First let me say, if you struggle with melasma, hyperpigmentation, acne, acne scars, rosacea, eczema, or any other skin condition, please know I understand how you feel. Dealing with skin issues, especially one on your face, can be incredibly isolating and lonely. But the fact that you’re here reading this, seeking answers, means you’re one step closer to finding what you need! You are empowered to play a huge role in the health of your body, and I hope that this post will help you along in your healing journey!
I remember the days that going out in public was a daunting experience and the endless hours spent searching online for how to treat melasma. Most of what I found online were ‘quick-fixes’ like using hydrogen peroxide, taking supplements like MSM, or using lightening creams like hydroquinone. None of those so called quick-fixes worked though, and some lightening creams and harsh treatments, like chemical peels, can actually make it worse!
When a chronic skin condition is present, it’s your body’s way of telling you that something is out of balance. A single supplement or lightening cream doesn’t address the root cause. Your body needs to be treated as a whole.
I can’t emphasize enough that I did not heal my skin with skincare alone. Skincare was a huge part of my healing journey, and what you put on your skin matters as much as what you put in your body, but it wasn’t skincare alone that helped my melasma fade. It was a mix of dietary changes, lifestyle factors, like sleep and stress, healing my gut, plus skincare that helped my melasma fade.
You can read more about my entire protocol plus before + after photos in these posts: My Journey With Melasma + A Natural Approach To Clear Skin and 5 Things I Did To Heal Melasma Naturally.
But you have to start somewhere and I’m a firm believer that starting with ONE THING can have a huge impact on your health and wellbeing! Often times, changing one thing at a time is what makes a healthy lifestyle last.
Some women find skincare is the easiest place to start. You’re already using something for your skincare routine, so it’s just a matter of swapping out for the right products for you!
Since healing my melasma, I often get questions about my skincare routine. So, I decided it might be helpful for you if I just put all the details into one place! In this post, I’m walking you through my step by step skincare routine, from about three years ago when my melasma was severe, and also a more updated advanced routine that I currently use.
To my pleasant surprise, in the process of trying to heal the hyperpigmentation, my acne scars also faded, so I would recommend this routine for both issues!
I’ve listed and linked directly to all the products and recipes for my skincare routine. I’ve also created a FREE ‘Skincare Routine For Melasma’ Guide for you to download. The guide also links directly to each product I use + recommend. You can download it below and keep it with you for referring back to.
Simple DIY Skin Care Routine (past routine)
This is the step by step skincare routine I used when my melasma was the most severe. As tempting as it to use peels, lightening creams, etc, I found that those things often made my skin worse. So I made the decision to do the opposite. I started using gentle, natural skincare and nourishing, healing oils to allow my skin to heal on it’s own without further irritation.
- Oil-Cleansing Method (OCM) – You can read all about oil-cleansing method with step by step directions in this post from Coconuts and Kettlebells.
If you prefer to use a cleansing product rather than just plain oil, I love this cleansing oil:
To clean my face, I use the Oil-Cleansing Method. Oil-cleansing has numerous benefits, like helping to moisturize the skin to prevent wrinkles, keeps skin soft and hydrated, it’s gentle, helps dissolve impurities leading to cleaner pores, and it’s great for treating acne because oil dissolves oil – I know, I know, putting oil on acne-prone skin seems like the opposite of what you should do, but try it for a couple weeks and see. I can’t guarantee it will work for everyone, but it’s extremely helpful for many people and it’s gentle on your skin, so this is always the first cleanser I recommend:)
Why should you consider using a toner? Because using a toner after cleansing your face helps restore the pH balance of your skin, it’s hydrating, it preps skin for other products and makeup, it can be used to set makeup, and refresh skin throughout the day.
When my melasma was at its worst, I was in search of the gentlest skin care I could find and this rosewater was perfect! In fact, it’s what I still use most of the time. Here’s my favorite rosewater toner.
Rosewater has antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce redness and inflammation. Overall, rosewater is effective yet extremely gentle on skin.
- Drink Plenty of Water – don’t overlook this step thinking it doesn’t matter! This simple step can make a huge difference in the appearance of your skin. Hydrated skin naturally appears healthier and has a brighter, more even skin tone skin.
- Moisturize with my Homemade Moisturizer for Melasma, Hyperpigmentation, and Acne Scars. (Recipe below)
It’s important to use sunscreen every day to prevent the dark spots from getting darker. I highly recommend using a 100% zinc only sunscreen which is non-toxic and won’t cause further irritation to skin. I’m all about the benefits of daily sun exposure (hello vitamin D!) but if you have melasma, it’s essential to wear sunscreen on your face EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
- Wear A Hat – in addition to wearing sunscreen, wearing a hat, when spending time outdoors, can prevent melasma from getting darker and give skin time to heal. Like I’ve said before, the sun is not the cause of melasma, but it can definitely make it worse!
About once a week, do a light, gentle exfoliation using this Homemade Baking Soda Paste. This is my favorite way to exfoliate because it’s super simple and not too harsh on skin like some exfoliators.
Homemade Baking Soda Exfoliator
- Use about a half a tablespoon of baking soda and mix in just enough water (it doesn’t take much!) to create a thick paste. Gently massage the paste onto your face in, moving in circular motions, for no longer than one minute.
- Alternatively, you can just mix a little baking soda with your favorite facial cleanser and exfoliate as you cleanse!
I really like using baking soda because it’s inexpensive, non-toxic, and easy!
Advanced Skin Care Routine (current routine)
This is the step by step skincare routine I currently use. It’s a more advanced protocol using high-performance products that still score low on the EWG website. In other words, they’re safer but they work well! These products contain more active ingredients like vitamin c and algae extract, known to help fade hyperpigmentation and scars.
My old skincare routine, listed above, served me well for many years. My skin really benefited from using super gentle oils when my melasma was most severe. But, as often happens, over the years my skincare routine has evolved into using more advanced products. A couple years ago I realized that my skin could use some additional help, in the way of preventing wrinkles and additional brightening with effective, antioxidant-rich skincare. Right around that time, I learned about a safer skincare company called Beautycounter.
Beautycounter is based out of Santa Monica, CA where they make safer skincare and makeup. Did you know that the skincare industry in the U.S. is virtually unregulated when it comes to the ingredients that can be used in the making of these products?? Europe bans over 1,500 harmful ingredients from their personal care products, yet the U.S. only bans 30 of those harmful ingredients! Many of those ingredients are even linked to hormonal imbalances, infertility, and even cancer. And since anything that goes on your skin can be absorbed into your bloodstream in as little as 26 seconds, I think it’s essential to choose safer products. After all, what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body!
I started using Beautycounter products a few years ago, and I’ve seen so many positive changes in my skin, that I finally decided to become a consultant with their company. So, these days I’m able to help my clients and customers have healthier skin, both internally, through nutrition + lifestyle changes, and externally, with safer, yet highly effective skincare and makeup.
- Cleansing Balm – I still use the oil-cleansing method but these days I use this Cleansing Balm from Beautycounter instead of plain coconut oil.
Why did I switch to the Cleansing Balm? The Cleansing Balm contains Vitamin C to brighten the appearance of skin and raspberry and cranberry seed oils to hydrate. It also comes with a 100% muslin cloth which is gentle on the skin. One reason I love it so much is because it’s a multi-use product! In addition to cleansing your face, the cleansing balm is great for removing makeup (including eye makeup), and it can be used as an overnight mask for extra hydration. I also love dabbing it on dry patches + fines lines and leaving it on overnight. This product is an investment upfront, BUT a little goes a long way so it lasts for a long time, plus it’s so versatile, this is one product I never go without!
As I mentioned above, using a toner is important for restoring pH balance, hydration, and prepping skin for additional skincare.
Toners I currently use and rotate between:
- Brightening Facial Mist – the brightening facial mist contains vitamin c and lime pearl extract for a brighter complexion. It can also be used to set makeup or as a refresher during the day.
- Rejuvenating Toner Pads – I recommend using these Rejuvenating Toner Pads a few times a week to help defend against daily stressors. The toner pads contain vitamin C to reduce the appearance of fines lines, lentil seed extract minimizes the appearance of pores, and algae extract to brighten and even out skin tone. While they can be used every day, I find them to be a bit too harsh for daily use, so start with a couple times a week and see how your skin does. Remember to be gentle when it comes to skin care!
Skincare tip -> On a budget? Cut the toner pads in half for twice as many!
- Rosewater Toner
- Rejuvenating Serum – The Rejuvenating Serum contains a combination of vitamin c, algae extract, and mixed fruit acid complex, to help even the look of skin tone and improve hydration.
- Brightening Facial Oil #1 – the Brightening Facial Oil is a blend of seven natural oils, including marula oil that provides intense hydration and antioxidant vitamin C to brighten uneven skin tone and improve skin’s radiance. It has a light, refreshing citrus-scent that reminds me of Springtime and absorbs quickly! This, along with the Cleansing Balm, is the other product I never go without!
These moisturizers are not specifically helpful for fading dark spots, but if you’re looking for moisturizer recommendations, these two are my favorites:
- Countermatch Adaptive Lotion
- Countermatch Recovery Sleep Cream
- Skincare tip -> Drink Plenty of Water! Hydrated skin naturally appears healthier and has a brighter, more even skin tone skin.
- All Over Sunscreen -The all-over sunscreen is by far the best non-toxic zinc sunscreen that I’ve used! If you’ve ever searched for a zinc sunscreen that goes on clear, you know how difficult it is to find one. In my experience, even the ones that say they go on clear, still leave a white residue, making melasma look even worse. These days the Beautycounter All Over Sunscreen is the only one I use. It goes on completely clear and even though it’s an all-over sunscreen, I use it every day on my face without ever having a single breakout!
- Wear A Hat – In addition to wearing sunscreen, wearing a hat can prevent melasma from getting darker and give skin time to heal. Like I’ve said before, the sun is not the cause of melasma, but it can make it worse.
- Once or twice a week I recommend doing a light exfoliation using the same Homemade baking soda paste mentioned above or by mixing in a little baking soda with your cleanser.
Facial Mask –
- Brightening Mask #1 – this is a personal favorite! Once or twice a week I like to use the Brightening Mask that contains vitamin c to help fade dark spots.
I get asked all the time if I still feel like I have to hide from the sun. I’m so happy to say no, I don’t! I’ve always spent a lot of time outdoors actually, even when my melasma was severe, but I always wore sunscreen and a hat every day. These days, I still wear a hat when I’m outside for long periods but that’s just more of a habit at this point…plus I don’t think it can hurt when it comes to preventing skin damage or wrinkles:)
If changing out all your products at once is overwhelming, or if budget is a concern, just do what works best for you:) You could even mix and match parts of the DIY routine with the more advanced routine. If you need help figuring how to do that, feel free to email me here anytime to choose which products might work best for you. Just shoot me a message telling me about your skin type and I’d more than happy to help!
Would you be interested in seeing my makeup routine for melisma?? Let me know!
Disclosure – After using Beautycounter products for two years, I finally decided to join their mission as a consultant, so I could share their products with my clients and customers. Beautycounter makes safer, high-performance skin care and makeup. They score low on the EWG website plus they disclose all of the ingredients right on their website!
When you shop with me as your consultant, I’ll help you choose the right products for your skin type. And if you are going to order any Beautycounter products, make sure you’re on my email list! Each month I offer a different gift with purchase, which is a great way to try out new products for FREE!! You can get on my Safer Skin Care email list here.