Tips for more even skin tone: An expert tells you how to treat hormone-and sun-induced pigmentation blotches – Beauty Rx
More than 5 million American women suffer from melasma, a common pigmentation disorder — why we asked Amy B. Lewis, M.D., a New York City dermatologist, for the best ways to treat and prevent it.
THE BASIC FACTS
When skin prone to melasma is exposed to the sun’s rays, melanocytes (pigment cells) in the epidermis signal melanosomes (found within the pigment cells) to produce and then transfer melanin to surrounding skin cells. This appears on the surface of the skin as uneven, darker patches of pigmentation. Experts aren’t sure why the mottled pigmentation results instead of skin’s typical response to the sun, an even tan.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Three things that need to be present with melasma:
* Tan or brown patches of pigmentation on the forehead, cheeks and/or upper lip.
* Hormonal changes from pregnancy (melasma is sometimes called “the mask of pregnancy”), birth control, menopause or hormone-replacement therapy.
* Family history “If you have a hereditary predisposition, chances are you’ll get it,” Lewis says.
To prevent and treat pigmentation, Beauty Rx:
1. Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen every day. You need a sunblock that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of at least 30. Try Sea & Ski All Day Suncare SPF 30 ($9) or Coppertone Oil Free Sensitive Skin Sunblock Lotion SPF 30 ($10; both at drugstores). None of the treatments listed below will work if you don’t also use sun protection.
3. Get a peel. Six to eight glycolic peels or microderma brasion every two to four weeks can help even skin tone.
2. Apply bleaching creams. Try prescription hydroquinone, found in Glyquin (glyquin.com) and Lustra (lustra.com). There’s also Tri-Luma Cream (triluma.com), which combines hydroquinone and tretinoin with a low-potency steroid and has been shown to be more effective than either alone. Over-the-counter lighteners with kojic acid and hydroquinone also work, though it takes longer to see results. Lewis’ pick La Roche-Posay BioMedic Conditioning Gel Plus ($30; laroche-posay.us). Avoid these creams if you’re pregnant.
4. Use concealer. Choose a creamy, blendable, yellow-based product one shade lighter than your skin color; we like Vincent Longo Creme Concealer ($16; 877-LONGO-99).
RELATED ARTICLE: WHAT WORKS Applying broad-spectrum sunblock — every day; no matter what — is the most important tool in preventing melasma, says Amy B. Lewis, M.D., a New York city dermatologist and director of cosmetic dermatology at State university of New York Downstate Medical center in Brooklyn. “Your skin doesn’t care if you’re lying on a beach or walking outside to the store,” she explains. “Ultraviolet rays can penetrate glass, so you’re exposed even if you’re in your office near a window or in your car.” The fair-skinned Lewis avoids spending hours in the sun and also religiously applies protection to stay healthy and looking her, best. Her advice: Incorporate sun protection into your routine with a daily moisturizer with SPF. And if you spend extended time outside, reapply sunscreen often.
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