5 Ways to Get Rid of Acne Scars

As if having acne isn’t bad enough, after the blemishes fade, skin can be left with discolored and pitted scars that are hard to hide. They don’t appear from just picking at your face; there’s a lot happening under the skin. “They form because of inflammation in the skin that results from red, irritated acne and picking at your skin,” says Santa Monica, CA, dermatologist Karyn Grossman, MD. “Nothing can totally return your skin to its perfect prior state, but there are treatments that can significantly reduce the look of scars.”

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If your skin is rough from cystic acne, an at-home tool may improve skin texture.

According to Dr. Grossman, scars on the forehead and cheeks can make skin appear uneven. “The two major types of scars are rolling hill (undulations in the skin where the skin is depressed) and ice-pick scars (deep narrow scars).” At-home microdermabrasion tools like Trophy Skin MiniMD Microdermabrasion System ($99), can somewhat help remove the outer layer of skin using light abrasion to smooth out any rough areas. 


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If your skin has brown or red discoloration, an acid-based serum can help with the spots. 

Acne can cause scarring and discoloration that may fade naturally, but sometimes extra help is needed. “If the discoloration is red or brown, it’s not technically a scar, but rather prolonged inflammation in the area that may lead to scarring later on,” says Dr. Grossman. Milder at-home treatments, like Cosmedix Clarity Skin Clarifying Serum ($42), which contains salicylic acid to remove dead skin, can also help diminish discoloration.


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If your scars are difficult to hide, mask them with full-coverage foundation.

The inflammation and redness associated with acne can lead to dark spots that are difficult to erase. Dr. Grossman explains that some hard-to-cover spots, which are the lingering effects of acne, need the help of makeup to fully conceal them. Formulated with an anti-inflammatory agent and antibacterial tea tree oil, bareMinerals Blemish Remedy Foundation ($28) fully covers discolored skin while also preventing future breakouts from occurring.


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If your skin is bumpy and uneven, smooth it out with a weekly glycolic acid peel.

Certain types of acne can lead to noticeable scars and uneven, bumpy skin. “These scars, which are caused by excess tissue production, result in raised tissue where the blemish was,” says New York facial plastic surgeon Lee Ann Klausner, MD. “Pigmentation can be treated with topical agents like hexylresorcinol and hydroquinone.” Used once a week, Natura Bissé Glyco Extreme Peel ($250) works to exfoliate skin for a visibly smoother complexion.


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If your skin is indented from picking, plump it up with fillers and/or lasers.

Fillers can temporarily raise the depressed portion of the scars. Occasionally, the skin won’t lift enough with filler, and according to New York dermatologist Jody Levine, MD, fractionated lasers (a combination of lasers was used on the patient here) can boost collagen production with less downtime. “The collagen growth can help rejuvenate skin and improve scars.” Microneedling, which involves tiny needles puncturing the skin to promote collagen growth, can also help heal scars.