Melasma is a very common hyperpigmentation problem that typically occurs on the face. It’s often called the mask of pregnancy, as it frequently affects those who are pregnant, although it can affect anyone. Melasma spots darken and lighten over time, often getting worse in the summer and better in the winter. It’s important to know that every individual case responds to treatment differently and you need to figure out what works best for you. Take a look at 7 simple and safe natural melasma remedies to try!
What is Melasma?
Melasma is a common skin condition that causes brown or grey patches to appear on the skin, primarily the face. It happens due to an overproduction of the cells that make the colour of your skin and is usually triggered by sun exposure or hormone changes. It’s often called the “mask of pregnancy” as it frequently affects pregnant women. Melasma appears most commonly on your cheeks, nose, chin, above the upper lip and the forehead, but it can also affect your arms, neck and back. It can affect any part of your skin that’s exposed to sunlight and tends to get worse whenever you’re exposed to the sun. Melasma is not painful, itchy or uncomfortable in any way, however since it occurs on such visible areas, many people feel self conscious about it and want to treat it.
What Causes Melasma?
The most common trigger for melasma is ultraviolet light from sun exposure. It may also develop as a result of hormone changes due to pregnancy or certain medications such as the birth control pill. Melasma tends to run in families, is more common in women than in men (90% of the cases are in women) and tends to affect those with dark skin tones more than those with lighter skin. It’s also been found that blue light emitted from light bulbs, computer screens and other electronic devices can make melasma worse.
6 Melasma Signs and Symptoms
1. Patches and spots of discolouration darker than your natural skin colour
2. Blotchy patches and spots that look like freckles
3. Patches typically occur on the face and are symmetrical (matching marks on both sides of the face)
4. Spots that often appear on the cheeks, forehead, bridge of the nose and chin, but can also occur on the neck, back and forearms
5. Patches can look bluish grey in people who have darker skin tones
6. Patches that become more noticeable when you spend time in the sun
When to See a Doctor
As soon as you notice facial pigmentation, you should see a dermatologist for a definitive diagnosis because melasma can be subtle and may look like other skin conditions. Those with melasma are also more likely to have thyroid disease, so your healthcare provider may test your thyroid.
7 Natural Melasma Remedies
Turmeric is made of curcumin, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Turmeric can help protect against melasma as it provides protection against UV rays and inhibits melanin production in the skin. Curcumin is also known to reduce hyperpigmentation. Combine turmeric powder with water or milk to form a paste and apply it to the affected areas. Leave it on for 10-20 minutes or until it’s completely dried, then rinse off with warm water.
2. Liquorice Extract
Liquorice extract has anti-inflammatory properties and also contains active ingredients which inhibit tyrosinase, the enzyme that causes pigmentation triggered by sun exposure. It’s used in many skin brightening products to help fade dark spots. Liquorice extract also contains liquiritin, an active compound that helps to disperse and remove existing melanin in the skin, preventing new spots from forming and fading new ones.
3. Red Lentils
Red lentils are high in antioxidants and can help treat melasma-induced hyperpigmentation. Create a DIY face mask by soaking red lentils in water overnight, then blending them into a thick paste in the morning. Apply the paste on your face and let it sit for 20 minutes. Rinse with cold water and follow up with a light moisturizer.
4. Vitamin D Rich Foods
It’s important to keep your skin healthy to protect it against melasma and other skin conditions. Vitamin D serves as a protective agent and is believed to aid in immune function. It helps your skin cells metabolize, grow and repair themselves. Try a skin-healthy diet of foods rich in vitamin D such as almond milk, eggs, meat, mushrooms, oily fish, orange juice and yogurt.
5. Green and Black Tea Water
Green and black tea water can both be used as spot-lightening treatments. This is due to the astringent properties of tea that soothe and calm inflammatory pigmentation. Tea is also quite moisturizing. Dip a cotton ball into steeped (but cooled) black or green tea and dab it onto the dark patches of melasma on your face. Do this 1 to 2 times per day for best results.
6. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is one of the most popular remedies for skin inflammation. It’s super hydrating and moisturizing, and is also quite gentle. Clinical trials have shown that liposome-encapsulated aloe vera has shown to improve melasma in pregnant women. It works by penetrating deep into the skin’s layer to nourish it and protect it from harmful UV rays.
7. SPF 30+
If you want lasting results, you need to commit to long term maintenance, and protecting your skin from the sun is super important. Regardless of the home remedies or treatments you use, you won’t see considerable improvement in your melasma if you don’t protect your skin. Wear a daily sunscreen product with at least SPF 30. Apply it every day, even on cloudy, rainy or cold days and even if you don’t spend much time outside. Even the smallest amount of sun exposure can darken melasma. If you’re going to be spending a long time outside, make sure to reapply frequently, wear a hat or sit in the shade as much as possible.
Fading hyperpigmentation can take a while, but with consistent, long-term treatment, you can achieve considerable improvement of melasma. Remember to use sun protection daily so your melasma doesn’t get worse and try these natural remedies to see what works.