No one likes acne scars, they’re the skin equivalent the worst species of party guest. Dreaded by everyone, they’re initially annoying (but you try to be nice to them) and, sometimes, they stay long after the party is over. Now they’re sleeping on your couch. You dealt with the acne, right? Went through the whole process, paid your dues… So why do you have to tolerate these long-lasting acne scars now? Good news! Nothing is lost even if acne scars have already shown up on your immaculate complexion, there is still hope. With the latest scientific research and advanced skin treatments, you can definitely win this fight.
What Is Acne Scarring?
Sounds like a silly question, but is it?
Let’s start with the facts acne scarring — you think that what showed up in the mirror today is acne scarring. You might just be right. But it could also be a case of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or simple redness. This is how you tell them apart, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is, essentially, a flat discoloration patch on your skin that can happen after any sort of injury, acne included, because of your cells upping their production of melanin. Redness is… redness. If you just had a breakout, some redness is inevitable— wait it out and focus on minimising inflammation!
You might be thinking, ‘But I’ve had this for a while and it’s not flat at all’. If this is you, congratulations! You’ve successfully diagnosed acne scarring. Acne scars make the texture of your face irregular. Generally, they sink below the normal skin level and (in our personal experience) can be quite annoying. The suspects:
- Boxcar scars – these look kinda like orange peel, with rounded edges and vertical sides.
- Icepick scars – these are the deep ones. They look like a bit of your facial skin is missing and go down to the dermis level.
- Rolling scars – these sound fun but aren’t. Rolling acne scars look like wavy grooves.
- Hypertrophic scars – the weird kid at the acne scars playground, these scars are raised and show there’s just too much collagen in there.
If pigmentation is your jam (not), go read this article— it’ll help you navigate that!
Why-Oh-Why Is It There? How Do Acne Scars Form?
Now you’re asking the deep questions. If you know the reason why acne scars appear, you’ll be empowered to target and heal them. Let’s set the record straight— your typical, mild whitehead or blackhead isn’t likely to leave a scar as a parting gift. Cysts, however, are. They are, as defined by Allure’s skin gurus, tender nodules (gross, but we’ve all been there) that stretch your skin tissue from within. Now, some of these acne cysts will leave a scar no matter what you do, especially when it comes to the deeper ones on darker skin tones. But we often make matters worse when we: a) pick at the pimple; b) pick at it a little more, just in case; c) continue to pick at the pimple until we tear the skin apart.
Shields Up! Prevent Acne Scars
Prevention is the best medicine, they say. And, in this case, it’s true: there’s no better way to avoid acne scars than never developing hardcore acne in the first place. But how do you tame a force of nature like acne? It’s not easy, but there are lots of treatments and great skin care options for acne and adult acne. We want to talk Isotretinoin, often called by the brand names Accutane, Oratane, and Roaccutane. Isotretinoin is an oral Retinoid (Vitamin A) that minimises your skin’s oils— the main culprits for breakouts and acne. It’s a superhero clinical treatment that can banish your acne problems in just one medicine course. Granted, a normal course takes 5-6 months, but you’re bound to have clear skin at the end of the tunnel! These babies are so powerful (and have some potential side effects and restrictions you’ve gotta consider) you can’t get them over the counter. If you’re interested, set an appointment with your main dermatologist pal— they’ll be able to explain Accutane treatments and create a personalised plan.
The Menu— Acne Scars Treatment Options
The time for acne prevention has passed. You’ve already got one scar (or a few) like a sign saying, ‘Acne was here’. Don’t worry, though— there are oh-so-many acne scar treatments you can go for to treat acne!
In our article 6 Trending skin treatments that actually work, we reviewed all the up-and-coming skincare strategies that draw from innovative science. Infini skin treatment is one of them. Combining micro needling with high-intensity radiofrequency, it’s creative, smart, and leaves you all glowy. Why use it for acne scars? The Infini treatment is great for all types of scars because its tiny needles go to the deeper layers of your complexion to drop their radiofrequency waves. The effects: the waves stimulate your skin to make new collagen & elastin and the needle wounds restructure the texture of your skin. The bonuses: as Perth-based Skyn specialists highlight, the Infini treatment is better for darker complexions than lasers, and it shows better results than those. Goodbye, irregular acne scars!
LED Healite II Skin Therapy
It seems you’re in luck! The origins of light therapy are exactly where you need them: healing scars. Healite II Yellow light creates new collagen, smoothing the surface texture and making scars flee. Healite II Blue light, on the other hand, kills bacteria— no new acne, no new scars. This treatment is non-invasive and, if you work on a schedule, gives you incredible results.
The Lasers: Fraxel And Baby-Fraxel
Fraxel laser is fractionated light. Before lasers were unidimensional, wide-area, and they couldn’t target imperfections. The Fraxel laser, though, is all neat heat dots that resurface your skin on two different wavelengths. The one that goes deeper should have the title ‘Bane of All Scars’: according to Vogue-worthy Dr Marmur, it breaks up the clamped tissue and makes the skin ‘nice and fluffy again’!
The Clear + Brilliant laser treatment (or, in the words of Into the Gloss’ fab-specialist Anna Speckhart, ‘baby Fraxel’) is the same tech, only turned down. Unlike Fraxel, Clear+Brilliant won’t ask you to stay home for a week. On the other hand, you’ll need more than one treatment to get results.
Our Experts Choice: The Best Skincare For Acne Scars
If life won’t let you commit to an involved, in-office treatment, you can still create a battle plan to vanquish acne scars. Active skincare for acne scars is better than ever before, and you can also use it to complement your chosen treatment (check with your dermatologist before using any active product, though).
Jack Of All Trades
We think the Problem Skin Kit by Aspect is a real ace up the sleeve: exfoliator, serum, and cleanser are designed to minimise inflammation and ex-breakout pigmentation, while still being gentle enough not to damage the compromised texture. We’ve tried it— you’ll get an unreal glow!
Retinol For Scars
Want to give your skin a whole second chance? According to Kaye Scott of Sydney’s trending The Clinic, Retinol ‘promotes skin renewal and enhances collagen production’. Its action: creating new skin cells that are undamaged. Retinol works for both aspects of acne scars: the unevenness and the pigmentation. Interested? Try the super-serum Refinishing Complex by Societe. The best bit: it’s an all-rounder also reduces lines and sun damage.
Best to target inflammation and post-inflammatory pigmentation, Aspect’s Jungle Brew is all about that brightening Vitamin C and actives to soothe and stop oxidation. It’s so gentle you can even use it on an active breakout to prevent scars from appearing. Simply Brilliant by Cosmedix, on the other hand, is a brightening hero: its plant-based goodies (including yummy nonapeptides) team up with Lactic and Salicylic acids to clear your whole complexion up and even it out.
Exfoliation is crucial to loosen up the superficial layers of the acne scar, making way for new skin cells. Try Defy by Cosmedix for a dose of clearing-up-the-old with Tartaric, Malic, and chirally-correct Lactic Acids. If you’re hankering to target thickened and discoloured skin more powerfully, you might prefer Aspect’s Exfol L 15, also loaded up with skin-generating AHAs. Perfect to jumpstart your skin transformation!
The Mask— Clear by Cosmedix
After all your work, that skin of yours deserves extra pampering. Indulge in Kaolin clay and sulphur to decongest and purify while you keep working on banishing acne scars with the mask’s Tea Tree Oil. As it leaves your skin matte and even, it’s the perfect last step for your routine.
We want to hear you— what acne scar treatment are you eyeing? What has worked for you? Tell us in the comment section!