Honest Instagram Moment:

Drew Barrymore's Facial Blotches

The rise of Instragram, the selfie-driven site that allows us all to share a virtual photo diary, has also generated raw material for an internet industry: Headlines trumpeting Stars Without Makeup.  As much as we might like seeing perfect, photoshopped images of our favorite movie actors, equally appealing is the popular US Magazine slogan:  “Stars—They’re just like US!” While paparazzi pics of celebs shot walking their dogs in sweatpants (the stars, not necessarily the dogs) is amusing enough, it takes a truly confident entertainment icon to record her face, blemishes and all, for internet prosperity.

Drew Barrymore remains an entertainment powerhouse.  Descended from acting royalty, with her first movie appearance at the age of 3 (!), Drew is the rare child actress who has successfully segued to an adult career.  She is a producer and director and her latest release as an actress, “Blended,” though critically maligned (14% on Rotten Tomatoes, Ouch!), has grossed over 126 million dollars internationally at the time of this writing.

Most film fixtures at her level command a media team as large as roller derby team to insure that any released image is covered in makeup, spritzed with hairspray and finessed with photoshop down to the smallest pixel.  So we find it endearing that Barrymore would post this image two months after the birth of her second child (right):


While she exclaims that she has a flower in her drink, note the brownish discoloration that has blossomed on her forehead.  This is the classic appearance of melasma, also known as the mask of pregnancy. 

Like Drew’s “Charlie’s Angels” franchise, this latest flare is a sequel of sorts.  She initially developed melasma after her first pregnancy and chatted about it in interviews.


Melasma is a common facial discoloration triggered by hormonal changes and sun exposure.  High estrogen levels related to pregnancy or birth control pills are the major inciting factor.  The blotchiness typically arises symmetrically on the forehead and sun exposed areas of the cheeks, sparing the nose and around the eyes. The ability to magically start fires plays no role with this condition.


Though not fun like a Barrymore rom-com, melasma is also not medically dangerous.  Understandably, women prefer clear skin rather than hard-to-conceal blotches.  Some may feel like an alien.  Others may scream.


Treatment is tricky.  Lasers can make the areas darker, so topical prescription or OTC creams containing hydroquinone (Tri-luma), Tretinoin (Retin-A), Azelaic acid (Finacea and Azelex) represent the usual goops of choice.  Each of these has the potential for side effects, from dryness and a tingling sensation, to a full allergic reaction.  Evaluation and discussion with a dermatologist should result in slow but sure fading.

The most important ingredient: Patience.  In general, the best-case scenario shows fading within 2 months, but may take 3-4 months or longer.  Finally, fastidious sunscreen use is paramount to prevent recurrence.

More recent Instagram posts suggest her melasma has cleared.   Whether she clears her schedule of any further Adam Sandler projects remains to be seen.

Runner up:  Honest Instagram Moment:

Lorde dabbed with acne cream.

In February 2014, 18 year-old New Zealand singing sensation Lorde posted this image with the caption, “in bed in paris with my acne cream on”.  The lack of caps and proper grammer should not reflect badly on the academic standards of Kiwis. 

Acne is a common teen issue, so it’s nice to see Lorde bonding with her fans rather than releasing inauthentic touched-up images.


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