Melasma: What It Is And How To Deal With It
Written by Kerry Benjamin
Not all hyperpigmentation is created equal— melasma is a pesky form of hyperpigmentation that can affect the deeper layers of your skin, making it more difficult to treat. Learn what you can do to keep your skin clear of these dark patches.
What It Is
Melasma is a common form of hyperpigmentation that causes blotchy brown patches to appear on the skin. Unlike other forms of hyperpigmentation, melasma is triggered by hormonal changes and has been nicknamed “pregnancy mask” because it often appears on the cheekbones and forehead during or after pregnancy. Although melasma most commonly affects the face, it can also show up on any part of the body that gets a lot of sun, like the neck or forearms.
Why It Occurs
Melasma occurs due to an overproduction of melanocytes, the pigment-making cells in your skin. When your skin produces too much pigment, it causes patches of discoloration. Apart from pregnancy, other hormonal shifts such as starting or stopping birth control pills, certain hormone treatments and even stress can trigger discoloration; sun exposure and genetic factors play a part as well. People with darker skin tones are more likely to develop melasma, as they naturally have more melanocytes than people with lighter skin.
How to Treat It
If you have melasma during pregnancy, it can sometimes fade on its own after you give birth. If this is not the case and your melasma is sticking around, there are treatments that can help speed up the healing process and prevent new patches of discoloration.
Exfoliation can help combat melasma— peels rich in trichloroacetic (TCA) acid and lactic acid like our TCA MULTI-ACID FACE PEEL evenly exfoliate the outermost layer of the skin, which can aid in breaking apart pigmented cells. DERMAPLANING can also help lift dark spots— this gentle physical exfoliator removes the top layer of dead skin and helps your peel work more effectively. Peels and dermaplaning are the perfect exfoliation partners because peels speed up cell turnover, which causes old cells to shed and flake off. Dermaplaning helps slough off these dead cells more effectively, which gradually removes some of the superficial hyperpigmentation and reveals a more even skin tone.
Stimulating cell turnover is also an effective way to help melasma by gradually replacing pigmented cells. Our EGF ACTIVATING SERUM contains natural epidermal growth factors that stimulate the skin’s ability to regenerate and heal, gradually brightening and lifting hyperpigmentation over time. Pairing a serum with MICRONEEDLING micro-exfoliates the skin and helps the serum penetrate, which is particularly useful with melasma. Sun exposure can make melasma worse, so use sunscreen daily to prevent further discoloration.