8 of the Most Effective Acne Scar Treatments for Smoother Skin, According to Dermatologists

These premium creams, serums and masks help reduce dark spots and blemishes.

With the best acne treatments and benzoyl peroxide products, you're finally free of angry, stubborn acne... only to be given red, jagged scars as a parting gift. Unfortunately, these places tend to overstay their welcome. But the good news is that the best acne scar treatments can help get rid of annoying pimples from the past.

But what exactly causes acne scars? When acne penetrates deeper into the skin, they cause damage and affect the underlying tissue. When the body tries to repair skin damage, it sometimes overproduces collagen, causing raised acne scars, also known as hypertrophic scars, explains Rina Allawh, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Pennsylvania. “Insufficient collagen production can lead to depressed or depressed scars (also called atrophic scars).”

People with darker skin tones may also develop post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). "This occurs in people with medium to dark skin tones, where inflammation attracts pigment cells to the area, and the brown spots can persist for weeks, months, or even years after the acne clears up," adds Jennifer T. Haley . M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Arizona.

Treating acne scars can help fade dark spots and reduce discoloration. Here, we've rounded up the best acne scar treatment creams, serums, and masks recommended by top dermatologists.

Ready to reveal brighter, more even-toned skin? Next, find the best products to help you fade acne scars.

1. Commonly used facial care kits

Recommended by California board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, this go-to product includes three products: Vitamin C Cream, Hyaluronic Acid Serum, and Niacinamide Serum. Vitamin C cream contains azelaic acid, an ingredient that "prevents acne scars from darkening and helps fade black and pink spots over time," says Dr. Shane House. “Azelaic acid is particularly well tolerated by patients with sensitive skin and rosacea,” adds Susan Massick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

2. Differin Anti-Acne Gel

“Prescription retinoids increase cell turnover, reduce sebum production, and reduce breakouts that may lead to PIH,” Dr. Marcik. This gel contains prescription retinoids to prevent new blemishes from forming and strengthen damaged skin by restoring its texture and tone.

3. CeraVe Revitalizing Retinol Serum

Suitable for all skin types, CeraVe's Revitalizing Retinol Serum is formulated with ceramides to restore the skin's protective barrier and heal damage; niacinamide to reduce inflammation and redness; and retinol to accelerate skin cell turnover, improving skin health. Skin looks brighter and healthier. Best of all: it's fragrance-free and non-comedogenic. "I've been on the market for a treatment for acne scars," one reviewer wrote. “This product proves you don’t have to spend half your salary to get a quality product.”

4. BioCorneum Scar Treatment Plus SPF 30 Silicone Scar Gel

Acne rarely causes keloids (a raised scar that may extend beyond the original area), but it can happen. If you know your skin reacts this way, try using a liquid silicone like this, says Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Vibrant Dermatology in Massachusetts. "As the scar heals, the silicone puts pressure on the scar, making it difficult for excess collagen to build up," she says.

5. HydroPeptide 5x Power Peel Daily Peeling Pads

This peel contains a blend of glycolic acid, lactic acid (skin-softening), and salicylic acid. It also contains fungal enzymes that gently exfoliate the skin and fade blemishes without irritating the skin, says Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip. Each bowl is individually packaged so you can easily throw it in your travel bag.

6. Murad Environmental Shield Rapid Dark Spot Correcting Serum

This serum combines vitamin C and tranexamic acid to not only lighten dark spots but also prevent future hyperpigmentation by brightening your skin. Highly recommended

Emmanuel Loucas, MD, is a Manhattan board-certified dermatologist. It also contains glycolic acid, which exfoliates the skin for a smoother, more radiant complexion.

7. Peter Thomas Roth Vitamin C Brightening Facial Peel

"This is more suitable for oily skin types, but I like it because it's a safe acid that can be used on all skin tones, even darker skin tones, without the risk of hyperpigmentation," says board member Jackelyn Tanios Beshir Medicine said the doctor. Board certified medical dermatologist in Santa Monica, CA. "It improves skin texture, helps treat acne, and fades color over time," she adds.

8. Neutrogena Quick Clear 2-in-1 Acne Treatment Toner

This toner is formulated with salicylic acid to reduce dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Not only does it brighten your skin, it also prevents acne by breaking down dead skin cells and helps fade the signs of acne. "I used this toner twice a day for two weeks and my acne scars are almost completely gone," one reviewer wrote.

Types of Acne Scars

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), there are two types of acne scars.

Dimples: "Scarring may occur when an inflamed blemish fades through icepick-like depressions in the skin," says Dr. Masik. There are two other types of jagged acne scars: rolling (dimples in the skin with sloping edges that make the skin look uneven) and boxcars (dimples in the skin with sharper edges that are deep).
Bumps: This type of acne scar occurs when there is an overgrowth of fibrous tissue and collagen (the substance that supports the skin), causing the scar tissue to peel away from the skin, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Those annoying pink patches you might notice after a breakout are called "post-inflammatory erythema, and that's what you might notice." said the doctor. Haley.
What does home acne scar treatment do?

It depends on what you're looking for, says dermatologist Cindy Wassef, MD, assistant professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She recommends thinking about what you want to improve. "Are you trying to repair texture changes and jagged acne scars? If so, you want ingredients like retinoids that build collagen," she says. "Do you have red and brown scars on your skin? If so, you need anti-discoloration ingredients like azelaic acid, vitamin C, retinoids, and glycolic acid."

Ultimately, "the best treatment depends on correctly identifying the marker itself," says Dr. Illustrator.

These treatments will not necessarily eliminate acne scars. "Home acne scar treatments are usually limited to superficial acne scars," says Dr. Rodney. “They don’t adequately treat deeper scars caused by more difficult chronic acne, bumps or deep, painful scars.” These types of scars, she says, “require prescription products, in-office treatments, both. Of."

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