Obagi Clear. The Only Thing That Worked for my Melasma! - Newark, NJ

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I developed melisma in 2013 from what I believe...

I developed melisma in 2013 from what I believe was a combination of oral birth control pills and to much sun from a cruise we took in May.

We had a "sea day" on the cruise and I spent the better part of the day on deck swimming in the pool, lounging in the chairs and basically frying my skin in the hot Caribbean sun. When I got back to my cabin later that afternoon I thought something had stung me on my bottom lip because it looked swollen. It was then I realized I had burned my lips (and the rest of my face as well). Over the next couple of months, my face began to show signs of what I now know is Melasma. I figured it out by doing an internet search on brown patches of facial skin and looking at the pictures on yahoo images that came up. It was then I realized just what I had done to my skin. I was so sad.

Over the next few months I became OBSESSED with my skin. The brown, coffee spill stains were worse on my forehead, but I also had marks on my cheeks, by my lips and on my chin. I felt like this skin condition was ALL anyone noticed when they talked to me. My family said it wasn't very bad. Hardly noticeable at all. But pictures don't lie.

I began to research treatments, and I tried them all. Apple Cider Vinegar (just made me smell like a salad), Picnogenol (sp), MSM, Vitamin C. I tried all different kinds of sunscreen and began wearing a hat when I worked in my garden. I also tried almost every fade cream (from the cheap drugstore brands to the top of the line brands) to no avail. I started watching Youtube videos to see what was and was not working for others with my condition.

One day I read about Obagi Clear and Hydroquinon.

I had never been to a dermatologist, and my insurance was not going to cover the expense for me. So I did a little more research and found a place to purchase Obagi No. 3 Clear without an RX. I was very nervous to try this product. I was afraid my skin would become red and flakey and irritated. But from what I was reading, it was one of the other steps in the Obagi regimen (the Retin-A) that caused the irritation.

I started using just the Obagi Clear in early June of 2014. I used it morning and night. I was also experimenting with a lot of different sunscreens. I finally settled on Cotz physical sunscreen spf 58.

Within the first few weeks of using the Clear I noticed that the melasma patches on my forehead were starting to break up a bit. It was encouraging. I continued to use the Clear and after a month I added Obagi Exfoderm Forte. By December of 2014 the dark splotches on my forehead, cheeks and chin had faded to the point where they were hardly noticeable.

At this point, I decided that I wanted to use some type of retinol product. I was still a little timid about a Retin-A so I decided to try Paula's Choice 1% Clinical Retinol. After a few weeks of using both the Obagi Clear and the Retinol, the one remaining sun spot on my cheek that I never thought would go away....FADED. It is about 95% gone.

In January of 2015 I decided to stop using the Obagi Clear because I was worried about the 4% Hydroquinon, but I still wanted something to help me maintain my progress. I tried Ambi Cream with 2% Hydroquinon ($6.00 at CVS) and have been using that ever since.

Right now I have to say my skin is the best it has ever been. I'm a little worried about how things will be once summer is in full force, and I may have to tweek my regimen at that point, but for now I am very happy with the way things are going. Here is what I have been using:

Morning : Wash with a mild face wash like Fresh Soy Face Wash or Cetaphil. Apply a small amount of Ambi Cream to entire face and let dry. Spread a small amount of Algenist moisturizer on face and neck. Let dry. Finish with Cotz 58 SPF sunscreen. I don't need any foundation. The Cotz has a nice, light tint.

Evening: Wash with a mild face wash (see above). Apply Ambi Cream to entire face and let dry. Wait 30 minutes (VERY IMPORTANT) and then appy a pea sized amount of Paula's Choice 1% Clinical Retinol to entire face. Wait till it dries and then sometimes I follow up with a night cream or use a very small dab of Aquafor under my eyes as the retinol tends to dry out the skin there. (Even though I don't use the product under my eyes).

I am to the point where I use the Retinol every night. But start slow and work your way up. This stuff is strong and your face can get red if you try going to fast with the applications.

I am 44 years old and feel like my skin is in the best condition it has ever been in. If you have tried everything and nothing else has worked for you I recommend giving Obagi Clear a try.

Update.....just back from the hot hot sun of the Caribbean. Did my melasma come back?

Hey all. I just got back from a vacation to the Caribbean and the sun was in full force. I used my Cotz sunscreen, wore my sun hat (most of the time) and started using the Obagi Clear again (instead of the less potent 2% Ambi cream I had switched to for maintenance).

Yes, my melasma did come back a little bit, but it is nowhere near as bad as it was before I started treating it with the Clear. I posted some pictures to show how my face was reacting to all that sun.

Yes, I think switching back to Obagi helped a lot. But I also think applying and reapplying the Cotz sunscreen helped a ton. I'm feeling ready to get out there and enjoy the summer without too much worry about what it will do to my face and my self esteem.

Added Retin-A to the mix for my 44 year old skin.

It has been a great summer out in the sun and swimming in the pool. While I am religious about mineral sunscreen, my melasma still gets darker during these summer months. I decided at the end of June that I wanted to add Retin-A to my routine (for fine lines as well as to help treat the melasma). Based on some things I had read on this and other sites, I decided to try my luck and order from Ebay. I purchased the product from Thailand (where you don't need an RX for Retin-A) and it shipped without issue. (If you go this route you have to be quick though. When Ebay notices a sale for these products they pull the ad down). I went with the 0.05% and started the first week of July using the product every 3rd day for the first 3 weeks. When I didn't have any bad reactions I went to every other day. This week I started using the product every day. I have noticed some very minor flaking by my nose and mouth but I have also noticed that my skin is starting to look smoother. Also...I went to a dermatologist a few weeks ago for a blemish on my forehead that would not clear up and while I was there I was given an RX for 8% Retin-A micro gel. I have not tried this stronger Retin-A yet. I'm going to wait until my first tube runs out. When I do use it, I will start with every other day again until my skin gets use to the stronger %. I'm attaching pictures of the products I am using now in case anyone is interested.

5 weeks into Retin-A Micro

It has been about 5 weeks since I started my rx Retin-A Micro. It is 0.08%. Yes...I had A LOT of peeling around my chin, mouth and nose, and less peeling around my eye area. There were days I would come home from work and my husband though I had a disease that made my skin fall off. It was pretty embarrassing.

But I stuck with it. Now I have days where there is hardly any peeling at all and I think I am over the worst of it. And days (like this morning) where the peeling is back. Not nearly as bad as before, but noticeable.

Two things I have found are working for me while using this product.

1. An oil cleanser
2. Moisturizing every few hours a day

If you are wearing foundation then I guess moisturizing all day long may not be practical. However, my skin tone has evened out to the point now where I don't feel like I NEED foundation. I do use a little concealer around my nose area but that is it.

Despite all the peeling....I can SEE that this product is working like nothing else ever has. Even the melasma on my forehead that was very stubborn has faded even more. I'm very happy with the results so far and can't wait to see what the next few months brings.

Below are pictures I took this morning. I have on eye makeup and a little concealer around my nose. That is it. No foundation, no powder and no filter on my camera.

Stick with it...I know it sucks but the results can be worth it.

Starting month 3 with Retin-A

This picture is without makeup in direct sunlight. To see my skin without so much melasma is why I'm continuing to put up with the side effects of Retin-A.

Before Retin-A Micro and 2.5 months after

Just a before and after picture to show how the Retin-A Micro has been working for me.

Updated pic for those who askes.

I have had some inquiries about how my skin is doing now. Here is a recent picture I took tonight. Fresh out of the shower and no product on.

The current state of my complexion

Now that summer is behind us and winter is here, I thought I would do an update on how things are going for me and my malasma treatments. Since we are in the winter months with less daylight, and since I'm spending a lot less time outdoors, I have stopped with the obagi clear at this point. My nightly routine is now to wash my face at night with whatever product came in my Birchbox, apply an eye cream, a face cream and a lip balm, too it off with a thin layer of retin-a micro. Done. In the morning I just wash my face with cool water only. No cleanser. Then eye cream and a lighter moisturizer and lip balm. I too it all off with a generous coating of Cotz spf 50 sunscreen. Still my go to sunscreen. Then I apply whatever makeup I am in the mood for, but I stopped wearing foundation years ago. That's it. I will be turning 46 at the end of this month, and I am happier with my skin now then I was on my 30's. The one product I can't live without? The cotz spf sunscreen. No point in investing time and effort in my skin just to let the sun damage it with premature aging and spots.

How I look on a normal work day

I always posts pics with no makeup and bun hair. Thought I would post an update of how I look when I face the world.

Almost 2 year update.

It just realized it has been almost 2 years since I posted my review. I know a lot of people have concerns with using hydroquinone and possibly having dark pigmentation come back worse then before. I understand everyone is different, but my results have been very satisfying. I took a break from all forms of hydroquinone over the winter but will probably start back up with otc 2% Ambi cream once the weather starts getting nicer and I'm outside more. I don't ever go a day without sunscreen, even if I'm not planning to go outside, and I try to use gentle, cream cleansers. I have taken a break from the retin a over the winter since my skin got so dry from the inside hearing and weather. I will probably start back up with a 5% in a few weeks. Over all I am very happy with my skin and how I am aging. Hope his helps. Best to all.
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