Unmasking Melasma

Last year, I found out I had melasma, a condition that causes discolouration of the skin. The diagnosis has changed my morning, nighttime and even my daytime beauty routines but after a few months of trying almost every bottle of skin whitener on the shelf, I still saw the stubborn brown patches staring back at me in the mirror.

I’m not ready to embrace my melasma!

So, I took matters into my own hands and consulted with several doctors, facialists and even traditional Chinese medicine doctors. One year on, I must say I have beaten the problem and have become somewhat of an expert in finding the most effective ‘cures’ for pigmentation woes. Here’s what I uncovered in my journey to clear skin.

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Pregnancy Glow may be replaced by melasma

The earlier we recognise and accept the fact that melasma is a condition where excess pigmentation shows up on the cheeks, chin, and forehead due to hormones that fluctuate during pregnancy or while taking birth control pills or other medications, the better it is for us. The second fact is that melasma can be difficult to treat.

Once we know this, we understand why just using sunscreen will not be enough in preventing this condition as it is largely internal. Secondly, knowing that we are battling a chronic stubborn condition means that we need to develop reasonable expectations for this. This is not a short battle but  along war. So gear up girls!

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Making sure hyperpigmentation doesn’t get worse is an initial priority. The most effective way to prevent hyperpigmentation is to slather on SPF30 daily (even when it’s cloudy). Dr Low, from SW1 Clinic who made me a sunscreen convert explains that while mealsma is triggered by hormonal fluctuations, UV can exacerbate the condition. More prevention must-dos include other common sense sun avoidance strategies such as finding shade on bright, sunny days, wearing a broad brimmed hat and of course, avoiding tanning salons.

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pink-heart-mdTopical Fixes

Skin lightening creams or topical medicine that are rife with ingredients like mequinol (a better version compared to hydroquinone), tranexamic acid, vitamin C, kojic acid, or soy can prevent the release of pigmentation and, over time will help even out skin tone as the skin renews itself. Try Special Effects for its triple action potency with mequinol, retinol and kojic acid, and White Plasma for its skin lightening effects from tranexamic acid.

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pink-heart-mdPeel Fixes
Exfoliation helps remove dull, uneven surface skin, which can alreaedy make overall complexion brighter and lighter. Try retinol peel with added vitamin A effects or Milk Peel using milk-derived lactic acids, perfect for sensitive skins. Each helps to exfoliate pigmented skin and, as the skin renews itself, blotchy, uneven areas are replaced with brighter, even toned skin. Further with exfoliation, active ingredients penetrate better into the deeper layers to achieve results faster.

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pink-heart-mdLaser Fixes
Laser treatments work by directly targeting excess pigment. Laser light passes through the skin and is absorbed by the dark pigment, which causes the pigment to be broken up into small pieces. The pigmented areas are then either stripped away or swallowed up by your immune cells and removed from the body. The latest superstar in the pigment laser category is Pico Pigment, which forms the cornerstone of Porcelain Skin program. Pico wavelength lasers have largely replaced the older pigment lasers and laser toning treatments as the more effective and safer options for Asian skin.

Another excellent option for melasma is Baby Skin program which uses BB Aquatouch to renew pigmented skin. The benefit of this program is its skin renewal effects which contributes to skin rejuvenation and overall complexion enhancement as well.

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“The best treatment for pigmentation is combination therapy with all of the aforementioned treatments,” Dr Low says. “But remember, once you minimize or get rid of melasma, you need to remain conscious of how much sun exposure you get. You can easily undo your best efforts if you’re not strict about using sunscreen and adopting sun-savvy habits.

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