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Melasma: Self-care

4 dermatologist tips to make melasma less noticeable

If your melasma bothers you, board-certified dermatologists recommend these tips to achieve a more even skin tone.

4 ways to make melasma less noticeable

Melasma is a skin condition that causes darker spots to appear when the cells that give your skin color — melanocytes — are more active. This can happen because of sun exposure, pregnancy, stress, a medical condition, or after taking medications, such as oral contraceptive pills. Your melasma may be more noticeable if you have darker skin.

Although melasma may go away on its own, for some people, it can last for years. If your melasma bothers you, a board-certified dermatologist can create a treatment plan. Dermatologists also recommend following these tips to help make melasma less noticeable:

  1. Protect your skin from the sun every day. One of the most common treatments for melasma is sun protection.

    Since sunlight triggers melasma, it is important to protect your skin every day, even on cloudy days and after swimming or sweating. Whenever possible, seek shade when outdoors and wear sun-protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection. For more effective protection, select a hat that has an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) number on the label.

    Apply sunscreen to all skin not covered by clothing. Choose a sunscreen that offers:

    • Broad-spectrum protection
    • Water-resistance
    • SPF of 30 or more

    Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside, and reapply it at least every two hours.

    Along with protecting your skin from the sun, you need to stay out of tanning beds and never use sunlamps

    Indoor tanning devices can worsen melasma and prevent treatment from working.

    Woman protecting her skin from worsening melasma by sitting under a beach umbrella and wearing a wide-brimmed hat
  2. Protect yourself from visible light with tinted sunscreen. Visible light has been shown to worsen melasma, especially for people with darker skin tones. Use a tinted sunscreen that contains iron oxide in addition to having an SPF of 30 or higher.

  3. Choose gentle, fragrance-free skin care products. If a skin care product burns or stings when you use it, the product is irritating your skin. This may darken dark spots

  4. Cover up with makeup. It takes time for melasma treatments to work. Covering an uneven skin tone caused by melasma may boost your self-esteem if the appearance bothers you. If you choose to cover your melasma, a dermatologist can give you tips for getting natural-looking results.

If your melasma does not go away, see a board-certified dermatologist to discuss available treatments for melasma, such as prescription medications or in-office procedures.

Video created by the American Academy of Dermatology.

Getty Images

Written by:
Brooke Schleehauf

Reviewed by:
Laurel Geraghty, MD, FAAD
Neelam Khan, MD, MS, FAAD
Ata Moshiri, MD, MPH, FAAD
Darrell S. Rigel, MD, FAAD
Sanna Ronkainen, MD, FAAD
Desmond Shipp, MD, FAAD

Last updated: 9/12/23