Do you have melasma or hyperpigmentation? In this article I talk about how I got rid of melasma naturally, just by changing my diet.
And no, I didn't have to go “raw vegan”. In fact, my diet is around 30-40% fat, made up of all the foods I love. I eat a lot of full-fat foods like butter, cream, and cheese, bacon and eggs. I also didn't have to go to the extreme of “paleo” or “low carb”. I still eat pizza, nachos, bread, and yes, sugar. And wine.
In this post, I break down the most critical dietary changes that helped me get rid of melasma.
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How I Got Rid of Melasma Naturally
When I was in my mid-thirties, I suffered from melasma. Melasma is “hyperpigmentaion,” or dark patches on your skin. I had melasma so bad, it looked like I had a mustache. (I really wish I had a “before” picture but I can't find one.)
Melasma is not something you can wax or bleach away or cover it with makeup — there's nothing you can do to get rid of it — or so I thought.
After my daughter Kate was born in 2007, and I was introduced to the Weston A. Price Foundation, I started drinking whole raw milk instead of low-fat organic milk, eating more healthy fats like butter, cream and coconut oil, and taking cod liver oil every day. I was also using bone broth in my cooking (in soups and stews and sauces) and I got a reverse osmosis filter to filter our water for fluoride and other contaminants.
Within about 18 months, my melasma was 90% gone. It was definitely the change to a traditional food diet that completely reversed my melasma.
Pictures of My Melasma After Real Food
Before I get into what worked in detail, take a look at what I used to look like… These photos were taken about a year after I discovered “real food” — you can see the giant patch of melasma on the upper right side my forehead. Although it was a whole lot better than it was the year before I started eating real food (when I had a melasma mustache).
My Melasma Went Away After I Started Eating Real Food
Here's a recent photo of me taken in 2014, several years after I started eating “real food” in 2007:
You can see the melasma is gone from my forehead. Yes, I had makeup on in this photo — but makeup does not cover up melasma. Trust me, I've tried.
What Worked to Get Rid of Melasma
After having analyzed this, these are the most important dietary changes (not in order) that I believe helped erase my melasma:
- Cod liver oil – Omega-3s are really critical to preventing or reversing melasma. People tell you to stay out of the sun to prevent sun damage and melasma. Omega-3s help to protect the skin from sun damage. Cod liver oil (specifically EVCLO or extra virgin cod liver oil) is my very favorite source of omega-3s. Just 1/2 to 1 teaspoon a day is all you need (half that for kids). Omega-3s help to prevent and reverse sun damage. See my post on why we never use sunscreen anymore and how omega-3s protect our skin.
- Eat more seafood – Seafood is your next best bet for omega-3s if for some reason you can't take cod liver oil. You need to eat a lot of it, though, to get the same amount of omega-3s. To get the same amount of omega-3s in one daily teaspoon of cod liver oil, you would need to eat 12 ounces of salmon per week, which means eating a 3-ounce serving 4 times per week. You don't save any money doing that, so you may as well take the EVCLO, since it has the added benefit of vitamin A. (I break the numbers down in this post: Can't Afford Cod Liver Oil? What To Buy Instead If You're On a Budget)
- Grass-fed meat and dairy – If you can't take cod liver oil or eat a lot of seafood, you need to eat as much grass-fed meat and dairy as you can — they are much higher in omega-3s than conventional meat and dairy. If I didn't take cod liver oil and eat seafood, I would also cook everything in butter and ghee (ghee is great for deep-fat frying.)
- Bone broth – Bone broth is made of bones, which are gelatin, same thing as collagen. Collagen is what your skin is made of! Instead of getting collagen injections or buying fancy collagen skin creams, you can just eat more gravy and enchiladas made with bone-broth. You can also add collagen to your smoothies and shakes. Just make sure it's grass-fed gelatin or grass-fed collagen peptides. Conventional gelatin is made from animals eating feed sprayed with cryolite, so it's very high in fluoride which is damaging to the skin (see below).
- More healthy fats like butter, cream, coconut oil, eggs and bacon – Healthy cholesterol-rich fats feed our hormones. Healthy hormones mean beautiful skin. I eat about 30-40% fat (tracked on my Fitbit dashboard. This is not something I try to do — just doing simple things make the difference, like switching from low-fat to whole milk or cream in your coffee, eating more cheese and butter, eating eggs and bacon for breakfast instead of toast or cereal. Here are some ideas for how to eat more fat.
- Reducing fluoride by filtering our water and eating organic – Cryolite, a fluoride-based pesticide, is sprayed on non-organic foods, so I really think eating organic as much as possible is key. Why is fluoride bad for the skin? Well, for one thing, it gives you acne. For another thing, fluoride is an endocrine disrupter. We know that melasma is caused by adrenal exhaustion so we need to avoid fluoride to reverse melasma. Read my post on the biggest sources of fluoride (it's not your water or toothpaste) and how to reduce it. Also see my post on how to filter your water for fluoride. Iced tea and kombucha are also very high in fluoride, so I've cut those out as well.
When I Slacked Off on My Diet, My Melasma Came Back
In 2013, I stopped taking cod liver oil. The main reason was the FCLO scandal. Corganic hadn't yet started selling EVCLO (I started taking it in 2014). But the great thing about stopping something for a while is you get to see what happens when you stop.
I think fluoride was also a big factor for my melasma. I neglected to change my reverse osmosis water filter. I let it go a few years when I should have changed the filter. And I switched from eating 80-100% organic to about 50% organic, and buying more processed foods like cereal and canned beans. And I was drinking a lot more iced tea, which is high in fluoride.
And guess what happened? My melasma started to come back. It took a couple years, and it is not anywhere near as bad as it was before, but last summer I could definitely see it cropping up on my face around my hairline. It's very slight — not as dramatic as it was before — but it was still there.
How I'm Getting Rid Of Melasma Again
Last summer (2016), I decided to get serious about eating 80-100% organic again, and I started taking cod liver oil again. And I changed my water filter. And guess what happened? The melasma has already lightened about 50%.
When I first started eating real food in 2007, it took a year and a half for my melasma to lighten by 50%. So I need to give it a while longer.
Where to Buy Cod Liver Oil
With the EVCLO softgels, you can just put them in a vitamin caddy which I keep in my purse or on my desk so I remember to take my supplements each day — they should not be stored in the fridge like the liquid EVCLO. So much more convenient, and critical for travel. Read my post: How to Store Cod Liver Oil.
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