The above is my best bet formula to combat melasma: Milk Thistle contains Silymarin, a naturally occurring polyphenol flavanoid compound which has been found to have inhibitory effects on melanogenesis in mouse melanocyte cell lines (1), it has also been found effective treating rabbits with melasma (2).
Green Tea contains ellagic acid, which in guinea pigs prevented UV-induced pigmentation similar to hydroquinone (3). Components of green tea can also inhibit Tyrosinase (4), an enzyme that controls the production of melanin synthesis in a rate limiting manner
Pine Bark Extract contains about 90% pycnogenol which in 30 melasma patients showed a decrease in pigmentary intensity and melasma area with 75 mg daily oral intake for a total of 30 days in 80% of the patients (5), it is reasonable to assume it could also have effect when used topically. I added gentle anti fungals Sorbic Acid and Zinc Sulfate have been added to rule out fungal causes.
As I don't have melasma, I need help to get it tested for efficacy, send me a PM or reply to this thread if you're interested in trying it for free.
All feedback is immensely valuable, post it in this thread or PM me! Let me know if you have any questions about the ingredient choices or about me (I wrote a little in my profile). If the formula works well, I will get my OTC approved and FDA registered manufacturer to do a small production run. Price point should be right under $20 for 2 oz.
1. Choo, S. J., Ryoo, I. J., Kim, Y. H., Xu, G. H., Kim, W. G., Kim, K. H., ... & Yoo, I. D. (2009). Silymarin inhibits melanin synthesis in melanocyte cells.Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 61(5), 663-667.
2. Altaei, T. (2012). The treatment of melasma by silymarin cream. BMC dermatology, 12(1), 18.
3. Shimogaki, H., Tanaka, Y., Tamai, H., & Masuda, M. (2000). In vitro and in vivo evaluation of ellagic acid on melanogenesis inhibition. International journal of cosmetic science, 22(4), 291-304.
4. No, J. K., Soung, D. Y., Kim, Y. J., Shim, K. H., Jun, Y. S., Rhee, S. H., ... & Chung, H. Y. (1999). Inhibition of tyrosinase by green tea components. Life sciences, 65(21), PL241-PL246.
5. Ni, Z., Mu, Y., & Gulati, O. (2002). Treatment of melasma with Pycnogenol®.Phytotherapy Research, 16(6), 567-571.