Best Melasma Treatments & Skincare

Good Morning America: Dr. Whitney Bowe and Ginger Zee Discuss her Melasma / My Own Improvement without Hydroquinone

Picture of the melasma, hyperpigmentation and dark spot improvement on my face without harsh chemicals or hydroquinone.

Did you catch Good Morning America Wednesday (February 8) ? ABC meteorologist Ginger Zee and her Dr. Whitney Bowe discussed Ginger’s struggle with Melasma during and after her pregnancy. Major shout out to my mom for always looking out for me! (I’m a Today show watcher so I would have missed this 🙂 )

I really appreciate Ginger turning her self-consciousness into action, and sharing her story to help other women. While melasma or the “mask of pregnancy” as some call it is very common during pregnancy, for many of us it can suddenly appear without the pregnancy factor. I wish they had touched on this more in the segment.

My doctors have shared with me that it’s brought on by a shift in hormones or some medication can affect it. For me, I was just a happy spf-loving 20 year old who liked the beach. After a long afternoon on Sullivan’s Island (outside of Charleston, SC) however, I went back to my apartment and was shocked when I looked in the mirror: my face looked dirty. What were those brown patches?

Update: my awesome clean beauty melasma results!

What do I think triggered my melasma?

I wasn’t taking hormonal birth control at the time. I had been taking metformin for a few years at that point but I don’t think that was a factor. However I take metformin because of insulin issues and insulin is a hormone. I had started taking levoxyl for my thyroid about a year prior to the arrival of my melasma – maybe it was that?

Looking back on it now, I was also pretty stressed at the time. I wasn’t eating as well as I do now and I was having fairly frequent hypoglycemic episodes. And even though I was still years away from graduating college, I was extremely focused on doing well in school and being prepared to land a great job in a small town in a competitive field. I had also let some stressful, not supportive (for lack of a better term) people into my life – and I was holding onto that stress and not talking about it with the right people. And finally I was running – A LOT – a bit too much without giving myself proper rest. I had created a recipe for disharmony (and adrenal fatigue).

Dr. Whitney Bowe’s Treatment Plan for Ginger Zee

Check out Dr. Whitney Bowe’s blog:

In a nut shell Dr. Bowe recommends:

  • Stay away from lemon juice remedies and heat like tanning beds and hot yoga.
  • Serums with lightening ingredients like Vitamin C, Kojic acid, licorice and Soy
    • I use a lot of different vitamin C products as part of my melasma and dark spot regimen (more posts on that soon 🙂 ). I’ve seen lots of products with kojic acid over time – I need to pay more attention to licorice. I try not to use too many products with soy in them though.
  • Lots of sun block and hats. I work hard to wear quality natural or organic ingredient sunblock and spf every day. This is also the number one recommendation from my dermatologist for my melasma, hyperpigmentation and vitiligo.
  • She does not recomend lasers. Most of my dermatologists in the past 8 years or so are not fans of lasers either.
  • You have to be patient. I totally get that! I’m young but 10 years in and still working on it!

Dr. Bowe’s Treatment Plan for Ginger Zee

  • Morning: use a gentle cleanser, dry your face, then apply a sunscreen (Dr. Bower recommends La Roche Posay) with drop of SkinCeuticals C E FERULICÂŽ Vitamin C serum mixed in – apply to face and neck
    • I’m trying a few other serums before I may test SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Acid vitamin C serum. I also don’t like the idea of phenoxyethanol which EWG SkinDeep database says is a fragrance agent and preservative. There are reviews that say this is effective but also that the smell is awful and I’m very sensitive to scents.
    • I understand why people like La Roche Posay Anthelios broad spectrum uva/uvb sunscreen – it’s paraben free, fragrance free and appropriate for sensitive skin – many of there formulas are now paraben free.  They have many different formulas, but this anti-aging one for face  has octisalate and homosalate (an endocrine disruptor) as chemical sunscreen ingredients. I prefer zinc oxide as a UV filter.
  • Day: Dr. Bowe recommends wearing a hat outside. I need to get better at this!
  • Night: Dr. Bowe recommends alternation an emulsion of hydroquinone and Tretinoin, and on other nights a regular moisturizer or something like Dr. Brandt’s D.N.A. cream.
    • Not my jam. At all. I try to stay very far away from retinol / vitamin A (Tretinoin). I’ve used Tri-luma with hydroquinone on the past but it didn’t work. And with my other issues my doctors feel its best to avoid this potentially harmful / controversial chemical. I also can’t use anything too harsh that would exacerbate my vitiligo.

My Melasma and Hyperpigmentation Improvements without Harsh Chemicals

I feel emboldened by Ginger and have been re-evaluating my own progress. I think I’m even getting brave enough to share this no makeup / no filter view on Instagram soon 🙂 . I’ve seen very slow and steady progress over the past 9 years. I started this better beauty blog to help motivate me to track my progress – and I think I have made even more strides in the past 6 months. Here is an un-edited, un-filtered comparison of the right side of my face. The hyperpigmentation on my cheek is starting to break up more. The upper lip melasma has gotten slightly better, but I still have a lot of progress to make – and this melasma pattern makes me the most self-conscious and obsessed with lipsticks. I’m trying to be patient and kind to myself, as my dermatologist reminds me how very difficult it is to improve the appearance of true melasma.

I’ll try to pin-point my success the best I can on this blog – but I use many different products each week so it may be hard to isolate the primary improvement factor (so many at home peels, gentle exfoliation, creams and serums!). I’ve also worked very hard to de-stress over the past year, and that could be making an impact as well. Maybe my new favorite non-toxic beauty product Drunk Elephant TLC Saukai Babyfacial resurfacer is helping.

Picture of the melasma, hyperpigmentation and dark spot improvement on my face without harsh chemicals or hydroquinone.

Un-filtered and Un-edited: I’m seeing some improvements in my melasma, dark spots and hyperpigmentation through treatment without harsh chemicals, hydroquinone and retinol or vitamin A. Looks like I could use a teeth whitening though 🙁


You can watch the Good Morning America Melasma Segment




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