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Is Tranexamic Acid Effective Against Melasma?

 Woman with melasma using tranexamic acid

No matter how religiously you follow your skincare routine, no matter how much research you put into the best products and the best ways of applying, things get in the way. You may have flawless, even skin tone ninety percent of the time, and other times — surprise acne, or maybe you wake up and notice a small sunspot blooming on your cheek.

Unfortunately, we can’t control everything, even if there are ways to minimize the likelihood something will go wrong with our skin. But some skin issues result from internal causes that no amount of cream or serum can prevent.

Also known as the ‘mask of pregnancy,’ Melasma is a fairly common skin problem, but it can cast a major shadow over your hopes for a glowing #nofilter complexion. It’s called this because it can often result from a shift in hormones — such as the ones experienced during pregnancy.

Although ironically, it can also be caused by hormone fluctuations due to birth control. It has other causes, too, including overexposure to the sun and some cosmetics, but there’s also a genetic component of Melasma. So it’s one of those things that while there are, again, ways to minimize your risk, it’s almost impossible to avoid altogether if you’re predisposed to Melasma.

Because it’s fairly common, there are a wide variety of options available to treat it, which is good news! But because there are a wide variety of possible treatments, it can be hard to choose one. So let’s talk about a fairly new option to the skincare world — Tranexamic Acid — and what it can do for you and your Melasma.

What Is Tranexamic Acid?

It’s tempting to class Tranexamic Acid immediately as an Alpha Hydroxy Acid because of its name and assume that you already know what it does and how it works. But Tranexamic Acid isn’t an AHA at all, and it won’t work as a chemical exfoliant. It’s often recommended that you use AHAs to manage other dark blemishes, and while it can help with Melasma too, we just wanted to point out that this isn’t the same type of ingredient as Tranexamic Acid.

Tranexamic Acid is a synthetic molecule similar to your body’s naturally occurring building block, Lysine. So if natural ingredients are important to you, you shouldn’t necessarily write Tranexamic Acid off because it’s not far from the OG. Tranexamic Acid was originally used to help your blood to clot. So while it’s new to the skincare world, it’s not new in general — and it doesn’t have any noted side effects when applied to the skin, so you don’t have to worry about safety, which might be a fear that pops up when you hear something called ‘new.’

What Is Melasma?

Melasma is a chronic skin condition, which means it tends to recur — which is by far our least favorite kind of skin condition. It can be triggered by several things, such as sun exposure, skin irritations, cosmetics and even as a reaction to steroids. It’s also commonly known to be caused by a change in hormones, so even if you don’t really have a history of melasma, it can crop up when you’re pregnant or as the result of certain kinds of birth control.

It appears as dark splotches of discoloration, most typically on your face, although you can get Melasma pretty much anywhere your body is exposed to the sun. Melasma isn’t dangerous and doesn’t hurt or cause any harm to you! It can just be a bit of a challenge to your self-esteem.

Suppose you notice any sudden changes to your complexion. In that case, it’s worth speaking to a doctor or certified dermatologist about the issue to make sure your hyperpigmentation is definitely due to Melasma and not to something more serious.

Melasma can go away on its own or can just be covered up by makeup if you aren’t interested in other treatments.

How Does Tranexamic Acid Target Melasma?

Let’s put it all together! When you apply Tranexamic Acid to your skin, it targets the process by which your skin produces pigment. It basically blocks the cells that produce pigment from giving the pigment it creates to the cells that form the outer layer of your skin.

So whereas normally your skin may be producing too much melanin in certain areas, creating dark spots, Tranexamic Acid keeps your melanin production under control. (And because it works with the outer layer of your skin, it can also help calm skin overall and beef up your skin barrier. Bonus!)

This makes Tranexamic Acid ideal for treating hyperpigmentation issues like Melasma. Rather than simply seeing to the surface of your skin and improving your appearance, Tranexamic Acid gets to the problem on a deeper level. So it’s a pretty good bet if you’ve been struggling with Melasma and haven’t had much luck with other treatments, like AHAs.

Another benefit Tranexamic Acid has as opposed to AHAs is that AHAs are sometimes thought to make your skin more vulnerable to sun exposure. But Tranexamic Acid doesn’t increase your skin’s sensitivity to UV rays at all. In fact, it actually decreases your skin’s sensitivity, which is a pretty big win. That said, even if you feel like your skin is supercharged by Tranexamic Acid, you’ll still want to wear sunscreen! All day, every day.

Can Tranexamic Acid Prevent Melasma?

Basically, yes! This is another thing that makes Tranexamic Acid stand out from other ingredients that are recommended to help with hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone and Cysteamine are two commonly recommended skin-lightening ingredients that come up a lot when you’re looking into improving the look of hyperpigmentation.

Although they are quite effective, they can be pretty intense on your skin, and you can only use them for a few months at a time before it’s important to discontinue use so as not to damage or irritate your skin.

Tranexamic Acid is gentle enough and nearly side-effect-free, so it’s ideal for chronic or recurring issues like Melasma. If you’re worried your spots will come back as quickly as you’ve reduced them, working Tranexamic Acid into your daily routine may help to keep your skin clear around the clock, no matter what your triggers are.

Is Tranexamic Acid Good For Other Skin Problems?

Tranexamic Acid is nearly side-effect-free when it comes to applying it to your skin. However, because Tranexamic Acid only really affects your skin’s pigmentation process, it isn’t beneficial for other skin complaints. This is another reason why it’s important to distinguish Tranexamic Acid from other common skin acids like AHAs.

Whereas AHAs can help with any kind of hyperpigmentation and are ideal for reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, brightening your complexion overall and smoothing out the texture of your skin, Tranexamic Acid only impacts your pigmentation and melanin production.

However, you can use Tranexamic Acid at the same time as your favorite AHA! Because they’re totally different processes, there’s no reason not to double up. So if you’re hoping to treat signs of aging or other minor skin issues alongside something bigger, like Melasma, Tranexamic Acid has your back.

How Do You Use Tranexamic Acid?

As with many skincare heroes, there are so many different ways you can work Tranexamic Acid into your routine. Tranexamic Acid is available in creams, gels and serums, depending on your preference. Our Advanced Even Tone Day and Night Treatment has a hearty 3 percent Tranexamic Acid solution to help target your Melasma quickly so you can get back to living the brilliant, glowing life you deserve.

You can also get Tranexamic Acid as an injection. This is naturally something you will only want to do under the guidance of a trusted professional. Depending on who you usually see, you can discuss and explore this option with a doctor or certified dermatologist to try and address your Melasma. Generally, it’s best to try topical treatments before you escalate to something like an injection, but if you’re not seeing results or have been fighting your Melasma for a long time, it might be time to discuss the next option.

In Conclusion

There are many potential treatments available if you struggle with Melasma. But if you feel like you’re fighting battle after battle with Melasma-induced hyperpigmentation and never getting long term relief — or if you feel like the usual lightening creams and chemical exfoliators just aren’t cutting it — and you just want to see results, Tranexamic Acid is a great new product to work into your daily routine.

It has few side effects and is shown to be very effective in getting below the surface of your skin to brighten up your dark spots and help you get your glow on.

By: Ivey Rogers Aesthetician Educator & Community
Engagement Manager