Melasma Treatment Journey

THE PROBLEM: I am currently 36 and developed...

THE PROBLEM: I am currently 36 and developed melasma on my upper lip, forehead, and under-eye area when I turned 30. In my case, it remains a mystery as I have never been pregnant or used any hormonal birth control. I am Caucasian with easily tanned skin. Dermatologists blame it on sun damage, and also the derm. told me that my skin is "thin". I scar and bruise easily. The dark spots age me by a good 5 years.

***From the age of 32 years on, if I was in the sun I was completely covered by a large hat, sunglasses, and sunblock. This is difficult because I love the beach, gardening, and soaking up sun in general***

I have spent $1000's of dollars on any cream, serum, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, laser sessions, or home remedy that I think may make a difference. Here is a round up of treatments that DID and DID NOT WORK for me.

EARLY YEARS (30 -33) of Melasma (minimal during this period)
1.) Q switch YAG laser- At the age of 32 I went through a major break-up and job change. My self- esteem was fragile and I became skin obsessed . I was desperate. The dark spot on my lip was all I could think about. I convinced the dr. to give me the laser. It was relatively painless. The spot was red for a few days, but once healed and the inflammation went down the spot was gone! !!! .... but came back 3 months later, despite complete sun avoidance. It was $300 out of pocket and I don't think the risk is worth the short term benefit. I have read horror stories of "lasers gone wrong" e.g. post-inflammation exacerbating melasma.

2. 10% hydroquinone lotion. Yep! You are reading that right. This was 2012. When the laser effects failed and the melasma came back, I visited a different dermatologist. This dr. discouraged the laser and mixed me up a 10% hydroquinone lotion for $80. I did not know this was a dangerous amount of bleach and used it over the next 6 months. It gave me rashes at different periods ( due to the harshness ) which I had to off-set with OTC cortisone. This hydroquinone did work, and completely faded the spots. However, when I learned of the dangers of hydroquinone (carcinogen) and how it's banned in other countries, and that the normal prescription strength is 4%, I discontinued use. This is when I also lost faith in dermatologists. Once I stopped using hydroquinone the melasma came back, worse then ever.

MID-YEARS (34-35, melasma increasingly getting worse, and can no longer be covered by makeup)

CREAMS AND SERUMS -When I learned of the dangers of hydroquinone, I decided to try OTC retinal and AHA serums. I started with a reputable OTC retinal formulation, used for 6 months - no results. Then I tried a variety of creams with AHA for the next 6 months - again no results AT ALL. Then came the Vitamin C serums, nothing! I even experienced with rotating AHA's and retinal, Vitamin C and AHA, every possible combination with no results. During this period I spent over $1000 on various serums and cremes! They were all prestige band cremes, such as Dermologica, La Roche Posay, Vichy, Kat Burki, Paula's Choice, Origins, Aveda, etc.

ALL NATURAL/PARABEN FREE - At 35, I studied theories on melasma causation. I came to understand that melasma is in some cases an internal problem linked to hormonal imbalance. I stopped using all personal care products that contain paraben, as this is a pre-cursor to estrogen. I learned about pH of the skin, and how skin that stays slightly acidic (below 7) tends to look clearer and younger. All my skin products are now Ph balanced. I researched effects of "copper overload" in the body, and how this leads to estrogen production. I learned about the detrimental effects of chemical sunscreen on melasma (I used this religiously and profusely from the age of 28 on) and switched to a physical mineral based sunblock. I went on a copper reduced diet and started taking zinc and vitamin C supplements which is supposed to help skin tone and reduce inflammation. I switched to all natural beauty products and still my melasma DID NOT BUDGE.

HOME REMEDIES - I stumbled across the theory that some melasma can be caused by yeast overgrowth. I rubbed Lotrimin (medicine for athletes foot) on my spots for 2 months, and then followed up with the listerine, baking soda, Nizoral mixture for 2 months - NOTHING - these two treatments made the melasma worse as I think it inflamed my skin.

NEXT TO LAST (late 35, early 36) Melasma at its worse.
After rubbing listerine and dandruff shampoo on my upper lip for a few weeks, I decided to take a break from melasma treatment, shifting focus to living and enjoying life instead of obsessing over my skin. Because things were getting weird. Beginning January 2016 I focused on keeping my skin routine to a minimum and all natural. This period only lasted for 3 months lol. Because Summer 2016 my melasma took a turn for the worst. My self-esteem went down the drain. I loathed leaving the house, seeing friends or family, even going to work! When my young nephew asked if I had dirt on my upper lip, I had a complete break-down. I knew I had to get serious about treatment again.

My skin routine is simple, mostly natural and Ph balanced. I have rotated a mild hydroquinone (begrudgingly) back into my routine. My skin is looking great! I started receiving compliments on my skin again for the first time in 5 years!
Here is my routine:
1.) Wash face with Annmarie Gianni all natural, ph balanced Aloe/Herb cleanser:
2.) La Roche Posay Thermal Spring Water toner.
3.) Mario Badescu Peptide Serum
4. Alba Mineral Very Emollient Suncscreen: This is very moisturizing as the name suggests, however does leave a slightly white cast, due to the Zinc. You can cover this up with make-up later. It's completely worth it, Zinc is so beneficial for healing and strengthening your skin barrier.
5. ) Juice Beauty tinted CC creme. This is also Zinc based (tinted), which covers the white-ish cast of the sunblock. All natural makeup line.

1.) Wash face with the Ann Marie aloe-herb cleanser.
2.) Mild hydroquinone 2%. Murad Pigment Lightening Serum. I have been using this for 2 months and my melasma is back to how it looked in my early 30's (mild). It can now be covered by light make-up. I know hydroquinone is not a long term solution, but as I was having trouble socializing, and leaving my house for work, I have no choice. I will use it for 4 more months max and keep you posted on results. I use the Pigment reducing serum over my entire face, as my melasma covers large areas. My skin tone continues to get more even with use.

3.) Moisturize with La Roche Posay Hydraphase Intense Riche. This is a great, affordable moisturizer. My skin looks great in the morning! Paraben free.

Thanks everyone for listening! Hope this is helpful to someone.... Melasma is not an easy affliction. While it is physically benign it has horrible emotional effects. I'll certainly keep you posted on progress, and load some pictures when I have access.

In the past a Dermatologist gave me some type of prescription creme with a 10% hydroquinone formulation! That was way to strong and burned my skin. That experience made me reluctant to try hydroquinone again ... but I decided to try Murad's OTC formulation and I am very glad I did!

I never write product reviews, but given the emotional toll of melasma, I wanted to share with fellow dark spot sufferers that this treatment WORKS!!





5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
4 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
4 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
4 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
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