Melasma and Hormone Imbalances

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What is Melasma?

Melasma is a skin condition where brown pigmentation forms on the cheeks, around the eyes, on the forehead, or above the lip.

While anyone from light-skinned redheads to dusky brunettes can develop it, it is more common among darker skin types and people who have the ability to tan easily like South Asians, Hispanics, and Italians. It also affects both men and women.


What causes Melasma?

It is often difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of melasma as it varies from person to person. Below are some of the known causes:

    - Changes in hormone levels
    - Waxing of facial hair
    - Allergic reactions and inflammations from skincare products
    - Excessive sun exposure and tanning
    - Drug interactions

If you are looking to clear your melasma, the first step is to pinpoint the cause. Once you figure out the cause, you can find the appropriate ways to tackle the problem at the root.

The best people to answer this is your doctor — who can test your levels of estrogen and progesterone — and you — since you can trace back to when your melasma first started and what you did before (i.e. medication/lifestyle/diet/habits).

For now at least, I will focus on the most common cause of melasma – hormone imbalances.

Common Causes of Hormone Imbalances

Hormonal changes due to pregnancy is perhaps the most common cause (in fact, melasma is sometimes referred to as the pregnancy mask).

However, you don’t need to be pregnant to have your hormone levels be out of whack these days. Unfortunately, we are bombarded by chemicals, pesticides, and food additives that can easily have the same effect on our hormones. These compounds are called xenoestrogens.

Apart from pregnancy, melasma due to hormonal changes can be due to causes like:

  • Illness
  • Taking birth control pills. Read user accounts which ties specific brands to their melasma
  • Excessive copper levels in the body. Copper is closely related to the metabolism of the estrogen hormone.

It is interesting to note that the third cause—an excess of copper—can also be related to pregnancy. Copper levels are usually elevated in pregnant women as the mineral is needed to form new blood cells for the foetus.

If you are on a vegetarian diet, it is likely that your copper levels are also elevated because of the type of proteins you ingest.

Hormone Imbalances or Estrogen Dominance

The subject of estrogen dominance is a tricky one.

If you have time to spare, I suggest reading up on the information found here. The page describes estrogen dominance at length and will be useful for anyone seeking more in-depth knowledge on the matter. It also discusses several methods to detoxify your body of excess estrogens.

Also read Jane’s story, which is a case study of a woman that has struggled with the issue all her life. What struck me was that at one part of her tale, she describes that “hyper-pigmentation would appear on her face whenever she had her periods”. Although melasma is never mentioned in these pages specifically, Jane’s comment is no doubt too similar to the condition related to melasma to ignore.

I’ve summarised several significant points from the site below:

  • For optimum health, the progesterone to estrogen ratio should be between 200 – 300 : 1.

  • Stress increases your estrogen levels. Progesterone is necessary to counter estrogen levels lest they become too high. Among the things that reduces your progesterone output is stress.

  • Countries with higher obesity rates tend to show more incidence of estrogen dominance in the population. All body fat has an enzyme which converts adrenal steroids to estrogen, so the more fat you have, the more estrogen is present. However, plants contain over 5,000 known sterols that have progestogenic effects (counteracts estrogen), so a switch to a healthier, more plant-based diet will help lower estrogen levels.

  • Taking drugs and alcohol may contribute to higher estrogen levels as these impair the liver which is the main organ that breaks down the estrogen hormone. This also means that taking herbs/supplements that aid in liver function will detoxify the body of too much estrogen. A sterling example is milk thistle (silybum marianum), which has been proven to fortify the liver. The dosage for milk thistle is 70 to 200 mg one to three times a day.

  • Vitamin B6 and magnesium are needed to neutralize estrogen in the liver. Thus, a deficiency may increase the levels of estrogen in the body. It also becomes something of a self-perpetuating cycle, as too much estrogen leads to a deficiency of zinc, magnesium and the B vitamins.

  • When eaten, the hormones, drugs, and antibiotics fed to cattle and poultry can wreck havoc to estrogen levels. Fish are far superior to beef or chicken in terms of hormone load.

  • Women who drank four to five cups of coffee daily had nearly 70% more estrogen than women who consume less than one cup of coffee. Tea is not much better. And for that matter, neither are soft drinks with caffeine in them like Red Bull or Mountain Dew.

Soy

As I did more research on the subject of estrogen imbalances, more things kept coming up. Most notable and perhaps most worryingly, is the effects of soy on hormone levels.

Soy alters hormone levels two ways:

1) Soy blocks the absorption of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc in the intestines. These minerals are neccessary for healthy hormone levels.

2) Soy has high amounts of phytoestrogens. These are chemicals produced by plants that act like estrogens in the human body.

It is false to assume that taking large amounts of soy is healthy and good for you as “Asians eat soy as a staple” – this is what soy manufacturers want you to believe. Rice is a staple there, not soy. In Asia, soy is used mostly as a condiment (soy sauce is popular in cooking and has many forms in Asia). And when tofu is eaten, it is usually a side dish in Asia, not a main one.

Other popular soy products in Japan and South East Asia are miso and tempeh. However, these are heavily fermented forms of soy, which are safe and do not block the minerals necessary for healthy hormone levels.

I wouldn’t say that soy is evil, but anything in excess is bound to be bad for you. Thus, if soy is in your diet, take it in moderation only.

Update: There seems to be two schools of thought on this (perhaps more).

Blossom shared her thoughts on soy, “The isoflavones in soy attach to the body’s estrogen receptors and create a mild estrogenic effect, even in the presence of excessive natural estrogen, therefore soy can actually balance the effect of estrogen in the body if there is too much in circulation.”

If anyone has more helpful information on soy and/or differing opinions, please drop them in a comment and I’ll add them here.

Linda, a vegan, shared that the melasma on her upper lip improved after switching from soy milk to almond milk and lightening her soy intake.

——————

Warning on Drug-related Hyperpigmentation (Oral Antibiotics, Anti-Depressants)

Prolonged use of some drugs have been proven to cause hyperpigmentation for some people.

Because of its prevalence and widespread use, the most common culprits are oral antibiotics like minocycline (usually used to treat acne and pemphigus), tetracycline, and doxycycline.

The antidepressant imipramine, the heart medication amiodarone (to treat arrhythmias), bleomycin and cyclophosphamide (cancer drugs) have also been proven to cause hyperpigmentation in some users.

The list goes on to include chlorpromazine (an anti-psychotic) and phenytoin (for epilepsy).

Drug-related hyperpigmentation can occur both externally on the skin, teeth, and gums, as well as internally on the organs and bones.

On the skin, dark patches may occur on the face, arms, and legs, among other areas. Often, drug-induced hyperpigmentation is made worse by prolonged exposure to the sun.

Hyperpigmentation on the skin caused by the acne medication minocycline may start occuring from as early as one month to as late as 25 months. For further reading on this drug and the studies conducted, click here (a pdf file will open).

[On a separate note, another side effect of taking oral antibiotics like minocycline regularly is candida. If you have candida, you should consider taking yogurt, fermented food, or probiotic supplements to heal yourself. ]

The good news is that drug-related hyperpigmentation will often improve after some time once the person stops taking the medication.

3 essential tips before you do anything else

Firstly, be prepared that the road to righting your hormone imbalance is a process that may take several months.

Secondly, be encouraged that while melasma is a difficult condition to live with, you are not alone. Find a friendly forum and other people with melasma to share your thoughts, questions, support and progress with.

Here are a few forums and discussion threads on melasma to get you started:

Thirdly, be gentle. If you have melasma, the chances are high that aggravating your skin with harsh chemicals and scrubbing will only darken the melasma. For some, melasma even darkens from external heat, such as a hot bath or using a hair curler or dryer.

Important supplements to right hormone imbalances that cause melasma:

      • MSM
      • Vitamin C
      • CoQ10
      • Zinc
      • Probiotics (good bacteria)
      • Calcium D-Glucarate

Why do these supplements help?

Both Zinc and Vitamin C help lower copper levels, while MSM increases the permeability of cells allowing the copper to easily move out of the body as waste. CoQ10 helps to boost cell turnover.

The liver breaks down estrogen and sends it to the intestines to be eliminated, but once there, bad bacteria can re-convert it back to estrogen. Good bacteria like L. acidophilus helps prevent this from happening by competing with the estrogen-forming bad bacteria. You can ensure that you have enough good bacteria by taking it in capsule form (widely marketed as probiotics) or naturally through fermented foods like kefir, yoghurt, tempeh, miso, and kimchi. You can read more about why it’s so important for us to maintain a healthy gut here: Keep your gut healthy – it’s your body’s second brain!.

In the same vein, calcium D-glucarate inhibits beta-glucuronidase formation in the gut. Beta-glucuronidase is a “bad enzyme” which promotes estrogen reabsorption. Calcium D-glucarate is found in fruits like oranges, apples, and grapefruit and vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts. Its also available as a supplement.

In relation to this, also avoid taking oral antibiotics on a regular basis. Antibiotics kills many types of good bacteria in the intestines and actually helps bad bacteria to thrive, which raises estrogen re-absorption in the body.

Eating more fiber also helps your body get rid of excess estrogen. Adding fiber through cereals or supplements shortens the transit time of your bowel movements. Shorter transit times means less estrogen is reabsorbed on its way out.

Comments from readers

Note: I update this list periodically, so please keep your comments coming. Thanks!

      • Melasma fading and “breaking up” with castor oil applications

jj c wrote, “I have been using cold pressed Castor Oil (Hexane-free) on my face every night for the last week and have noticed dramatic improvement of the texture of my skin. The melasma is starting to break up slightly and think that if I continue this regimen, that my face will be clear and beautiful by the summer. I just swipe the spots with a castor oil soaked cotton ball after I wash and can actually see some brownish stains left on the cotton ball (the hyperpigmentation of my skin?). I then coat my face lightly with castor oil right before bed each night.”

Jill wrote here (below a separate article on castor oil), “I’m on week 3 of my castor oil treatments and my face is evening out nicely. The melasma under my eyes are breaking up so much that I can see normal color skin emerging from between the slight discoloration, which by the way, used to be much darker. Strangely, my eyelashes and eyebrows look fantastic and very full. I’m sure I’ll need a couple of months altogether to start seeing dramatic improvements, but I also realize that the discoloration took some time to develop too.

On a side note, I have not had a single pimple from this treatment thus far. I usually get one or two a week. I didn’t realize this would be such a great acne prevention solution too. I use nothing else but a thin layer of Castor oil as my nighttime moisturizer. I just thought I’d point that out to anyone wishing to use this to try to treat acne.”

      • Melasma possibly linked to Calcium deficiency

In her search for a solution to her melasma, Sandra wrote in a comment that she believes hers was caused by a calcium deficiency. She also pointed out that the medications listed on this page can lead to calcium loss.

Sandra wrote, “Thanks for posting this website. I have melasma on my face and I have frantically been searching for a solution for years. I have to say that after all my reasearch it boils down to calcium deficieny. If you google hypocalcemia and hyperpigmentaion, you will find loads of information about photosensitive hyperpigmentation. Even the pictures of hypocalcemia patients are similar to the melasma on my face. Reasearchers are now reporting the BC pills cause women to have low calcium. All the medications you have listed on this site are hydrochloride derivatives – hydrochloride is a calcium antagonist. Just get Calcium supplements with no vitamin D (vitamin D is actually a hormone and you don’t want me to get started on that one…) Nivea has mineral oil and it should be used in the daytime because mineral oil is an excellent sunblock.”

      • Melasma fading with supplements

In June 2011, Maria wrote “I have been taking Coq10, milk thistle and acidophilus probiotic daily for almost a month now.

I apply apple cider vinegar and water on the dark spots every nite before i shower and I also apply enough spf 30 (uva & uvb) anti-oxidant enriched lotion twice a day.

I can sincerely say im starting to see a difference and im so happy and excited i can scream of joy.

I’ve had these marks for about 5 yrs now so i know they wont go away over night but any progress is a great feeling. I wish i had known about this before :) “.

In July 2011, she gave an update: “my spots look so much better & lighter… i should be happy but im not… i need to find a way to prevent them… “

In August 2010, Maria added that maca powder may have also helped. She said, “i use MACA 3 days before my period & during my whole period… then i stop & do it again 3days before my next period & so on… believe it or not… it helps me with my period, cramps & mood swings… i don’t know if this has ANY connection with my hormonal balance and my spots… i didn’t do this for my age spots but for my period…but i just thought i should put it out there…”

leili wrote that her melasma started after she took antibiotics and that she has noticed fading after taking MSM and Zinc. She also started to take extra Vitamin C and stopped eating chocolates and “noticed a big difference in two weeks”.

Melissa had fading with this regimen: “I have been taking the MSM and last week added a C, Zinc, Magnesium, A supplement plus grapefruit seed extract, and have taken Apple Cider Vinegar a couple of times and also applied it topically at night. I have to say there is definitely considerable fading plus light patches appearing in the middle of what were consistently darker patches previously !! VERY happy with the results so far, I will continue on this program and report back”

She later came back with a progress report, “Hello I am back after Christmas and New Year to report on my progress. I have changed to a Hair, skin and nails complex plus Milk Thistle (liver tonic) and Fish oil. Plus MSM when I remember but I have hardly touched it over the holidays. I have had several people say to me they notice the difference and I can see myself clearing on the cheeks and starting to get lighter patches around the hairline and more spots where the normal skin colour is coming through (yay !!). I went off my BCP 3 months ago and it was Diane Estrogen only so I was no doubt Estrogen dominant. Lost 5kg in about a fortnight too so bloating was a definite side effect. Feeling 100% better than I was, I had daily headaches to the point of migraine and living on Ibuprofen. So in summary I think getting the estrogen levels down plus getting healthy by eating really well, exercising and detoxing the liver a bit seems to be working nicely !”

Anonymous reported an 80% fading of her year-long dermal melasma with the following routine she very kindly shared. She had results in one month.

  • She applied apple cider vinegar (mixed with an equal amount of water) on her face for an hour each day.
  • She put on honey as a mask for an hour each day.
  • When she had more time, she put on a mask of lemon and cucumber paste for an hour.

She also took these supplements.

  • GSE, 100mg taken 3 times a day (I assume this is Grape Seed Extract, but could also be Grapefruit Seed Extract.)
  • Vitamin C, 500mg each day
  • Beta-carotenes each day

Deedub had encouraging results after just two weeks of supplementation.

Two weeks ago I started taking vitamin C, MSM, grapefruit seed extract, pycnogenol and zinc…… IT’S WORKING!!!! I would estimate that the patches (on my cheeks and forehead) are at least 50% lighter. Here’s what I’ve been taking:
3000 mg MSM – 3 x day
1000 mg vitamin C – 3 x day
50 mg pycnogenol – 2 x day
15 drops of grapefruit seed extract – 3 x day
50 mg zinc – 1 x day

Like I said, it’s only been two weeks but the initial results are really encouraging.

FreeRadical reported her melasma is disappearing as she strengthened her liver. She wrote:

I have tried both prescription and alternative treatments for my melasma. Mine was  (it is currently disappearing) on my forehead, cheeks, bridge of my nose, upper lip and a little under my eyes. I didn’t find much success in hydroquinone cream 4% combined with Retin-A (although I love retin-A for different reasons). Vitamin C, taken orally and topically (in the form of active Vitamin C ester), does work a bit.

For me, the issue is liver function. The liver synthesizes hormones and cleans them from the body. My problem with melasma started after having my gallbladder removed. Most people with gallstone obstructions are overweight, estrogen-dominant women. I am not over-weight or estrogen dominant, but since the gallbladder stores bile and helps the liver supplement bile excretion, my liver function is compromised. I’ve noticed that I became intolerant to many drugs that previously were not an issue – they caused my serum bilirubin to skyrocket. Bile sequesters waste products and helps detox the body, so anytime bile flow is obstructed or reduced, there can be problems.

My cure has come as a result of addressing my liver function. I am taking Milk Thistle (Silymarin), Artichoke, Turmeric, Dandelion Root, Zinc, B6, Magnesium and Vitamin C. It is working amazingly fast and well! It sounds like a lot, but it is worth it.

Plus, my liver function is improving. I believe that melasma CAN BE a symptom of internal disease (in my case, liver problems). There’s evidence that artichoke is more effective than Milk Thistle in detoxing and protecting the liver and I added it after seeing a remarkable change from taking Milk Thistle alone. I may add Vitamin D Glucarate to see if it works but be aware that Vitamin D is a PROHORMONE (it is a precursor to hormone formation). Therefore, if you are estrogen dominant or otherwise have a hormone imbalance, proceed with caution. Of course, I’m wearing sunblock but take care to use a product that doesn’t have estrogenic effects (apparently some of the ingredients in many sunscreens mimic hormones).

One of the most effective liver supplements I’ve been taking is SAM-e. If you are on certain types of prescription drugs for depression or bipolar disorder – do NOT take SAM-e without consulting your doctor. It can be bad for your heart (it is like taking massive doses of your prescription drug – bad!) But for me, SAM-e has been great, almost miraculous, because it helps my liver and melasma but there’s no bad side effects. For those who are curious, I take Jarrow brand 200 mg extended-release tablet of SAM-e once a day. SAM-e degrades easily, so go with a reputable brand.

Anonymous said her melasma (which she has had for four years) improved 25% in about a month after taking MSM + Vitamin C + Cod Liver Oil. She said there was a definite change in the intensity of the melasma patches on her cheeks and nose.

      • Recommended sunscreens for melasma

Anonymous recommended a brand called TiSilc. She wrote, “A good sunscrean is TiSilc, it comes in 45 or 60 SPF (tinted or sheer/clear). It’s excellent. I have had melasma from many many years of bc and mild/mod sun exposure, before melasma was even a medical condition on the bc labels (back in the late 80s) my skin has never gotten back to the shade it was pre-bc. Tisilc will def block the sun though – use it every AM for the rest of your life.”

      • Mama lotion

Laura reported that her melasma has lightened up considerably (“to a point where my tan patches are starting to look a reddish/pinkish color, and fading”) after three weeks of using Mama lotion, which is a mixture of malic and mandelic acids. She says that the product’s effects is significantly close to dermabrasion.

L had a different experience and wrote, “I tried mama lotion for 6 months, and there was some patchy improvement, but it made me peel/flaky/dry – and the melasma came back immediately when I stopped using it every other day (which I am loath to do because it is so harsh).”

      • Colon cleansing

Mary Locklear wrote that cleansing her system led to her melasma breaking up in some places. She wrote (excerpt): “About 2 years ago I started doing colon cleansers, and I think that that helped, because I could see breaking in some places on my face. The product is called colonix (Dr. Natura.com), and it is about $78.00 and is worth every penny. It removes yeast, poisons from your intestines, and you feel like a new person, and I noticed a little improvement in my melasma. Your organs can do their job a lot better when your intestines are cleared of years of parasites and caked on fecal matter. I will be observing my skin closely in December when I do my yearly cleanser. “

      • Blue Obagi peel

j75 had poor results with dermabrasion, a TCA peel and hydroquinone. She had better results with a Blue Obagi peel.

She said (excerpt): “I started seeing the large patches break up after about 2 weeks. Then I went in for my scheduled light BlueObagi peel. It starting tingling/burning a bit and she gave me a little fan to hold – then she washed it off. It really wasn’t that bad. When I left I couldn’t tell any difference. She applied a thin layer of lotion/moisturizer and gave me the tube to keep using. I used it everyday like she said so that when my skin started healing from the peel, I wouldn’t notice any redness or skin flaking. It worked. After a couple of days I even put a little foundation on. Then after a few more days, parts of the top layer of skin started coming off. The skin underneath was so smooth, tiny pores, and the brown patches of melasma were gone! I couldn’t wait for the rest of my skin to shed/heal. All of the melasma came off. It’s been several years now and the melasma that was on my forehead, upper cheeks, and nose is still gone. Now, I’ve started developing melasma on my upper lip and lower cheek/jawline. I’m planning to set up another appointment to get rid of the new melasma areas.”

237 thoughts on “Melasma and Hormone Imbalances”

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for the article. I have had melasma on my upper lip for the past three years and I tried many things to get rid of it (hydroquinone, Konica acid, sunscreen, microdermabrasion). I read about how hormones and estrogen can affect this, but I wasn’t pregnant or on birth control, but I am vegan and drank soy milk everyday with my cereal. I have since changed to almond milk and lightened my soy intake, and I have to say that my upper lip has gotten a lot better. This past summer it did not get as dark as usual. It’s not totally gone, but I think over time it will be.
    Just thought I’d let others know!

    1. That’s really interesting about the soy milk, thanks for sharing Linda :) I’ve updated the article with your comment. I’m sure it’ll help many others.

    2. Dear Linda, continue trying new things until you find what works for you. In my experience Melasma needs to be treated from the inside out. Your skin is saing that something is not quite right. Never give up hope, you are not alone.

  2. I am looking into Herbs and Teas to help regulate the Hormones. Has anyone heard of this I prefer to drink a tea to work within. Thanks Eda

    1. Hi Eda, I’ve had good results with ginger tea (made them with slices of fresh ginger). Teas that strengthen the liver should be helpful since this organ is important when it comes to metabolising and removing excess hormones from the body.

  3. I was wondering if a progesterone based birth control could help because of no estrogen? I am on a combination type birth control right now.

  4. I really appreciate this website. I have melasma on my upper lip and chin area. Looks like I have a man’s dark shadow on my face. I have been taking a lot of supplements for a long time for an autoimmune issue, including Vit C, Fish Oil, Plaquenil & Cysteine, and have started taking bio identical hormones to balance estrogen dominance. The melasma has gotten worse, unfortunately. So I look forward to trying some of the things mentioned on the site. I do think my liver has been overworked for awhile with all the supplements I take so I will try the milk thistle as well. Will let you know what happens.

    1. Good luck, rianne and thanks for your comment. It’d be great to hear how you get on with the milk thistle.

  5. Hi Rianne,

    I know exactly how you feel, I’ve been battling with melasma about 2 years and have spent thousands of dollars on products and supplement, eventually I found a cream called “elocon”, it’s a cream for eczema’s and I’ve been using it for about 3 weeks and I’m finally seeing some results. There’s a forum about people who have used this product and have gotten results, just google “elocon cream and melasma” and you would find it’ my face has clear up about 75%.

  6. If you are suffering from Melasma, you may have a Folic Acid deficiency. I take a Folic Acid supplement daily.

    Pregnant women may develop Melasma while pregnant, and Folic Acid will help to get rid of the dark areas.

  7. My melasma came on during menopause. Nothing, but nothing is working. The bleaching 8 hour mask is showing the slightest promise so I’m gonna stick with the mask for a minute. There’s another patient who swears by it but what works for one may not work for another. Before melasma, I used to get Flaxsel laser with incredible results. My derm won’t give it to me just yet the laser could aggrevate the melasma. Im at my wits end. Melasma is ruining my life. I hate going out anywhere especially in daylight. I look better in the dark. Not to mention melasma makes you look older and its ugly. Oh, so I read that there could be a correlation between coffee consumption and melasma. So now I dont drink any coffee ever. Too early to tell just yet. Before I read the coffee melasma article, it crossed my mind but I thought I was just being silly. So upset. Will report back later.

    1. Hi there, I don’t know if you’ve seen any of my posts here, but the ONE thing I keep telling everyone that will listen is, do not put ANY parabens on your face. As soon as I learned this,I stopped all paraben products and my Melasma literally began to dissapear. Please do your research on this. I don’t believe that coffee is an issue, but I’m not a doctor. I can’t say for sure. However, I CAN Tell you with no doubt whatsoever, that when you use makeup, lotions, shampoo’s…antyhing that has parabens that touch your face, you make your Melasma worse. Parabens “mimic” estrogen. Estrogen is the reason you HAVE your Melasma. Yes, sun damage also plays a large part, but only on the surface. Pls. look this up, and throw our ALL your supplies that have parabens in them. You won’t be happy, as almost everything has parabens. If you would like a list of the products I use now that are paraben free, just let me know. I’ll make a list for you. Trust me on this, it’s vital you get rid of those parabens. you can email me at Robalinfla@aol anytime you want..that’s of course with a .com, but I can’t put it all together or it won’t post. Good luck. and just so you know, there are a lot of really good face products out there now that are boasting that they are paraben free!!! This will be an expensive change as you find you will have to toss out most of your stuff and buy new, but when you see your Melasma start to fade, you won’t mind a bit:-)
      Robbie

      1. Hi Robbi

        Thanks so much for your prompt response. Yep I would love to have your list of paraben free products. You mentioned that paraben mimicks estrogen. Im menopausal where one’s estrogen levels are very low. I opted not to take estrogen meds to help allievate the menopause symptoms due to the side effects [cancer]. I do however drink a little soy milk. I’ve read endless articles stating that the decrease of estrogen during menopause is what causes the melasma. Estrogen for women is what help keeps us young and beautiful and thats when the melasma came on. But at this point, I’ve tried everything to no avail so I will research your theory for sure. I use paraben free sunblock but I will double check my other facial products which I get from the derm. I will definitely mention this to my derm and keep you informed. The hydroquinne mask shows promise but I’ve only had a few. I going to continue with those. Thanks again.
        P.S. This week i’m going to my derm for trial laser. I’ll let you know the results.

        1. WAIT!! please only do the DUAL 1927 laser. It’s the ONLY laser that can be seriously controlled while using. It’s not new everywhere, but in WI. it’s hard to find. I’ve done it 3 times in Florida, on the lowest settings, and it’s worked beautifully. I had it done 5 months apart, each time. Then of course I used spf 50 in 3 layers, no matter the weather:-) and yes, estrogen is good for us, but only if we do NOT have Melasma. Please research this to death, you’ll be glad you did. And I want to say this, albeit not very encouraging: dermatologists, like any other professional offering a service, has very expensive equipment to pay for, and you, the customer, are the one’s who pay for it. No matter how much you LOVE your dermatologist, they are trying to make a living. Keep that in mind. It’s not malicious, it’s just true. The DUAL laser was $300 each time, and it took 7 days to heal. It’s not as invasive on your skin, but it does the trick. Remember, Melasma is aggravated by heat and light. Remember that. ALL types of light, ALL types of heat. Even hot water.
          I’ll get my list together for you and please rethink your stand on Estrogen. Estrogen dominance, read up on it. Good luck and I’ll be in touch:-)

      2. Hi,

        Just been reading what you wrote about paraben, could you kindly send me the list of the paraben free products please. I am struggling with melasma myself and nothing seems to be working.

        Thanks,

        1. Noxema, the original cleansing cream

          OLAY, Regenrist, advanced anti-aging..detoxifying pore scrub..cleanse (red and black tube)

          Sunscreen: Obagi Nu-Derm sun shield broad spectrum spf 50

          Neutrogena..Ultra Sheer Body Mist sunscreen broad spectrum 70..with helioplex. (for when I’ll be out a long time in serious sun)

          I never leave the house without a hat or visor..never

          Banana Boat SPRT performance, for faces..oil-free
          spf 30 sweatproof/waterproof (Orange tube with blue top)

          Vanicream Lite Lotion (in a pump) for sensitive skin!!! white bottle, blue writing..by cetaphil soaps at walgreens.

          Salma Hayek powder: her products are paraben free!! Her powders and covers are very nice:-)

          Physicians formula SUPER BB all in 1, beauty balm concealer…white top, silver sticker on the side…it covers my melasma mustache completely.

          Maybelline Mineral Powder natural perfection…found ins small round containers.

          VEIL mineral primer–by “Hourglass” I buy it on Amazon. It’s a small glass container, white, black top

          Lipstick: 24 hour Maybelline, super stay lipsticks…(not sure if all of their lipsticks are paraben free or not..be sure to check)

          Using these products has lightened my mustache by at least 75%. I was using products with parabens in them, and my mustache kept getting darker. Once I stopped, it lightened almost in a weeks time. Don’t put anything estrogen like or that mimics estrogen, on your face..or on your body if you can avoid it. I don’t use body lotions with parabens either.

          Good luck:-)

          1. Hi robbie, thanks so much for sharing. I know you were only replying to mel’s query, but I’m sure this info will also be enormously helpful to many others :)

  8. Owen..here’s my products…it takes tiime to find out whats in your products, but it’s SOOO worth it!! Best thing I ever did for my Melasma:-)

    Noxema, the original cleansing cream

    OLAY, Regenrist, advanced anti-aging..detoxifying pore scrub..cleanse (red and black tube)

    Sunscreen: Obagi Nu-Derm sun shield broad spectrum spf 50

    Neutrogena..Ultra Sheer Body Mist sunscreen broad spectrum 70..with helioplex. (for when I’ll be out a long time in serious sun)

    I never leave the house without a hat or visor..never

    Banana Boat SPRT performance, for faces..oil-free
    spf 30 sweatproof/waterproof (Orange tube with blue top)

    Vanicream Lite Lotion (in a pump) for sensitive skin!!! white bottle, blue writing..by cetaphil soaps at walgreens.

    Salma Hayek powder: her products are paraben free!! Her powders and covers are very nice:-)

    Physicians formula SUPER BB all in 1, beauty balm concealer…white top, silver sticker on the side…it covers my melasma mustache completely.

    Maybelline Mineral Powder natural perfection…found ins small round containers.

    VEIL mineral primer–by “Hourglass” I buy it on Amazon. It’s a small glass container, white, black top

    Lipstick: 24 hour Maybelline, super stay lipsticks…(not sure if all of their lipsticks are paraben free or not..be sure to check)

    Using these products has lightened my mustache by at least 75%. I was using products with parabens in them, and my mustache kept getting darker. Once I stopped, it lightened almost in a weeks time. Don’t put anything estrogen like or that mimics estrogen, on your face..or on your body if you can avoid it. I don’t use body lotions with parabens either.

    Good luck:-)

    1. robbie
      thanks soooo much for your list. i checked my products’ labels and a few hair products have parabens but not my favorites. i usually get products from health food stores not really checking the labels but i definitely will from now on. I report again after my next 8/hr mask treatment.

  9. Thanks for all the advice/information on this link. I’ve had melasma for 2 years. This and other links prompted me to get my hormones checked as I suspected it may be a consequence of stress. Not too worried about the cosmetic impact for now and will treat when ready but was keen to get to the root of the cause especially if dietary. Keen to work from inside out as not been feeling right for years. Was diagnosed with primary hypothyroidism last weds and have been taking levothyroxine (75ug) daily since. Also introduced some vitamin/minerals including vitD, iron, calcium as bone profile and iron are also challenged. I suggest that anyone living with melasma also gets their thyroid function checked to ensure hypothyroidism is not the underlying cause.

    1. Hi there Scoot:-) Glad to hear you found some answers. I’ve been only responding to the external issues with Melasma, but yes, yo uare right about the hormones. I also am not on .50mg of levothyroxine, started one year ago, and it does seem to have helped with my Melasma somewhat. I checked my hormones because of a number of other symptoms, including weight gain and mood swings. Hormones are absolutely why we are suffering from Melasma, it’s an estrogen issue. But lately I’ve been sharing my success with what I use externally. So let me say this before I go; if you are working to regulate your hormones with thyroid meds, you won’t get very far if you are trying to hide your Melasma with products that contain estrogen mimmicing ingrediants. You can’t fight the battle from the inside while thwarting all your efforts from the outside. What you apply directly to your skin has EVERYTHING to do with your Melasma. So fight it from the inside..alllll the way out:-)
      Your kins absorbs everything you put on it. So hormones and makeup…those are our little battles. We all react differently to eveything we try, but hormones are HUGE..and so is skin product. Take care, have a great day. OH! I said this before a while ago but I will repeat it; Luminess Makeup, the make up you SPRAY on, has NO parabens and nothing that is bad for your skin..nothing! it’s fabulous, it covers anyything, it’s wonderful. Look it up, watch the video, and consider making the purchase. I use it every day and even waitresses ask me how I get my skin so smooth and even. And my Melasma, on it’s worst days, doesn’t show:-)
      good luck to you.

      1. Hi Robbi,

        My estrogen levels are very low. Im losing estrogen which helps keep you youthful. Loss of estrogen in mature people is what causes aging. You lose estrogen as you age. You know all the good stuff (ewe) thin gray hair, dryness, wrinkles, emotions, everything that has to do with menopause, etc. Some people opt to take hormone replacement therapy (HRT=estrogen) which has a high risk of contributing to breast cancer. I opt to eat soy for that reason (mimicks estrogen). Since researching Melasma I’ve tried not eating soy products and my Melasma seems worse. However, that’s one of the symptoms of Melasma it goes and comes, look worse then better. You think something is working and then its not. Drives me nuts. It will eventually go away the older you get, like really older. Meanwhile I will keep trying to get rid of it. The other day I meet a lady who uses laser (some type of fractional laser on a low frequency) to keep hers under control and I couldnt tell she had Melasma until she pointed it out. She is extremely fair skin. Will keep posting results. Thanks again!

        1. I don’t think it’s a simple as oestrogen dominance as some suggest but melasma is linked to hormone imbalances. I think trying to balance your hormones naturally is a really good place to start. I’ve been taking flaxseed (linseed) daily (2 tbsp. whole seeds soaked in water overnight and added to my breakfast) plus 1-2 tbsp. hemp seed oil with breakfast and believe this is helping to balance my hormones because my cycle is now a proper length (it was a few days short before) and my periods are slowly getting a bit longer (they only lasted 2 days before) plus I had nasty hormonal acne, especially around my chin and jawline, and that has cleared up. I also have very noticeable melasma on forehead/cheeks which I think is starting to show improvements after a couple of months. For reference I’m 33 and believe my melasma may be caused by a combination of: birth control for many years + a prolonged period of intense stress + repeated use of amoxiline type antibiotics for tonsillitis + repeated candida infections (during the stressful period) + over-exposure to sun. I am also trying to integrate fermented foods such as kefir regularly, have reduced gluten and generally a eat a less acidic more alkalinizing diet.

  10. Hi,
    I’ve had melasma for 2yrs and been taking all the supplements as you guys did, even did ACV, castor oil and they did not work, I did some reasearch on a cream called elocon and started using it and in 1 month’s time my melasma faded 85%’ now this cream is used for hyperpigmentation as well as eczema its been about 2 months and I’m happy to say that I don’t have to look into my mirror and keep wondering when is face ever going to clear up, now I’m still taking all my supplements but I don’t do the ACV or castor oil anymore.
    Supplements

    GSE
    Calcium
    Magnesium
    Zinc
    Pycnogenol Complex
    Msm
    Vitamin B12
    itamin C
    Pure Cod Liver OIL with Omega 3
    Milk Thistle

  11. Karlene, I am assuming that the elocon is a precription medication? Very interested in reading more about it!

    Thank you so happy for your results; I too use ACV w/water on my skin daily!

  12. In my case the melasma is caused by birth control pills. The pill is one of the major factors of estrogen dominance in women before menopause.
    So I stopped taking them. And what happened? My melasma will take time. As I know it will take a year until I see results and ca. four years until it will disappear completely as I heard of other women with the same problem.
    In traditional chinese medicine melasma corresponds to the liver. The birth control pills are bad for the liver. Indeed they increase the risk of liver cancer.
    But my personality changed for the positive. I am less devot, won’t put up with anything anymore, have more self-confidence, much less self-doubt, have much more energy, clarity of mind, the mind-fog disappeared …
    And the rapid heart palptation in the nights are gone. My libido is back. And it’s just 2 1/2 months since I stopped taking those birth controll pills, that are powerful steroids and a cortison-derivate. It is hurting your body and killing babies. No doctor told us that it is abortion to use it. It inhibits nidation. And it pollutes the environment.
    Don’t take them. There are alternatives. Read “Taking charge of your fertility”.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Ursula. All those side effects are quite alarming, to say the least! I’m glad you’re off the BCPs.

  13. hi dre im saloni n have been facing pigmentation since 04 years now on face cheeks upperlips and forehead. i have tried many doctors and even peels but no use . please help donn knw if its because of hormonal imbalance and as if now m nt taking any supplements.

    1. Please try Folic Acid supplements. You can take 1 mg daily. I had this problem for years and believe the Folic Acid got rid of it. It is caused by a deficiency in your body. Google Mask of Pregnancy for more info.

  14. thanks jan for the reply.there are few thngs i wanna mention before i start taking any supplements. i am 30 yr old n m unmarried n hve never taken any pills or got pregnant. this pigmentation is there for last four years have wasted money and tried even peels nithing worked on my pigmented areas like cheeks forehead n upperlip and how mycg time will it take and i hope taking supplements do not have side effecrs uf any. thanks alot sir

    1. Hi, Saloni.

      I’m a 60-year old lady and not a man. lol

      I take folic acid due to my Rheumatoid Arthritis, and it is a needed vitamin and is very cheap. You can buy it at Wal-Mart, but now I’m getting it by prescription.

      When I Googled melasma, I thought I read that birth control pills could cause it.

      Do remember that I was using Retin-A sparingly and blamed it on it, but now feel that had nothing to do with it.

      Benzoyl Peroxide (Oxy Face Wash) type things cause the melasma to darken I’ve read, but I use it now where needed.

      Since you’ve tried all those fading treatments, it does sound like something internally is causing it.

      Know what you’re going through, and I hope you can find a solution.

      Regards,

      Jan

  15. hi everyone

    i am a 20year old indian female -who has a dark pigmentation on my cheek and nose bridge which started two years ago,ive been to a dermatologist we have tried many creams,now he has refered me to go for laser treatment which is my last option ,he hasnt been able to tell me what the cause is so im not sure how to treat it.

    any advice would be much appreciated

    thanks:)

    1. Hi tish, do you suspect that it’s melasma? If so, it may be a good idea to tackle the issue internally (there are suggestions on this page). Otherwise, it may just recur even after treatment.

      Also I would strongly suggest you reconsider going for laser treatment since you probably have Type IV or V skin (most Asians do). This increases the chance of hyper- or hypo- pigmentation with laser treatment.

      With Type IV or V skin, the best methods are the ones that are the least invasive/damaging. You may want to try a deep, healing oil like castor oil (I’ve had amazing results with it) or shea butter. Over several months, with patience and consistent applications, I believe this can help fade your dark marks.

      Hope that helps.

      Sam

  16. hi sam

    i really appreciate thee advise :)you are the first person who actually responded to me ..such a sweetheart , ill let you know how it goes

    thanks

  17. Being someone who has been to the dermatologist to battle my melasma and dark spots, I have to recommend to you the Lady Soma Renewal Serum (w/ hyaluronic acid). Its the only over the counter product that has actually worked! The spots are not gone but significantly faded to where you do not notice them after putting on my makeup. I tried Nerium for a month and it did nothing!! Nothing completely disappears without major dermatological help but the Lady Soma Serum has done exactly what I wanted it to do.

    It took about 3 weeks to see results so hang in there and stay out of the sun.

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