Are you bothered by hyperpigmentation, sunspots, or melasma? I’ve got you covered. I am no stranger to the frustration of dealing with spots! Ugh! I’ve dealt with sunspots on these farm-girl arms for the past 20 years! I finally woke up in my mid-30s and got my arms out of the sun!

There is hope, my fellow spotted friends! You can reverse sun damage. You can lighten melasma. But before we get into the treatments, let’s review the causes of sunspots and melasma.

Melasma is strongly correlated with fluctuating hormonal levels, such as when you are on birth control pills, during pregnancy, and during perimenopause and menopause. It is characterized by patches of brown or bluish-gray spots or discoloration. While 15-50% of pregnant women suffer from melasma, a predisposition to developing melasma has a genetic component.

Melasma is made worse by the sun, although it is not caused by sun exposure. It is most common on sun-exposed areas such as the cheeks, forehead, chin, chest, neck, and arms. Other causes of melasma include hypothyroidism, LED screens, antiseizure medication, and synthetic hormones. There is also a link between hypothyroidism and melasma. So, if you have melasma, you may want to get a full thyroid panel.

Sunspots, on the other hand, are spots caused by over-exposure to UV rays. Sunspots develop closer to the skin’s surface and are much easier to treat than melasma.

My top treatments for hyperpigmentation, melasma, and sunspots:

  1. Sunscreen – I cannot stress this enough. The first line of defense is prevention. If you already have melasma or sunspots, protect your skin at all costs (and sunscreen is not very costly)! Apply a broad spectrum sunblock of SPF 30-50 and wear a wide-brimmed hat outdoors.
  2. Hydroquinone – This prescription-strength skin lightener can be used for up to four months. It is highly effective! However, this increases your risk of skin cancer threefold, and long-term use can affect your liver and kidneys. In addition, long-term hydroquinone use can cause an irreversible blackening of the skin called exogenous ochronosis. Doctor supervision is required. However, there are a few online skincare lines that prescribe hydroquinone for a few months and send it to you in the mail.
    • Musley.com
    • Curology.com
  3. Tretinoin – This is a prescription-strength retinoid. It is clinically proven to lighten hyperpigmentation and sunspots, even out skin tone and texture, and treat melasma.

    My Favorites:

    • .05% Tretinoin, obtained from your dermatologist
    • The Ordinary 1% Retinal in Squalane
    • Paula’s Choice 1% Retinal
  4. Niacinamide – This B3 vitamin treats acne, reduces pore size, evens skin tone, treats melasma, and hyperpigmentation, strengthens skin’s natural barrier, and fights free radicals… so it treats and protects as well. It’s a super-product!

    My favorites:

    • Paula’s Choice 10% niacinamide
    • Ordinary 10%, 1% zinc
    • First Aid Beauty
  5. Chemical Peels – If you missed my live show about at-home chemical peels, check it out!

    My favorites:

    • The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2%
    • Paula’s Choice 25% AHA + 2% BHA
  6. Other effective skincare ingredients – azelaic acid, kojic acid, tranexamic acid, alpha-arbutin, licorice extract, vitamin C, and tranexamic acid.

    My favorites:

  7. Light Pulse Lasers – These in-office lasers target the melanin in the skin to break up hyperpigmentation and absorb it back into the body. (Low fluence Q-switched lasers, as well as non-ablative fractional lasers, are also used as treatments. However, these made the spots on my arms worse.)
    • IPL (Intense Pulsed Light Laser), also known as a photo facial, works well to reduce hyperpigmentation, such as sunspots; however, spot-testing is recommended. Melasma may be made worse by light pulse lasers. Be sure to wait 3-6 weeks between the spot test and the first treatment. It usually takes 3-6 weeks to see results and requires multiple sessions. For more information, check out my YouTube video highlighting this effective treatment.
  8. Vitamin D – Although no vitamin can prevent hyperpigmentation, a diet rich in Vitamin D is likely to help. Healthy sources of Vitamin D include raw almonds, almond milk, eggs, oily fish, mushrooms, and yogurt.
  9. Red Light Therapy – Red light therapy masks, such as the Omnilux Contour, have shown significant improvement in overall skin tone as well as lightening melasma and discolorations.
  10. Sunscreen – (see treatment #1…you can’t get enough of it!)

So that’s it! Those are my top 10 treatments for hyperpigmentation, including sunspots and melasma. These treatments WORK, and I have the post-farm-girl-arms to prove it.

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