The Regimen

What is the Best Way to Treat Melasma?



Melasma, or hyperpigmentation, is a common skin problem that occurs when patches of skin on the face, neck and forearms produce too much melanin, the substance that gives skin its color. Melasma is more common among women than men. It is thought to be related to hormone changes and can also occur after sun exposure.

Pregnant women often develop melasma, a condition known as chloasma that is often called "the mask of pregnancy." It usually fades once the baby is born and hormones readjust, but sometimes it remains after the pregnancy. Birth control pills can also bring on melasma because of the hormones they contain.

Although melasma is harmless from a health perspective, many women are bothered by how it looks. While it can be covered up with makeup, it's difficult to wear makeup all the time, especially when doing activities like swimming or athletics.


If you have hyperpigmentation, you may be wondering about the best way to treat it. There are several treatment options available, and some are more effective than others.

Talking to your doctor about alternatives to birth control pills. The melasma should go away a few weeks or months after stopping birth control pills.

Using sunscreen. Sunscreen alone will not resolve melasma, but should be combined with other treatments to reduce the likelihood of recurrences. Even one day of unprotected sun exposure can undo months of other melasma treatments and bring on dark spots all over again.

Hydroquinone. This treatment has a bleaching effect on skin and can lessen or remove melasma. Over the counter hydroquinone can only contain 2% hydroquinone. There are side effects, however, including sun sensitivity and a risk of birth defects in the case of pregnancy. Those with dark skin can develop an even more noticeable skin discoloration with frequent use of hydroquinone.

Tretinoin and corticosteroid creams. These medicines may be prescribed with hydroquinone for greater effectiveness. Sometimes all three medications are combined to make a triple strength melasma cream. Again, it is important to keep skin protected from the sun.

Mandelic acid skin treatments. Mild concentrations (under 15%) of mandelic acid are safe for all skin types and can fade the dark spots of melasma with regular use. A product like 8% Mandelic Acid 3-in-1 Serum is a good option for those new to advanced skin care regimens. It is best to start slowly and work up to daily use. Mandelic acid can cause skin irritation if not introduced slowly but can be safely used by those who are too sensitive for benzoyl peroxide and hydroquinone. Do not spot treat with any products for melasma.

Cosmetic Procedures. A combination of topical medications, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser treatments are other options to explore with your dermatologist or aesthetician. Even when pursuing these treatments, it is important to follow up with a gentle natural cleanser (some have a weaker concentration of mandelic acid) and sun protection.

Vivant Skin Care offers mandelic acid treatments as part of their comprehensive skin care line to help treat melasma and keep skin healthy. Check our correctors to find the serum that will help you keep your skin looking healthy and beautiful.


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