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Melasma 101: Treatment, Causes and Prevention

Troubled by that pesky little skin discoloration known as Melasma? You’re not the only one. But rest easy, because we’re here to help you restore your skin’s glow and reduce the appearance of dark spots.

What is Melasma?

Sometimes referred to as the “mask of pregnancy,” Melasma is characterized by blotchy, gray-brown spots or patches on the face, jawline and neck. Much like rosacea, Melasma typically appears on the planes of the face—namely the nose, forehead, chin and above the upper lip—but can also occur on other parts of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun, like the décolleté and arms. It’s also similar to rosacea in the sense that it’s more common in women than men, thanks in large part to hormones (while sun damage is a major trigger as well).

Causes of Melasma

While the actual causes of Melasma aren’t known, there are a number of factors that increase your likelihood of having it. These include:
  • A blood relative who has Melasma
  • Excessive sun exposure, as ultraviolet light stimulates skin’s melanocytes
  • Darker skin tones (since these have more melanocytes and therefore more pigment)
  • Hormone fluctuations
  • Cosmetic products and anything else that may irritate the skin

Melasma Treatment

Melasma can be one of the slower skin conditions to resolve itself. Because of this, it’s best to start gently—especially if you’re using a prescribed medication or have sensitive skin—since using too aggressive of a treatment could lead to an increase in irregular pigmentation. In fact, the best non-prescription option to correct the appearance of skin discoloration like Melasma is through a multi-tiered approach:
  1. Wear a broad-spectrum, non-chemical sunscreen daily with SPF 30 or greater.
  2. Look for skincare products formulated with retinol, which helps support healthy cell turnover.
  3. Use a product with Vitamin C Ester—such as our Thio:Plex Intensive 2-Step Brightening System or Vitamin C Ester 15—to help brighten your skin and encourage healthy collagen and elastin production (which can begin to slow as a result of sun exposure and chronological aging).
  4. Exfoliate the smart way with a non-abrasive chemical peel, like the newly-reformulated Blue Plasma.
Four simple reminders—that’s it. Now that you’re armed with a better understanding of what triggers Melasma and the right multi-tiered approach for treatment, go forth and enjoy brighter, more youthful-looking skin.