Who doesn’t want a perfect face? By perfect I mean… Waking up and literally looking like you are an airbrushed model, not having to put on any makeup and being able to walk out the door with glowing, delicious skin is a dream that most women have and very few (if any) can actually achieve.
So perfection is one thing, but what about depressing, heartbreaking and relentless acne scarring?
This is actually a topic that I have a sick obsession with. I have literally been researching this for years.
I have a few key pieces of advice before giving you the product recommendations and some natural home remedies that you can use to fade acne scars.
1) Don’t use too many new products at the same time because this will most likely break you out more
2) Don’t fall for gimmicks promising to erase scars overnight
3) If you have severe scarring you might be best off seeking the advice of a dermatologist or highly skilled aesthetician because there are procedures such as microdermabrasion that can help you that you’d be best off getting done in a professional setting
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4) Don’t stress too much because stressing at best does nothing and at worst leads to more breakouts
5) Don’t pop pimples yourself unless you are a master at it because this will likely make the scar worse
I could probably go on forever, but I’ll stop at those five for now and get right into the best products to help fade acne scars before giving you specific tips and tricks if you want a natural remedy.
How To Get Rid Of Acne Scars Fast
If you want to get rid of acne scars fast, first of all you have to be consistent in your treatment. Don’t jump around or skip days – you really want to pick a treatment and stick to it. To pick which treatment is right for you, figure out your goal. Are you trying to do pre-spot treatments? Or spot treatments? Or treat hyperpigmentation? When you figure out exactly what your acne treatment goals are, you can pick the best treatment and get the best results.
To Get Rid Of Acne Scars – Consistency Is Key
First, you need to make sure that you have a routine that you do every single day, twice a day when it comes to caring for your skin.
If you do not have a consistent routine, it’ll be difficult to actually get rid of discoloration and prevent new acne from forming.
Our goal is to prevent new acne from forming while getting rid of post-acne marks because otherwise it is not as effective to use products to fade discoloration while you are dealing with active breakouts as it would be if you were simultaneously ensuring that you minimize breakouts.
How To Prevent Acne Scars
The best way to prevent future scarring, specifically brown spots, is by always making sure to wear sunscreen. Sunscreen is going to protect your skin from brown hyperpigmentation that develops when your skin is exposed to the sun for too long.
Best Prevention: Sunscreen
You need a good sunscreen that you apply consistently, every morning because the sun makes hyperpigmentation worse and actually causes it. If you have brown spots, it’s very likely that the sun has either caused them or made them worse.
Best Sunscreen: Elta md
I recommend Elta md‘s sunscreens. They are designed for extremely sensitive and acne prone skin and absolutely do not feel heavy when you apply them.
The reason I like this specific sunscreen is because it is so unbelievably lightweight. At one dermatologist office I visited, I saw this sunscreen that they give to patients after any kind of face treatment because it’s so good for post-procedures. So if it’s gentle enough for that, it’s certainly gentle enough for everyday use!
Second Best Sunscreen: La Roche Posay
Another amazing sunscreen is any one by La Roche Posay. This is a brand you can actually find at some drugstores such as cvs. It’s by the corner in the more “high end” skin care section.
There are obviously a bunch of other sunscreens on the market. I’ve heard a lot of positive reviews of Skin Ceutical’s sunscreen but have never personally tried it myself. Dermalogica is another solid brand.
When looking for a sunscreen in general, just make sure to follow this rule: look for something non comedogenic, hypoallergenic and that won’t clog pores.
If you want to get rid of acne scars, you will want to make sure you use products that won’t break you out. Honestly, there are many products that effectively treat enlarged pores, calm inflammation and help improve the texture of your skin. However, most of these have the bad side effect of breaking you out! This product is going to do all this and is not going to break you out!
It is perfect:
Rescue – Epidermal Repair Serum, $120
This is so soothing my brain can’t handle it. And it feels very clean. Caused zero breakouts. “This Osmosis epidermal repair serum contains a revolutionary, patented ingredient, Trioxolane, that has a remarkable ability to neutralize toxins, calm inflammation, activate epidermal wound repair, and provide the skin the tools needed to permanently treat pores, age spots, and skin texture changes.” You will love this if you have any of these issues.
I recently started using a new skin combination treatment that looks extremely promising and seems to be making a difference in my skin. “Vitabrid C¹²’s spot Powder ($25 from barneys.com) is a targeted formula that delivers stabilized active Vitamin C deep into the skin for 12 continuous hours to target and treat all problems related to acne. As a total care solution that aids in pigmentation and damaged skin recovery, this powder will safely clear and repair the complexion without side effects or the need for antibiotics.
Vitabrid cg, the main component of Vitabrid C¹² spot Powder, delivers a proprietary new form of active and stabilized vitamin C deep into the skin to control sebum, the initial cause of acne, while also eliminating acne bacteria that cause inflammation. While typical acne medications chemically remove keratin from the skin’s surface, Vitabrid cg breaks down the pore-clogging keratin (hardened sebum that blocks pores) and naturally eliminates it as waste. This powder also decreases recovery time of the troubled area to reduce the appearance of scarring and red markings on the skin.
Vitamin C is the safest acne treatment on the market. It continuously protects the health of the skin without resistance build-up through anti-inflammation, skin barrier strengthening and immune system fortification. Vitamin C is a strong but safe antioxidant that rejuvenates the skin. Dramatically changing the existing antibiotic-based treatment model, Vitabrid C¹²’s line of acne products is expected to make a big difference in the acne treatment industry.”
The Best Pre-Spot Treatment Astringents
The reason you will want to use a pre-spot treatment astringent is because it kills off the bacteria around your pimple.
Pre-Spot Treatment Astringent: Witch Hazel
Dab some witch hazel on a Q-tip and apply directly to the cruel pimple. This acts as an amazing astringent, will cool down inflammation and minimize the bacteria.
You can dab on some witch hazel on any problem area or on a fresh breakout just to ensure the bacteria doesn’t spread.
Now warning: many of the witch hazel brands contain alcohol, which can obviously be extremely drying to your skin. But if you can handle the extra dryness and are going to make sure you moisturize your skin after, you might as well try this all method out.
You will still need a spot treatment after you dab with some cooling and sanitizing witch hazel but it’ll provide a good, clean base to work with.
Pre-Spot Treatment Astringent: Apple Cider Vinegar
I’ve heard a lot of excellent things about apple cider vinegar from people who believe in natural remedies to combat acne bacteria rather than use artificially created products.
That’s where apple cider vinegar comes in. It’s supposed to act as a natural antibacterial and balance the ph of your skin.
I could go into the science of why balancing the ph of your skin (and hair for that matter) is a good thing but I will spare you. Just trust me, it helps.
You can dab on some apple cider vinegar on any problem area or on a fresh breakout just to ensure the bacteria doesn’t spread.
Now warning: it smells absolutely disgusting and I can’t stand the smell. But if you can, you might as well try this all-natural method out. After you use some apple cider vinegar, you’ll still need a good spot treatment, but the spot treatment will be much more effective after the apple cider vinegar cleans your skin.
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The Best Spot Treatments
Spot treatments are designed to target specific pimples, so if you are dealing with a pesky pimple (or multiple pimples) you are going to want to use a good spot treatment to get rid of it faster.
Mario Badescu drying lotion, $17
This contains a potent and effective combination of salicylic acid combined with soothing elements (calamine lotion) in addition to acne fighting sulfur. This is one of my favorite spot treatments that I put on if I end up with an annoying pimple.
The Best Treatments For Fresh Scarring
What I mean by fresh scarring is you just had a pimple and it’s red. It’s healing, but you can see the mark (in contrast to old marks, which have been there for a month or even a year).
Best Natural Option For Fresh Scarring: Aloe Vera
It’s a good idea to put on some pure aloe Vera lotion when you have fresh red marks post acne.
This is just as a preventive measure because aloe Vera is soothing, calms down inflammation and will combat that pesky redness that comes along with acne. And we all know that redness is no fun.
Best Option From A Dermatologist to Treat Fresh Scarring
If you deal with scarring post acne, a good option is to go see a dermatologist and seek out a prescription retinoid, whether it’s Retin A or Tazorac.
Retinoids are designed to diminish scarring as well as prevent future acne. One warning, though, is that any kind of retinoid will most likely cause an “initial breakout,” a kind of “purging” of all the acne brewing underneath your skin. Once the initial breakout period is over, though, you should be good to go as far as a retinoid is concerned.
A few warnings, though: if you do start using a retinoid, you will have to make sure to avoid sunscreen because it can make your skin more sensitive to burns and you also need to tell anyone if you wax your eyebrows or face because it can make it extra sensitive to wax and cause burns.
The Best Treatments For Hyperpigmentation
There are two types of hyperpigmentation: brown spots (from sun damage, for example) and leftover red acne marks. Regardless, there are specific products that help both of these.
In addition to products, there are also treatment options that I am going to describe after taking you through some of the best products.
Best Product for All Marks: Skin Ceuticals C E Ferulic
I have heard from many people I trust (who are obsessed with their skin, vain to an unhealthy degree and fixating on creating an anti-aging regimen) that this is one of the most amazing products on the planet when it comes to correcting your skin tone, giving your skin an overall healthy glow and generally improving the appearance of any type of discoloration.
So if you have the money to spare, I suggest trying it to see if it works for you.
How to Use It
The best way to use this is during the day, before your moisturizer. I suggest using it every other day, though, at first to see how your skin reacts.
This is key with any product: see how your skin reacts before over-using. If your skin reacts well, continue use and you should hopefully notice a noticeable difference in your skin tone in a month or two.
Best Product for Pink/Red Marks: Natura Bisse Oxygen Cream
This one is excellent because of its key ingredient, hydrogen peroxide. What’s good about hydrogen peroxide and why does it belong in a skin product? And more importantly, what on earth does it have to do with hyperpigmentation?
Hydrogen peroxide “…deeply penetrates the dermis layer to restore oxygen back into skin.”
Hydrogen peroxide is essentially a mild lightening agent. In fact, if you look around on YouTube you might come across suggestions of using hydrogen peroxide to lighten your eyebrows.
Now, I am by no means suggesting going to a drugstore and slathering hydrogen peroxide on your face. This specific product contains just the right amount to have the beneficial effect against hyperpigmentation that you need.
One warning is that it might add a slight tint to your eyebrows or even hairline if overused so do watch out and be careful. I would also suggest this product for those with pale skin.
Best Product for Mild Marks: Ole HenriksenTruth Serum® Vitamin C Anti-Aging Collagen Booster
Vitamin C is amazing when it comes to brightening your skin… You don’t necessarily need to get this one but in general look for Vitamin C when looking for a good way to brighten your skin tone and give it a more even appearance.
Best Product for Brown Spots: Clinique Dark Spot Corrector
This one has been around for a long time and is known as a solid dark spot corrector for all types of hyperpigmentation. If you use it consistently for a month, it’s supposed to improve the shade of the pigmentation 1-2 levels.
I will be honest. I’ve never used this one myself. But I have consistently read and heard good things about it and it’s been around for a long time as one of the “go to” dark spot correctors. You can’t really go wrong with it.
Best for Stubborn Marks: Lancer Skincare Retexturizing Treatment Cream
Here is where glycolic acid comes in!
You may have heard of the “glycolic peel,” which makes people’s face peel off and literally takes a layer of skin away to leave a nice, fresh beautiful end result… after a week of looking like the sun attacked your face.
ok, I am exaggerating but not really. I am not suggesting to get a glycolic peel, however, but I am explaining why glycolic acid is going to play an extremely important role in finally banishing obnoxiously stubborn marks.
This contains 10% glycolic acid to “speed cell turnover, resurface uneven texture and minimize the appearance of discoloration. Glycolic acid breaks down rough, dead skin cells to encourage the formation of fresh new cells.”
The dermatologist behind this brand is also known as one of the best in Beverly Hills. I’ve visited the office once and was literally taken aback by how delicious the décor was and how amazing the entire staff was, which isn’t a “reason” for buying a product, but did give me confidence in it.
Best Ingredient To Look For To Fade Discoloration: Hydroquinone
I am an extremely picky, ocd even, person when it comes to skin and the ingredients that we put on our face… I know that there has been a lot of controversy about hydroquinone and you should read up on it just to be informed.
However, according to Paula’s Choice, known for its scientific approach to beauty products… a site I trust (a lot), “What is confusing to the consumer is the exaggerated information about possible negative side effects from using hydroquinone products. Yet a closer look at the research indicates problematic skin reactions are rare and, more often than not, minor. The most startling risk is a skin disorder called ochronosis, which is a bluing discoloration of the skin. Although that’s scary stuff, it’s important to keep in mind that with millions of gallons of hydroquinone used over the past 50 years, only a handful of ochronosis cases have been directly associated to using hydroquinone. What’s more, these cases have been a result of long term use of high concentrations, or of using hydroquinone products that have been adulterated with dangerous ingredients (Sources: Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, July 2009, pages 741-750; and Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, November 2007, pages 854-872).”
In addition, Paula’s Choice continues…“questions concerning hydroquinone in terms of it being a carcinogen have also been addressed in the research. Problematic incidences have been shown when hydroquinone was fed or injected into rats in large doses, though with topical use there has been no research showing it to be mutagenic on humans or animals. In reality, there is abundant research showing hydroquinone to be safe and extremely effective (Sources: Cutis, April 2008, pages 356–371 and August 2006, pages S6–S19; Critical Reviews in Toxicology, November 2007, pages 887–914; Journal of Cosmetic Laser Therapy, September 2006, pages 121–127; American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, July 2006, pages 223–230; and Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, May 2006, pages S272–S281).
Overall, though, Paula’s Choice sums it up beautifully: “Over the past several years, hydroquinone has become a controversial skin-care ingredient for topical use. What is known for certain is that hydroquinone is a strong inhibitor of melanin production and for over 50 years has been established as the most effective ingredient for reducing and potentially eliminating brown skin discolorations on skin often referred to as melasma.”
The moral of the story is there has been some controversy about this particular ingredient but it seems that overall, the risks outweigh the potential cons for many people. And its effectiveness as a lightening agent has been consistently proven for 50 plus years.
Best Product With Hydroquinone for Stubborn Marks on a Budget: Ambi Fade Cream
This is an extremely inexpensive treatment you can pick up for only $6! This product also has aha (alpha hydroxyl acid), which is going to also improve your skin’s overall appearance.
The “secret” ingredient in it is hydroquinone. This specific product contains 2% of this extremely effective ingredient. You can also find other products with Hydroquinone on the market. Just look for the ingredient.
Best Practice for Stubborn Marks: Consistent Exfoliation
What is exfoliation and why is it going to help get rid of acne scars?
Exfoliating with a facial scrub is an essential part of any skin care regimen, especially if you are dealing with acne scars. What exfoliating with a scrub does is it literally gets rid of dead skin cells, leaving behind fresher skin.
If you do this consistently, over time, you will notice your scars start to improve if you’re consistently removing the dead skin.
In fact, this is one of the best general practices you can add to your routine for getting rid of any marks.
I am going to give you some of the best exfoliating scrubs to help with your acne marks, but even if you do not necessarily go for one of these, you should incorporate some kind of exfoliating scrub into your routine.
Best Exfoliators: The Cure
This one is an exfoliating beauty sent from the heavens.
It is Japanese and is starting to become more “mainstream,” but I’ve been using it for a long time now, even purchasing it on Amazon because I simply could not find it in beauty supply stores. This is an extremely unique exfoliator that you are going to fall in love with.
Here is how to use it:
First, wash your face with a regular face wash (whichever face wash you would typically use). Then, pat your skin dry. Make sure your skin is completely dry before using this exfoliator.
Then, once your skin is dry, apply as many pumps as needed and pat the product on your face. Let it settle for about 30 seconds or so. Then, rub in circular motions.
You will notice so much dead skin come off it will literally shock you. Use this exfoliator once to twice a week a week and it will help shed so many dead skin cells it’ll shock you.
Best Exfoliators: Ole Henriksen Sugar Scrub
I use this one religiously, actually. I bought it at Sephora because the woman who described it did an excellent demonstration, I was in a fun mood and felt the impulse to try something new.
Her “hand test,” when she polished my hand and asked me to feel how soft it was afterward did a cool job of convincing me.
Now, I am well aware that these are sales gimmicks but I bought the product anyway because I like this brand, liked the ingredients and ended up testing it out. A few months later, I find myself going right to this exfoliator any time I want to use one.
You can either use this as a pure exfoliator or you can leave it on as a mask. It’s a “multi-tasking” type of product that contains ingredients that will do wonders when it comes to combating scarring and improving the overall appearance of your skin.
“This polishing mask features nature’s finest exfoliators, sugar and pomegranate seeds, to polish away dead, dull skin cells and refine skin texture. Nourishing and soothing honey leaves skin soft and supple while rose hips and pumpkin extract help to naturally brighten and boost radiance. This sweet botanical blend energizes the senses and imparts a healthy glow.”
Best Exfoliating Device: The Clarisonic
This is a classic but consistently solid way to exfoliate your skin in a way a typical face wash cannot. If you want a more thorough cleaning of your skin, you should use this anywhere from daily to twice a week.
You will notice your skin feels cleaner after you do this because you are getting rid of the dead skin cells, which as I mentioned… will also slowly get rid of scarring.
Best Dermatological Treatments For Acne Scarring
What I am going to recommend here should preferably be done in a skilled dermatologist’s office or if not a dermatologist, a very competent aesthetician who you trust.
The key word is trust (because a bad treatment is a lot worse than no treatment.) Theoretically, you could leave your marks alone for a year and they’d fade naturally. So doing too many things to your skin in places you don’t trust is a huge no-no.
Best Dermatological Treatment: Microdermabrasion
As I might have mentioned, my dream in life is to wake up and have literal crystal-clear, picture-perfect skin that looks like it’s been photo-shopped. This leads me to my discovery of “microdermabrasion.”
It’s not exactly a new treatment or some ultra hyped up new thing that is going to do magic; this is an older, tried and true method to improve scarring and hyperpigmentation. This uses crystals to gently exfoliate your skin in a way a typical exfoliator cannot.
It literally removes the dead skin and leaves behind a smoother surface. This is supposed to stimulate your skin to rejuvenate itself and therefore get rid of scarring and make it feel smoother. With this treatment, you have a few options, such as the Parisian Peel, which is supposed to be a gentle form of microdermabrasion.
With this treatment, you will need to do a series of treatments, not just one, to see actual results. One will not perform magic but 5 or even more might.
Word of Advice: I know that there are at-home microdermabrasion systems on the market and in my opinion, you should stay away from these. You might end up doing more harm than good and it’s not worth the risk.
Best Dermatological Treatment: Hydra Facial
I have tried the hydra facial once. What the hydra facial does that a typical extraction facial does not is that it uses a “suction” device to extract your pimples, clogged pores and blackheads.
This makes it less painful than a typical facial and is faster in my opinion. After I had it, my skin honestly was glowing. The instructions are to have a series of treatments to see a noticeable difference, though, so you should obviously not expect to see instant results from one treatment. By no means will one treatment magically transform your skin. A series of 5, though, might.
One warning: if you are allergic to shellfish, you cannot have a hydra facial because there is some ingredient in it that contains shellfish.
Best Dermatological Treatment: led Light Therapy (Blue Light Therapy)
I have never tried this, but I have heard from a dermatologist that blue light therapy can combat bacteria and prevent acne. It’s worth inquiring about.
I have never tried this myself, but have heard from a dermatologist that it is a great way to prevent acne. And remember, prevention is key here because obviously it’s useless to get rid of scars while getting new ones from new pimples!
The Best Treatments to Treat Deep, Pitted Scars
For deep acne scars, such as those you might end up with after experiencing severe, nodular type acne, the kind where you might have even contemplated (or gone on) Accutane or antibiotics to try to cure.
The leftover pitted scars are extremely difficult to fix, but there are certain procedures that you can have in a dermatologist to improve this.
Best Solutions: Fraxel and Microneedling
You should do research into these procedures because, particularly with fraxel, there are many different kinds. In addition, there is a lot of downtime with some of the procedures and the risk might not be worth the reward.
There is always a risk with these kind of cosmetic procedures, so make sure you go to a plastic surgeon or dermatologist you trust and weigh the risks.
So there you go. Here are a variety of different things you can do to help your acne scarring. I hope this helps and I will updating any time I come across something new or discover a new product or treatment.
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