As great as it would be if acne just evaporated from your face, leaving in its wake a soft, glowing and plump complexion—the reality is that getting rid of the scars that severe acne leaves behind can be just as difficult as getting rid of the acne in the first place.
The trail of destruction that acne leaves in its wake often means severe scarring, and there are three specific kinds: pitted scars, also known as ice pick scars are deep but small in diameter. Boxcar scars tend to be rectangular, while rolling scars are named thanks to their resemblance to rolling hills and valleys (oh acne, you’re so damn glamorous).
Whether it’s from popping your pimples incorrectly or from recurring acne that graces the same spot time and time again (been there, hated that), there are things you can do to speed up the process of returning your skin to its sassy, silky self.
Here are 6 things you can do try and target those pesky scars:
#1 Blue light therapy
Got the kinda acne that has left behind moderate scarring, but still dealing with the breakouts themselves? Blue light therapy might just be for you. A form of phototherapy, blue light is a non-invasive treatment that is reported to work for acne vulgaris that is moderate or has not responded to other therapies. It uses light in the blue wavelength range to kill the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes, aka, pesky acne (not its scientific name) and heal the scars it leaves in its wake. You can try an in-salon experience like Omnilux, or a DIY at-home pen like this one from FOREO or Neutrogena.
But you already knew that, didn’t you? Yes we harp on about the benefits of supplementing with collagen all the dang time, but with good reason. Because acne scarring develops when recurrent inflammation damages the collagen in your skin, supplementing long-term with collagen—especially whilst battling active acne—can really reduce the amount of scarring that is left behind. Not to mention all the other health benefits (ok we’ll stop now).
A fan-favourite among acne sufferers and slightly less painful than it sounds, micro-needling is a technique that builds collagen underneath the scar. While quite costly, the procedure usually costs a whole lot less than traditional laser treatments, yet multiple sessions are usually required in order to make the scar more shallow.
#4 Vitamin C
Yup, it ain’t just good at banishing a cold. Ascorbic acid, AKA vitamin C, works wonders on fighting both inflammation and the presence of pigmentation. Supplementing with it or using a skincare regimen that is brimming with the stuff is a gentle, natural approach to fading those pesky-ass scars.
#5 AHAs and BHAs
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic and lactic acids and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), like salicylic acid are excellent ingredients to incorporate into your skincare routine for both acne prevention and scar reduction. They’re hella anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, and are both stellar exfoliants that will promote a more-even skin tone. Using a combination of the two will help to encourage the repair of your skin, without you having to harshly scrub your skin red-raw and exacerbate existing damage.
Basically, pick at your peril! Picking your pimples can quickly lead to a secondary infection and will definitely increase the inflammation within your skin—both of which are to be avoided in order to reduce the likelihood of scarring. Avoiding prolonged sun exposure will also help in fading acne scars, as UV stimulates pigment production, which causes scars to darken. Wear a decent sun screen everyday (which let’s face it, you should already be doing) in order to accelerate the healing process.