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Post in Beauty Confidential


What are your best skin care tips for skin with melasma? 

Re: Melasma

@PriscilaStein  As someone with melasma, I can say the best 2 skincare-related things you can have are broad spectrum sunscreen (minimum SPF of 30) and a board certified dermatologist. If not a derm, then at least a primary care doctor. Melasma can be hard to treat on your own, with no input from a medical expert. It can even return with a vengeance if not treated correctly—and "correctly" depends partly on your particular skin. 


I could list a bunch of ingredients and products that treat hyperpigmentation—and I've done that in other threads about this topic. But really, sunscreen and a dermatologist are my 2 best tips. If you don't already wear sunscreen on ALL skin exposed to sunlight (including your ears, behind the ears, hairline, neck, nape of neck, etc.) every day, all year long, regardless of weather or season, it's never too late to start. 

Re: Melasma

@PriscilaStein  You can often reduce melasma by eating a diet rich in folate and by increasing your consumption of vitmain C which helps mitigate copper which is an indicator of melanin production.  
Also, if your melasma is caused by hormones consumption high estrogen foods may make it worse - like soy, black beans, flaxseed and chickpeas.  
If you’re unaware of the cause talk to your doctor;)

wear a physical sunscreen to avoid any further melanin production .

for treating it, arbutin is a wonderful ingredient for inhibiting melanin production.  

Turmeric contains a compound called cucumin which also inhibits melanin production.
Retinol is also wonderful for increasing cell turnover (so long as you’re not breastfeeding).  Herbivore Nova 15% Vitamin C + Turmeric Brightening Serum 1 oz/ 30 mL The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Hyperpigmentation Serum The INKEY List Retinol Anti-Aging Serum 2 oz/ 60 mL 

Re: Melasma

Also Melasma is triggered by heat so make sure you’re using a physical spf, not chemical, because with chemical sunscreens your skin absorbs the heat. 

Re: Melasma

@ariahaesthetics "...with chemical sunscreens your skin absorbs the heat." Eh, that's not quite true. Chemical and physical/mineral sunscreens both work by sitting atop your skin, absorbing UV rays, converting those rays to heat, and then releasing the heat. One type of sunscreen is not better than the other in this regard. I know we've all been fed the story that chemical sunscreens work by absorbing UV rays while mineral sunscreens don't absorb UV rays and reflect/scatter them instead. But a chemist can tell you that's false. Mineral sunscreens do reflect a very small amount of UV rays, but they absorb the rest and convert them to heat which is then released from skin. 


The best sunscreen is simply whichever sunscreen you'll actually wear on a regular basis. I rotate through chemical, mineral, and hybrid sunscreens on a weekly basis. They all protect my skin from increased hyperpigmentation, as long as I remember to reapply every couple hours or quickly after my skin's gotten wet or very sweaty. 


It is true that hyperpigmentation can be worsened by heat. Some dermatologists recommend folks with melasma and other forms of hyperpigmentation avoid wearing metal framed glasses/sunglasses because the frames can heat up. LED masks that sit directly on the face (so skin has direct contact with the lights) might also generate heat. Facial steamers are a no-no for anyone treating hyperpigmentation—really, steamers aren't good for skin in general. 

Re: Melasma

Hmmm.... I am a chemist and I'd like to know where your information on physical vs chemical sunscreen comes from.

Re: Melasma

@knw1  Hey, when you reply to folks here on BIC (the beauty forum you're reading right now), remember to @ them so they'll get a notification. Otherwise they might never see your reply. 🙂 


Are you a cosmetic chemist? Not asking to be snarky; I'm genuinely curious, because it'd be neat to have a cosmetic chemist participate in BIC threads. To my knowledge, no BIC members are cosmetic chemists or board certified derms (eh, aside from certain skincare brand accounts), and I'd love to see someone with that level of expertise field some members' questions in threads! 


Links outside aren't allowed on BIC, so I'll have to drop a citation instead (apologies if my cite formatting's off; it's been a looong time since I had to cite references for papers 😂😞 

C. Cole, T. Shyr, H. Ou-Yang, Metal oxide sunscreens protect skin by absorption, not by reflection or scattering, Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed, 2016; 32: 5-10 


Note that actual sunscreens weren't used; instead, their test materials were "two forms of pigmentary size titanium dioxide and a surface-treated nano-size titanium dioxide, a USP zinc oxide and a nano-sized zinc oxide, as well as barium sulfate" suspended in petrolatum. There's at least one other study (a couple years older than Cole et al., if I recall correctly) in which real sunscreens were used... looks like I bookmarked that one on my tablet instead of my laptop, and my tablet's not with me at the moment, so I'll have to hunt down the cite for that later if you're interested. 


EDIT: I'll also count my dermatologist as a reference, since he's also explained to his patients that zinc oxide sunscreens absorb far more UV rays than they scatter. It's his way of helping folks choose a broad spectrum sunscreen regardless of type (mineral vs. chemical); his priority is making sure folks use a sunscreen, not that they get hung up on type or "dangerous sunscreen chemicals" or whatever. 

Re: Melasma

Thanks @WinglessOne for the tip about the @ and for the reference (format was perfect).  I was a radiochemist and am now a medical writer (including oncology and dermatology).  So, I'm no stranger to electromagnetic radiation and its biological effects. The UV absorption by oxides is new to me.  It looks like, if I'm reading the paper correctly, that in the UVB range, absorption accounts for most of the photoprotection from  metallic oxides like zinc. In the UVA and visible light wavelengths the protection effect is from scattering/reflection.


Any recommendations for a broad-spectrum high-SPF facial sunscreen for sensitive skin (irritated by pretty much everything in the summer, acne-prone in spots)? I just recently noticed dark spots on my cheeks and realized I need stronger sunscreen.




PS -- A vitamin D supplement is a must when you minimize sun exposure.

Re: Melasma

@knw1  Here's a bit more in-depth info (for you and anyone else reading along who's curious) on the topic, explained by a chemist far better than I can explain it: at labmuffin (Michelle Wong's site), visit /how-do-sunscreens-work-the-science-with-video 

And it sounds like you've had a very interesting career! 


What sunscreen(s) do you normally use, and how high of an SPF are you looking for? Have you tried one of La Roche-Posay's high SPF sunscreens? I have their Anthelios Melt-in Milk Sunscreen SPF 100, a chemical sunscreen that feels quite greasy on my mostly-dry combo skin and gives me a very shiny, almost "glass skin" finish. I use it mostly on exposed body skin now that temps have warmed up significantly; it feels too heavy on my face in hot weather. I haven't tried their new Anthelios UV Correct SPF 70 Daily Face Sunscreen with Niacinamide yet, but that's another one to consider. 


This reminds me to order La Roche-Posay's new Anthelios UVMune 400 SPF 50+ Invisible Fluid from overseas to test. In addition to mexoryl 400 (new UV blocker), it contains mexoryl XL, mexoryl SX, tinosorb S, uvinul A plus, and uvinul T 150, plus octisalate and avobenzone. If this sunscreen can't effectively block UVA I and II, I dunno what can. 😂 It's not available in the US of course, because the FDA won't let us have nice things like tinosorbs and uvinuls. But I'm sure it can be found online at European retailers. 


EDIT: thanks for mentioning vitamin D supplements. I spent part of last month "debating" with anti-sunscreen folks (the "all sunscreens are dangerous and cause cancer and keep people from getting any vitamin D at all" crowd 🙄) about the various ways humans can get vitamin D besides sunlight. Certain foods are fortified with vitamin D. Not that people generally consume enough of those foods to get adequate vitamin D, but still. And supplements are available. 

Re: Melasma

@Wingless   I love Michelle's stuff!  So, ideally I would like to find a noncomedogenic moisturizer for sensitive skin with high SPF broad spectrum protection.  I've been using Neutrogena Oil-Free Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15 and adding Eucerin Mattifying Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50 (which I must have gotten as a sample at a dermatology meeting).  Both sting my skin.  Any suggestions?


Re: Melasma

@PriscilaStein Hey beautiful! The best tip for melasma, and any kind of hyperpigmentation, is using SPF, everyday sun or rain, inside or outside, always wear SPF of 30 or more, and one teaspoon on your face and neck. So you need to use a lot. It doesn’t make sense to use a bunch of pricey products to lighten up your melasma to ruin all the work by exposing your skin to the sun. The SPF will also protect your skin against premature aging and skin cancer. 

To help lighten up the melasma, the best ingredient out there is hydroquinone but that must be used under the supervision of a dermatologist.

At Sephora there are so many great options to choose from. These are only a few at great price tags. 

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Hyperpigmentation Serum 

The INKEY List Tranexamic Acid Hyperpigmentation Treatment 1 oz/ 30 mL 

The INKEY List 15% Vitamin C and EGF Brightening Serum 1 oz/ 30 mL 

There are many others but more expensive. Just look for those ingredients and your will see them! 

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