Melasma: the Mask of Pregnancy

Melasma is frequently referred to as the “mask of pregnancy.”  This is because it frequently occurs in women who are pregnant. However, don’t let the term fool you.  Melasma can last after the pregnancy, and it can occur in people who are not pregnant.

So what is melasma? It’s a condition where brown or tan patches appear on the face. It is usually symmetric and most commonly affects the cheek, temple and forehead areas.

Why does melasma occur? We don’t really know.  It predominantly occurs in women, and its occurrence with pregnancy or the use of oral contraceptives implies a hormonal factor.  However, it can occur without an apparent hormonal change as well.  It also frequently affects Hispanics and Asians as well, suggesting a demographic or genetic connection as well.

So how do you treat melasma? Well, first off, make sure to sun protect!  Melasma worsens with sun exposure and sometimes it doesn’t take all that much sun (e.g. just from walking to and from work) to set it off.  Get a broad-spectrum sunscreen for your face.

But how do you get rid of melasma if you already have it? Well, it is TOUGH.  First, I’d recommend that you see a dermatologist.  It would be important to make sure that your dark patches are melasma and not something else.  Your dermatologist may then recommend products to use on the skin or certain procedures. Keep in mind that melasma is hard to “cure” and these techniques may be variable in their effectiveness.

So, do you have melasma? And if so, what has or has not worked for you?

What are cosmeceuticals?

You may have seen or heard the term cosmeceuticals on the web, on TV, in your local department store or in beauty product store like Sephora or Ulta.  So what does the term cosmeceuticals refer to?  The word was coined to reflect products that have aspects of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals by Dr. Arthur Kligman. These are products that are applied to the skin, but unlike cosmetics, are meant to do more than to simply mask or color the face.  Unlike pharmaceuticals, these products do NOT need to be FDA approved and thus do not undergo the rigorous testing that the FDA requires to show that they have some biologic effect.  Additionally, they do not need to undergo testing that the FDA requires for drugs.

You’ve probably seen skin care lines that fall under cosmeceuticals; many of these lines were developed with or by physicians.  These products may include anti-aging products, sunscreens, or lightening products.

So now the next time you see the term cosmeceutical, you’ll know what it means!

What is your favorite cosmeceutical product?