The dreaded mask of pregnancy, hyperpigmentation cause by hormonal changes, is also called Melasma. (You can learn all about what Melasma is and how to treat it).
While there are some over the counter things you can do to prevent and treat Melasma at home on your own, those options dwindle down quite a bit if you are currently pregnant or nursing. It turns out, many of the ingredients that help shut down excessive melanin production aren’t safe for pregnancy.
How should you treat melasma in pregnancy?
The melanin overproduction in melasma is really triggered in part by the sun. If you can’t totally avoid the sun, make sure you’re covering up (hats and UPF clothing will help a lot), and wearing sunscreen!
Vitamin C will cut down on melanin production, increase collagen/elastin production and even work as antioxidant. You can find it in serums, cleansers and moisturizers.
This magical lightening ingredient can help cut down a lot on hyperpigmentation, and it works via a different mechanism than many other ingredients such as Arbutin and Hydroquinone. However, there is a risk of blood clots when taken orally. Currently it is considered safe topically as I haven’t found any published reports to suggest it should be avoided and I also don’t know any other physicians recommending avoidance. But I have to admit that I am giving this ingredients quite a bit of side eye…
One of the biggest benefits seen with retinoids is the increase in cell turnover. Revealing fresh new skin cells (which hopefully have less excess melanin) will improve overall skin tone and texture. And while you can’t use retinoids during pregnancy/nursing, you can get those benefits through regular exfoliation. Look for a lactic acid based product if you want chemical exfoliation. For physical exfoliation you can use a facial scrub or even just a washcloth.