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Melasma vs Hyperpigmentation: What's the Difference?

Melasma and hyperpigmentation are two common skin conditions that lead to dark spots and uneven skin tone. Although they share some similarities, they have distinct causes, symptoms, and treatments. In this article, we'll dive into the differences between melasma and hyperpigmentation, and explore the best strategies for addressing these skin concerns. 

Melasma vs Hyperpigmentation

Understanding Melasma

Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation characterized by brown or grayish-brown patches on the face. It is more common in women and often appears during pregnancy, which is why it's sometimes called the "mask of pregnancy." Melasma is primarily caused by hormonal fluctuations, sun exposure, and genetic predisposition.

It is more common in people with darker skin tones and those who live in sunny climates. Melasma usually appears symmetrically on the cheeks, forehead, nose, upper lip, and chin. It can also develop on other parts of the body exposed to the sun, such as the forearms and neck.

To learn more about melasma, check out our comprehensive guide on dark spots.

Melasma on Skin

Hyperpigmentation Explained

Hyperpigmentation is a general term used to describe any darkening of the skin. This condition occurs when the skin produces excess melanin, the pigment responsible for skin color. Hyperpigmentation can be triggered by various factors, including sun exposure, skin inflammation, acne, hormonal changes, and certain medications.

There are several types of hyperpigmentation, such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which results from skin injury or inflammation like acne, and age spots (also known as liver spots or solar lentigines), which are caused by sun exposure. For more information on different types of hyperpigmentation, read our article on uneven skin texture.

Hyperpigmentation on Skin

Comparing Melasma and Hyperpigmentation

While both melasma and hyperpigmentation involve darkening of the skin, there are key differences between them:

  1. Causes: Melasma is primarily caused by hormonal changes, whereas hyperpigmentation has various causes, including sun exposure, inflammation, and medications.
  2. Appearance: Melasma appears as symmetrical patches on the face, while hyperpigmentation can take different forms, like age spots or PIH.
  3. Affected Areas: Melasma typically affects the face, whereas hyperpigmentation can occur on any part of the body.

Treatments and Prevention

Treatments for melasma and hyperpigmentation often overlap, as they both involve reducing excess melanin production. Common treatments include:

Topical Treatments

Skin-lightening ingredients like hydroquinone, kojic acid, and glycolic acid can help fade dark spots. Read more about optimal skin health and appearance.

Sun Protection

Sunscreen is crucial for preventing both melasma and hyperpigmentation, as sun exposure can exacerbate both conditions. Make sure to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 daily. Learn more about the importance of sunscreen for skin health

Professional Treatments

Chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser therapy can help reduce the appearance of melasma and hyperpigmentation. It's essential to consult with a dermatologist to determine the best treatment option for your specific skin type and condition.

Natural Remedies

Some natural ingredients, such as vitamin C, licorice extract, and niacinamide, can help improve the appearance of dark spots.

In addition to treatment, it's important to address the root causes of melasma and hyperpigmentation. For melasma, this may involve discussing hormonal changes with your doctor and considering alternative medications or treatments if needed. For hyperpigmentation, addressing the underlying cause (e.g., acne, inflammation) is crucial for long-term success.

Woman Applying Face Cream


Melasma and hyperpigmentation are distinct skin conditions that share some similarities but have different causes and manifestations. Understanding the differences between these conditions is essential for effective treatment and prevention.

By addressing the root causes and implementing appropriate treatments, you can achieve a more even and radiant complexion. Don't forget to explore our other articles on Glowastica's skincare blog for more tips and advice on maintaining healthy, beautiful skin.

Tatiana Danchenko

Tatiana is a certified practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture with more than 15 years of experience in the field. She earned her TCM Diploma from the Canadian College of Holistic Health and is an active member of the CTCMPAO. Tatiana's expertise lies in addressing joint and muscle pain, emotional and digestive issues, insomnia, and stress management. She runs a beauty clinic in Richmond Hill, Ontario, dedicated to providing natural solutions for a youthful appearance.

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