So you’re done with pregnancy and have a beautiful bundle to enjoy but there’s one hangover from your baby carrying days that refuses to go away. Melasma. Also known as the mask of pregnancy, melasma is a skin condition that affects the pigment causing it to darken. The outcome? Blotchy dark patches all over your previously clear face. It is estimated that as many as 70% of women develop melasma during pregnancy but research into why it sticks around for some women is quite patchy. It seems that melasma is a bit of a mystery in the dermatological world in many respects as it seems to strike at random. While skin tone and family history play a large role (it disproportionately affects those with darker, olive skin tones) some women develop melasma for no apparent reason. Melasma can be triggered by the sun and heat so even if you wear sunscreen religiously, that hot yoga class you love can flare your melasma up. It is tricky. For many it goes away after birth but for the unlucky few, me included, it sticks around and it can become hard to deal with. Of course this might sound silly but for those with melasma, it can become all-encompassing. I decided to write this post because I’ve really struggled to find information about melasma. I’m writing it because I love the products, nothing is sponsored or gifted (guess I’m not really such a big deal)
My skin profile
I am a 34 year old woman who tans easily. I have freckles and moles and, cue the pitchforks, I love to sit in the sun. I have 2 children and noticed a significant increase in melasma after baby number 2. It started around my eyes and a little patch on my forehead that eventually grew and spread across my face.
I got to the point where as soon as I sat in the sun (yes I wear sunscreen) it would crop up. Big brown stains appeared and it got to the point where it was all I noticed about my skin. When I could no longer cover it with makeup I decided I had to do something.
Over the counter ain’t gonna cut it
I spent hundreds on over the counter brands and none of them shifted my melasma. I didn’t notice ANY lightening. I later learned that this was because of the absorbtion levels of over the counter and the fact that they sit on the skin rather than penetrating the dermis and attacking the pigmented cells. I’m going to save you the time and money now, do not expect drug store brands to shift melasma. It was time for another approach so I researched laser.
Laser and melasma
Here is another fun part about melasma, lasers designed to target regular hyperpigmentation actually make melasma worse as they heat the skin which results in a flare up. I decided to go anyway and have a consult with a laser technician. Once I got there I got my pictures taken and my skin examined. She told me off the bat that fraxel laser was a nono and got the doctor in to take a look to see if I could possibly be a candidate for clear and brilliant. The doctor took one look at my tanned face and shook her head. Nope. Even Clear and Brilliant laser could make it worse. I’m going to be honest, I almost cried. I was absolutely crest fallen. There was hope however. She talked to be about Vivier, a Canadian brand, a prescription strength hydroquinone based system to lighten my pigment. I rolled my eyes. Been there, done that and I STILL have the pigment to show for it. Sensing my apprehension to spend upwards of $500 on some creams she talked to me about how it works. She told me about how it penetrates the dermis and breaks up and lightens pigmented cells at the lower levels of the skin layers. It was worth a shot so I walked out with a bag full of goodies and an appointment for laser in the fall when my melasma should have lightened enough to treat. I also solemnly swore to wear a very ugly sunhat to prevent further damage.
I purchased the Vivier Pigement kit from my dermatologist’s office. It has hydroquinone in it which is not for everyone but I wanted to give it a shot. I’ve linked the products you can buy online but you will need to see a professional for some of the products as they contain hydroquinone (please note this is an affiliate link. I get a small commission at no extra cost to you)
My Vivier kit includes
serum – this is the BEST thing. If you can only afford one thing from the kit this is it!
Morning – wash face with Vivier facewash using a face brush. Put on exfoliant followed by serum, corrector and sunscreen. I also always wear a hat in the sun. It is mum level 100.
Evening – wash face with Vivier facewash using a face brush. Put on serum followed by corrector and finally retinol (note my skin tolerates retinol well)
Here are the tools I use
My thoughts and progress
I’m 6 weeks in a really surprised with the results. Is my skin completely clear? Well no but it is DRASTICALLY improved. You can see the results for yourself below! I’m even in more full on sunlight in the after pic and the outcome is amazing! My forehead is the best and my cheeks are lightened considerably and the texture of my skin is so much better. Weirdly, my acne scaring still hasn’t really shifted but I’m hoping that the laser will solve that. I have also been really careful with the sun so I’m sure that’s helping too. I use bronzer to warm my skin up now and although I hate to admit it, it is much better than baking yourself for hours on end.
I really love the sunscreen as it’s so light and wears well under make up. I have found I’ve broken out a bit but not sure if that’s from stress (helllooooo going back to work as a teacher during a pandemic!)
Here is a before and after for you to see how far my skin has come (please be kind, I do not look my best here! Swipe to see the difference)
I’m not going to lie, this has been an expensive process. The kit was approx $500 CAD but in my opinion so worth it. I am getting Clear and Brilliant laser too so that might be about $1000 CAD by the time it is all said and done. So my journey continues. I will keep you posted at the end of summer once my tan fades and when I hopefully get me laser.
If you have melasma and you’re feeling discouraged there is hope. Of course this treatment is not for everyone and you should really consult your doctor or skin care professional but it has worked wonders for me!
I can’t wait to see how much more it improves! (p.s WEAR SUNSCREEN!)