Dealing with melasma is tough. This hormone-related pigmentation on your forehead, cheeks, and chin is cosmetically frustrating, and stays the course. These areas don’t get blotchy as they darken, but they look different than the rest of your skin tone. Plus, they’re hard to cover up with makeup and can be distracting.

The Trigger

Typically, women notice the onset of melasma with a change in hormones. Birth control, pregnancy, or hormone treatments usually trigger initial pigmentation problems.

Related Link: Your Guide to Melasma: Causes, Treatment Options, and What to Expect

Something like this happens: you’re dealing with a hormone issue. You go out in the sun as usual. You notice a drastic change in your pigment. And it’s not just a tan. It only appears on certain areas of your face and lingers long after the tan fades. Even once the hormones have balanced out again, the patches remain.

The Treatment Plan

If you’ve noticed a pigmentation that stays after summer has gone, it’s time for treatment. To deal with your melasma, follow this basic three-step process that both prevents and removes pigment.

1. Sunscreen

The first step to all skin care regimens is sunscreen. For melasma, it blocks more pigmentation. If we stop the cause of darker skin, then we keep your melasma from worsening.

Be meticulous. Apply sunscreen to your face every day even when you’re not outdoors. If you are outside, apply it at regular intervals. Even one missed application can set you back for months in fighting the pigment.

2. Retinol

The next step is to get rid of the pigment that’s already there. Retinol (or retinae) causes the skin cells to turn over more rapidly, sloughing off some of that darker skin. The more cell-turnover that takes place, the more improvement you’ll see in your pigmentation.

3. Pigment Blocker

Finally, we try to block pigmentation at the source. Pigment blockers work to minimize melanin production. We recommend non-hydroquinone products, which we carry in our office. They prevent pigment from being produced, without putting your skin at any further risk.

Once melasma appears, you fight a constant battle to keep it under control. Follow these three steps every day if you don’t want it to come back.

The Catalyst Treatment

To jumpstart your results, strategically plan a chemical peel. Not all peels treat pigmentation, so choose the right kind. We see great results from the Color Corrective peel. This SkinCeutical product specifically targets pigments causing the skin to shed while preventing pigments from coming back.

Related Link: Which Chemical Peel is Right for Your Skin?

Before you get your peel, follow the sunscreen-retinol-pigment blocker routine for at least a month. Then you’ve primed your skin for treatment. For even better results, consider a series of peels.

With the right routine, you can manage your melasma. You’ll establish a pattern of fighting it during the summer, coming in during the fall for your peels, then enjoying clear skin during the winter. In each season, follow your daily three-step regimen and keep those shadows away!