Melasma, pigment, spring and pregnancy!

What products are safe to use for melasma while pregnant?

For everyone……spring is here in the northern hemisphere anyway!   We are about two months from the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year on June 20,21.  This is the time of year when UVA starts to peak.  It’s the highest 4 months of UVA during the year.  And……UVA really aggravates melasma and pigment problems.

If you’re pregnant, it’s even more so, due to pregnancy hormones.  It’s a great time to really pay attention, so you don’t have as many problems later.   For sun damage related pigment problems (not hormone activated), we have lots of topicals, gentle lasers, and more invasive lasers to help reduce and even pretty much get rid of it.  For melasma related pigment (hormone co-activated), not so much.  It can become a lifelong battle with it!!

Also – FYI – oral contraceptives can have a similar effect to pregnancy.  If you take these and are noticing pigment problems, talk to your Gyn or Derm asap.

Prevention safe for everyone, including pregnancy

  • HATS – preferably with brims and wide ones are better than narrow.  Please don’t underestimate these.  They help control melasma on the forehead, upper cheeks, and upper lip quite well!
  • High zinc (and only zinc) sunscreens.  These are safe in pregnancy.  Look for ones (this time of year) that contain 15-25% zinc. Use in the morning, every morning,  and again before going outside.  Reapply if out for a long time or sweating.
  • Good quality vitamin C skin serums have been shown to reduce pigment
  • Plant-based lightening creams (hydroquinone-free)

What to avoid, if pregnant

  • Vitamin A and its cousins.  Both taken orally and even in creams (because we don’t know for sure, no testing done).  This includes Retin A, tretinoin, retinol, retinyl esters, etc.  If not sure, read the label and call the company.
  • Hydroquinones.  These are found in drugstores in the 2% form, and doctor’s prescriptions in the 4% form.  Some doctors formulate even higher percentages, so check your product.


Hope this helps,

Dr. BI
Founder, SkinTour
Director, Madison Skin & Laser Center
Follow my skin tips and travels on Instagram!


Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

Ask me your skincare question!

Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

  • All our content is written and researched by myself.
  • My medical office in Seattle has treated thousands of patients for 15+ years.
  • This site is not affiliated or financially tied to any product, treatment or device.
Ask Me Something
SkinTour Skincare
One of the best investments in your skin is your daily skincare. Why? Because you can prevent many problems with blotchy skin color, lack of glow, texture, some types of acne, and fine lines with good skincare products. You can also correct some of these problems with effective skincare products. Great skincare is often more expensive because quality ingredients are expensive. Some companies spend on research/development which benefits all of us and adds to the cost. Are they worth it? In general - yes! I have handpicked some of what I consider to be the best skin care products, and offer them for sale on SkinTour's shop. This is based on my team and I's testing and research at our clinic. Many of the products are in my own regimen. What could be better than using skin care products a dermatologist uses?!