Melasma is a pretty common skin condition that does not always require treatment. The American Academy of Dermatology states that melasma that is triggered, such as by pregnancy, contraceptive pills, or hormone therapy, usually go away on their own when the trigger is stopped. This happens when a woman gives birth or stops taking contraceptive pills [R].
However, there are some cases when treatment is necessary, especially if melasma persists for a year or so. One example is when a woman has to keep taking contraceptive pills. The trigger is always present, so the only option is treatment [R].
When it comes to melasma treatment, hydroquinone was always the first on the list until January 2001 when it was banned as a cosmetic skin-bleaching agent because of its side effects. It is still available on prescription nowadays, but side effects of long-term use were noted; one being cancer. Medium-term effects included leukoderma (white patches) and exogenous ochronosis (blue-black pigments). During animal testing, renal adenoma and leukemia were also noted, which indicates the carcinogenic and nephrotoxic properties of hydroquinone [R].
It is best to avoid the aforementioned side effects and use Meladerm instead. Meladerm is highly recommended because it does not contain hydroquinone, parabens, or any other harmful bleaching agents. Instead, what they use are the following ingredients:
1. Bamboo extract
Bamboos extract contains high levels of silica, which helps keep your skin healthy. It also prevents irritation and soothes the skin to preserve its radiance [R].
2. Bearberry extract
The extract of bearberry or Arctostaphylos uva-ursi contains a natural bleaching substance called arbutin that is considered effective and potent in lightening dark spots and melasma.
3. Emblica fruit extract
Studies have shown that the extract of the Phyllanthus emblica or Indian gooseberry can significantly brighten the skin when administered in moderate concentrations [R].
4. Kojic acid
Kojic acid inhibits melanin production, which makes it a good skin brightening agent. It is extracted from several species of fungi and is a by-product in the fermentation process of malting rice [R].
5. Licorice root extract
Licorice contains a natural phenol called glabridin that inhibits melanin production and inflammation. It is considered a safe and mild skin brightening agent because of its non-toxicity to melanin-forming cells [R].
6. Pomegranate oil
This ingredient is anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. It also contains vitamin C, which helps reverse sun damage and brighten dark spots [R].
Niacinamide, also called vitamin B3, is an effective skin brightening and hyper-pigmentation agent when used with kojic acid and arbutin [R].
8. Vitamin C
Daily use of vitamin C can help brighten the skin and even out your skin tone. It also helps hydrate your skin and reduce sun damage [R].
9. Sea buckthorn fruit
The oil from this fruit has anti-oxidant properties that heal damaged skin. It also acts as a natural skin brightener and moisturizer [R].
10. Green tea
Green tea comes from Camellia sinensis, which is a great source of anti-oxidants that reverses the process of skin aging [R].
11. Ginger root
Ginger root is another potent anti-oxidant that protects the skin from free radicals and pollutants [R].
12. Almond extract
Prunus amygdalus dulcis or sweet almond oil is a natural anti-oxidant and moisturizer [R].
13. Argireline Acetyl hexapeptide-3 or acetyl hexapeptide-8, marketed as Argireline by Lipotec, is a synthetic cosmetic agent that reduces fine lines and wrinkles [R].
14. Alpha arbutin
This is the more potent counterpart of arbutin or beta arbutin. This ingredient is combined with a form of hyaluronic acid to enhance its skin brightening properties and reduce hyperpigmentation and dark spots [R].
This is a natural skin lightener that is developed from Alpine plants. Regular use of GigaWhite has been proven to reduce dark spots and brighten the skin [R].