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Melasma And Exercise


If you exercise regularly and struggling with melasma, I’ve got something very interesting to share with you that might help.

I’ll tell you right now, exercise won’t cause melasma. But, based on my personal experience, some of the skincare products you are using while you exercise could make it worse.

As most of you know, I’ve been struggling with melasma for a number of years.

Changing my diet and skincare routine has helped tremendously in getting rid of melasma.

It’s been a long journey. A lot of trial and error. Majority of the things I’ve tried didn’t do very much, but here and there I find something that really does make a difference.

A few months ago I came across a few natural products that got rid of the melasma completely (I was beyond thrilled!).

And I was able to maintain my results for a couple of months, even when I stopped using the products.

I thought I was in the clear.

Then I started exercising.

And something strange started happening with the melasma. It started coming back.

I wasn’t getting new dark patches, but the old ones I thought were gone started to darken and appear again. 

How exercising can affect Melasma

I started to see a pattern with certain skincare products I was using in conjunction with exercising.

When I used skincare products that contained active ingredients, essential oils, or fragrance right before working out, the combination of the strong products on my skin and exercising would trigger the melasma to darken.

The increased blood flow and heat from exercising makes your skin much more sensitive to skincare products. If you aren’t careful with what products you’re using while exercising, it can cause irritation, which can trigger melasma.

According to this study, there’s a connection between melasma and a delayed barrier recovery. What that means is if you have melasma, your skin’s protective barrier might not be as strong or able to repair itself as efficiently as others. This can result in having skin that is sensitized or compromised more easily.

You need to be cautious not to irritate or overburden your skin.

Once I minimized my skincare routine and used only mild products without any active ingredients, essential oils, or fragrance before and while I’m exercising; the melasma was no longer triggered. And overtime, the melasma faded.

Now that I’ve made significant changes in my skincare routine and lifestyle, I’ve noticed that exercise actually brightens my skin. My skin tone becomes more even when I exercise regularly. As long as I don’t use irritating skincare products while exercising and protect my skin from the sun, exercise benefits my skin tremendously.

So don’t be afraid of exercise. It won’t cause melasma. But, if you have melasma, you must be VERY careful with what skincare products and ingredients you are using before and after you workout.

Watch today’s video to find out how I’ve since changed my workout skincare routine to protect the melasma from getting worse. I go over what skincare products and ingredients I no longer use while I exercise, and what I recommend using instead.

My skincare routine before exercising (melasma-safe)


  • MARA Algae Enzyme Cleansing Oil – This is an ultra-gentle and nourishing oil cleanser that removes dirt, grime, makeup and sunscreen. It’s incredibly mild, suitable for all skin types and cleanses skin without being drying or stripping. You can rinse it off with just water or remove it with a washcloth. My favorite washcloths for oil cleansing and using with this cleanser are GroVia Cloth Wipes


  • To moisturize, I either like to use a cream or an oil. My favorite moisturizer is Jao Brand Face Creme Sensitive Skin. This is ultra gentle, it helps build a stronger skin barrier, absorbs quickly, and feels light and nourishing. Sometimes on hot days, I like to use an oil instead. Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil is ultra light, fast absorbing and leaves a smooth, soft finish on the skin. Both these products are fragrance-free and essential oil-free, don’t trigger melasma, and are my top picks for sensitive skin.


  • Suntegrity 5 in 1 Tinted Face Sunscreen SPF 30 – This is my all-time favorite sunscreen. It’s a zinc-based, broad spectrum mineral sunscreen that not only protects skin from the sun, but is also a great moisturizer (you can use this in place of a moisturizer). If I’m exercising or spending time outdoors, this is my go-to sunscreen. If you need a water-resistant sunscreen, I recommend Suntegrity Sport Tinted Body Sunscreen SPF 30 (great for beach or water sports). This is also fragrance-free, broad spectrum mineral sunscreen and very moisturizing. I use it as my daily sunscreen for my body, plus it’s my go-to sunscreen for face and body on the beach.

References for this article

Lee, D., Lee, J., Ha, J., Park, K.‐C., Ortonne, J.‐P. and Kang, H. (2012), Defective barrier function in melasma skin. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 26: 1533-1537. doi:10.1111/j.1468-3083.2011.04337.x

Kim, E., Kim, Y.C., Lee, E.-S., Kang, H.Y., (2007), The vascular characteristics of melasma. Vol. 46, Issue 2, p111-116. doi:10.1016/j.jdermsci.2007.01.009

More blog posts on hyperpigmentation and melasma

About the Author
Hi, I’m Natasha St. Michael, Founder of Inspire Beauty. I’m also a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Natural Health Educator accredited by the Institute For Integrative Nutrition. I’m obsessed with skin care and self-care. I’m 47 years old, struggled with adult acne until I was 30, and now I’m all about preserving the youthfulness of my skin (and sharing all my tips and tricks). If you have a question about a product or need a recommendation, feel free to contact me anytime.


This blog is for information purposes only. The content is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Should you have a medical or dermatological problem, please consult with your physician. None of the information or recommendations on this website should be interpreted as medical advice.

All product reviews, recommendations, and references are based on the author’s personal experience and impressions using the products. All views and opinions are the author’s own. 

Please see our Disclaimer for more information.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Natasha,

    thanks a lot for this informative post, I liked the video as well.
    I’ve been struggling with this problem for a while now but I hope it will get better eventually..

    I wish you a happy new year!



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