UNLABELLED BACKGROUND; Melasma is a common acquired chronic hypermelanosis of sun-exposed areas which significantly impacts quality of life. There are few epidemiological studies in medical literature concerning these patients. OBJECTIVE Characterize clinical and epidemiological data on Brazilian female patients with melasma. METHODS A semi-structured questionnaire was administered to melasma patients treated at a dermatology clinic between 2005 and 2010. Association between variables was performed by multivariate regression models. RESULTS We assessed 302 patients; intermediate skin phototypes III (34.4%) and IV (38.4%) were prevalent. Mean disease onset age was 27.5 ± 7.8 years and familiar occurrence of melasma was identified in 56.3%. The most commonly reported trigger factors were pregnancy (36.4%), contraceptive pills (16.2%) and intense sun exposure (27.2%). Preferred facial topographies were zygomatic (83.8%), labial superior (51.3%) and frontal (49.7%). Pregnancy induced melasma has been associated to early disease (OR = 0.86) and number of pregnancies (OR = 1.39). Childbearing was correlated to melasma extension. Older disease onset age was associated to darker skin phototypes. Co-occurrence of facial topographies supported clinical classification as centrofacial and peripheral melasma. CONCLUSION This population was characterized by: a high prevalence in adult females, intermediate skin phototypes, disease precipitation by hormonal stimulus and familiar genetic influence.