Melasma is annoying, and a challenge to treat. Once a melanocyte knows how to produce pigment, that becomes its sole mission. Any heat or sun exposure can kick up the activity which is why I do support using topicals prior to and during the process of recovery. The only true FDA approved topical agent scientifically reported to lighten pigment is hydroquinone. It is sold in varying strengths, and has a little bit of bad press. I feel it is reasonable to use this for no longer than 3 months, then stop for a spell. I do like it prior to any treatment that might invoke a perceived trauma that could possibly trigger melanin production (like a peel or a laser). So, one option for you would be to start using Hydroquinone 4% once daily for 2-4 weeks before the peel. I carry one made by vitality institute at my office that is priced at $116.
Another more complete option is to use a pigment correcting kit which includes morning and night products for use to complement the peel. Morning includes a specific moisturizer that includes prep/brightening agents and a vitamin C product; and evening includes use of a tretinoin serum as well as 4% hydroquinone. (kit is $300 and would supply you for a couple of weeks both pre and post treatment).
With regards to the peel, you could do a Vi peel specific to pigment correction (that would be my recommendation). The peel is applied by me and is self-neutralizing. You rinse after 4 hours. It comes with a small kit of post peel towelettes that actually extend the peel’s penetration. The flakiest days for the peel typically are days 3, 4, 5. Sunscreen will be super important after—but you’re already in the habit so that should be easy! Give your current sunscreen a try and if you want more recommendations let me know!
There is one more thing you might want to look into particularly if you like being outdoors a bit during the nicer months. Heliocare Advanced antioxidant is a fern leaf extract that has been made into a nutritional supplement and actually protects you from UV rays when taken internally (sort of an internal sunscreen). You can buy it at the drug store—and you might even be able to purchase it online. Scientifically proven—I anticipate more products like this coming in the next several years.
Help is on the way!
*all pricing subject to change