When Did It Start
I do not like using the word “hate,” but I really strongly dislike Melasma. Let me start off by saying that I am no Dermatologist or specialist in the field of skin care. I am just sharing information from my experience with having had Melasma for the past 2 years.
A couple of summers ago, my family went on our normal week long trip to Destin, Florida. Halfway during the trip I noticed that my upper lip looked dark. I have always had freckles on my face. My freckles always popped out more during the summer. I did not really worry about anything and just thought they would go away.
As the summer came to an end, I still did not think much about those dark “freckles” above my lip. In September, we went to Turks and Caicos. When we got back my mom was like you have a mustache. It was at that moment that I was like, wow, people are noticing this.
As winter time came I noticed that the discoloration above my lip was not fading like the rest of my face. I then became really self-conscious about these dark spots. I then started googling dark spots above the lip. After hours of reading, I diagnosed myself with Melasma.
The first treatment I ever bought was some over the counter skin lightening cream. This cream contained 2% Hydroquinone. I used this for a couple of months and could not tell a difference. I started wearing sunscreen on my face daily. I have always used a daily moisturizer that contains sunscreen. I also always wore sunscreen when I was at the beach or lying by the pool.
But, I did not reapply as I should or wear hats to cover my face. If I am honest, I liked having a tan face to match my tanned body. I tan very easily so staying in the sun for hours never bothered me. I would rarely get sunburns.
Seeing the Esthetician
After months of trying over the counter creams, I decided to see an Esthetician. I went in that day and she took pictures of my face and pulled them up on a computer screen. She pointed out the areas above my lip and told me it was definitely Melasma. I had some small spots on my cheeks as well. Yet, the cheeks did not bother me. I just wanted the “mustache” above my lip to go away.
She told me I had a very mild case and that she would probably not have noticed if I had not pointed it out to her. But, to me, it was awful. She told me that because I was naturally freckled that the freckles did help disguise the darkness above my lip. So, I have really never been concerned with the other areas. I put cream on those once per day to really just maintain and I use the cream twice daily on my upper lip.
She started me on Obagi Clear morning and night. She did not start me on the entire Obagi program as she did not think my Melasma was severe enough for that. The Obagi Clear has 4% Hydroquinone in it. I used this for a month and went back to see her. We could barely see a difference. She told me to continue to use for a couple more months and it should fade.
I continued to use for 6 months. At the end of six months I still couldn’t tell a difference. Well, maybe a little but not enough to matter and make me feel better.
I read many articles that said not to use Hydroquinone for long periods of time. So, I started using only once per day and started buying other things. Over a course of a couple of months I bought a 25% TCA peel to do at home and I even tried Clotrimazole Cream (Athlete’s Foot Cream). I read somewhere that this foot cream helps. When you have Melasma you are willing to try anything.
I still saw very little improvement. Over the course of these months, I did use good sunscreen. My Esthetician instructed me on the importance of wearing sunscreen with Zinc. She said your sunscreen should have at least 9% Zinc. During this time I made sure to use only use sunscreen with Zinc as instructed. I never left the house without sunscreen on my face and more in my purse.
More Creams and Peels
After trying Obagi, Athlete’s Foot, TCA Peels, and Porcelain, I decided to try something different. I stopped using the Obagi and Hydroquinone all together. I did research and found that Retinol, Vitamin C and Kojic Acid could be helpful in getting rid of those annoying dark spots.
For the past 3 months I have been using Lucid by Spoiled Mama, Obagi Retinol, and 100% pure Vitamin C cream. I am using a sunscreen that contains 20% Zinc. In addition to all those things, I bought a 40% Glycolic Acid Peel by Skin Obsession. I have only used the Peel a couple of times. It does seem to help.
Lucid by Spoiled Mama is safe for pregnant women. I figured it had to be better than Hydroquinone since it was safe for pregnancy.
Lucid by Spoiled Mama contains many ingredients that are helpful in reducing Melasma. I have read really good reviews about this cream. So far, my Melasma is not much better but it is not any worse either. I know everything takes time. Results do not happen overnight.
I am about to start doing a peel once per month. From what I have read this will really help. If you have never done a peel I would advise you to be very careful when doing it. I do not have sensitive skin and so the peels do not bother me. The first time you do it, start out with a small section to make sure it is not going to burn you or irritate your skin. After all, this is some strong stuff and can really cause damage if not used appropriately.
The Items I Am Currently using
- Lucid by Spoiled Mama
- 100% Pure Vitamin C Serum
- Obagi Retinol 0.5
- Think Sport SPF 50
- Skin Obsession 40% Glycolic Acid Peel
I am planning to use these items for as long as it takes. My plan is to do one peel per month for 6 months. I will check back then to let you guys know if this has worked for me. I would also love to hear of anything that has worked for any of you.
I cannot stress the importance of taking care of your skin during your high school and young adult years. I blame myself for my Melasma. All during high school I went to the beach and lay by the pool without really protecting my face. I mean, I wore sunscreen but I never wore a hat to cover my face nor did I re-apply sunscreen as often as I should have.
I have always tanned easy so I just assumed that because I was not burning that I was not doing any damage. Those years of doing that is what probably caused my Melasma. Melasma can be anything from sun damage to hormone related. I do not think mine is hormone related. I stopped birth control almost immediately after getting the darkness and nothing changed.
I have always been someone who practically lives outdoors. I am now paying for not protecting myself more.
Now, when I leave the house, I always have on sunscreen. I keep sunscreen in my purse and in all our vehicles. If I know I am going to be in the sun for more than 10 minutes or so, I wear a hat. I am also convinced that heat intensifies the Melasma.
I can lie in the sun with sunscreen and a hat and the Melasma seems to get darker. After I cool off, it lightens up to its normal “dark” self. It is the strangest thing. Even after taking a hot shower it seems to get dark for a little while. My Esthetician told me at my first appointment that she thinks heat activates it. I totally agree with this. I do not believe there is any research proving this, but I am convinced.
Covering Up Melasma
For now, I will continue with my current treatment to see what happens. I will continue to live outside. As I said, I am more cautious about protecting myself. The darkness is there. I just cover it up and try to prevent it from getting worse and hoping that over time it will go away. I am not going to let Melasma prevent me from being outdoors and enjoying the things I love.
I use two types of concealers to cover my Melasma. First, I apply all my creams and moisturizers. Next, I apply Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Concealer. Then, I apply my foundation. Next, I apply Make Up Forever Concealer. I then finish my makeup as normal. When I am completely finished, I will apply one more layer of Urban Decay Concealer.
This regimen seems to really help. I am hoping that one day in the near future I will not have to worry about applying layers of concealer to my upper lip.
For now, I will continue my journey with Melasma. I know so many people have much bigger problems than some darkness above their lip. But, this is my one insecurity that I just wish would go away!!
I will end how I started “I hate Melasma.”