What is melasma? Kate Ferdinand praised for sharing 'brave' make-up free vid

Kate Ferdinand has been praised by fans for sharing a video revealing her pregnancy pigmentation or melasma. (Getty Images)
Kate Ferdinand has opened up about having melasma. (Getty Images)

Kate Ferdinand has been applauded by fans for sharing a make-up free video revealing her pregnancy pigmentation, melasma.

Sharing a clip of the recording of the latest episode of her podcast, Blended, the former reality TV star revealed that she had decided to "be brave" and go bare-faced during filming.

Kate, who married former footballer Rio Ferdinand in September 2019, is currently pregnant with her second child and has been sharing details about her pregnancy journey on the podcast, including the stigma surrounding staying silent in the first trimester.

The couple welcomed their first child, son Cree, in December 2020 and Kate is also stepmother to Rio's three children from his late wife: Lorenz, 16, Tate, 14, and Tia, 11.

Read more: Kate Ferdinand reveals the sex of her baby but says gender reveal didn't go to plan

Most recently Kate has been discussing her struggles with melasma – a common adult skin condition in which brown or greyish patches of pigmentation (colour) develop, usually on the face.

"I’ve spoke lots over the years about my pigmentation and not feeling confident without makeup," she wrote on Instagram.

"Being pregnant & recently being on holiday means the pigmentation is a little worse at the minute. But I thought sod it I’m going to be brave (and this feels brave for me🫢) and go makeup free for this mini episode."

Kate Ferdinand is currently pregnant with her second baby, pictured with husband Rio Ferdinand. (Getty Images)
Kate Ferdinand is currently pregnant with her second baby, pictured with husband Rio Ferdinand. (Getty Images)

After sharing the clip and accompanying caption, fans were quick to praise the former TOWIE star on her openness.

"U look beautiful Kate glad your [sic] embracing your natural self and showing natural is beautiful well done for embracing it and being a little vulnerable you wear pigmentation very well," one user wrote.

"This is fabulous Kate," another agreed. "You’re beautiful and we should all celebrate our own skin."

"Thank you so much," yet another user commented. "So powerful to see you without make up! You look beautiful."

Others shared their own struggles with pigmentation.

"I have this same issue!" one commented. "I feel my pigmentation can make my skin look a bit grubby or not ‘fresh’ shall we say, and it’s made me a bit shy about it at times."

"Thanks for showing the pigment, I suffer a lot and I feel like I never see anyone who does too, we’re probably all covering it up with make up," another wrote.

"My pigmentation makes me look like I have a moustache..... I no longer care," another user added.

It isn't the first time Kate has opened up about living with melasma. Back in 2021 she bared her make-up free skin to fans on Instagram to give an unfiltered look at her facial pigmentation patches.

"Me without makeup," she wrote in the accompanying caption. "For the last few years, even with SPF50 and a hat, as soon as the sun comes out my face looks like a patch work."

"I always feel so insecure about it and it really does get me down, I try to cover it at all costs."

Read more: Carol Vorderman avoids sunbathing due to pre-cancerous skin changes

Melasma is a common skin condition in which brown or greyish patches of pigmentation develop. (Getty Images)
Melasma is a common skin condition where brown or greyish patches of pigmentation develop. (Getty Images)

What is melasma?

Melasma, also called ‘chloasma’ and ‘pregnancy mask’, is a common skin condition in which brown or greyish patches of pigmentation (colour) develop, usually on the face.

According to the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) the name comes from melas, the Greek word for black, or cholas, from the word green-ish.

The condition is more common in women, particularly during pregnancy (when up to 50% of women may be affected).

The BAD says melasma is also more common in people of colour and those who tan very quickly but can occur to anyone.

"Melasma can affect the cheeks, forehead, upper lip, nose and chin, however it can also affect other areas of the body exposed to the sun, namely forearms, neck, chest and shoulders," Dr Ross Perry, medical director of Cosmedics skin clinics.

"Females and people with dark complexions are at a higher risk of developing melasma with the symptoms of melasma looking different depending on a person’s skin tone."

Watch: Kate Ferdinand talks about being judged, never feeling good enough and how meeting Rio changed her outlook

Dr Perry says melasma occurs when melanocytes produce too much pigmentation in the skin, resulting in dark patches.

"People with black or brown skin have more melanocytes, which basically means they are more likely to develop melasma than people with lighter complexions," he explains.

"For those with olive complexions and skin that tans very easily, there is also a higher risk of melasma developing if you’re exposed to the sun.”

Uneven pigmentation/age spots are small areas of discolouration (hyperpigmentation) that frequently appear on the face and hands and are one of the major changes associated with ageing skin.

"They tend to appear as small, flat and darkened patches of skin that are light brown to black in colour and are most common in people over the age of 40," Dr Perry continues.

Read more: Skin cancer signs and symptoms: From melanoma to carcinoma

Pregnant women can be impacted by melasma, which causes pigmentation. (Getty Images)
Pregnant women can be impacted by melasma, which causes pigmentation. (Getty Images)

What causes melasma?

Skin pigmentation is caused by an increased production of melanin which is the natural pigment that gives our skin its colour.

"Melanin acts as your skin’s natural sunscreen by protecting you from harmful UV rays," Dr Perry explains.

"Excessive sun exposure increases the amount of melanin that skin produces. The dark sports on our skin are generally triggered by over-exposure to the sun, therefore affecting areas such as the face, neck décolletage, shoulders, forearms and hands."

How to treat melasma

According to Dr Perry Age spots/pigmentation aren’t dangerous and treatment isn’t necessary, but some people want to remove age spots because of their appearance.

"Bleaching creams may be prescribed to fade the age spots gradually and generally take several months to notice a difference, but these will make your skin more sensitive to the sun so it’s important to stay out of the sun and wear a high SPF at all times," he continues.

"There are also a number of medical procedures that can remove or reduce age spots which are worth speaking to a dermatologist or skincare professional about.”

Pigmentation in pregnancy

One of the unwanted skin problems during pregnancy is uneven pigmentation and melasma which affects Around 50% of women and can happen at any stage of the pregnancy.

"This causes darker brown patches on the forehead, cheeky and upper lip," Dr Perry explains.

"This is generally referred to as chloasma or melasma or the ‘mask of pregnancy’. It happens because estrogen and progesterone stimulate some of the melanin cells in your skin to produce more pigments. This then decreases after you’ve given birth with patches fading and becoming less obvious."

Dr Perry says pregnant women might also notice other areas of the body darkening such as the areolas, and the skin under the arms and between the thighs and women with darker skin may find this more noticeable than fair skinned.

Though there is little you can do to treat pregnancy pigmentation as it is caused by hormones fluctuating, Dr Perry recommends staying out of the sun as exposure to the sun’s rays will only make patches darker.

He also suggests wearing a high SPF and a hat to keep protected and making sure you’re getting enough folic acid.

Hydroquinone and retinoid creams should also be avoided in pregnancy as they could harm the fetus.

"If you’re concerned about your skin visit your GP or seek advice from a dermatologist,” he adds.