Skincare & Pregnancy with Dr. Patricia Lo, MD

Battling Splotchy or Uneven Skin Tone During Pregnancy

The team behind our signature serums at Versine includes Dr. Patricia Lo, a board-certified OBGYN currently in private practice in California. 

In this blog post, Dr. Lo takes a look at some common questions about melasma. What's causing melasma during pregnancy, and what you can do about it!

Dr. Patricia Lo

The Definitive Facial Serum. Pregnancy Safe, Always.

Versine carefully selects science-backed active ingredients with the most demanding safety profiles. Address fine lines, pregnancy breakouts, or dull skin, and relax in the knowledge the products are absolutely safe during pregnancy (and all other times!).

"What are these brown splotchy spots on my face? "

Those spots could be a very common (and benign; not cancerous) skin condition known as melasma. Sometimes referred to as "the mask of pregnancy".

It can make your skin look uneven and splotchy - not much fun alongside everything  else you are dealing with during your pregnancy!

"Ok. So, what is melasma, and what causes it?"

Melasma is very common, affecting  50 to 70 percent of pregnant women. It is characterized by flat, blotchy dark patches of the skin, mainly on the face including the upper forehead, lateral cheeks and upper lip.

There are different types of pregnancy melasma and it differs by how deep into the skin the dark spots are. As you might expect, the more superficially it resides on the skin, the easier it will respond to treatment!

It's also important to note that melasma can mimic other skin conditions and you should always talk to your OBGYN or dermatologist for the right diagnosis.

The cause of pregnancy melasma is unknown, but we do know that its appearance is due to an overproduction of melanin (skin pigment), creating those dark splotches. A surge in hormones such as estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy can trigger the development of melasma. Hormones in birth control and other hormone replacement medications can pose similar risks.

"How long are these splotches going to stick around??"

The good news is - fortunately - these dark patches usually improve after pregnancy.

Melasma can start in the first trimester and many women see it continue throughout their pregnancy. For many women, the appearance of melasma  may improve after around three months postpartum, when your hormones stabilize.

"Can I avoid it?"

You may not be able to avoid it, but there are some things that can worsen, or potentially trigger the development of melasma.

The first, easy thing you can do is protect yourself from the sun. Unprotected sun exposure can make pregnancy melasma worse, so wearing sunscreen with spf above 30 can be protective.

Other potential triggering factors include certain medications and cosmetics that increase sensitivity of skin to sunlight. Blue light from our electronic devices and certain medical conditions like thyroid disease may also trigger or worsen melasma.

Genetics is known to play a significant role in the development of melasma during pregnancy. So, women who have a family history are more likely to develop pregnancy melasma. Thanks, Grandma. 

"How can I treat melasma while I am pregnant?"

As always, if you are concerned then the best approach is to consult your doctor. It is important to remember that not all melasma needs to be treated - it's a personal choice. And it may improve all by itself as your hormones stabilize postpartum. 

That said, there are safe topical treatment options to manage pregnancy melasma during your pregnancy.

Specifically, ingredients like azelaic acid are safe to use during pregnancy and lactation, and they can work as effective brightening agents. This addresses hyperpigmentation from melasma as well as acne scarring.

Other topical ingredients such as vitamin C and niacinamide are also safe during pregnancy and effective against uneven skin tone.

On top of all of that, the most important aspect in treating melasma is to be consistent in the use of topical broad-spectrum sunscreen. Re-apply every 2 hours, wear sun protective clothing and hats. This can help reduce your overall risk of melasma.

Tinted makeup can be helpful in reducing the appearance of melasma, too.

Talk to your OBGYN or dermatologist to get the best options for you!

The definitive facial serum.  Pregnancy safe, always.

Multi-tasking serum for all skin types
Target dry and dull skin and decrease the look of fine lines with our original serum, packed with Kakadu Plum Extract, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) and Squalane. This worry-free, pH-balanced serum is designed to give you a smooth and healthy glow.

Multi-tasking serum for acne-prone skin
Calm oily skin and target pregnancy breakouts, melasma, and dark spots with our azelaic acid formula. This multi-tasking formula also includes Kakadu Plum Extract, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) and Squalane.

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