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Best Acne Scar Treatment For 2018

Acne scars are the mischievous troublemakers of the skincare world. Scars tend to creep in and wreak havoc just as your pimples have started to heal. Talk about bad timing!

While acne scars are definitely a pain, there is a way to get rid of them. Most acne scars respond well to treatment, and there are all kinds of fantastic products on the market that can help make those scars disappear faster. Here’s everything you need to know to make acne scars fade away as quickly as possible.

Acne Scars 101

Acne scars are created in the healing process of a breakout. The deeper your acne penetrates into your skin, the more likely you are to develop a scar when the breakout is over.

There are two main types of acne scars – raised scars and depressed scars – and each type is created a bit differently.

Raised acne scars, also called hypertrophic scars, develop when your body produces too much collagen as your acne is healing. Collagen generally makes your skin look plump and bouncy, so extra collagen can be a great thing when it’s used as part of an anti-aging treatment.

Unfortunately, when collagen is part of an acne scar, it piles up only in the area surrounding the scar. That configuration doesn’t exactly make for the glowing, youthful vibe most of us hope for.

Depressed acne scars, also called atrophic scars, develop when your skin loses tissue during the acne healing process. This can create a crater-like gap in the surface of your skin.

Different Types Of Acne Scars

Not all acne scars are equal. Some acne scars can be removed at home, while others are more advanced and require in-office treatment by a dermatologist. Below are some of the most common types of acne scars.

  • Skin Discoloration

Acne can sometimes leave purple, brown, or red discolorations in their wake. Not all dermatologists technically consider these marks to be acne scars, but they often have the same visual and emotional effect as a full-on scar. These discolorations fade on their own over time, but that process can take months or even years. Acne scar treatment products can help speed up that fading process.

  • Ice Pick Scars

These depressed scars take the form of deep indentations in the skin. The indentations can take the shape of a V, a circle, or an oval.

  • Rolling Scars

These indented scars have rounded edges, and their shapes are usually more unpredictable than other types of scars.

  • Boxcar Scars

Boxcar scars tend to be wider than they are indented. If you notice a pimple-shaped crater on your face in the spot where a blemish used to be, you probably have a boxcar scar.

Top Ingredients For Acne Scar Treatments

The ingredients below are frequent dermatologist picks when fighting acne scars.

  • Alpha hydroxy acids

Alpha hydroxy acids, also known as AHAs, remove dead skin cells and prevent pores from clogging. The exfoliating power of AHAs can help decrease the visibility of scars. AHAs can also help remove discoloration and smooth out rough skin.

  • Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a favorite ingredient for treating a whole host of skin dilemmas. The potent vitamin is often used in serums to achieve a more youthful look. Vitamin C can help reduce the appearance of dark spots, so it’s a great option when dealing with acne scars that involve discoloration.

  • Vitamin E

Vitamin E is excellent for repairing all types of skin damage. It can aid in healing acne scars over time and make them more subtle.

  • Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is one of the strongest lines of defense when fighting acne, so perhaps it comes as no surprise that it’s also great for the resulting scars. This powerful ingredient exfoliates, clears out pores, and reduces the redness of scars.

  • Lactic Acid

Lactic acid can help lighten acne scars and improve your skin’s overall texture. It’s heavily concentrated, so consider diluting it or using it sparingly!

  • Retinoids

Most skincare lovers have heard of retinoids, because they’re one of the most popular anti-aging ingredients on the market. Retinoids increase cell turnover, which can help diminish imperfections more quickly and smooth out acne scars. Retinoids can make your skin especially sensitive to sun, so be sure to wear lots of sunscreen while using them.

What about in-office acne scar treatments?

If your acne scars are more severe – or if you’re looking for ultra speedy results – you might want to consider an in-office treatment by a dermatologist. Below are some of the most popular office treatments.

  • Fillers

Fillers are injected directly into your skin to help smooth acne scars. Fillers can be made up of collagen, commercial ingredients, or even your body’s own fat. The results are often immediate, with scars improving before you even leave your dermatologist’s office. While some fillers can be permanent, most only last between 6 months and 1.5 years.

  • Dermabrasion

This procedure involves using a wire wheel (that’s exactly what it sounds like) to exfoliate your top layer of skin. It’s an excellent choice for scars closer to the surface of your skin.

  • Chemical Peel

This hardcore face mask procedure uses acid to remove your top layer of skin. (It’s a harsh treatment, but your dermatologist can make sure you’re treated safely and gently.) Chemical peels can help decrease the appearance of deep scars, and can sometimes even fully eliminate them.

  • Microneedling

During a microneedling procedure, your dermatologist will treat your skin using a roller studded with tiny needles. This creates small punctures in the skin. (Don’t worry, your skin will be numbed.) This process creates “wounds” on the surface of the skin, which stimulates the production of more collagen to help indented scars rise and fill out. Results can take several months to surface after the procedure, so bring your patience with you to your appointment.

The Top 5 Best Acne Scar Treatments

Best Acne Scar Treatment For Hyperpigmentation: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel

This product decreases hyperpigmentation, also known as discoloration, created by acne scars.

Why we like it:

  • Uses Glycolic Acid, A Powerful Ingredient In Fighting Discoloration
  • Easy To Use Daily Pads

You might want to choose this one if:

You have red, brown, or purple skin spots caused by past acne.

These daily peel pads increase your skin’s cell turnover, which means they help your discoloration spots heal and regrow more quickly. When you use these pads, your acne scars will fade faster and your skin will look younger. This product can also help brighten your complexion and boost collagen, which keeps your skin youthful without creating redness.

Best Acne Scar Treatment For Dry Skin: PCA Skin Pigment Gel

This scar reducing spot treatment prevents dryness as it helps you heal.

Why we like it:

  • Great For Sensitive Skin
  • Uses Hydroquinone, A Top Ingredient For Managing Dark Spots

You might want to choose this one if:

You have sensitive skin, but also have heavy duty scars that require extra-strength products.

This spot treatment serum is ideal for treating discoloration in sensitive skin. It can also help brighten the skin overall and reduce age spots. You’ll see best results if you exfoliate your skin before using the product. You’ll also want to use sunscreen at the same time as the product, because the formula might make your skin extra sensitive to the sun. Just a small amount can pack a powerful punch!

Best Acne Scar Treatment For Nighttime Healing: Mederma PM Intensive Overnight Scar Cream

Mederma works overnight so you can wake up to great results each morning.

Why we like it:

  • Works While You Sleep
  • Works On Both Older And Newer Scars

You might want to choose this one if:

You have stubborn acne scars that you don’t want to worry about during the day.

Mederma is a well-known brand name in scar reduction treatment, and it’s easy to see why. This beloved night cream will initiate the healing process each evening while you snooze. The cream uses antioxidants and other beneficial ingredients and can help you start seeing results in about two weeks.

Best Acne Scar Treatment For Fans Of Natural Ingredients: Era Organics Microdermabrasion Face Scrub & Facial Mask

This scrub uses soothing natural ingredients like aloe vera, citrus, and honey to help your acne scars heal.

Why we like it:

  • Uses Manuka Honey, A Medicinal Variation Of Honey
  • Great For Sensitive Skin

You might want to choose this one if:

You’re looking for a more natural option to heal your scars.

Fans of this scrub have reported a “glowing” effect on their skin after use. The product scrubs away dead skin cells and dirt while providing a natural exfoliation treatment. It’s a great alternative for anyone who has acne scars and would like to try a less invasive process before opting for chemical peels and other intensive procedures. The scrub can also help remove blackheads and other blemishes.

Best Acne Scar Treatment for Sun Protection: CeraVe Sunscreen Face Lotion SPF 50

This sunscreen will keep your acne scars from worsening while protecting you from future skin damage.

Why we like it:

  • Protects Against UVA And UVB Rays, Two Different Types Of Harmful Sun Rays
  • Dries Clear
  • Water Resistant

You might want to choose this one if:

You’re working on treating your acne scars and want to protect them during the process.

While sunscreen is important for preventing skin damage, it’s also important to the healing process of existing acne scars. Acne scars are sensitive to direct sunlight, and become even more sensitive when being treated with potent treatment products. This sunscreen is specially formulated to avoid clogging your pores as it strengthens your skin’s natural sun barrier.

Acne scars don’t have to last forever

Acne scars feel like a gut punch, especially in the aftermath of finally knocking out a bad breakout. It’s so important to remember that there are so many effective procedures that can help. Even without procedures or products, lots of acne scars simply heal on their own over the years.

Don’t be afraid to keep trying products and consult with a dermatologist about what will work best for you. Your past acne does not have to dictate the way your face looks for the rest of your life! Time heals all wounds – even acne scars.

I'm a travel writer, blogger, and copywriter based in New York City. My writing is all about creating cultural connections and celebrating the everyday nuances that make a destination special. I'm also an expert on short-term travel for busy people, because I believe everyone should feel qualified to use the word "weekend" as a verb. I’m passionate about providing readers with clever, actionable, and entertaining ways to make the most of their travels. I was raised by two lifelong adventurers, so the roar of jet engines has always been the soundtrack of my life. I quickly realized that no matter where one wanders, from Rome to Chiang Mai to Omaha, there are countless fascinating stories just beneath the surface that can't be found anywhere else on the planet. Every destination has its own brand of awesome, and I source great content by seeking it out.

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