Get rid of acne scars on face with these useful science-backed at-home hacks to reclaim your skin health
Oh Dear! I remember those days like it was yesterday when acne scars used to cause me anxiety and quite frankly dim my self-confidence. Thankfully, there has been some noticeable progress in the beauty and wellness industry over the years.
Today, there are now more effective over-the-counter acne scarring face treatments that you can safely use in the comfort of your home to successfully fade mild to moderate acne scars.
However, before you try any at-home treatment, identify the type of acne scars that you have first in order to choose the most appropriate solution for your skin. This is because acne scars are stubborn, and no single treatment is best for everyone.
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WHAT ARE ACNE SCARS?
An Acne scarring face is the result of the body’s natural healing process after a tissue is damaged due to picking or squeezing your skin when you experience an acne breakout. This leads to inflammation and interruption of the healing process, leaving lasting damage to your skin.
When the skin is wounded, the tissues break, which causes a protein called collagen to be released. Collagen is formed where the tissue is damaged, helping to heal and strengthen the wound.
The type of acne scars that you have after a breakout depends on the severity of your acne. Most mild to moderate scars caused by acne spots such as blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules or nodules and even cystic acne can reasonably be faded with good over-the-counter scarring face products as part of a well-curated skincare routine.
Here are two main types of acne scars to check out:
Atrophic or depressed scars
Atrophic scars are most present on the face. These acne scars are formed when insufficient collagen is made while the wound is healing. They tend to be associated with cystic acne. The depressed acne scars reveal a sunken or pitted appearance that sits below the surrounding surface of the skin.
There are three types of atrophic scars:
Ice pick scars: similar to chickenpox scars, they are small, V-shaped scars that make deep holes on the surface of your skin as if the skin has been pierced with a sharp object.
Rolling scars: caused by scar tissue bands which form under the skin, giving the surface of the skin a rolling and uneven appearance with rounded edges.
Boxcar scars: round, u-shaped, or oval depressions on the skin that display sharp edges.
Severe forms of atrophic scars, particularly ice pick scars, respond better to in-clinic dermatological treatments. This is because skin lesions arising from these acne scars can extend far beneath the surface of the skin, making them very difficult to treat.
Hypertrophic and keloid scars
Hypertrophic scars tend to appear one the face and body, especially as a result of chest and back acne. These scars occur when there is an overproduction of collagen at the site of the wound, which can cause the acne scar tissue to become raised and lumpy. Hypertrophic scars are likely the same size of the pimple that caused them
On the other hand, keloid scars, which are another type of raised scars, are larger and tend to grow beyond the boundary of the original size of the pimple that triggered the scar. Keloid scars are best treated in professional clinics, as they require specialised treatment.
Skin discoloration in the form of dark marks appearing as purple, red, or brown pots on skin can also be left behind as a result of acne scarring. This is particularly prevalent amongst people with darker skin tones who are trying to get rid of acne. They are more prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) because of the higher levels of melanin in their skin. Whenever there is any inflammation on their skin, the melanin cells quickly leap into action to produce more melanin to defend and protect against that trauma, leading to the formation of black spots on the scarring face.
Consequently, for some people, treating mild to moderate acne scars on face at home, may require a combination of beauty products that support wound healing and help fade both acne scars and black spots on skin.
Below are some at-home acne scarring face treatments for natural beauty lovers, chemical exfoliant fans, and beauty tech enthusiasts that could safely and efficiently help you along the way.
HOME TREATMENTS TO GET RID OF ACNE SCARS ON FACE
Dudu-Osun Black Soap
This medicated form of the traditional unscented West African black soap is particularly suitable for scarring faces with darker skin, problematic, oily and acne-prone skin fighting off mild to moderate acne scars and hyperpigmentation together with other skin disorders.
Dudu-Osun all natural formula combines cocoa pod ash, palm bunch ash, and osun (camwood) that support deep skin cleansing, helping to unclog pores and clear bacteria from the skin. Honey added to the formula strengthens the soap antibacterial and antiseptic abilities, whilst acting as a natural humectant together with aloe vera to keep the skin moist. Aloe vera wound healing, anti-inflammatory and blemish lightening properties are further boosted by shea butter, lemon juice and lime juice that are integrated into the formula to help fade dark spots naturally, revealing a healthy and more even skin tone.
Within five days of using this preservatives free soap ten years ago, my acne scars and dark spots were noticeably cleared up. To this day, it remains a staple in my skincare routine.
Use it twice a day as a cleanser as part of your morning and evening skincare routine.
With its high concentration of oleic, stearic, linoleic, and palmitic fatty acids, as well as unsaponifiable compounds, unrefined shea butter possesses high anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour properties. These therapeutic effects combined with its high antioxidant and antimicrobial properties help soothe irritated skin, fade dark spots, and repair skin barrier to lock in moisture, whilst keeping out impurities. Its anti-ageing properties are suggested to help promote collagen production for a healthier and younger looking skin.
Cold-pressed shea butter is another unfailing staple of my daily skincare routine which has considerably helped fade acne scars and dark marks, whilst helping firm up my skin.
Use it as a daily moisturiser as part of your morning and evening skincare routine.
Clay facial masks are proven to be useful as natural home remedies to get rid of acne scars and fade dark spots. Their high absorbency levels on the skin surface help remove excess oil, draw out skin impurities, refine pores, and brighten the complexion, making them a good option to treat dermatological diseases such as blackheads, spots, acne and seborrhoea.
You need to first understand your skin type in order to choose the right clay for you. Bentonite clay works well for oily and acne prone skin types. Kaolin is recommended for normal skin, while rose clay or green clay are great for sensitive skin.
Mix clays and water at the right temperature to form a consistent paste that you can apply once to two times per week on your face. Leave to dry for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove with a wet towel or lukewarm water.
If this is too much of a hassle, just check out the following ready-made clay masks:
- L’Oréal Paris Pure Clay Blemish Rescue Face Mask 50ml
- La Roche-Posay Effaclar Anti-Blemish Clay Mask 100ml
- Revolution Skincare Pink Clay Detoxifying Face Mask 50g
- GLAMGLOW Brightmud Dual-Exfoliating Treatment Mask 15g
Rosehip Seed Oil
Rosehip seed oil contains high levels of unsaturated fatty acids. The most abundant fatty acids are linoleic acid, α-linolenic acid, and oleic acid. These confer the plant oil relatively high anti-inflammatory effects and protection against oxidative stress, with the ability to support wound healing, and strengthen skin barrier repair function.
Rosehip seed oil’s high content in Vitamin A, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids make it a powerful ingredient in fading sun damage, brightening and evening out skin tone, treating moderate acne, and minimising the appearance of scars, stretch marks, and wrinkles.
Rosehip seed oil containing products you can consider for your skincare routine include:
- Pai Skincare Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil 30ml
- Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil 45ml
- Deciem The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil 30ml
Apply a few drops on your face and neck after cleansing and before your moisturiser in your morning and evening skincare routine.
Due to its high content in lauric acid combined with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, virgin coconut oil helps protect and can soothe the skin, reduce irritation and itching.
Virgin coconut oil also possesses clinically proven antimicrobial properties thanks to its high content in monolaurin, a monoglyceride derived from lauric acid. This means that virgin coconut oil can effectively reduce the presence of bacteria, viruses, and fungi and lower the risk of skin infections.
Research indicates that topical applications of virgin coconut oil help improve skin barrier, and are effective in promoting wound healing, and in protecting the skin from UV radiation.
In spite of its reputation as a comedogenic oil frowned upon by some people, Biona virgin coconut oil used twice to three times per week on my face when double-cleansing, helps keep my acneic and eczema-prone skin spot free, radiant, and very healthy looking all year round.
If your skin reacts well to at-home chemical exfoliants, Azelaic acid (AzA) is a saturated dicarboxylic acid that you can consider using to treat acne scarring in addition to active outbreaks. It encourages cell turnover, which helps minimise the appearance of acne scars.
Azelaic acid is also effective in the treatment of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation by preventing melanin synthesis, which is the ability of your skin to produce eumelanin that may lead to skin discolouration. Its gentle anti-inflammatory properties combined with its skin lightening effects make it suitable for people looking to get rid of acne scars and dark spots simultaneously.
Some Azelaic acid containing products you can try out in your skincare routine include:
- The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
- Typology Mattifying Serum 10% Azelaic Acid
- Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster
Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Polyhydroxy Acids
If you have mild or moderate acne scars, a chemical peel could be a wise option. Opt for a pre-soaked pad for ease of use, or try a toner-style resurfacing liquid.
For people with sensitive and dry skin, choose a superficial dermal peeling with either mandelic acid, malic acid, or lactic acid as gentler forms of Alpha Hydroxy Acids to exfoliate dead cells, refine skin texture, and brighten your complexion.
The larger size of these molecules make them less irritating to the skin than glycolic acid, which has the smallest molecular size of all AHAs and more deeply penetrates the skin. Feel free to use glycolic acid on your skin if you know after a 48-hour patch test that your skin can tolerate the chemical exfoliant.
Some Alpha Hydroxy Acids containing products you may want to try out include:
- The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% 30ml
- NIP+FAB Charcoal and Mandelic Acid Fix Tonic 100ml
- StriVectin Tri-Phase Daily Glow Toner 147ml
- Beauty Pie Dr Glycolic™ Pore-Purifying Glow Toner 150ml
- Beauty Pie Dr Glycolic™ Multi-Acid (6.5%) Micropeeling Pads – 30 pads
On the other hand, If you have very sensitive skin and/or suffer from eczema or rosacea, Polyhydroxy Acids could be better options. They provide similar effects as AHAs without causing the skin irritation responses associated with AHAs.This is thanks to their higher molecular weights, meaning they don’t sink too deeply and focus on exfoliating at a surface level.
Some Polyhydroxy Acids containing products that you can try out include:
- SVR Sebiaclear Micro-Peel 150ml
- The Organic Pharmacy Enzyme Peel Mask with Vitamin C and Papaya 60ml
- Medik8 Press and Glow Tonic 200ml
- NUDESTIX Nudeskin Vegan Bamboo Cleansing Cloths (Pack of 60)
As a keratolytic, salicylic acid works both on your skin’s surface and deep inside your pores to unclog them, remove acne-causing sebum, and improve your overall skin texture.
From face cleansers to spot treatments, chemical peels, and pads, salicylic acid is included in the formula of a wide range of beauty products aimed at calming inflammation and skin irritation experienced by oily and acne-prone skin.
You can add a product with salicylic acid into your daily skincare routine to see if it can help improve your acne scars.
Shop for: Products containing salicylic acid.
Topical retinoids have been clinically shown to be effective in acne treatment and in minimising acne scarring and associated hyperpigmentation. Topical retinoids lighten hyperpigmented lesions by inhibiting melanosome transfer to keratinocytes and reducing pigmentation by accelerating cell turnover.
In a 2017 scientific review, it was revealed that patients using retinoids over a 24-week period experienced an improvement in acne scarring with smoother skin texture and a much brighter complexion.
Depending on your skin tolerance level, consider adding a topical retinoid every other day in your night time skincare routine.
Shop for: Products containing retinoids.
Non-Acid Acid Precursor 15% (NAAP)
NIOD Non-Acid Acid Precursor 15% (NAAP) is a non-acidic alternative to acid-based epidermal resurfacing developed by Deciem. Instead of using direct acids such as AHAs, BHAs, or retinoids that some people find very irritating to their skin, NAAP that has a cream-serum texture, uses fermentation bio-derivatives and amino isolates that act as precursors to skin-compatible acids.
This in turn encourages visible skin radiance and noticeable texture improvement without the redness and inflammation associated with acid exfoliants. NAAP was found to be non-irritating by an independent Single 48-hr Patch Test.
LED Face Masks
Light therapy has been used in dermatology clinics for decades. And the new wave of portable at-home LED face masks that are emerging in the beauty industry offer greater flexibility to people to enjoy salon treatments within the comfort of their homes.
They may be helpful at reducing excess sebum production in oily skin, offer some antibacterial effects for acne-prone skin, and provide anti-inflammatory support.
If you want to level up your skincare routine, an LED face mask might be worth exploring. Just bear in mind that it is a bit pricey.
Shop for: portable at-home LED face masks.
With any new beauty product, including active ingredients or clay masks that affect skin behaviour, it is important to note that there can be an initial purging period during which breakouts are normal.
It is also important to note that when introducing new products into your regimen, your skin may require up to a month to adjust.
Always carry out a 48-hour patch test before introducing a new product into your routine. And, always wear adequate sunscreen to prevent acne scarring from discolouration as a result of excessive sun exposure.
This blog post is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment, or medical advice in any form or shape. Content provided on this platform is strictly for informational purposes only. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or health-related diagnosis or treatment options you might have. Information on this platform should not be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare professional. The statements made about specific products throughout this article are not to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.