In a tropical country like the Philippines, melasma is a common skin condition that plagues men and women aged 20 and above. Usually presenting as dark spots on the skin, it is relatively harmless but unsightly. Fortunately, there are many melasma creams to help treat this condition.
To help you better understand what causes melasma and how to treat it, we have prepared a buying guide reviewed by dermatologist Dr. Katrina Habaluyas Luz for you. We've also rounded up the 10 best melasma cream products that you can buy online. Read on to know more!
Dr. Katrina Habaluyas Luz is the face behind Ask Your Derma. She is a board-certified dermatologist in Metro Manila. She is also an educator and digital creator on all things skin, hair, and nails. She is a Diplomate of the Philippine Dermatological Society and offers online video consultations. You can also catch her on her Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube channel.
Our recommendation articles are carefully researched and crafted by the mybest Philippines team of writers and editors. To stay true to our company’s mission and vision to help users’ selection process easier, we also collaborate with experts from various fields to ensure that our content stays factual and useful.
The expert oversees the Buying Guide only, and does not determine the products and services featured.
Table of Contents
The main cause of melasma is radiation from the sun and other UV rays which stimulate the skin to produce more melanin (dark pigment). Apart from that, melasma can be acquired genetically or from hormonal changes due to pregnancy or birth control pills. Vitamin B-12 deficiency may also sometimes lead to melasma formation.
Melasma aka 'pekas' is a challenging condition characterized by patches of hyperpigmentation typically affecting the face. Although challenging, it's not impossible to treat. Key is consulting a board-certified dermatologist early on for proper assessment and management.
Here are some key points to consider:
For more detailed information, read through our buying guide below.
Brightening agents are the key ingredients to consider when buying melasma treatment. These are compounds that inhibit the formation of melanin in your skin. Depending on your type of melasma, your dermatologist will suggest the brightening agent that will work best for you. Below are the most common ones that are used in melasma creams.
One of the first treatments for melasma is the topical application of hydroquinone on the skin. It is often referred to as the “gold standard” treatment for this condition because it evens out your skin tone. It helps decrease the number of melanocytes that make the melanin or dark pigments of the skin.
Remember, though, hydroquinone is a prescription-only medication. Yes, it is effective, but it's not for everyone! Not to mention, it must only be used under the strict guidance of a dermatologist to prevent the development of its side effects.
Exfoliation agents such as tretinoin, BHA, AHA, and PHA are another first line of treatment for melasma. These agents exfoliate the older skin cells and bring out new ones. They remove the skin that has been damaged by the sun or other factors that caused dark pigmentation. They are also packed with antioxidants that can protect the skin from further damage.
Fun fact! Tretinoin not only works by stimulating collagen, thus, improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. But it also works before and after the process of melanin production, making it a mainstay for the treatment of melasma.
If you have sensitive skin, opt for gentler lightening agents such as vitamin C, kojic acid, alpha arbutin or azelaic acid to even out dark spots. These gentle acids are as effective as hydroquinone in blocking the enzyme tyrosinase that makes melanin pigment. On top of that, they give your skin antioxidizing benefits that promote skin cell renewal.
One way to approach hyperpigmentation such as melasma is through prevention with antioxidants. This is where vitamin C, niacinamide, ferulic acid, and resveratrol, amongst others, come in.
Tranexamic acid works deep into the dermis, which is why it is often prescribed by physicians if none of those first lines of treatment work. It is also an inhibitor compound that blocks the transfer of melanin pigment to the outer layer of the skin. It works deep within by inhibiting the effects of UV rays on the skin.
Tranexamic acid can be more effective with a combination of other tyrosinase inhibitors like arbutin or kojic acid. But remember, it boils down to the product's overall formulation.
When choosing a melasma cream, it is best to pick a product with a broader SPF to prevent further sun damage. The number in SPF corresponds to the number of minutes it can protect you, multiplied by ten. In this case, SPF 30 is equivalent to 300 minutes. This means the higher the SPF, the longer the sun protection.
Some brands incorporate zinc, titanium, or iron oxide in their ingredients to give their products sunblocking properties. Iron oxides blend with the skin complexion better than the other two since zinc and titanium oxides tend to leave off a whitish finish. However, although iron oxide is favored cosmetically, zinc and titanium oxide provides the broadest spectrum of sun protection.
Key in approaching melasma is complementing your treatment with protection that you can get from a good sunscreen. Remember, even the most expensive topicals will not be effective without adequate sun protection.
Yes, don't hesitate to #AskYourDerma!
Remember, melasma is a pathologic condition. Thus, majority of the effective products for treating it are prescription medications, so you'd definitely want to make sure they are dermatologist-approved and prescribed.
One of the things to keep in mind when buying online, especially for health products, is the trust rating of both the brand and the seller. It is better to buy from those that have already earned a reputable status to make sure your purchase is safe. To be sure the product is not counterfeit, look for the brand’s official or flagship store.
Definitely make sure to be a smart consumer! Check reviews and only buy from reputable sources!
Click to purchase
A Complex Blend of Various Lightening Agents
Dermoscience Brightening Dark Spot Corrector
A Non-Comedogenic Treatment That Gets Rid of Dark Spots
Skin Lightening Face Cream
Moisturize and Fade Out Dark Spots With Kojic Acid and Vitamin E
Peony Bright Spot Corrector
Brighten Dark Spots With Red Algae Extract and Vitamin C
Kojic Acid Whitening Face Neck Cream SPF 30
Kojic Acid and Tranexamic Acid for Evening Out Your Skin Tone
Retinol + Vitamin C Dark Spot Corrector
Erase Stubborn Dark Spots With Accelerated Retinol and Vitamin C
Therapeutic Skin Brighten
Melanin-Reducing Skin Therapy Using Herbal Extracts and Ginseng
Some By Mi
30 Days Miracle Cream
Plant-Based Formula That's Suitable for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin
Melaklear Nano Alpha-Arbutin
Get Quicker Results with Concentrated Alpha Arbutin Nano Molecules
Lighten Pigmented Skin With Hydroquinone and AHA
We have several reasons why Dermaid Melasma Cream is our top-pick product for melasma treatment. For one, it has a combination of milder natural lightening agents, such as niacinamide, alpha arbutin, tranexamic acid, and red algae extract. It also contains plant extracts such as grape seed, mulberry, and other natural ingredients that have amazing benefits for the skin.
Aside from that, this cream will fade your dark spots without the harsh chemicals. Instead, it contains seawater and skullcap mushroom, which have been proven to have lightening effects on the skin. But that's not all; it also has sodium hyaluronate for plump and youthful-looking skin and aloe vera juice for nourishment and healing.
Topical melasma creams can sometimes feel heavy, as they contain compounds that stick to your skin and can block your pores. If you have oily or combination skin, it is best to find a cream that is non-comedogenic, like Celeteque Dermoscience Brightening. It takes care of your hyperpigmented skin without blocking your pores.
To lighten dark spots, it uses octadecenedioic acid, a mild lightening agent. This ingredient can significantly inhibit melanin formation without the carcinogenic effect. The cream is also enriched with squalene and vitamin E to nourish the skin, as well as salicylic acid for exfoliation. On top of that, it contains vitamin C to double the lightening efficacy on pigmented skin.
This brand has become a household name when it comes to face creams. And it's not surprising! Aside from being affordable, the Kojie-San Skin Brightening face cream has proven many times over that it's highly effective for lightening dark spots. It also has a hydro-moist formula that works like magic and keeps skin hydrated. In fact, many users say it feels like a lotion!
This formula contains natural lightening agents such as niacinamide (B3) and kojic acid that work together to inhibit melanin formation. Niacinamide is also known to refine skin pores, while kojic acid can repair sun-damaged skin. Plus, it is enriched with skin-plumping collagen and the antioxidizing effects of vitamin E.
This award-winning spot cream from Korean brand AHC combines three botanical ingredients to help treat melasma: red algae, peony, and Vitamin C. Red algae reduce melanin production under the dermal layer while providing skin-friendly nutrients. And because it's combined with peony extracts and vitamin C, it keeps skin hydrated as well.
Another great thing about it is that it's gentle and non-sticky despite its rich formula. Aside from that, it's enriched with vitamin C derivatives that lighten skin tone and protect it from further sun damage. Satisfied users attest to its effectiveness in lightening their dark spots and leaving their skin bright and healthy. No wonder it won a Beauty Insider award!
Who would know how to treat skin conditions better than dermatologists? That's why, when treating melasma, you can trust the Belo Kojic Acid + Tranexamic Acid face cream since it was developed by a dermatologist. It works to lighten pigmented skin with a powerful combination of kojic and tranexamic acids.
Kojic acid helps exfoliate damaged skin and bring out the new layer underneath. Meanwhile, tranexamic acid can penetrate deeply and inhibit melanin production. This product also contains shea butter and bee venom that are effective in moisturizing skin and smoothening wrinkles. Best of all, it contains SPF30, which gives you 5 hours of protection from the sun!
If you are looking for a quicker way to get rid of melasma, the Neutrogena Retinol + Vitamin C Dark Spot Corrector might be the product for you. It contains vitamin C to lighten pigmented skin and retinol to speed up cell regeneration. Thus, you will get a fairer and even skin tone and smoother skin.
Unfortunately, despite its benefits, retinol increases sun sensitivity. Thus, you will still need to wear extra sunscreen when using this product. It is also a good idea to consult a dermatologist before using products with retinol because it may cause allergies for those with sensitive skin.
If you want to treat hyperpigmentation without synthetic ingredients, try Derma-E Therapeutic Skin Brighten. Made from plant-based ingredients that lighten and nourish the skin, this product is 100% vegan and truly therapeutic. Not only that, it is developed by doctors, an assurance of its quality and safety.
Moreover, it uses vitamin C and alpha arbutin, which are considered two of the safest lightening agents. It also contains milk thistle that eases skin inflammation and ginseng to provide amazing anti-aging benefits. As if that wasn't enough, this product also offers a little sun protection with the inclusion of zinc oxide!
Want a product that's perfect for oily and acne-prone skin? This cream moisturizer from Some By Mi can help you. Featuring four kinds of cica extracts and tea tree leaf extract, it can help strengthen damaged skin barriers and combat acne and other skin troubles.
Aside from that, this product can also exfoliate with its AHA, BHA, and PHA content. It also has adenosine and niacinamide that can help combat signs of skin aging, like wrinkles, and brighten your skin. Several people who use this product praise its effectiveness in treating acne, clearing complexions, and improving skin's appearance.
Deep dermal melasma can be tough to cure, as it doesn't fade away easily. What you need is a cream with a nano-technology formula to help the lightening agent molecules penetrate deeper. The Melaklear Nano Alpha Arbutin is one example. This cream contains concentrated alpha arbutin nano molecules that can lighten pigmented skin in a shorter period of time.
The other ingredient of this product is sodium hyaluronate, which helps keep skin hydrated by retaining moisture in your skin cells. This is why it's also effective in reducing dryness and wrinkles. Best of all, you can wear this as a day cream because it has SPF 20 to protect your skin from further sun damage.
Do you want to get rid of melasma fast? Ambi Fade Cream offers amazing results, according to those who have tried the product. It contains hydroquinone, which is considered the "holy grail" for treating hyperpigmented skin. And when combined with alpha hydroxy acid, the result is almost instant.
It is also enriched with vitamin E to help with skin elasticity and octinoxate to provide sunscreen. However, remember to use an additional sunscreen when using hydroquinone, as it increases sun sensitivity. Take note, too, that it is best to use hydroquinone for no more than a month, as it can damage skin cells and worsen melasma with long-term use.
Below are some of the most asked questions on the web answered by Dr. Katrina.
Taking care of your skin is always a good investment. You will have more confidence to face the world if you have clean and healthy-looking skin! Find out what other products you can add to your skincare regimen from these links below!
Author: J. Montayre
Editor: R. Umlas
Our buying guide was carefully researched and crafted by the mybest team of writers and editors, in collaboration with the expert featured in this article. We used the buying guide as a basis for choosing and ranking the product recommendations, and we looked at reviews and ratings from different E-commerce sites like Lazada, Shopee, and more
No. 1: DermAid｜Melasma Cream
No. 2: Celeteque｜Dermoscience Brightening Dark Spot Corrector
No. 3: Kojiesan｜Skin Lightening Face Cream
No. 4: AHC｜Peony Bright Spot Corrector
No. 5: Belo｜Kojic Acid Whitening Face Neck Cream SPF 30
View Full Ranking
When you purchase products mentioned in the article, part of the sales may be returned to mybest.
The descriptions of each product is referenced from the content available from the manufacturer, e-commerce sites etc.
BeautyBody care, Makeup, Skincare
CamerasCamera supplies, Digital cameras, Drones and multirotors
HealthBeauty supplements, Medical supplies, Feminine care
Household goodsAir treatment, Bath and shower supplies, Blankets
PCs and laptopsComputer accessories, Computer components, Desktop pcs
Home appliances and electronicsAir conditioners and coolers, Air treatment, Blenders, mixers, and food processors
Food and drinksAlcoholic beverages, Baked goods and desserts, Baking
Kitchen suppliesBaking tools, Coffee and tea accessories, Food containers
ClothingBrands and shops, Men's coats and jackets, Men's innerwear
ShoesMen's shoes, Other shoes and footwear, Outdoor footwear
AccessoriesBags, Accessories and jewelry, Belts
Mom and babyBaby books and toys, Baby food and snacks, Baby supplies
Interior and furnitureBeds, Carpets and rugs and mats, Chairs
HobbiesAnimes, Arts and crafts, Board games
OutdoorCamping beds and cots, Camping stoves, Coolers
DIY and tools
Sports and fitnessAccessories, Badminton, Basketball
PetsCat supplies, Dog supplies, Fish and aquarium supplies
Books, CDs, and DVDsBooks and magazines, CDs, Linguistics, dictionaries, and phrase books
GamesConsole accessories, PC and console games
Cars and motorcyclesCar accessories, Car seats, Car supplies
GiftsChristmas-related gifts, Gifts for kids, Gifts for men
Home improvement and toolsDoor hardware and locks, Electrical, Gas stoves
Smartphones and tabletsSmartphone accessories, Smartphones, Storage
Banking and financeCredit cards, Debit cards, Services and apps
InsuranceCar insurance, Life insurance, Medical insurance
AudioEarphones, Gaming, Headphones
Smartphone applicationsBusiness apps, Dating apps, Education apps
OthersOthers, Merch, Recreation