Hormones Attack Melasma

When Hormones Attack: Melasma

Melasma-1Hormones affect women at the most pivotal times in life: during the tumultuous teenage years, during and after pregnancy and breastfeeding, and during menopause. Melasma is one visibly frustrating hormonal skin symptom.

It?s not enough that the hormones completely disrupt our emotions and internal systems of the body. Hormones sometimes also choose to announce their presence to the world by showing up as spots or patches of hyperpigmentation (dark pigment) on the skin. There are several types of hyperpigmentation that have different causes, but this type is called melasma. Since melasma often accompanies pregnancy or pregnancy-related hormones, it is often referred to as the ?mask of pregnancy? or ?pregnancy mask?.

Melasma almost always appears on the face with a specific and symmetrical mask-like pattern. This ?mask? often covers the forehead, cheeks, chin, jawline, and upper lip. The severity amount of pigment varies based on how much melanin pigment the person naturally has in their skin. Those with lighter complexions are affected less, while those with more pigmented complexions (people of Latin/Hispanic, North African, African-American, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean descent) are more prone to develop this condition.

Melasma is not just a “mask of pregnancy”

pregnancyAlthough melasma is best known for affecting women during and after pregnancy, it is not exclusive to it. Women who take birth control hormones at any point during their lives, as well as women who are anywhere around the age of menopause are also often affected.

Melasma is a self-limiting condition, meaning it will eventually fade on its own once the hormones have subsided, but will often return once the hormones become unbalanced again due to another life event or medication. Not all, but some women will exhibit some degree of melasma for years; for example if they go from taking birth control hormones, to becoming pregnant, to breastfeeding, back to birth control hormones, maybe having subsequent pregnancies, right into perimenopause or menopause.

Melasma is primarily a condition that affects females because of the abundance of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, however 10 percent of men get some form of it as well.

Are hormones the only cause of melasma?

Experts are still unclear of all of the causes of melasma, though hormones are widely believed to be its primary cause. It is suspected that inflammation and free radicals also cause it, like other forms of hyperpigmentation, since they have the ability to alter DNA and interrupt normal cell processes.

The cells that produce melanin pigment in the body are called melanocytes, and they are located in the deepest layer of the epidermis (outermost layer of skin), commonly referred to as the basal layer. The primary purpose of melanin pigment in the body is protection from UV radiation. UV radiation creates free radicals in the skin, thus the melanocytes jump into action, producing more melanin pigment to fight them off. It is a fact that excessive sun exposure causes hyperpigmentation in general, and that it can exacerbate melasma; but most experts do not believe the sun alone is responsible for melasma.

melasma sicchickk71Melanocytes are tricky cells. They are easily triggered as part of the body?s inflammatory response process if they feel the skin or body is unbalanced. Drastic changes in the levels of estrogen and progesterone can trigger these cells and cause them to produce more melanin pigment.

The American Academy of Dermatology also suggests that the use of irritant cosmetic products or treatments may also cause melasma.

But I can’t control my hormone levels?can I?

Many people believe that their hormonal activity is out of their control. And this is mostly true. However, from a holistic perspective, there may be some dietary issues that either mimic or trigger hormonal activity. Many foods that are high in sugar, gluten, and yeast can have an estrogenic effect on the body. These foods also feed and breed Candida, causing an overgrowth of this fungus which leads to more inflammation, free radical production, and degradation of the immune system. Certain medications and chemical ingredients can also produce an estrogenic effect in the body.

Stress can also make hormonal imbalances worse.

While it is not possible to fully control hormone levels in the body, there are some dietary and lifestyle changes, as well as relaxation and stress reduction techniques you can try to even them out a bit.

How NOT to treat melasma.

In allopathic medicine, melasma is usually treated by the use of tretinoin (Retin-A) or another aggressive resurfacing Vitamin A derivative, in addition to the tyrosinase inhibitor (lightening agent) hydroquinone, or a corticosteroid. Sometimes a topical cream containing all three ingredients, known as a ?triple cream? is used.

In the medical spa environment, melasma is often combated with the use of chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser resurfacing or IPL treatments.

To all of this I say NO.

Retin-A and other retinols, are not a good choices because, while they may offer a temporary fix, they cause more damage long-term because they inflame and generate free radicals in the skin, and irreparably thin the dermis and damage the collagen and elastin-producing cells within it. It also causes the skin to be hypersensitive to the sun?s UV rays, as well as other elements, which actually makes the skin more susceptible to hyperpigmentation. Corticosteroids are also a quick fix, but are generally not recommended for long-term use due to safety issues. They can also contribute to Candida overgrowth.

Hydroquinone is a fairly controversial ingredient. It is the most popular and commonly used lightening agent on the market because it works. It is available OTC in lower percentages, or double that strength as a prescription. It works by suppressing melanin production. If you recall, melanin is there for a reason: to protect against UV rays. Therefore, suppressing its production will also make the skin more sensitive and vulnerable to UV damage, which in turn will cause more hyperpigmentation. Kind of an oxymoron don’t you think? ?Its irritancy level can result in Exogenous Ochronosis, a permanent, deep bluish/black stain in the skin? as well.

Furthermore, there have been reports that suggest hydroquinone is toxic; specifically that it is carcinogenic and a neuro-toxin. It has already been banned in some countries that have stricter regulations on toxic and chemical ingredients than we do in the US. Doctors who prescribe hydroquinone do not recommend it for long-term use, but many people ignore this because they like the results it produces. It is on the ?toxic 12? list of cosmetic ingredients as well. Further studies have been ordered by the FDA under the National Toxicology Program. For any and all of these reasons, I strongly advise against using this ingredient.

Certain spa treatments can make melasma worse.

I also advise against the use of laser, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels to treat melasma. First of all, most of these (in addition to the medications listed above) are not safe for use during pregnancy. Since many cases of melasma present during pregnancy, that is a huge red flag. Furthermore, it is the same situation where these may be great quick fixes, but cause inflammation which leads to long-term problems such as dermal thinning, degradation of collagen and elastin, and more hyperpigmentation.

There are several effective alternative treatments that are safer both short-term and long-term.

How TO treat melasma.

The first steps to take if you have melasma is to take a look at your diet and lifestyle and make the necessary changes in order to reduce the risk of Candida overgrowth, liver toxicity, and estrogenic activity in the body. It is also necessary to use proper sun protection on a regular basis, and reduce stress levels as much as possible.

Once these holistic measures have been taken, you can try a pigment fading product that contains natural lightening ingredients. The ingredient paper mulberry has been shown to be even more effective than prescription strength hydroquinone in fading melasma and hyperpigmentation, especially when used in conjunction with bilberry or bearberry. Some other natural botanical and herbal extracts can also help.

Some foods?you can try adding to your diet to relax over-productive melanocytes from the inside (without suppressing them completely and causing photosensitivity in the skin) are watercress, ?raw apple cider vinegar, and Vitamin C containing foods.

Specific skin care issues like melasma are best treated with use of a complete skincare regimen, in addition to diet and lifestyle modifications. If you have melasma, or any other non-threatening skin issue, it is a good idea to consult with a licensed aesthetician and/or holistic nutrition or healthcare provider.

Article first published as When Hormones Attack: Melasma on Blogcritics.

*Image 1 from Healthy Skin Solutions, Image 3 credit: sicchickk71, Image 4 credit: ASCP


52 thoughts on “When Hormones Attack: Melasma”

  1. Could you please tell me your views on sunscreen? My ayurvedic practicioner says no, because it will inflame me further. I agree because I usually break out from sunscreen anyway. We are also trying to correct my imbalances wholly. But do you think that no sunscreen and a hat is sufficient in the meantime? I’m not pregnant, never have been, got melasma after quitting birth control. no other obvious factors….

  2. Hi, thanks for your question. I am not a fan of any chemical or absorbing sunscreen ingredients. I personally use a moisturizer that contains zinc oxide which is a natural broad spectrum sunscreen and does not irritate the skin…soothes it in fact. It is used to treat common skin irritations often even for babies. If you are wearing clothing that protects you from the sun that is fine as well…but just a hat is not sufficient; you need your arms and legs covered too if you are outside. I’m not a doctor but melasma is often associated with hormones. Your body got used to the birth control hormones and then became unbalanced once you stopped taking them. They will rebalance themselves, and there are some foods you can eat to help that happen. I’m sure your Ayurvedic practitioner will get you through it…they know what they’re doing! He/she will probably have you do a detox of some kind too, which will definitely help.

  3. Hi just have a few questions. You mention paper mulberry and blueberry is this something that you take as a supplement? Or is it also in liquid form? I have melasma, but it is genetic, I believe. I have never gotten my hormones checked out and am curious if this is something I should look into doing? I have been told that I should be off gluten for my health via a blood test and encouraged by a holistic chiropractor. Could the melasma and excess hairgrowth have anything then to do with the gluten “allergy” as well? Not sure who to be pointing all of these questions towards, but it seems as if you might know quite a bit about all of this! Thank you!

  4. Hi Rebecca, Thanks for your comment/question! These are available in some topical formulations as well as internal supplements and homeopathic blends, but I’m finding in my most current research that diet has a lot to do with melasma. I’d be happy to consult with you privately if you’d like. Email me at holisticallyhaute@gmail.com.

  5. Very informative article. Who are some of the reputable sources where I can purchase paper mulberry extract and bearberry? I’m desperate to find something that works for my melasma.

    1. Hi Maria! Thank you for reading and for your comment. Melasma is tricky, isn’t it? The above mentioned herbs and extracts have been shown to be effective, and now there is evidence that sweet wormwood extract is also affective. The Osmosis “Restore” product line contains the sweet wormwood extract, and their “Enlighten” contains bearberry (also known as uva ursi) and other naturally lightening extracts. Uva ursi is available from Mountain Rose Herbs but paper mulberry is harder to find–the biggest supplier/distributor I’ve seen online for that is AliBaba but I haven’t used them personally. I’ve seen some skincare products containing it at about 4% concentration. I work with a lot of melasma clients and healing it naturally is possible but takes a lot of time and must include first and foremost healthy diet and lifestyle habits. My programs offer support on healing internally as well as externally.

  6. Great article! I have had melasma since I was 22 (I’m 27 now) and it still drives me bonkers! I’m looking for a good Sun Screen. I live in Arizona…and frankly it is hard to avoid the sun. What brand moisturizer w/ zinc do you use?

    1. Hi Randi, I recommend zinc oxide-based sunscreens from either Celtic Complexion or Kabana for the body. For the face, I like Osmosis’ Shade moisturizer which has zinc as well as a little bit of silica coated titanium dioxide. You can also check the EWG’s annual sunscreen guide–they have some great information and recommendations there.

  7. Love the article. I am 35 and I have been on bc pills since I was 20 except for when I had my kids. I have melasma and I wanted to know if I stop the pill would the melasma fade?

    1. Hi Susan, great question! Birth control pill usage–especially long-term–is definitely linked to melasma. There are other factors too, of course, and melasma won’t resolve overnight–but getting off the pill could be an important first step–of course, please consult with your healthcare provider before stopping or starting any medication 🙂

  8. Hello Racheal. I am a first time mom to a beautiful little boy. The only issue I have had since my pregnancy is the discoloration on my upper lip ( what I believe to be melasma ) . It seems to get worse in the sun, even when I wear sunscreen and a hat. My little guy is 5 and a half months old and I plan on breastfeeding until about 8 months. My question is, will the melasma go away as my hormones regulate and get back to normal, or is this a condition I will continue to struggle with? I am not sure where to begin? Do I see a aesthetician, or a doctor? Do I try home remedies or supplements and vitamins?

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Candice, first of all congrats on your new baby boy! Melasma is definitely related to increased hormonal activity though other factors can also contribute. It’s hard to tell if it will go away or fade after your hormones regulate once you stop nursing because everyone’s different. Some women only get it during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause while others retain it even after hormones get back to normal. Unfortunately many of the medical and even Western aesthetic protocols do very little to find and address the cause of the problem–they only address it topically which is not sustainable and may not be safe. I work with clients virtually via phone and Skype–if you sign up for a HH Hash it Out session (you can do so under the Work with Me tab on my site) I can learn more about your background and needs and make some specific holistic recommendations to get you started addressing the condition from the inside out and outside in. Take care and I hope to have a session with you! –Rachael

  9. Hi Rachael! Very informative article! I’m a 28 yr old caucasian and I’ve had melasma since 2010… I believe it started bc of my birth control. Now in 2013 I’m very distressed bc it has spread a lot- My dermatologist had me on minocycline for my acne(which later through research I learned that this may have been exacerbating my melasma)… I discontinued the meds last week. I want to get my hormone levels checked but also I’m thinking that my copper levels may have been too high, thus a perfect storm?? Im desperate and obsessing and I’ve ordered some supplements to try and correct this, including MSM, zinc, vit C, GSE, calcium D glucarate, pycnoginol, probiotics, cod liver oil, and prenatal vitamins (no copper). My question is, will this be too much of a shock to my system if I start taking these all at once? And do you think this may be effective?

    1. Hi Rachel, I’m so sorry to hear that you are going through this! It sounds like you are on the right track with much of what you are doing and that you have done quite a bit of your own research. I’d be happy to help you sort this all out and figure out what your next steps might be…if you’d like my help, please schedule a one-on-one HH Hash it Out session with me and I’d be happy to provide you with recommendations specific to your individual needs. Thanks!

  10. Hi Rachael! About two weeks ago, I noticed a dark shadow on the sides of my upper lip. From far away you can’t tell, nor can you if you are super close to me. However, it looks like a mustache if you are an arms length away. It’s driving me crazy. I’ve been on birth control for about 10 years now and was contemplating stopping it to see if this will help. I’m not sure I have melasma, but if I do, would catching it early and getting off birth control pills help? It is only on the sides of my upper lip and no where else on my face as of yet. It’s not even that noticeable yet, since I’m sure it’s a thousand times worse in my mind. I use sunscreen daily and don’t understand why this would appear out of nowhere!

    1. Hi Jenni, it’s hard to make a determination without seeing you and without having more information but based on what you mentioned it does sound like the beginning of melasma or some other form of hyperpigmentation could be happening. Melasma has been tied to birth control use–but of course don’t stop any medication without consulting with your healthcare provider first 🙂 I’d love to offer you additional support and personalized recommendations–if this interests you, please schedule a HH Hash it Out phone or Skype session with me and I’d be happy to help. Thanks!

  11. Hi there,
    great article!! I was wondering..what are some things I can eat to help? and what are some things I should avoid eating to help? 🙂


  12. Hi,

    Thanks for the article, especially about the cosmetic procedures normally advised.

    I’ve always had freckles, which I love, but since a holiday in July, I’ve noticed really bad malasma, so bad even my boyfriend notices.

    I’m not pregnant and have not been on the contraceptive pill since 2006, which I was only on for a few years anyway. I’m 29, I suffer bad insomnia and anxiety and I’m also based in the UK where advice like this doesn’t exist through the NHS and dermatologists are so expensive.

    Can you offer me any advice, it’s really getting me down and makeup doesn’t work.

    I’m a pesciatarian, I do love carbs and salt, but I exercise 5-6 times a week, although this doesn’t have much affect anymore.

    Please, any advice would really help me!

    Thank you

    1. Hi there Em. Thanks for visiting my site and for your question! I offer personalized advice during my HH Hash it Out sessions. This is a 45 minute session via phone or Skype (Skype works best for international clients) where we fully discuss your background, current concerns, and I provide you with a PDF of customized recommendations to get you started. You can find more information about the Hash it Out HERE and register. Thanks!

  13. Thank you for publishing this article. I am 25 -years-old and I developed Melasma during the summer of 2010, which was 3+ years ago. I grew up on the east coast, in the sun and started birth control pills at the age of 18 as a result of medical necessity. I switched birth control pills at the age of twenty-one and I believe the pill I switched to had much higher levels of estrogen, and as a result, when I immersed myself in the sun the following summer the Melasma appeared seemingly overnight, in full blast. I saw a dermatologist whom never actually used the word Melasma in diagnosing me, but she did describe the usage of the Obagi skincare line, which helped tremendously. Given that I was unaware of the sun’s impact in conjunction with birth control, I continued to spend time in the sun (I was an outdoor lifeguard throughout high school and college). Now that I am aware of the actual diagnosis (I moved to Denver, CO recently and began seeing a specialist whom diagnosed me), I barely go out in the sun. I wear SPF 70, although I am currently seeking a new sunblock that contains zinc and functions better as a sun blocking agent. The reason for my post today is to inquire about my recent change in the usage of birth control. I recently took myself off birth control for a variety of reasons, but mostly because my recent approach to a natural, wholistic lifestyle seemed to disalign with the use of birth control. I am wondering – given this information – if you think that the lack of birth control will help melasma to subside completely. I know words such as “completely” and “forever” are too strong to opine on, but was mostly looking for a straightforward opinion. Again, I do not know if the condition of my melasma has gotten better or worse because I truly do not spend time in the sun. I can say that as a result of the Obagi skincare line and my continued avoidance of the sun, the melasma has remained unchanged. I recently started dermarolling to help even my skintone, which seems to be helping me at leat find a base point in pigmentation so that I can go forward in preventing further damage. Again, I am seeing a medical specialist that performs this treatment. I am headed on a trip to the Mediterranean next August (2014) and I plan to wear protective sunscreen and a hat at all times, but I am still fearful of how my skin will react. I am an avid traveller and I can’t stop doing what I love because of melasma, but would like to be sure that I am taking all of the best steps to not only prevent future breakouts, but to assist in ceasing its existence all together. Lastly, I saw that you mentioned Retin A is not a good treatment for melasma and was wondering if you could elaborate on why? Also, given that I am taking a wholistic approach to my skin, I was wondering if you could direct mas to where to find products with the above-referenced agents (lemon juice, berries, etc.). Thank you!

    1. Hi Amanda, I think Retin-A is way too irritant for melasma and it’s also hard on the internal systems of the body. The rest of your questions would require a full consultation to answer–if you are interested, please schedule a phone or Skype HH Hash it Out session with me. Thanks!

  14. Hi Rachael,

    I’ve been seeing an aesthetician for the past year who has used chemical masks (once a month, or sometimes substituting the mask with a microderm treatment) and creams on my hyperpigmentation. I’ve seen dramatic results but just recently discovered that the cream I’ve been given to use on a daily basis contains hydroquinone. Also, I’ve noticed that my skin is thinner and reddens easily. I’m concerned about the ingredients and the thinning, which you mention is irreversible. Do you have any advice?

    Thanks so much, you’ve been a great source of information.

    1. Hi Lisa, thanks for taking the time to read and comment! It definitely seems that the aesthetician you’re working with has quite a different philosophy from my holistic one–I’d be happy to provide you with more information and personalized advice during a HH Hash it Out phone or Skype session. Click HERE for more information and to schedule. Thanks!

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  16. Hi Rachel,

    I have pcos (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) and noticed the once small dark brown spot that has now quadrupled in size down my left cheek bone area. I have olive toned skin and tan with minimal sun exposure. I am living like a mummy now, always covered, always with some type of sun screen.

    Due to my pcos, I have been getting laser hair removal on my face for about the past year. The hair is much better, because it was very dark. However, I think the laser may be exacerbating the melasma-infected area. I don’t know what to do, because it’s a catch 22. I am trying to seek healthy options to stop the hair and lessen the melasma.

    I will look to purchase the above mentioned items that you listed, but do you believe that the laser is making the melasma worse? So many doctors are so uneducated about pcos. I am on a metaformin regimen and have been on it for about 3 years now. The melasma showed up about a year and half ago. Can you offer some insight, please? Thank you.

    1. Hi Marie,

      I’d need to get more background info before offering insight on your individual situation…if you’d like to schedule a Hash it Out phone or Skype session, we talk in depth and I can offer customized recommendations for you. Thanks!

  17. Hi, I got pigmentation during my pregnancy 2 years ago. I am menapausal and am on bio identical hormones (progestrone tablets and eostrogen cream) Did a laser which worsened my pigmentation. Have tried many skin lightening creams but nothing. Am from Dubai UAE. Could you please let me know as to what to do to remove this. Thanks

    1. Nafisa, thanks for reading my article and for your question! There are many natural measures you can take to improve melasma including certain non-toxic topical products, dietary changes, and lifestyle adjustments. If you’d like to schedule a Hash it Out phone or Skype session, I can give you some personalized recommendations to get you started.

  18. Hello, just stumbled upon this while searching for the differences betw. melasma and rosacea. I started having skin pigmentation issues in my late 20’s. I diagnosed myself with melasma after doing some research. Went to several different dermos who put me on one thing after another, just ugh. Wish I would have never done that. A lot of the treatments were mentioned in your no no section, lol. I do still have some issues with it on my upper cheekbones but now I have issues with redness a lot on my cheekbones as well and zits on my cheeks all the time too. I feel like after the research I have done, I could have both going on. I have not been on birth control in 4-5 yrs, i stopped spending as much time in the sun once i knew it could make my condition worse, i always wear a facial lotion with a sunscreen built in, i have started taking supplements and eating better though i have a ways to go. Trying to find gluten free products that aren’t overly processed and actually taste good has been an issue for me. I feel so lost and this has done a number on my self esteem. I miss being able to walk out of the house without makeup on, now i have to cake it on to try and cover up all my issues. I just want to be normal again. 🙁 What else should i be doing?.

  19. Thanks for you puting up this page. I am 56 and now have severe melasmafod last four years since taking thyroxine for hypothyroid. Is there a connection?

    1. Hi Saffron, there very well may be depending on how the medication is affecting the different systems of your body. There’s a lot you can do holistically to improve the condition without making changes to medication–if you’re interested in learning more, please schedule a Hash it Out phone or Skype session. Thanks for reading and commenting! –Rachael

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  21. Melasma covers 40% of my face. I cannot cover it with makeup. It makes my face look bruised. I have had people ask me what is wrong with my face. I wear sunscreen, hats, and more sunscreen. I used Hydroquinone 20 years ago and it cleared up completely, but I an reluctant to use it again. I have done facial peels and they fade it a bit, but are expensive. Where can I find a product with Paper Mulberry that has enough concentration that will produce results. I take HRT because I went into menopause at 36. Thanks so much for your help. I feel insecure even after all these years as my face just looks dirty!

    1. Karen, thanks for reading and commenting! Paper mulberry is only one piece of the pie–it’s important to understand that melanoma starts within and is best managed holistically using diet and lifestyle changes, in addition to proper skincare products. Osmosis has a couple of nice products for hyperpigmentation/melasma, but stress that the products aren’t a quick fix and are best as part of a holistic regimen. If you’d like more information, please schedule a Hash it Out session. Thanks for your comment!

  22. Hello,
    Thanks for all the good tips this website is really helpful. I do not take birth control pills and have not for 7 years. I have never had a baby I am 31 years old I am wondering what is causing this. I am trying vitamins now looking at my diet eliminating alcohol completely . Do you think Botox could cause it?

    1. Rebecca, I haven’t heard of a link between Botox and melasma but it’s a very interesting connection that I’d like to look into! I’ll research that and write about it in an upcoming post. Thanks for that question! –Rachael

  23. Hi Rachel, I seem to have some melasma on my upper lip. I saw a dermatologist who prescribed a bleach cream that consisted of hydroquinone, retinol, etc. Because I did some research online and found that hydroquinone can be dangerous, I stopped, especially because I have sensitive skin. I stopped taking birth control and waxing my upper lip and am now threading. Can melasma get worse after getting off birth control? Did I do the right thing by getting off of it? Is threading instead of waxing a better option? Also, I’ve been trying to use products that do not have parabens. I use a neutrogena face wash that is free of parabens, sometimes wash my face with either honey or coconut oil, I use an organic rose water toner, and a sensitive face lotion from Avene that is also paraben free or use jojoba oil. I’m also using the sunscreen Elta MD with spf 41, which is a physical sunscreen for sensitive skin. Could the sunscreen make it worse? Will using zince oxide by itself suffice for sun protection? I am taking probiotics, and vitamin D since I have a vitamin D deficiency. I also started taking a vitamin called Sunsafe that is supposed to help protect your skin from the sun. I really would like to take a hollistic approach, but scared that my melasma will get worse or never fade.

    1. Hi Aimee, thanks for visiting my site and for sharing your comment. Melasma often does benefit from a holistic approach and it’s something I’ve helped clients with. If you’re interested in learning more and getting personalized coaching and recommendations, I invite you to schedule a Hash it Out session with me. Thanks!

  24. Hi Rachael, I am 47 years old, and I started gettting melasma about 5 years ago. I wear sunscreen, hats, etc… so the dark areas won’t get worse. In the last year they’ve gotten darker. I have never worn cover up makeup before until now. 🙁 I exercise at least 5 days a week, eat very healthy( I’m a personal trainer and own a gym), and I just started using essential oils and plan to change out products that I use on my skin and in my home to natural non-toxic products. However, I am just a beginner and this will take time to do. I don’t feel stressed, or at least I don’t think I am stressed. I would really like to use an holistic approach for this, but I don’t know where to start. I wouldn’t know who to look for to do this in my area, and I would want to know they know what their doing.

    1. Hi Monique, thanks for reading and for your comment! If you’d like my help in figuring out where to start, you might want to schedule a Hash it Out Session with me. That way I can give you super-targeted suggestions after getting the right information. Thanks!

  25. Hi Rachael, thanks for writing such an informative article! Recently, I have developed melasma mainly on my forehead. I follow a lot of your tips already on what to do and what not to do. I wear a high SPF suncream everyday (living in Australia it’s especially important) and would say I have a good diet and lifestyle. I try and eat healthy/non-processed foods, take the necessary supplements (vitamin c is one of them) and enjoy regular exercise such as running and yoga. I also switched from a stressful job to a job that makes me happy with a great work/life balance. Right now it’s important for me to be on birth control. I know this could be the cause or worsen my melasma. But, do you have any advise on what birth control method is best? Currently, I am taking the oral pill Yaz. Would you suggest an IUD is a better option? I have been recommended the Mirena IUD (progesterone only) by a GP and specialist. Although, I value the doctors advise I am considering the Copper IUD (hormonal free) after my research. I wish I could go off birth control completely, but I know myself and that’s not practical. If you have any thoughts, opinions or advise – I would love to hear from you. Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Sarah thanks for reading and commenting! I can’t give any personalized advice outside of a client/coach relationship–if you’d like to become a client, click HERE–and I also can’t advise at all regarding stopping or starting any pharmaceutical drug.

  26. Hi Rachael,

    Do you have any success stories? I have never seen someone completely recover, it’s becoming very frustrating! It would be really encouraging.

    Thanks Marisa

    1. Hi Marisa, I do have several success stories, but melasma is not a quick fix, and it requires a lifestyle change and ongoing effort to keep it in check. I’ve had clients see improvement in as little as 3 months, with further improvement after 6. But again–it takes a strong commitment to a holistic lifestyle.

  27. Hi Rachael. I am 32 yrs old and suffering melasma and acne. I remember having these skin problems a year ago when I was severely having emotional and mental stress. Melasma spreading fast and acne just keep appearing. I want to know if magnesium and zinc could help me with this issues. I really suspecting I have hormonal imbalances due to stress. Now, I learned to accept this problems so I can feel better a little. I dont want to have a stressful life again. Thank you

    1. Hi Mel, thanks for reading and for commenting. There are many reasons why you might have melasma and acne, but that’s something we’d figure out together in a client/coach relationship. If you’re interested in becoming a client, please book a session here. Thanks.

  28. Hi. I’m curious about your comments concerning Retin-A. “Retin-A and other retinols, are not a good choices because, while they may offer a temporary fix, they cause more damage long-term because they inflame and generate free radicals in the skin, and irreparably thin the dermis and damage the collagen and elastin-producing cells within it.” This seems to be the exact opposite of what most derms say about it such as “In addition to having exfoliating and keratolytic properties, Retin-A helps build collagen fibers in the layer of skin under the surface (dermis) ” This was just the first thing I pulled up with a quick Google search. You believe it is damaging from what I understand. Is that correct? I use it a few times a week for about a year now and am still undecided on the benefits at this point.

    1. Hi Tracy, thanks for your question. You will find that holistic practitioners have a very different view of the skin, and ingredients than dermatologists and other conventional medical doctors do. Holistic, integrative, functional, and naturopathic doctors in addition to holistically minded aestheticians and herbalists such as myself believe differently. I actually learned about the damaging effects of Retin-A and ingredients like it from a MD, and the majority of the clients I’ve seen who have used it and ingredients like it have lasting damage from the effects I describe in the article.

  29. Hi Rachel,

    I’m 36 years old, in my mid 20’s I started getting some hyperpigmentation (like dark freckles), on the right side of my face, chest and arms. Since then I tend to stay away from the sun. However, in 2016 I saw a shadow right in the centre of my forehead and was told by a Dermatologist that it was melasma, he gave me a compound cream and told me to use it for 6 months. I did, saw no results and was told to keep using. I consulted with a different dr. and was suggested to use a different cream- I bought it, and it also did nothing. Actually my skin was becoming darker. So, I was told to try IPL. I did a few sessions and it worked wonders, my freckles were gone that shadow patch on my forehead too. Fast forward to April this year, I started getting more freckles, the patch on my forehead was back but started spreading upwards and to the sides. Last month I saw a big shadow on my left cheek, it’s been itchy and HOT on that side of my face. I tend to get hot at night (no clue why?) my body feels like it’s boiling and it feels worse on my left cheek (where melasma is appearing). I’ve never been pregnant nor have I used any type of birth control. I recently had my liver, hormones and most every thing I could think of to get checked that can cause hyperpigmentation; everything came back normal except my iron is low (anemia). I do suffer from other medical problems and use medications.

    I’m afraid of getting laser again as it was suggested that there is a new laser for melasma.

    I’m really bummed that I don’t know what else to do. I’ve even tried natural home made masks to no avail. I just feel like it’s attacking my whole face.

    1. I’m so sorry you’re struggling, KC. I might be able to help in my one-on-one Skin-Self Mastery mentoring program–check it out here and see if it’s something that might be right for you. –Rachael

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