The Mask of Pregnancy: What Is Chloasma?

Christine Coppa

Flickr photo by pareeerica
When I was pregnant with my son, I noticed a light brown, freckly patch of discoloration on my forehead and above my lip -- it wasn't pretty. It was chloasma, also known as the mask of pregnancy. Sounds scary (and silly!) but relax, it's considered normal.

In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, up to 70% of pregnant women develop blotchy areas of darkened skin on their faces. What's the cause, you wonder (while obsessively staring in the mirror)?

The change in skin pigmentation is caused by hormonal shifts during pregnancy, which stimulate an increase in your body's production of melanin (a natural substance that provides color to hair, skin, and eyes).

I don't have to remind you how important it is to wear a face lotion with SPF as a routine habit, but you'll want to slap some on especially if you have chloasma, because sun exposure will actually darken your pregnancy mask. Big warning: Tanning your face won't help even out the discoloration -- it'll make it more forefront. I used Olay Complete With SPF 15 when I was expecting -- and always!

Now for some good news: My pregnancy mask faded within a month of delivering my son because my hormones balanced out. A very small percentage of women still have the mask after childbirth. In that case, test out foundation samples at the beauty counter -- you can certainly tone down the appearance of pregnancy mask with makeup.

Did you experience chloasma?

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