Starting as what looks like a freckle on the cheek, which can then progress as a full-on discolored patch on areas of the face and neck, melasma is a daunting skin problem especially for women. Clear-looking skin and spotless radiance has been in pursuit by men and women alike who are experiencing such skin problems. A quick search for lightening or anti acne solutions would result in a plethora of products. This is the opposite when it comes to melasma, where only a few products are being marketed to treat it, especially at Watsons.

What is melasma?

Melasma can be light or dark brown, or it can also be blue or gray patches on the skin that commonly affects areas of the face. Melasma is a more uncommon skin problem compared to other skin problems (e.g. acne, wrinkles, fine lines). Melasma mostly affects women, especially pregnant women and those who live in hotter areas.

It may also spread on to the neck, shoulders, and to the forearms. Although it does not necessarily do any harm, having it may affect how an individual feels, how they perceive themselves, and their overall confidence.

What causes melasma?                 

Studies suggest that estrogen and progesterone can trigger melasma, and is believed as to why women, and those who are taking oral contraceptives and hormones, especially pregnant women are mostly affected by the condition. Moreover, people with fair skin are more likely to be affected than those with brown or darker skin tone.

Other causes can include exposure to UV radiation and blue light, genetics, stress, and use of harsh products that cause peeling of the skin. It is never advisable to self-diagnose. A visit to the dermatologist’s clinic is still the best way to ensure that a skin condition is diagnosed properly and professionally.

A dermatologist may perform a visual exam at the affected area. The dermatologist may be required to carry out tests to rule out other causes by using specialized devices like a Wood’s lamp or dermatoscope that helps determine how many layers of the skin is affected.

Melasma treatment

Pregnant women who experience melasma may see it go away on its own, others might not have the same luck, which is understandable why it is sought to be treated. Dermatologists can prescribe topical creams and serums that help with skin lightening. Other options to lighten dark patches may include dermabrasion, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion which strips away the top layers of the skin.

There is no guarantee that these procedures will cure melasma. Some melasma cases cannot be treated completely, but there are over-the-counter products that can help with prevention of melasma or help it lighten a bit. Below are some of these products which you can easily find in Watsons stores near you.

1. DERMAID Melasma Cream

Dermaid Melasma cream has alpha arbutin that works by effectively lightening reducing pigmentation caused by UV rays and external factors. It also brightens skin tone, and lifts dark-colored areas. It is also formulated with Scutellaria baicalensis root, Morus bombycis root, and Saxifraga sarmentosa extracts that may help with reducing melanin production and act as brightening agents.

2. Tretinoin + Hydroquinone (Maxi-Peel, RDL Baby Face)

Tretinoin and hydroquinone are clinically proven to lighten dark spots and renew skin appearance. Hydroquinone specifically is considered as the gold standard when it comes to treating melasma. The use of these products can help improve skin appearance and lighten dark spots, but they come with a warning since they may also induce redness, peeling, and shedding of the skin.

It is advisable to use sunscreen along with these products and avoid sun exposure as much as possible. They are also not recommended for pregnant women.

3. Niacinamide

In addition to the collection of brightening agents, serums like Olay White Radiance, available at Watsons also have ingredients like niacinamide for hydration and lightening of dark spots, suitable for individuals who are experiencing melasma.

4. Sunscreen

Protection is a must when treating and preventing melasma. Some sunscreen products offer both protection and brightening properties, like Belo SunExpert Whitening Sunscreen with SPF 50 for protection against harmful UV rays.

5. Antioxidants

Antioxidants have also been proven to help with problems like melasma as they target reactive oxygen species (ROS) brought about by oxidative stress. These ROS can trigger a chain reaction which could lead to cell damage and eventually skin discoloration and melasma.

Vitamin C and E are some of the most potent antioxidants used in cosmetics. They can be applied topically in forms of cream, gel, or serum. They can also be taken as supplements to help fight free radicals in the body.

6. Procyanidin

The treatment for melasma has opened up a variety of methods, from topical creams to skin therapy. On top of these procedures, oral treatments are also a go-to practice, especially with beauty supplements. Although there is no miracle pill for melasma, Pynocare is an innovative and effective melasma remover that contains procyanidin, vitamins A, C, and E that works effectively to combat melasma. It is the only FDA approved oral treatment for melasma available in the country as of writing.

Pynocare works in 3 ways, it regulates melanin production to reduce the size of dark pigmentation on the skin. Its special formulation contains natural plant extracts with antioxidants that are stronger than vitamin C and E. In addition, its active ingredients D-Saline and Lycoskin are

also beneficial by protecting the skin from external triggers such as UV rays from sunlight. Lastly, Lucent P helps the skin to retain moisture, bringing about better skin hydration and texture. Recommended use of Pynocare is clinically proven to improve skin health in as fast as 8 weeks.

At the end of the day, prevention is still better than cure. It's a good thing that for the most part melasma is a preventable problem. Using sunscreen and avoiding unnecessary sun exposure is a great practice to start with. Pynocare can also be taken as a preventive measure for people at risk of developing melasma.