November 1, 2023
Having acne-prone skin is difficult enough to deal with, but being left with acne scars after a breakout has cleared can feel frustrating and defeating. Acne scars come in different forms: some appear as depressions or indentations in the skin, others look like raised bumps, and some are discolored patches on the skin.
The good news is that there are skincare ingredients and treatments that can help minimize the appearance of acne scars. In this blog post, we’ll go over the best skincare options for fading different types of acne scars.
One of the most effective ways to reduce acne scarring is through topical skincare products that contain specific scar-fading ingredients.
Retinoids: Retinoids like AlphaRet from SkinBetter and tretinoin are derived from vitamin A and work by increasing cell turnover. This helps to slough off pigmented surface skin cells and reveal newer cells underneath. Retinoids help diminish discoloration and improve texture. Start slowly with a pea-sized amount 2-3 nights a week and work up to nightly use.
AHAs: Alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid and lactic acid are chemical exfoliants that weaken the bonds between skin cells. With continued use, AHAs help enhance cell turnover and smooth rough texture. Look for AHAs in serums or chemical peels and use them 2-3 times a week.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C has antioxidant properties that protect your skin and also works to block pigment production. It’s great for reducing red or brown discolored acne scars. Use a stable vitamin C serum daily.
Niacinamide: This B vitamin calms inflammation, evens skin tone, and helps rebuild healthy skin. It’s gentle enough for daily use. Look for a niacinamide serum.
SPF: Sun protection is crucial when using any scar-fading topical treatments. UV exposure can darken scars. Apply broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen daily.
One product we specifically love is AlphaRet from SkinBetter! The reason being is that you get the benefit of all the above ingredients (minus SPF), in one single product. This makes it superior to other retinoid products, even prescription tretinoin.
For more significant acne scarring, professional in-office treatments offer faster and more dramatic results.
Microneedling: Microneedling creates tiny punctures in the skin to stimulate collagen production and blood flow. This helps raise depressed scars over time. Expect mild redness for 2-3 days after each treatment. Multiple sessions are needed.
Laser Resurfacing: There are ablative and non-ablative laser options available, as well as fractional and full-field resurfacing. These treatments help remove the outer layer of skin or create thermal channels deeper in the skin that both help promote collagen production. This can help smooth indented scars and reduce discoloration. Downtime is dependent upon which laser service you choose and how aggressive the treatment settings are—this is different for every patient.
Chemical Peels: In-office chemical peels use higher concentrations of acids like glycolic acid or trichloroacetic acid (TCA) to penetrate deeper into skin. A series of treatments can even out skin tone and texture. Downtime is dependent upon the type of chemical peel chosen but typically lasts 7-10 days.
The type of acne scar treatment you choose will depend on your specific skin concerns, scar type, downtime limitations, and budget. Be patient, as fading acne scars takes time and persistence. However, combining in-office treatments with a good at-home regimen can produce real improvements in texture, tone, and overall scar appearance.