Melasma Remedies - Ted's Q&A

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Ted's Remedies

Posted by Denise on 07/11/2006

I need help in finding a remedy for melasma. I have tried numerous products synthetic and natural. There must be a combination out there that will fade this and age spots. Please let me know if there is help out there. I prefer to use natural products.

Replied by Ted
Bangkok, Thailand
391 posts

First, melasma is a case of hyperpigmentation of the skin caused by hormonal imbalance, and is usually found but not exclusively in women on hormone replacements and pregnancy.

Since excess hormones is at issue, the most common problems I have seen people with this condition is oxidative damaged caused by hormones as it tends to cause condition of the skin to hyper-repair, such as when you have a cut or scrapes on your skin. When it does that the skin gets dark from the scars. When the skin cells get damaged, the skin tend to be darker. The condition is really opposite of tinea, which is relatively well understood, and it causes the lack of pigmentation. This is due to the acids which is produced by the fungus that destroys the excess skin pigmentation. These are more than enough clues to know where the treatment is going.

For one thing, when your body have excess hormones, the best way to get about that (besides reducing excess hormones if you can), is that since excess hormones causes excess oxidative damage to the skin, the skin goes on hyper activity. As a result oxidative damage is the cause. Therefore you need obviously, antioxidants. Since the skin is on hyper the body's demand to build collagen goes on hyper too, therefore, you need a supportive supplements which supports that too. Since vitamin C enchances collagen production as well as being antioxidant, it would therefore be logical to take a large does of vitamin C and other antioxidants, in particular, selenium, silicon magnesium, zinc, and vitamin E.

It has been my experience that when oxidative damage does occur (and it usually does) the body's sugar levels and fat metabolism is at risk. Therefore taking lecithin appears ideal to handle the body's ability to remove excess oxidants and fats when the body is hyper. When that happens, skin pigmentation is reduced.

It would also appear, possibly that by washing the skin where there is melasma using vinegar and/or apple cider vinegar would help as this is acid, removes excess oils would help suppress hyperpigmentation as mentioned in the case of tinea and this can theoretically be a supportive therapy to do that too.

Licorice extract obviously will reduce hyperpigmentation as it is a common skin whitening agent and this supportive therapy will also reduce excess hyperpigmentation. It is quite common when hormone is in excess that the adrenal exhaustion appears a possibility, so taking some licorice extract, one teaspoon to 1 tablespoon for only a week would also alleviate the condition too.

There are many ways I deal with melasma, one way was for me to mix evening primrose oil, vitamin E, together with some aloe vera oil to help reduce the darkening or excess skin (pigmentation) also. Of course, this is not done everyday, I do it maybe once a week. It helps smooth out the skin and reduce the hyperpigmentation too.

These are only one of the many ways you can deal with melasma. There are other ways, but this should handle most people with this conditon, assuming of course it is not a severe one and that would take much longer to heal and treatment is more difficult."

Ted from Bangkok, Thailand writes: "Your melasma depends on what kind you are taking about. If it is aged spots or liver, Vitamin B3 niacinamide (nicotinic acid) NOT niacin, will dissolve the age spots on your skin. It must be done long and frequent enough, about 3 months. I make it stronger by adding a 10% DMSO solution and water and added maybe 20% niacinamide to apply to the skin. Of course, for me one single application does it, but that is more like getting dead skin cells out, and age spots take a while longer.

Now another kind of melasma is fungus related. once we know the organism then treatment should be quite simple enough. A boric acid solution maybe 10% enough can be done and applied onto skin should kill it. Of course, at the time my friend had melasma, I have her lavender oil + tea tree oil, to be applied frequent enough throughout the day. It takes about a month of application before the melasma will reduced, but you should notice improvement within a week. A weak copper chloride solution of 5% applied onto skin might also help too. Copper is fairly toxic to the fungus.

Replied by Emma
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Ted, thanks for your suggestions. Could you provide a bit more advice on your niacinamide recipe? If you are making up a face mixture using powder from caplets - how much would you use. The caplets I have come in 500mg. I might try mixing it up with my licorice extract powder into a mask. Thanks for any advice and will let you know how it goes. Emma"

11/12/2010: Chng from Singapore replies: "Hi, I'm new to this site and I have hyperpigmentation problems on my upper cheeks. I would like to try the niacinamide paste on my face. But wouldn't it be better to consume it orally?
Please advise. Thanks, Chng

Replied by Facelift

I read with interest the remedies and success of some on their treatment of melasma/dark patches. I'm inspired and hopeful but cannot help but wonder if over 12 years any damage due to any cause would have corrected itself by now?If it's an excess of hormones (estrogen?) would menopause help to fade the mask? If it's sun damage would skin not have "changed" by now.. 12 years on? Is there still hope with these bleaching techniques? Topical ACV, horseradish, vit E, C and antioxidants in diet?

I hope so....

Thank you all .. I hope I get your results too.

Replied by Geeta
Edison, Nj, Usa

I have melasma from last 7 years. Can some please let me know how should I apply ACV. Do I have to wash it off after few minute of application or can leave it for whole night on face? Appriciate your help. Geeta

Replied by Melasma Sufferer
Lexington, Ky

Ted, Please assist. I've had dermal melasma for years on both cheeks and always use sunscreen, etc. It is very embarrassing. Do you have any suggestions?

Replied by In

My dark spots started to appear on my upper cheeks evenly on both sides about two years ago. I have tried many doctor perscribed bleaching creams and retinal creams for months... Money wasted. I also spent $1100 on a chemical facial peel that hurt like heck only to find out 3 weeks later after looking like a burnt victim those dark spots came right back. This makes me so angry I want to take a blade and cut them off. I cant stand looking at myself - and this is not what I looked like two years ago.

Replied by Gina C
Marseille, France

Hi Ted, I have developed post inflamatory hyperpigmentation 6 months ago after a dermatologist administered a TCA peel to remove my sunspots. The results are now much worse, with a big dark patch on my cheek; and I can no longer go out without a hat and sunscreen. I am devestated and desperately searching for a cure so I can have my life back. Can you suggest what the best treatment would be for me? I have stopped using the presribed hydraquinone but there are so many alternative treatments online; I dont know where to start. Thank you so much for your help.

Replied by Lg
Columbus, Oh

Natural Melasma Cures: What I've Found that Works- I never write on forums, but I've wanted to share what how I'm battling my Melasma, and it's almost gone!! To this day all that is left is light faint patch above my lips(which I need to get about 12 inches from the mirror to even see); and everyday improving since it's working I wanted to share ASAP. Also as a way, I appreciate everyone else sharing their solutions to Melasma as it has taken me YEARS to get rid of, hundreds of dollars testing and trying different skin creams, etc etc etc..

My Backstory:

I'm 29 don't smoke/never been pregnant/ never taken birth control pills/ exercise regularly/ mostly vegetarian diet, though I eat meat. I first saw signs of Melasma 3 years ago. It was the perfect storm-- I waxed my upper lip with a homemade honey/lemon/sugar wax. I just finished a harsh dose of antibiotics and it was March and I was spending the first sunny days garden without sunscreen. That's when a few small dots above my upper lip appeared that I thought were freckles. I now have melasma above my lip, on my nose, forehead and faintly on my cheeks. Right before this, I believe I suffered from adrenal fatigue I went to a doctor who performed blood tests and check up, said I was fine and he chalked it up to depression. (About me, I am a POSITIVE person, and always baseline happy I was just exhausted someone in their midtwenties shouldn't be so exhausted that they can barely function more than a few hours a day). I had just finished a stressful thesis program, and was having relationship stress with my boyfriend of 5 years at the time. After reading about copper toxicity, I believe I have/had it due to my mainly vegetarian diet and a number of other factors. I have very light/pale skin and have been exposed to high levels of UV light living in tropics for years (before melasma appeared) which probably didn't help.

How I've Battled Melasma

Even after avoiding the sun like the plague, I still had melasma. I read everything I could online, first starting with a regimen of straight organic apple cider vinegar nightly and using clinique's even better dark spot corrector, sunscreen/hats etc. , my melasma was geting worse. I went to a dermatologist who prescribed a solution of hydroquinone which I used for a while, and it wasn't working; my upper lip was darkening, I was getting more spots on my forehead. I kept up w/ apple cider vinegar/lemon. Then I read about mandelic/malic acid. I started using mandelic/malic acid for about 3 months; my melasma didn't get better, at first it was great felt like I had bran new baby skin, soft, smooth and tight (though my complaint was that it is very sticky), AND, my skin started getting "poc" marks almost like acne scarring, and it was very dry, it wasn't helping so I stopped using it. I do like to drink coffee---this intake increased living in Seattle for a year which I thought would be an advantage in avoiding the sun, especially while doing a malic/mandelic acid peel. I started taking thyroid energy pills and noticed a faint improvement; my melasma was getting lighter. Now, my melasma is noticeably better; so much so that I have to get about a foot away from the mirror to see it on my upper lip. My forehead and cheek spots are lightened and almost gone. I hope to keep up my regimen below and add some new things for hope that it finally goes away for good fingers crossed. Wishing you the best, and NO MORE SPOTS!

What Works for Me

Now Thyroid Energy vcaps: (Vitamin B-6 2 mg; Folate 400 mcg; Vitamin B-12 60 mcg; Iodine 225 mcg; Zinc 25 mg; Selenium 50 mcg; Copper 1 mg; L-Tyrosine 1g; Irish Moss 200 mg; Guggul 75 mg; Organic Kelp 60 mg; Ashwagandha 50 mg)
Now vitamin D-3 softgels 1,000x2-3 IU
Ester-C vitamin C500 mg
Zinc 50 mg
Now Omega 3-6-9 softgels1000mg or Cod Liver Oil
Multivitamin (25mg zinc, 1 mg copper)

So, I rotate a daily multivitamin with thyroid energy pills. I won't take both the same day. If I'm feeling low on energy I'll continue with the thyroid energy vcaps for a while. I try to take vitamin d everyday in the winter 3,000 IU. I take omega 3, 6, 9 softgels about every 3rd day, and vitamin C every 3 days. I'll also take a dose of zinc 50 mg if I'm feeling sluggish. So these are the supplements I rotate between. I still have coffee about 3x a week 16 oz each, slowly replacing it with caffeine free herbal teas.

I've changed my diet to mostly vegetables, 1 serving of meat per day, at least some red meat once a week. I have fruit smoothies, greek yogurt, spinach orange juice, almonds for breakfast. I try to avoid gluten, but still have breads. I noticed that when I tried a Paleodiet for a month, my melasma faded away very quickly. I don't know if it was because of an increase in vegetables or cutting out gluten that helped, but it did.

I also keep up with cardio exercise, pilates, yoga mixing it up between them.

Outside Skin Care Daily:
Tea tree oil face wash 2x a day
Dark spot corrector moisturizer (after wash)
Night moisturizer (rotate between vitamin E oil roll on, Evening Primrose oil cold pressed soft gels)
Radiance Night Creme

Concealer for my upper lips:

water resistant concealer
24 hour concealer

Only in spring/summer/early fall:

natural sun screen:lavender
green tea sun screen

What I Want to Try:
Coconut oil
Alba papaya face extract
grapefruit seed extract

What didn't work for me:

Apple cider vinegar full on application/ watered down versions
Lemon juice
mandelic/malic acid 12% and 20% solutions
dark spot corrector (did not work my first two years, though maybe working now)
Skin Spot corrector

Replied by Susan S.
Burbank, Ca

Dearest Ted.... You have been an inspiration and a constant source of informed and tested alternative methods for all of the ailments we as human beings have. I hope with my sincerest freverant wish that you will return to us. The world needs you so. With much love and gratitude for all that you do.... Susan

Replied by Kayla
Santa Barbara

Ted is absolutely right, melasma is hormonal. My doctor changed my hormones, she increased estrogen and the lower part of my face darkened. I had the doctor change the formulation to one I used before. The doctor decreased estrogen and increased progesterone. Progesterone is a skin lightener. That is why hormone doctors ask if your skin is darkening? Too much estrogen darkens the skin. Progesterone lightens the skin.

The dermatologist gave me a potent Vitamin C serum to lighten the skin and I waited until my new hormones formulation kicked in. I also stopped using mineral makeup because I noticed I got this darkening after I started using it. I researched on how to lighten, brighten the skin I began taking Vitamin C ( 8 capsules a day) Zinc, MSM, Glutathione, Alpha lipoic acid, Niacinamide, Folic acid I did this twice a day. I read many women have great success with Folic Acid in curing melasma. I took one teaspoon of licorice extract every other day . Started going to bed at 9:30 . Now my skin is perfect light, bright and clear. I realize that the cause may be different for different people, but it is wise to get your hormones and thyroid and liver checked by a real expert someone that is specialized in the field.