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What is melasma and how can I help it?

What is melasma and how can I help it?

If you are expecting a baby, you can also expect some melasma, aka ‘the mask of pregnancy.’  Trouble is, you can’t take this one off, not anytime soon anyway.  Recognisable by those irregular patches of light brown pigment on the forehead, cheeks and chin, melasma is a sign that the production of melanin, your skin’s natural pigment, is truly out of sorts. And no wonder. 

So, what actually causes Melasma?

Caused by fluctuations in the hormone oestrogen, melasma goes pretty much hand in hand with pregnancy, up to 75 per cent in fact will get it and most commonly in the second and third trimester (but also by the way during breastfeeding and post-partum which elevates oestrogen and melanin production for a lot of us).  Generally speaking, however, aside from its appearance, melasma is nothing to worry about, has no consequences for your baby, and will fade over time (and often straight after delivery).

But worry we do, which is why Google searches for Melasma treatments have increased by 50 per cent recently.  The search continues too as during pregnancy and post-partum, women also suffer from a lack of treatment choice.

Related content: A Beauty Editor’s Pregnancy Skincare Essentials

The thing about resurfacing peels

For resurfacing peels, super-strong acids and retinols will do the melasma fading job (to some extent), but for now, they are absolutely out.  Sorry. But also, not sorry – because between vitamin C, a good broad-spectrum sun filter, antioxidants, azelaic acid and time, yours too will fade. Safely so.

Let’s talk SPF

Safely does it best with a broad-spectrum SPF of 30 minimum. Go for a mineral filter of zinc or titanium oxide, which sits on the skin to reflect rays and will also go some way to protect your skin from light, which is also associated with melasma. 

Give Vitamin C a try!

Vitamin C is also a wonder ingredient for fading dark spots and goes some way to regulating melanin.  Plus, it’s an anti-inflammatory which thanks to its antioxidant properties, will stabilise free radicals as well as melanin production.  Start low, around 5 per cent, and use every morning under your moisturiser (it also increases the power of your SPF by the by). 

What about Retinol replacements?

Azelaic acid is your failsafe in place of retinol (which as a vitamin A derivative is off the table for now).  It too will inhibit tyrosinase, responsible for synthesising melanin, to generally slow and regulate production. Stick to versions of below 7 per cent and play safe by introducing it to your skin gently, and preferably under the guise of a derm or doctor before you try it at all.  

We’re not one to judge, but you might also want to avoid waxing or plucking too aggressively on troublesome areas – as blemishes can easily evolve into melasma hotspots.  

We love to think of pregnancy, and all the markings you get with it as a badge of honour, but remember until you get to that peaceful place, there is always concealer.  

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. For The Creators has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.

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