May 14, 2021
Do you struggle with melasma? Are you like me and self conscious about the dark patches of skin on your forehead? Through lots of trial and error, I learned the best way to treat my Melasma– and prevent it from coming back!
Melasma is caused by a wicked combo of hormones, aging and sun exposure. The tricky thing is that it never really ‘goes away’ and quickly comes back after an afternoon in the sun.
According to Healthline, “Melasma is a common skin problem. The condition causes dark, discolored patches on your skin. It’s also called chloasma, or the “mask of pregnancy,” when it occurs in pregnant women. The condition is much more common in women than men, though men can get it too. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 90 percent of people who develop melasma are women.”
In a nutshell, apply a Vitamin C in the morning, sunscreen and hat every day, and alternate a retinol with an exfoliating acid every night. If you’d really like to up the ante, add in a weekly exfoliating scrub and acid peel.
I first noticed a strange pattern of dark spots on my forehead about 2 years ago, after an IPL laser treatment at a high end spa. My mom had melasma, so maybe the laser brought forth dark spots that were always there. Perhaps it was a weird freak reaction. Or maybe my forehead was burned. I’ll never know. Medi-spas have recommended that I get more IPL treatments to fade my dark spots, but believe you me: I’ll NEVER let my face go near a laser again.
It makes me feel emotional now to look at these photos. I’m brought back to how embarrassing it was to look in the mirror without makeup. I went to the doctor for a referral to the dermatologist, but wanted to try my own at-home treatment during the agonizing 6 month wait. To say I was frustrated is an understatement.
I scoured websites and blog and crowdsourced my instagram community for suggestions. I was surprised to learn how common Melasma actually is. This blog post is the resource I wish I had when I was feeling so upset two years ago.
I had to wait 6 months for a Dr. referred dermatologist, so went to an expensive medi-spa, who charged $200 for a 10 minute consult, and tried to convince me to get Botox to “fix things in general”. They recommended Alumier’s EVERACTIVE C+E AND PEPTIDE ANTIOXIDANT SERUM in the morning, and alternating RETINOL RESURFACING SERUM with LIGHTENING LOTION each night. As you can see from my photo results, the effectiveness of this routine was absolutely fantastic, and was almost as effective as the prescription hydroquinone cream I later got from my dermatologist. The Lightening Lotion is a lightweight lotion with 2% hydroquinone and licorice root extract to brighten the complexion and reduce the appearance of skin discolouration and uneven skin tone.
ALAS, this product is not available in Canada anymore. As of February 2020, products with 2% Hydroquinone are now illegal in Canada without a prescription. Alumier now offers its INTELLIBRIGHT COMPLEX SERUM, which I found this didn’t make much of difference for me, as it’s Hydroquinone-free. I recommend going with a more affordable, easily accessible Vitamin C/ Retinol/ Exfoliating Acid routine instead.
The dermatologist was extremely impressed with how much the Alumier Lightening Lotion faded my dark spots. He gave me a prescription hydroquinone cream, which did a wonderful job of brightening things up. My prescription was only for 3 months.
I want to do everything I can to prevent this from coming back, so strictly adhere to the at-home treatment and prevention routine below.
CETAPHIL GENTLE SKIN CLEANSER– This is both affordable and effective. I try to save money by using a basic cleanser I can get at my local grocery store, and splurge on products that stay on my face. It’s not fancy, but it works well. It’s been around for 70 years and is oil-free, non-comodegenic and helps restore skin’s natural PH levels.
FOREO LUNA 3 SMART FACIAL CLEANSING AND FIRMING MASSAGE BRUSH Is this ridiculously expensive? Yes. Is it mandatory for treating melasma? Definitely no. Have I used it every single day since I got it 2 years ago? Yes. I even bring it with me when I travel and am packing light. I find the vibration stimulates blood flow and creates a cleansing lather. There are cheaper dupes out there, but I haven’t tried them so can’t provide my opinion. This is the one I have and absolutely love.
GLEE BEE DARK SPOT CORRECTOR SERUM contains 4-Butylresorcinol, Kojic Acid, Lactic Acid, Salicylic Acid and Morinda Citrifolia extract to decrease melanin production, restore damaged skin and nourish dry skin. I found this when I was looking for a Hydroquinone substitute, and Glee Bee claims 4-Butylresorcinol is “better than 2% hydroquinone”. I wouldn’t go that far, but have found it does fade my dark spots better than the Mad Hippie products alone. I’ll use this on my forehead at night and the Mad Hippie products on the rest of my face. Dark Spot Corrector penetrates deeply into the skin to significantly remove post acne marks, dark spots, age spots, freckles, dullness and sun spots to give you a beautiful even skin tone and reveal younger-looking skin. This product is super affordable compared to expensive alternatives– $25.99 and worth a try.
NEOSTRATA ENLIGHTEN DUAL ACID BRIGHTENING PEEL– Featuring 10% Glycolic Acid (AHA) AND 10% Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA) Brightening Peptide, this strong acid peel dissolves the top layer of dead skin to create more even skin tone and texture. Use once or twice a week. I get this at London Drugs. Increases sensitivity to the sun. I had this recommended to me by Maddy Loves Blog.
MAD HIPPIE 2 MINUTE POLISHING MASK and MAD HIPPIE MICRODERMABRASIAN FACIAL I use the polishing mask for a gentle polishing scrub and pore purifying, and then the microdermabrasian facial to brighten, soften and smooth. The mask has 6 Actives with Adzuki Bean, Matcha, White and Green Clay and promises a luminous complexion. The facial has 12 Actives with Probiotics and Fruit Acid Complex. It has a delightful, fruity scent and creamy, grainy honey-like texture. May increase sensitivity to the sun.
TRULY EXFOLIATING FACE SCRUB– No other scrub opens up my pores like this one does. It has a light, refreshing white grapefruit scent and powerhouse very fine arctic mineral salt that acts as an antiseptic and disinfectant. I use this once a week, and use BIORE DEEP CLEANSING CHARCOAL PORE STRIPS afterwards. The gunk it gets out of my skin is both disgusting and incredibly satisfying.
BONUS: LUNA GOODNIGHT FACE BRONZING SERUM I take a break from my alternating nightly routine and use this serum once every 1-2 weeks to wake up with a natural looking sun-free tan. This serum-based formula is packed with Vitamin C and rich with antioxidants to hydrate, brighten and nourish your skin. I’ve been asked if I’ve just been on a vacation after using! I order mine from The Heart Cloverdale, which offers free shipping in BC and Alberta. They also carry the Truly Lifestyle Skincare line.
LULULEMON FAST PACED VISOR I don’t know about you, but I always forget to bring a hat with me. All year round, I leave this visor in my purse to grab whenever I’m outside in direct sunlight. I prefer a visor over a hat as it doesn’t flatten my hair! I like that this one is lightweight, folds up fairly small, and minimal designed.
To sum it up, fading Melasma may seem complicated, but if you stick with Vitamin C serum in the morning, sunscreen and hat every day, and alternate a retinol with an exfoliating acid every night, you will see a difference in brightness and improved texture. Remember that adding in a weekly exfoliating scrub and acid peel will really speed up your results.
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