Skin Discoloration 101: What Is Melasma?
Melasma—often dubbed the “mask of pregnancy” due to its prevalence amongst pregnant women—is a form of skin discoloration that can occur—and worsen—for a number of reasons. Below, learn more about what melasma is, how this skin discoloration can occur, and more.
What Is Melasma?
Characterized by brown darkening of facial skin, melasma often appears in the shape of patches. While the discoloration is associated with pregnancy, expectant mothers aren’t the only ones who can be affected—in fact, melasma can affect men just as well as women. It most commonly appears on areas of the face most exposed to sunlight—cheeks, forehead, nose, chin, and upper lip are all fair game—however it can also appear on some parts of the body, like the forearms and neck. But sun exposure is not the only factor at play. Melasma may develop from a combination of factors, especially hormonal fluctuations including—you guessed it—pregnancy.
How Sun Exposure Affects Melasma
While it’s important for everyone to wear broad-spectrum SPF all year round, for those with melasma it’s a necessity. Protect yourself from the sun's harsh rays with sunscreen—reapplied every two hours—in addition to wearing a large wide-brimmed hat when outdoors. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that’ll protect you from UVA and UVB rays, like Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50. The zinc oxide formula is ideal for all skin types and is also non-comedogenic, so you won’t have to worry about clogging your pores.
Can Melasma Fade?
While often melasma can fade all on its own, typically when the trigger—in the case of pregnancy—is no longer being experienced. However, in the case of melasma that doesn’t fade, it’s recommended to speak with your dermatologist about your options. If you’re looking for a product that may help reduce the appearance of skin discoloration and even skin tone in general, try Skinceuticals Phyto +. This hydrating botanical serum—suitable for all skin types—is formulated with kojic acid and arbutin to help brighten skin as well as cucumber and thyme extracts to soothe and calm. La Roche-Posay Mela-D Pigment Control is also a good option that may help even skin tone, visibly reduce the appearance of dark spots, and enhance skin clarity.