How I got rid of melasma: my morning routine
I wish I’d listened to my mother when she told me to wear sunscreen. She’s going absolutely love that I’ve written that but it’s true. Growing up in Australia and spending summers baking under the harsh rays of the Queensland sun I shudder at the years of damage I’ve inflicted on my skin.
There may have been a sunbed or two in my university years (cringe). I’ve spent the later part of my 20s doing everything my budget could endure to reverse that damage. Laser treatments, peels, countless facials and hundreds of pounds and dollars later I felt I’d finally managed to fade the freckles and rejuvenate my skin.
Then last summer after a walk in the park I come home to find two symmetrical dark lines under each of my eyes. It looked like the bottom rims of my sunglasses had burnt the tops of cheekbones. MELASMA. I thought only pregnant women got that? I was wrong.
After hours of pouring over every article and blog post I could find the general consensus of the internet told me because the dark marks were symmetrical, it was most likely hormonal and I was basically stuck with it for life but I could take some steps to reduce it. Almost a year later and I can happily say one side of my face is melasma free (yay!). The other side has faded so much everyone else in my life swears they can’t see it (I can).
I’ve tried and tested a number of products but here I am sharing the three that have helped the most. I use these products in the morning after washing my face. I’m not a dermatologist or a medical professional but this what’s worked for me.
Side note – the very first thing I did was I got off the pill. I am NOT suggesting you go around having unprotected sex. Safe sex is good sex guys. However, after consulting with my dermatologist she did say that my best bet in reducing hormonal melasma was to get off the pill. Unless you are trying to get pregnant get yourself on/use alternative forms of contraception. Consult your doctor on your options.
Step 1 – Use a Chemical Exfoliator
I love love love acid toners. If you want to know a bit more about the benefits of exfoliating with acids go and check out Caroline Hirons’ cheat sheet here. She’s the acids queen! I’m using the Pixi Glow Tonic which is a 5% Glycolic Acid toner. I wash my face and then saturate a cotton pad and go back and forth all over my face.
I even use this very gently under my eyes. This tonic gently exfoliates and preps the skin for whatever serums/creams come next. I let this dry for about 30 seconds and then apply my serum on top. A word of warning if you have sensitive skin or have never used an acid toner before start every other morning until your skin gets used to it.
A bit of a tingle is normal, a burn obviously is not. I have pretty good skin so I don’t usually break out but after using this consistently I actually haven’t had any, like at all. Even if melasma isn’t a problem for you I would highly recommend using this or another acid toner anyway to improve the texture and clarity of your skin.
Step 2 – Invest in a Good Vit-C Serum
If you’re going to spend your money anywhere it should be in a good serum. The benefits of a Vit-C serum are increased collagen formation, antioxidant protection from free radicals such as pollution and sun damage which cause you to look older and most importantly for me; fades dark spots and brightens the skin.
I use it the mornings to give my skin that extra protection from all the nasties out there that age you. Would be a bit pointless to use it just before I went to bed. What you’re looking for is a high percentage of L-Ascorbic Acid (Vit C derivative).
The one I’m using from Drunk Elephant is 15%. I haven’t used anything higher and don’t plan to because I do have sensitive skin. Vit-C serums are very hit and miss. If they are not formulated properly with high-quality ingredients they will do absolutely nothing or worse, irritate your skin.
It is super important you choose a reputable brand and read reviews before purchasing. The Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum and the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic are the two products I’ve tried and felt actually worked. Both are pricey so if you know of a cheaper alternative please let me know!
Step 3 – Trust Me on the Sunscreen
One of the most aggravating things for melasma is sun exposure. Not only that but we’ve all heard a million times that the sun causes wrinkles! I for one have spent too much money on my face to go without this vital step.
This Invisible Shield sunscreen from Glossier has had mixed reviews. I for one love it because it is actually invisible. There is no chalkiness or weird film that is left on the skin like so many sunscreens. It doesn’t break me out and my makeup sits perfectly on top of it.
Half the battle with sunscreen is actually using it, if I don’t like how it makes my skin look or feel I’m not going to use it but with this Glossier one it’s a joy so I never skip it. I will say this, it’s a great everyday city sunscreen but if you’re living in Australia, going to the beach or otherwise out in the sun all day, you need something more.
I will follow with my night time routine because the products I use are different so stay tuned!