My Melasma Treatment – The Best Skin of my Life!

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My melasma treatment. This has got to be my number one most asked question on the blog and Instagram. I’m here to break it all down to you today! – Sorry if you’re seeing this twice. I realize it was posted on videos only and lots of people were having a hard time finding the post! So here it is in a permanent home 🙂

Ever since going to Dr. Donelly’s practice – ForeFront Dermatology last year, my whole skincare regimen changed. I became savvier about melasma and as a result of that visit to ForeFront Dermatology, my skin has never been the same. I now have THE BEST SKIN OF MY LIFE thanks to the melasma treatment I’m in since August of 2018. Sit tight and grab yo’self some refreshments, this will be a bit of a long one…but definitely one video you will want to watch if you struggle with melasma or hyperpigmentation!

In this video, you’ll see what my skin used to look like when I first started to see Dr. Donnelly. You’ll see how Forefront Dermatology approaches the issue and how they came up with a treatment plan. The best part however is when Dr. Donnelly explains about sunscreens and all of the possible treatments (yours might be slightly different than mine!) It’s such a thorough explanation, I’ll sure get you answers we often struggle to find in a fast-paced doctors office!

On the video, you’ll find written portions as well so take notes if you feel like it! And please feel free to shoot me a message if you still have questions. Dr. Donnelly and I will be on an Instagram live here in a few weeks to answer all of your questions and chat Melasma!!


1st step: Cleanse

I use the Skin Medica AHA BHA exfoliating cleanser 2-4 times a week. It never irritated my skin and I love the exfoliating feel. If you’re planning on going to the beach or having any sun exposure, this product can damage your skin even further so STAY AWAY FROM THE SUN while using it! Use an SPF 30 or higher sunblock and cover up!

My everyday cleanser is Skinceuticals Ceramides replenishing cleanser. It’s gentle and gets rid of dirt and impurities on the skin while giving back the ceramides.


2nd step: this is completely optional but I love to add essence to my routine.

It’s an ancient Korean step in skincare and said to be the heart of the whole Korean skincare regimen. They’re a lightweight water/mist but packed with hydrating, anti-aging and complexion enhancing ingredients! Here are my favorites:

I used the heck out of Fresh Kombucha and Black Tea essence: like Dr. Donnelly mentioned on the video, Black tea has ingredients that help with lightening the skin and I love the feeling on my skin that felt moisture even before moisturizing. The only downside is the smell, not so great.

No.1 Brightening Facial Mist:  This is what I’ve switched to recently and love that is a specific brightening spray, clean and safe skincare for my skin and can be used as an essence to prep skin, as a makeup setting spray or even throughout the day to refresh your face. I’ll be testing it out on the plane, coming my next trip! Will let you know how that goes 🙂


3rd step: serum – vitamin C, or an antioxidant.

I used two full containers of Skinceuticals C E Ferulic: this is what my doc uses and I do love it (besides the smell. This “features a synergistic antioxidant combination of ferulic acid and pure vitamin C and E to enhance your skin’s protection against environmental damage caused by free radicals. In addition to antioxidant protective benefits, this formula improves signs of aging and photodamage to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles while firming and brightening your complexion. Lastly, this powerful formula helps to neutralize free radicals induced by UVA/UVB, infrared radiation (IRA) and ozone pollution (O3)”

Since making the switch towards cleaner skincare and makeup, I have been using Beautycounter brightening oil instead. It’s also a safe and clean product. Smells citrusy and feels pillowy in my skin. Absorbs quickly and has a blend of 7 fruit oils to awaken and refresh skin. It’s also half the price for the SkinCeuticals oil and just as effective as far as I can tell! Feel free to experiment with either or both.


4th step: melasma treatment for the day.

I used the Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense oil for months but am not crazy about it even though it was pretty effective. It’s clinically proven to correct dark spots. Powered by kojic acid, tranexamic acid, and vitamin B3, this formula is a hydroquinone-free skin brightening serum.

I’m now trying the SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum and love the way it makes my skin feel. It’s a bit thicker and gives that pillowy sensation! This product essentially targets the same dark spots but powered by niacinamide and tetrapeptide-30, this skin brightening formula prevents the appearance of new spots while a marine extract blend supports a healthy skin barrier. According to my doctor (as you’ll see in the video) both of these are very safe products for even pregnant and nursing mothers. I haven’t been able to find anything else that treats melasma during the day.

5th step: Sunblock:

one of the most effective ways to prevent new spots to form! I’ve tested both sunblocks from the video but love the EltaMD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41. It looks great alone or under makeup. It has a light tint (remember Dr. Donnelly mentioned on the video that the tint comes from iron oxide, which is great to block blue light, from a computer, phone, and office lights). It’s lightweight and fragrance-free, this mineral sunscreen won’t clog pores and is gentle on sensitive skin conditions. I often use it alone for my office days but will still put under my makeup if wearing any. My husband and kids do like the other formula! It’s really a matter of taste, just make sure to get tinted if you work in front of a computer or on your phone! Also, I’ve tested re-applying on top of my makeup throughout the day and it works perfectly without disturbing my makeup. Total winner 🙂




1st step: cleanse – same products as morning

2nd step: essence or mist (optional) – same products as morning

3rd step: Hyperpigmentation emulsion.

This is the prescription Hydroquinone formula that you’ll need to see a doctor for. Hydroquinone is a bleaching cream and needs to be prescripted by a doctor because it can really be damaging if not used correctly in the right dosage. My compound has:

  • Kojic Acid 4%
  • Tretinoin 0.025% (retinol)
  • Hydroquinone 8% (bleaching cream)
  • Hydrocortisone 0.5% (steroid)

I only want to list these so you have the option of asking your doctor his thoughts on these ingredients together!

4th Step: moisturize.

This one can be anything you love. I like a thicker moisturizer for winter and a gel-like one for summer so I go back and forth between the ones I typically use. Lately, I’m experimenting with Countermatch Recovery Sleeping Cream  and have been loving it. This cream has a blend of hyaluronic acid, plum oil, and tara gum. They create a protective layer to help replenish hydration and revitalize skin while you sleep—so skin looks youthfully smoother, softer, and more radiant in the morning. Breakthrough Bio-Mimic Technology harnesses the unique life-giving properties of plants to match the composition of the skin, giving it precisely what it needs and nothing it doesn’t. Pretty cool huh? This is another one of my clean, natural and safe skincare additions. There’s a lot of lighter weight options in this collection as well. Totally worth a try.


To make your treatment more effective you’ll definitely benefit from MedSpa chemical peels and/or Glycolic acid facials, at least once a month. I do regular peels with Alexis Jarrett at the Forefront Dermatology in Carmel. If that’s not an option for you I have a couple of home remedies I often use. I swear by these Glycolic Acid pads every other week in the morning or at night after cleansing! They last forever and you can use them on the back of your hands and neck.

I also use Biossance (clean, safe, sustainable) Squalane + Glycolic Rejuvenating Facial once a month. If any of these products make your skin irritated stop using them since skin irritation can aggravate melasma. A tingling sensation and mild redness are perfectly normal. Don’t leave the product on your face for longer than the time advised on their labels. No sun exposure!



Karina Style Diaires | Melasma Treatment

I know melasma makes us so self-conscious and I truly hope that by sharing my melasma treatment and skin care routine step-by-step will give you some direction and offer some options in getting rid of these nasty spots!

Something you can start doing right away is getting yourself a good sunblock and if your melasma is superficial that alone might be able to take care of the spots alone. One thing is for sure, my face has never been healthier and I’ll stick to this melasma treatment and skincare routine for as long as I can.

There’s nothing better than being able to go out without feeling the need to hide our faces, I know, I’ve been there! This is a freeing feeling and it doesn’t have to be a dangerous choice, most of these are great, clean and safe products.

Feel free to let us know your questions and we’ll be sure to get them all answered.

All the best wishes for you and your skin time to kiss those spots buh-bye!



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