, provides an equally effective benefit. This alpha hydroxy acid cleanser prepares the skin for melasma treatment serums and Vitamin C Serums that follow in the skincare routine. This low pH melasma cleanser is best used daily as part of a complete personalized skincare routine. It will not clear melasma alone.

The Best Lactic Acid Cleansers For Dry Skin and Melasma To Use In The Morning

Lactic acid is another form of alpha hydroxy acid that is much gentler than glycolic acid. It is perfect for dry sensitive skin types. But do not use it if your skin is stinging or has a rash or is irritated rom retinoids. Read about Soothing Cleansers if you have any of those issues.

The cleanser I recommend the most to my dry, sensitive skin type melasma patients is:

PCA Skin Facial Wash because it is a gentle face wash that helps reduces inflammation while gently exfoliating the skin. Natural aloe vera and allantoin provide soothing antioxidant benefits.

Another cleanser that i like that combines different types of hydroxy acids is:

SkinCeuticals Clarifying Exfoliating Cleanser combines glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid, making it a powerful face wash for melasma that purifies and brightens the skin. Despite the combination of alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acid, this melasma cleanser is still gentle enough for daily use, and is fragrance-free and sulfate-free.

The best low pH cleansers with alpha hydroxy acids to treat melasma if you have a dry skin type:

Oily Skin Cleansers To Use in the Morning

The Best Salicylic Acid Cleansers To Use in the Morning For Oily Skin with Melasma

Beta hydroxy acids like salicylic acid work to exfoliate the skin and by doing so, help to remove the pigmentation of melasma, as well as clearing the pores. Salicylic acid can penetrate through sebum into the pores to help prevent blackheads and white heads. It also has strong anti-inflammatory abilities. However, it can be drying, so I prefer this cleanser for oily, and combination types.

Salicylic acid cleansers are also effective for acne treatment.

One of our favorite melasma cleansers is NoLIO Salicylic Acid Cleanser. This face wash for melasma is ideal for oily skin types and a favorite among dermatologists owing to its low pH, which provides additional exfoliating benefits. This melasma cleanser is anti-inflammatory and also contains the antioxidant green tea extract, while zinc promotes skin repair and stearic acid helps to protect the skin barrier.

We also love La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Acne Cleanser, which is the best drugstore face wash for melasma and is available anywhere in the world! The salicylic acid in this melasma cleanser combines with lipo-hydroxy acid to provide a gentle, exfoliating effect that removes impurities from the skin and improves skin texture. For the best results use a complete personalized skin care routine for melasma.

Here are more low pH cleansers with beta hydroxy acids (like salicylic acid and willowbark) for oily skin types with melasma

The Best Cleansers to Use in the Evening to Treat Melasma

The low pH cleanser we recommend to use in the morning should not be used at night. Instead, we recommend using these melasma face cleansers at nighttime. They do a great job of removing oil, dirt, sunscreen and makeup. You should always wash you face before you go to sleep. Your skin has a circadian rhythm and spends the night repairing itself- not protecting itself- so you want all of the day's pollution off of your skin.

The best evening cleanser for you depends upon your Baumann Skin Type. Here are some of our favorites:

Cleansers To Use in the Evening for Dry Skin

Cleansers To Use in the Evening for Oily Skin

The Best Scrubs For Melasma

You can use a facial scrub 2-3 times a week to make the skin more radiant and prompt exfoliation. You can use it in the am or the pm- but make sure you use it at a time you want to look radiant because you will get a short term glowing effect. Do not use if you skin feels irritated, tender or stings which can happen if you are using retinoids.

Exfoliating the skin with a facial scrub can help to lighten the pigmentation of melasma by removing dead skin cells on the surface of the skin.

The best facial scrub for melasma is Pidanti Smoothing Polish Face and Body Scrub, which gently removes dead skin cells and leaves a smooth, even-toned appearance. The exfoliating beads are not too sharp so they will not injure your skin or cause irritation. This melasma cleanser combines glycolic acid and salicylic acid, as well as green tea extract to provide a soothing effect, and arbutin and ascorbyl palmitate to brighten the skin.

Other scrubs we like:

Be Gentle

Alpha hydroxy acid cleansers, beta hydroxy acid cleansers and facial exfoliating scrubs used for melasma must be used gently to prevent inflammation.

Wear a Sunscreen

Alpha hydroxy acid cleansers, beta hydroxy acid cleansers and facial exfoliating scrubs used for melasma can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun by taking away the top dead layer of skin cells called the stratum corneum. This layer does not give you much sun protection, but if you spend a significant time outdoors. low pH cleansers may not be the best option for you.

Whether or not you get sun exposure, it is essential to always finish your skin care routine with a daily SPF. Melasma suffers should use sunscreen every day- even indoors, because light that comes through windows and off of your phone and computer screens can worsen melasma. Choose tinted sunscreens because they have iron oxides in them that block blue light.

Here are some tinted noncomedogenic chemical sunscreen options to use when you have melasma. (I chose chemical because it is the best way to block a broad spectrum of light):


Treat Melasma with a complete customized Dermatologist-Recommended Skin Routine

This cleanser advice will help you choose a cleanser- but cleansers alone will not cure your melasma. Take the time to learn your Baumann Skin Type and then follow the "Build a regimen" steps and we will guide you to the best skincare products to treat your melasma and other skin issues.

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