Recently I received a question from reader Carrie – “I have noticed that some women have a tannish discoloration on their face and neck. What is this?”
Excellent question, Carrie. That discoloration is known as melasma. What is Melasma ? It’s discoloration that can be caused by a few things, but most often by sun damage. Melasma is more common in women with dark skin, but certainly not limited to them. Besides sun damage this can also be known as “pregnancy mask” as it can occur during pregnancy when hormones are more prevalent. Women using birth control or HRT – hormone replacement therapy, can also experience melasma from estrogen and progesterone.
Getting rid of or lightening these dark areas of the skin can be difficult. They appear gradually, and lighten gradually. A few ways in which to lighten them are chemical peels, steroid creams, laser treatments and hydroquinone.
When I was at the Beauty Bash this past October, they had an ultraviolet light to show damage to the skin from sun and other environmental causes. This particular machine was not a real strong one showing more intense damage, but you can still see the damage to my skin. Scary, huh! I originally was going to use this image with the title – “What Lies Beneath”. I still think that is a fitting title.
If you look at my cheek on the left (facing the image) you will see a larger dark area – that is melasma, and it is beginning to show on the surface of my face – along with some of the more intense age spots. I also have sun damage down the right side of the image (left side of my face) which is common I’m told, because we drive in our cars and the sun comes through the window without us even considering that as a way of getting sun damage.
How can we prevent this damage? Of course by staying out of the sun and using sunscreen faithfully. (Even if we’re just driving in our cars). Lately, I’ve been working on lightening my spots by using Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum by Murad.
The first time I used this it stung my face, so I had to gradually work my way into it. I use it during the day after cleansing my face and I moisturize and sunscreen after. Sunscreen is a must when using this! Oftentimes you don’t see products with hydroquinone in them unless prescribed by a doctor (4%), but this has 2% hydroquinone – one of the ingredients known to lighten dark spots and melasma. It also includes AHA’s to exfoliate the skin – which exfoliating gives skin a faster cell turn-around and moves the darker spots closer to the surface in order to lighten them.
Bottom line: Use sunscreen religiously and limit your exposed time in the sun.
Image: Bigstock Photo. Murad product sent for consideration of review