Go to AAD Home
Donate For AAD Members Search

Go to AAD Home

Melasma: Self-care

Tips to make melasma less noticeable

If you have melasma, dermatologists recommend these tips for achieving a more even skin tone.

3 ways to make melasma less noticeable

Melasma is a common skin problem that causes brown, tan, grayish brown, or bluish gray patches on the face, depending on your skin tone. Although the exact causes of melasma are unclear, common triggers include sunlight, pregnancy, and birth control pills.

If you have melasma, dermatologists recommend the following tips for achieving a more even skin tone:

  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
    • Zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide to physically limit the effects of the sun’s rays on your skin and iron oxide

    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 on tropical beach, protecting her skin from the sun with shade and a wide-brimmed hat

  2. 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.

  3. Avoid waxing. It’s important to avoid waxing areas of the body with melasma. Waxing may cause skin inflammation, which can worsen melasma. Ask a dermatologist about other types of hair removal that may be right for you.

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

Reviewed by:
Arturo Dominquez, MD, FAAD
Ivy Lee, MD, FAAD

Last updated: 2/15/22