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.