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How to treat melasma?

Dear Libby,

When I look in the mirror, I notice dark brown patches on my neck and on the sides of my face. It’s worse than my husband’s five o’clock shadow. What’s going on with my skin?

Flawless Skin Seeker


Dear Flawless Skin Seeker,

The thing I remember most about my husband’s grandmother was her obsession with teeth. She noticed everyone’s teeth. Grandma never hesitated to tell a waiter, or a salesperson, or the young man or woman standing next to her in line at the market what beautiful teeth they had. This obsession caused public embarrassment for my husband and me on many occasion, but with time we became accustomed to the sense of wonder she had for straight white teeth.

Fast-forward to 2017, and I find that I have an obsession of my own, one that allows for a better understanding of my bewildered pearly-white-obsessed grandmother from long ago. Lately, I’ve noticed dewy, glowing skin everywhere.

Are you with me? Has the day come when you notice everyone around you has beautiful skin, and you don’t? In fact, the only thing you see on the face of the person staring back at you in the mirror is brown splotchy skin especially on the forehead, cheeks, upper lip, and neck.

Rather than spend days trying to figure out how the screen enclosure over my pool caused the dappling effect living on my face, I decided to call my aesthetician and get the skinny on what is most commonly known as melasma, or hormonal induced hyper-pigmentation.

Skin discoloration on the face and neck happens with the use of birth control, during or after pregnancy, and during menopause. Exposure to heat and light further aggravates the melanin in your skin, creating splotchy brown patches. Most often, these skin changes fade away, but with age and sun exposure, they may last longer.

A customized skin care regimen using serums and creams combined with in-office chemical peels speed the skin’s turnover rate and even out skin tone. Along with— REPEAT AFTER ME, using sunscreen protection with an SPF of 30 or more and wearing a cute beach hat, consistency and commitment to daily maintenance and treatment of melasma, are essential to improving the uneven skin color associated with hormonal changes.

A variety of serums and creams are available to treat the affected area. Standard topical creams include:

  • Tretinoin cream or Vitamin A
  • Arbutin acid
  • Kojic acid
  • Azelaic acid
  • Hydroquinone or skin brightening cream

Treating melasma requires a lifestyle change. Make beautiful skin your obsession in 2017. What are you waiting for? Get Glowing!


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