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Beauty: minimising melasma

Recently, I’ve received many messages from readers asking about melasma. This happens every year, as soon as the sun comes out and those with large brown patches of skin pigmentation – myself included – see their condition worsen suddenly. I’ve also seen a surge in confused letters following some highly misleading reports advising women to fork out hundreds for serums to fix their melasma. Please don’t. Nothing is going to cure what is a malfunction deep under the skin’s surface (cells overproduce melanin to give a darker colour), where no product can even begin to make a difference. It is not the same thing as surface damage (sun spots, for example), which can be very responsive to products.

I first developed melasma at 23, when I started taking a new contraceptive pill. It worsened over two pregnancies and now occupies large sections of my face – along the temples, cheekbones and forehead. I have spoken to some of the world’s best dermatologists, and not one has put any stock in less scrupulous experts who claim to be able to eradicate a patient’s melasma permanently. Don’t give a bean to anyone who does.

My melasma routine is about protecting and disguising, and I do a pretty good job of it. I never leave the house without sun protection. In summer months, I swear by Skinceuticals Mineral Radiance UV Defense, £39. Cheaper, and also a big favourite, is Vichy Idéal Soleil BB Tinted Velvety Cream, £13.15. After sunblock, I pat Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer, £38 (in a multi-ethnic shade range) over any patches. A tiny pot lasts a year and the full coverage fools absolutely everyone.

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