As Summer draws to a close, now is the time to take a step back (or closer to the mirror) and have a good look at your skin - were you as diligent with the SPF as you thought? Have you noticed any changes in your skin?
Summer can play havoc with our skin - dehydration from too much sun exposure, blocked pores from using the wrong type of SPF, the list goes on… But one of the main after effects of too much sun exposure is hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation can take many forms, from freckles to sun spots to Melasma. We want to talk about the lesser known type of hyperpigmentation today - Melasma.
What is Melasma?
Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation thought to be caused by hormonal imbalances, so it is most commonly found in pregnant women and women who have just given birth (hence also being referred to as the “mask of pregnancy”), as well as women on the contraceptive pill. It appears as brown ‘splodges’ on the face, usually on the forehead, cheekbones and above the upper lip. There can be a slight symmetry to Melasma i.e. if you have it on your left cheek it will appear in a similar position and shape on your right cheek.
It is notoriously hard to treat so prevention in this case is definitely better than cure.
As Melasma is caused by hormonal imbalances, if you are pregnant or have just given birth or have been on the contraceptive pill for a long time, you are likely to be susceptible. As with all types of pigmentation, sun exposure worsens it as does the heat, so Melasma is likely to worsen during the summer months or at times when you expose yourself to high temperatures - hot yoga for example!
How can we prevent/treat Melasma?
As we’re entering the Autumn & Winter months, now is the time to shift our focus from prevention (Hello SPF!) to treatment. A lot of the treatments used to fade Melasma/Hyperpigmentation (such as acid toners & retinoids) can actually make the skin more photosensitive/prone to burning so it makes sense to up your usage of these products in the Autumn/Winter months when the sun isn’t as strong and you’re less likely to be sun-bathing.
Unfortunately Melasma is very difficult to treat/cure due to its hormonal connections - some women report their Melasma disappearing after they come off their contraceptive pill, only for it to flare up again once they became pregnant. So the best course of action is to stop Melasma worsening during the Summer months and attempt to fade it during the Winter months, this is true for all types of pigmentation.
Some key ingredients to incorporate into your skincare routine when trying to fade Melasma/hyperpigmentation are:
Retinoids (Vitamin A)
And when Summer does roll around next year (or for those of us lucky enough to be getting some Winter sun!) - if you suffer from any form of hyperpigmentation, put simply, keep your face out of the sun! Wear a wide brimmed sunhat at all times if you are going to be out in the sun, sit in the shade when you can and invest in a physical facial sunscreen.
Please comment below if you have any questions regarding Melasma, hyperpigmentation, SPFs, or the ingredients/products we’ve mentioned for fading Melasma/Hyperpigmentation, or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.