My Melasma Skincare Routine is All About Preventing Dark Spots

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Cleanse, moisturize, sleep, repeat - or not. From the maximalists with 18 products to the makers and shakers, everyone's skin care is different. In A.M. to P.M. we examine the morning and evening routines of people with different skin care problems, from fighting acne to vegan beauty.
Age: 46 years
Skin type: combination
Skin problems: melasma
Melasma is a skin condition that is extremely difficult and frustrating to deal with. For one, there is a strong hormonal component, meaning that some people get it while pregnant, while for others, like me, it's a benign pigment disease that can occur due to a combination of factors ranging from genetic makeup to exposure to the sun towards hormones and inflammation. The worst part? There is no magic panacea to completely eradicate it.
Although you can get melasma in your twenties, most women will see it in their thirties or forties. Mine started with a small stain on my right cheek in my mid 30's and it's still there but under control - a faint stain that gets darker or lighter depending on how well I take care of it. The one thing doctors will tell you is that melasma can easily worsen due to exposure to the sun, so sun protection is crucial.
Over the years I've tried all kinds of treatments, from lasers and IPL to chemical peels, topical retinoids, and much more. I'm also a fan of various skin care products, but for all that, I've come up with a core skin care routine that works.
In the morning I splash cold water on my face and cleanse with a gentle detergent. I have a couple of different cleaners on rotation depending on how I feel in the morning. When I wake up feeling like my skin just needs a quick cleanse, I use Nuxe Micellar Water Duo, a micellar foam cleanser with rose petals that is extra gentle and won't rub off my skin.
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On the days that I wake up with clogged pores, I add pearl micro-scrub to the mixture. I used the Replenix Fortified Exfoliation Scrub, a self-heating scrub that thoroughly cleanses my pores with its graininess. It also contains green tea extract and bamboo stem extracts, which do not irritate my skin.
I use my life-changing and indispensable product in my skin care routine every day and without mistakes: Be Plain Cicaful Ampoule. It is a South Korean product made from 84% Centella asiatica extract that reduces inflammation, soothes redness and prevents pimples. Since using it I've noticed my skin is calmer and less likely to break out. The best part is that it's completely transparent, non-sticky, and lightweight. Hyaluronic acid and chamomile extract give it extra moisture, and I can honestly say that it has become the secret armor.
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To reduce the appearance of fine lines around my eyes and to give this delicate skin the moisture it needs, I follow the ampoule with the application of eye cream. I use Biossance Squalane Peptide Eye Gel as a daily eye cream that contains niacinamide to help with dark circles and that wonderfully ultra-smooth texture that manages to instantly revitalize that area of ​​skin.
It took me some time to find a moisturizer that was light enough to wear under my sunscreen and makeup, but the Avène TriAcnéal Day Mattifying Lotion does the trick. It has a very light and uplifting scent and gives my skin a smooth, matte finish with enough moisture to keep my skin moist and fresh.
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The final step in my morning routine is one that I never skip: sunscreen. For someone with melasma, this is a critical step without skipping. Because of my combination skin, it was important to me to find a sunscreen that was lightweight and non-comedogenic - the one I've used for the past ten years is the Anthelios Ultra Light Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF 60 from La Roche-Posay. I like that it has no scent, glides smoothly, isn't sticky, and doesn't leave any white residue on my face.
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My nightly skin regimen is a little different than my morning skin regimen as the night is better suited to utilizing the powerful ingredients that keep my melasma in check. First, I clean my skin with Glycolix Elite 10% Moisturizing Cleanser. This is a wonderful cleanser for my melasma and acne prone skin as it uses glycolic acid to promote cell turnover, which clogs pores and leaves skin looking glowing and healthy. I also like the moisturizing aspect of the cleanser, which removes makeup from my skin without stripping it of moisture.
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On days when I wear mascara or eye makeup, I use Klorane's eye makeup remover with organically grown cornflower for its gentle, anti-inflammatory, and non-irritating properties. Then I wipe Nuxe Paris Toning Lotion with rose petals all over my face to tighten pores and remove any remaining makeup. I love the smell and feel of this toner. Once my skin is clean, I apply my Be Plain Cicaful Ampoule and Biossance Squalane Peptide Eye Gel.
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Once a week I apply a thin layer of a prescription Retin-A .025% topical cream to my face. This is the lowest prescription retinoid you can get, and I only use it once a week as this is all my skin can handle without getting red and sore. Retinoids are fantastic for anti-aging and for melasma the retinoid increases the peeling of dead skin cells, which leads to new skin formation and a reduction in pigmentation.
Once or twice a week I use a prescription 4% hydroquinone (HQ) gel that I get from my dermatologist. Hydroquinone is the gold standard in treating melasma because it disrupts pigment formation at the cellular level and prevents pigment formation. I've tried other products and brighteners (arburtin, kojic acid, and vitamin C), but nothing works as well as good old hydroquinone for my melasma.
On the nights I use the Retin-A, I like to apply a moisturizing night cream to counteract the dryness. Replenix Restorative Nighttime Bio-Therapy is filled with ceramides, stem cells, peptides and antioxidants. Therefore, I apply it generously so that my skin absorbs all the good nutrients while I sleep.
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Then, on the nights I use my prescription hydroquinone, I apply COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, a gel-like substance that nourishes the skin and maintains moisture without irritation. If you're not on the snail mucin train, don't knock until you try. I only needed one bottle to become a true believer.
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