by Ann Yacullo & Karin Ruiz
We love the summer sunshine that warms the beaches, makes the days longer, and gives us an excuse to wear short shorts and sundresses!
That same glowing globe in the sky is also responsible for aging our skin, turning us into lobsters, and worst of all, marking our faces with melasma’s brown splotchy mask.
Melasma can pop-up at any time in a woman’s life, but the sun is the number one culprit for bringing it out. Once those mean marks show up on your skin, it’s really tough to get them to leave!
Here are my suggestions for keeping you un-masked from melasma through the summer and beyond!
What causes melasma?
Melasma occurs when your melanocytes (the cells that give skin color) become overactive. You can recognize it by identifying brownish patches of skin, generally on your cheeks, upper lip, and across your nose. It can occur with certain ethnicities (especially Latinas and Asians), birth control pills, and also with pregnancy.
These stubborn spots tend to stick around a lot longer than you’d like them too. In the case of a hormonal change, like having a baby or taking the Pill, your skin will often return to it’s natural state once the baby arrives or if you switch birth control methods. For other cases, the spots may fade, but are unlikely to completely disappear.
In every case, exposure to UV rays will amplify the rate at which the melanocytes work, causing a melasma melee! Again, these flaws may improve with time, but if not, here are some ways to treat them topically at a reputable clinical spa.
If you are noticing the signs of melasma or if you think you are at risk of developing it, consider any changes you can make to help prevent it(such as switching birth control methods).
Then, prepare to shun the sun! You have to commit to a high SPF (60 or higher ) every day. I love La Roche Posay’s Anthelios, but pick one that you will be happy using. That’s right! Cloudy or clear skies alike! Boost your preventative power and buy some cute sun hats, use a parasol, whatever it takes to stay in the shade.
Working Night and Day!
Day-time treatments should contain at least 15% Vitamin-C. Look for a time release formula, such as Super-Serum by I.S. Clinical (one of my favorites!!). Vitamin-C will continually suppress the melanin during the day, without making your skin more photosensitive. Let your serum sink in, and follow with your SPF.
During the night, you’ll have the opportunity to ramp up your repairing efforts with some heavier, more intense treatments. Consider seeing a physician for professional strength products. At Marina Plastic Surgery Associates, where I work, many of my clients use a clinical “peel-and-bleach” cream while they sleep. It is a custom formula developed by Dr. Stevens, The Institute’s plastic surgeon, and contains retin-A and either a 4 or 6 percent hydroquinone (two gold-standards in melasma treatment). This combination of ingredients will really kick start the lightening process.
Clinical strength facials and peels are great options, too. Do yourself a favor and skip the lunch-break special at your local strip-mall salon. Instead, research a reputable clinical spa that utilizes trained and even licensed professionals. Save the bargain shopping for some cute shoes, not for your skin!
One of the peels that we do at The Stevens Institute at Marina Plastic Surgery Assocciates, is the Melanage Skin Lightening System. It is a combination of hydoquinone and retinoid masque and a take home regimen. It produces very noticeable results that greatly reduce melasma and hyperpigmentation. There is no pain during the treatment, but your skin can peel for up to a month. The results are amazing! The cost of this peel can reach over the $500 mark, but you should not need to do another treatment. There is a maintenance plan to follow as well and of course you need to continue your sun-smarts.
Should you get caught off guard, without good sunscreen or are having a relapse, there is a Melanage mini treatment which should do the trick. I truly believe that this treatment is worth every penny!
Don’t let melasma mask your summer fun. Protect your skin with SPF, prevent patches by staying out of the sun, and treat existing or new spots with the help of your favorite aesthetician. Remember, persistence pays. If your skin care routine is spotty, your complexion will be too!Ann Yacullo Clinical Aesthetician Marina Plastic Surgery Associates
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