Acne scars are like a hangover when you’ve only had two drinks the night before: unexpected and unwelcome. And while it is unlikely one single product will completely erase your scars, there are a number of options that will do a solid effort at significantly reducing them.
But before we get to the scar-tackling treatments you need to add to your shopping cart, it’s important to understand what acne scarring actually is and why it occurs in the first place. To do just that, we spoke to Director of Education at DMK, Debbie Dickson.
“The biggest type of acne scarring is caused when lesions or blemishes become inflamed. Inflamed blemishes occur when excess oil and dead skin cells cause a blockage in pores and follicles – this blockage then becomes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Serious lesions or skin damage occurs when there is a deep break in the follicle wall. This means the infected substance within the pore leaks out onto the skin and scarring occurs,” explains Dickson.
The second type of scarring comes in the form of hyperpigmentation rather than an actual change in the texture of the skin. “Pigmented scarring occurs as a result of either prolonged inflammation of a blemish or from picking and squeezing the infected area,” adds Dickson.
If you’re wondering why some blemishes scar and others don’t, Dickson explains, “deep breakouts such as very inflamed cystic acne take a long time to heal, which increases the risk of scarring on the skin’s surface. Minor, non-inflamed blemishes, such as blackheads and whiteheads don’t typically scar, as these lesions sit closer to the surface of the skin and don’t injure your tissue, meaning the ‘repair job’ is much faster.”
As to the best ways to treat your scarring? In addition to rosehip oil – which has been touted as one of the best ways to reduce scarring on a Reddit thread – we’ve rounded up the five best treatments that will help prevent further damage or reduce the severity of your acne scars over time.
Best for preventing further damage
If you were to ask any dermatologist what the most important product for your overall skin health is, every single one of them would say sunscreen. And when it comes to specifically preventing acne scars, the answer remains the same. Because many acne scars are simply areas of hyper-pigmented skin, you can prevent further damage by wearing an SPF daily. One of our favourite facial sunscreens is La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra Light SPF 50+because the lightweight fluid gives a non-greasy finish, protects skin from environmental aggressors and is free from fragrance and parabens.
Best for repairing damage
Reducing both inflammation and bacteria are essential when treating acne scars, which is why DMK’s Actrol Powder is a bathroom cupboard essential. The powder (which can be applied both over and under makeup) is formulated with vitamin C and benzoyl peroxide to reduce excess oil production, inflammation and bacteria, while healing the skin from existing damage.
Best for pink-toned scarring
Formulated with salicylic acid to remove lighter marks and unclog pores, Paula’s Choice BHA 9 Treatment is one to try if your acne scars are angry and inflamed. Soothing plant extracts also work to calm redness and keep irritation at bay.
Best for dark spots
If your acne scarring sits on the darker end of the spectrum, Murad’s Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum might be for you. The serum, which is powered by two per cent hydroquinone, plus glycolic acid and skin brightening peptides, lifts away dull, dead skin and allows active ingredients to penetrate more quickly. As a result, the skin’s tone and texture are improved.
Best for sensitive skin
It’s long been known that retinol or vitamin A is one of the best ingredients for regenerating stronger and healthier skin tissue. However, those with sensitive skin have been known to steer clear of the powerhouse ingredient as it can cause irritation when introduced into a skin care routine too quickly and/or used in too high of a dose. Luckily, Verso’s Dark Spot Fixis formulated with the brand’s proprietary retinol, Retinol 8, which has been proven to be eight times more effective than standard retinol and half as irritating.
While your products are working their magic, make sure to discover the makeup tricks for hiding your acne and scarring.
Have you tried any of the treatments above? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below.