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Caused by genetic predisposition, hormone changes, and skin irritation.

Brown, Patchy Skin

When you look into the mirror, do you see brown or brownish-gray patches on your cheeks, nose, or forehead? This could be melasma, a common skin condition that is far more common in women than in men. In fact, about 90% of people with this condition are women. People with darker skin and those who live in sunny environments are also more likely to have melasma.

What is Melasma?

Melasma consists of tan to brown patches that occur primarily on the forehead, temples, cheeks and upper lip. Unlike sunspots, age spots, and freckles, patches of melasma tend to be large and symmetrical which means you’ll experience similar pigmentation on both sides of your face.

Melasma tends to appear as larger patches and can look like a map, a mask, or that somebody took brown paint and splattered it on the skin.  Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable, earning the nickname the "pregnancy mask.” It affects up to 70% of pregnant women and is extremely common among women of colour.


What Causes Melasma?

The exact cause of melasma is unknown. 

Hormones play a major role in melasma, about half of all cases begin during pregnancy. Estrogen, progesterone, and melanocyte-stimulating hormone levels are normally increased during the third trimester of pregnancy. Birth control pills and IUD's can also trigger this condition. Melasma occurs much more commonly in women as opposed to men, specifically because hormones are such a key factor. Stress has been known to stimulate melasma by increasing cortisol and hormone levels. Family history is also another factor in melasma, so if anyone in your family has struggled with it, you’re much more likely to develop it.

Aside from hormones, sun exposure can stimulate melasma. It is crucial to avoid direct sunlight or no matter what the treatment is or how good it is, the melasma will reappear. Applying a natural, chemical-free, mineral sunscreen such as Elta MD will help protect against these damaging UV rays.  Not just only the sun but basically if you feel the warmth on your skin, it can stimulate melasma. Hot yoga, saunas, steam rooms, cooking over a hot oven,  can all trigger it. Any exposure to heat including IPL laser treatments can make melasma worse. Only specific short-pulsed, Q-switched, Nd: YAG lasers such as the Cynosure Revlite are safe and effective to treat the complex pigmentation of Melasma.

Melasma needs to be treated externally and internally.


Melasma has been linked to hormone imbalance, thyroid or liver dysfunction and vitamin deficiencies attributed to low levels of B6, vitamin B-9 (folic acid) and B-12 (cobalamin), vitamin C, Zinc and most prevalently Iron.

 Daily supplements are essential for treating Melasma. Always a good idea to check with your doctor and correct any deficiencies that may be an underlying cause for melasma and other various skin conditions.

Recommended Skincare Product


Broad-Spectrum UVA/UVB Sun Protection SPF 30 with 9% Zinc Oxide. Specifically formulated to provide moisturizing UV protection for the face, either alone or under makeup.

UV Facial SPF 30 - 3 oz


Lighten Skin and Even Skin Tone

Pigmentation Correcting Mandelic Peel

Improve discoloration from acne, lighten Melasma, even out skin tone.

The Mandelic Peel treatment is a color correcting peel that was developed specifically for treating pigmentation issues, safe for all skin including darker skin types. Brightening of post-inflammatory pigmentation due to acne, melasma or sun damage.

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