Melasma is a form of skin discoloration that is often caused by hormonal changes. The best products for melasma work by lightening the color of these dark patches. As discoloration starts to fade, melasma becomes easier to conceal with the right makeup products.
Learn more about the leading treatments for this potentially unsightly but typically harmless skin condition. As most over-the-counter melasma products work slowly over time, we’ve also included tips for making any skin tone appear more even during and after melasma treatment.
The Causes of Melasma
Genetics, hormonal changes and sun exposure can cause melasma, a condition in which extra melanin is deposited in spots that are visibly darker than surrounding skin. Melasma often appears on the forehead, above the lips or elsewhere on the body.
About 90% of people who develop melasma are women. Many pregnant women experience chloasma, also known as the “mask of pregnancy,” as a symptom of hormonal changes. Medical conditions or medications, including birth control, can also cause melasma.
The mirrored or symmetrical shapes of melasma spots are one of the easiest ways to distinguish this condition from other skin discoloration. Whether melasma affects the face or body, this discoloration tends to start relatively light and become darker.
Melasma darkens in color due to prolonged sun exposure. A sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor of 30 or higher can be helpful for slowing the darkening of splotches.
This type of skin discoloration typically lightens on its own after hormonal levels return to normal. It is also possible to reduce the visibility of discoloration with lightening treatments.
The Best Products for Melasma
If you want to reduce the appearance of melasma, look for gentle brightening or spot-lightening products. These are often some of the very best products for melasma. For dark spots on the face, one of the most effective and safe over-the-counter treatments is Obagi NuDerm Blend FX Face Treatment Formula, 2 oz. This potent hydroquinone-free formula is an alternative to Obagi Blender.
Hydroquinone is an effective spot lightening ingredient found in many over-the-counter and prescription treatments for melasma. This ingredient may cause skin irritation, and is only available in concentrations up to 2% without a prescription. The maximum safe percentage is usually around 4%.
Treat melasma that appears on the arms, legs or any other part of the body by applying Image Skincare Iluma Intense Lightening Body Lotion, 6 oz. This product uses proprietary Vectorize Technology to transmit an effective blend of peptides and botanicals such as licorice root and Indian Kudzu extracts deep into skin and disperse uneven deposits of melanin.
How To Conceal Melasma
Start by cleansing and treating your face. Many lightening treatments work overnight, but you should always wear sunscreen or cosmetics that have a SPF of at least 30 during the day to keep exposure to sunlight from intensifying discoloration.
Moisturize and prime skin for makeup application. A color-correcting primer can set the stage for blending in melasma. To cover very dark patches, apply a preliminary layer of concealer with a brush followed by full-coverage foundation or your preferred face makeup.
The shade of your foundation, color-correction cream or tinted moisturizer should match your base skin tone, but a color-correcting concealer can be helpful for covering melasma. Depending on the shade of your skin, color-correction products with peach, yellow, orange or red tones may be most effective for evening out the appearance of dark spots.
In order to blend patches of melasma into the surrounding skin, it can be helpful to select makeup in a shade between the color of dark spots and the surrounding skin. Use a beauty sponge, makeup brush or your fingertip to tap or dab on makeup. Never rub products over melasma, as smearing will reduce coverage.
Our LaLa Daisy Beauty Resource Center has extensive information on melasma including melasma skin care tips so be sure to check it out next!
Get A More Even Skin Tone
Melasma is typically a harmless skin issue tied to hormonal fluctuations. Consult with a dermatologist or physician if you are not sure whether melasma is the cause of discoloration. Medical professionals can prescribe a treatment for your skin type that works faster than over-the-counter solutions.
The best products for melasma lighten discoloration. Makeup makes it possible to hide dark spots during skin care treatment. Melasma may become easier to conceal as dark spots become lighter and your skin tone becomes more even.
Get more information from the Mayo Clinic Q&A – Treating Melasma. You’ll see common questions and get information on research and treatments.