Melasma, also called chloasma, is a common skin problem. It occurs in women during pregnancy and is sometimes called the ‘mask of pregnancy’. Triggered by factors like birth control, menopause and pregnancy, the condition usually subsides on its own. It can be treated by dermatologists as well, but there is no permanent cure for this skin issue. If you are looking for a more wholesome way of treating it, here are some remedies for safe and gentle melasma treatment at home.

Possible spots for melasma

Seen a lot more in women than men (90% of the cases are women), the condition causes dark, brown coloured patches on your skin. The patches of discoloration are darker than the skin's natural complexion. A distinctive feature of melasma is that it occurs on the face and in a symmetrical pattern, with matching marks on both sides of the face. Other areas of your body can also develop this condition, especially if they are exposed to the sun. The skin discoloration is not harmful in nature but can be aesthetically displeasing to look at.


1. What causes melasma?

What causes melasma?

While it is still unknown what actually causes melasma, there are some well-documented risk factors for the same:

  • Complexion:

Dark and dusky-skinned women are more likely to get melasma than fair or wheatish complexions.

  • Hormones:

Skin sensitivity to estrogen and progesterone has been associated with the majority of the cases. Since birth control pills, pregnancy and menopause can disturb the levels of these hormones, they all become risk factors for the skin condition.

  • Sun exposure:

UV rays are known to disturb the melanin levels in your skin, leading to more pigment being produced in certain areas of the skin.

  • Other factors:

Other common causes of skin issues like stress and thyroid disease can also trigger melasma in women.


2. Home remedies for melasma

Home remedies for melasma

Now that you have a clear idea of what this skin issue is all about, let's look at some home remedies to deal with melasma. We do need to mention that melasma is purely an aesthetic issue and stubborn in nature. So, unless you are opting for in-office treatments, the result for melasma entails long-term commitment and skin-maintenance. For instance, home remedies like aloe vera or turmeric need to be followed through regularly. Only them you can expect long-lasting results for the same. So read on to discover all the ways you can deal with melasma at home...


i) Aloe vera for melasma

Aloe vera for melasma

Natural or store-bought aloe vera gel is known to relieve many inflammation issues in the skin. It is highly moisturising, deeply hydrating and gentle in nature. So much so that clinical trials have shown that liposome-encapsulated aloe vera has shown to relieve melasma in pregnant women. It works by rehydrating dry skin, penetrating deep into the skin's layer to nourish it and protect it from the harmful effects of UV exposure.


ii) Turmeric for melasma

Turmeric for melasma

Curcumin, the primary compound turmeric is made of, is a popular antioxidant and antimutagenic, and is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. This is why turmeric is a popular ingredient in Ayurvedic skin solutions and natural ubtans. The skincare benefits of turmeric extend to treating melasma as well. It provides protection against UV rays and inhibits melanin production in the skin. Curcumin is also known to reduce hyperpigmentation and when combined with other additives like gram flour and milk, becomes a nourishing scrub or mask for lovers of homemade DIY skin solutions.


iii) Liquorice extract for melasma

Liquorice extract for melasma

There are a couple of ways you can utilize liquorice extract for controlling melasma - either use it in a DIY face mask (mixed with sandalwood to avoid dryness) or seek over-the-counter topical creams with the ingredient. Licorice root contains active ingredients which inhibit tyrosinase, the enzyme that causes pigmentation triggered by sun exposure.


iv) Black tea water for melasma

Black tea water for melasma

Much like green tea, black tea water can be used as a spot-lightening treatment. The astringent properties of tea soothe and calm inflammatory pigmentation and it is also very moisturising in nature. Use a cotton ball to dab steeped black tea onto dark patches of melasma on your face. Do this twice a day for best results.


v) Orchid extracts for melasma

Orchid extracts for melasma

Primarily used in Korean skincare staples, orchid extracts have been known to relieve melasma-related hyperpigmentation in women. While it didn't completely heal them, the ingredient did reduce the size of the dark patches and toned the overall complexion of the skin. The best way to utilise this ingredient for your skin is in the form of serums, nourishing creams, gentle scrubs, and hydrating masks.


vi) Red lentils for melasma

Red lentils for melasma

Rich in antioxidants, red lentils (masoor dal) can treat melasma-induced hyperpigmentation as well. A DIY face mask prepared with mashed lentils has been used in Ayurvedic beauty practices as a skin brightening treatment. To make your own mask, soak red lentils in water overnight and blend it into a thick paste the next morning. Apply the paste on your face for 20 minutes and rinse with cold water. Follow it up with a light moisturiser to counter any dryness.


vii) Tomato paste for melasma

Tomato paste for melasma

Tomato paste is especially helpful in treating melasma caused by sun exposure. Lycopene, a primary compound found in tomatoes, is known to protect the skin from short term and long term photodamage caused by UV exposure. A mask made out of tomato paste and olive oil used twice a week can help fade melasma in a gentle way.


3. Pro Tip: Sun protection

Pro Tip: Sun protection

As mentioned before, exposure to UV rays has also been associated with triggering melasma, making it worse in some cases. As a precautionary measure, use a wide spectrum sunscreen every time you step out of the house. You can also take the help of broad-brimmed hats and scarves to protect your skin from direct sun exposure.


4. Did you know?

Did you know?

Since hyperpigmentation is more of a cosmetic issue than a medical one, there are multiple in-clinic treatments your dermatologist can recommend for treating the same. Chemical peels, dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, laser treatment, light-based procedures and micro-needling can all be opted to get rid of melasma-induced pigmentation.

As for topical solutions, your dermatologist can prescribe ingredients like tretinoin, corticosteroids, triple cream (a combination of hydroquinone, tretinoin, and a corticosteroid), azelaic acid and kojic acid.


5. FAQs about melasma treatments at home

FAQs about melasma treatments at home

1) Why won't my melasma go away?

A. As mentioned before, in most cases, melasma goes away on its own without treatment. It can fade away slowly if you stop taking birth control pills or undergo hormone replacement therapy. Melasma triggered by pregnancy, on the other hand, may fade after a few months after the birth of the baby. But if all else fails, you can consult a dermatologist for strong topical and oral medications and also in-clinic treatments.

2) Can vitamin C help fade melasma?

A. While vitamin C is a trendy ingredient used in many brightening treatments, its inability to penetrate the skin deeply makes it less than useful in treating melasma, or PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation).

3) Can you use makeup to cover-up melasma?

A. Yes, you can use colour correctors to cover up melasma temporarily. Deep orange and peach tones can easily help veil the dark patches on your skin and blend them with your complexion in a natural-looking way.