This Clinical-Grade Dark Spot Serum Made My Melasma Nearly Disappear in 4 Weeks Flat

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My love of skin care and desire to keep my complexion looking youthful is in complete opposition with my sunbathing habits—and I’ve paid dearly for this. Over the last several years, what started with one dark spot on my cheek turned into a cluster of melasma on my forehead,  until one day last summer I looked in the mirror and didn't even recognize my own skin. My years of sun worshipping had finally caught up with me, and I had no choice but to take action. I made it my mission to treat this difficult pigmentation disorder and rid myself of the spots on my face.

I began going for in-office treatments and tried a chemical peel, three RF microneedling sessions, and a new cryotherapy technology to help fade my melasma. While these pro-grade options helped tremendously, I knew I'd need to supplement them with at-home products that would help maintain the results and defend against future discoloration.

My search for a best-in-class product led me to ISDIN Isdinceutics Melaclear Advanced Dark Spot Corrector ($175), which I added into my routine in the hopes of quelling my fears about my melasma coming back along with the summer sun.

“Hyperpigmentation is the umbrella category of conditions that present as darker areas on the skin," says Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and the president and co-founder of Modern Dermatology. "Under this umbrella, you'll find the three most popular [discoloration] conditions: sun/age spots, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and melasma."

While all of these conditions are exacerbated by UV exposure, melasma is unique in that it's directly linked to your hormones. "Melasma differs as it results from hormonal changes in the body, specifically estrogen, which is why the condition is more common in women,” says Dr. Robinson.

Though there are many products on the market that promise to slow down the melanin production that causes those pesky dark spots, the ISDIN Isdinceutics Melaclear Advanced serum does it in its own unique way.

“The hero ingredient for hyperpigmentation is tranexamic acid, a synthetic amino acid derived from lysine, which inhibits UV-induced melanin synthesis, a key factor in dark spots, melasma and overall hyperpigmentation," says Dr. Robinson. "It also contains the skin brightening antioxidant niacinamide, which studies show may reduce melanocyte production (the cells that give our skin pigment) and overall brightens the skin, while improving hydration. Alongside these key ingredients is a blend of exfoliating acids that renew skin cells, and licorice root extract helps to soothe the skin and preserve hydration."

The product’s ingredients, which address skin’s production of pigment at all four steps in the process, are novel in the pigmentation market, says Claire Wolinsky, MD,  a board certified dermatologist and clinical instructor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “Within a week or two [of using the product] the superficial melanin can be lightly exfoliated, and over months of use, results can be attributed to the ingredients targeting the earlier steps of the skin pigment production."

After about two weeks of twice-daily use, you should start to see some results, but Dr. Robinson says you'll need to wait at least four to eight weeks to see significant improvement. By 12 weeks, the full benefits should set in. Even though the formula combines some potentially irritating skin actives with skin-soothing ones to stave off irritation, if you do experience any sensitivities while using it, Dr. Robinson recommends using it only at night instead of two times a day.

After using the serum twice daily for about a month, I began to see the remnants of my dark spots fad away almost completely. And after about 12 weeks of use, my results were—as expected—very noti

Stopping pigmentation from actually forming is the magic of the product. With everything that I have done to rid myself of my melasma, after using it twice a day for about a month, I began to see any remnants of my dark spots almost fade away completely. After about 12 weeks of use, my results, as expected, were very noticeable.

See? No dark spots. 

Dr. Robinson notes that the key to lasting results from the product—no surprise here—is to use proper sun protection to prevent any new UV-induced damage. “Be diligent with an iron oxide-based mineral SPF 50+, a wide-brimmed hat, and avoiding direct sun exposure if you can," she says. "Even with the best UV avoidance, heat itself can be a trigger for melasma, so find time to cool off and take breaks from the heat!”

Bottom line: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The serum not only works, but your skin feels smoother after continued use. If you struggle with sun-induced melasma or hyperpigmentation in general, incorporating this serum into your daily routine is a necessity to keep your skin bright and prevent any new spots from forming.

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