How to Get Rid of Your Acne Scars, Once and For All

written by LAUREN HARANO

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Source: Pexels
Source: Pexels

Let’s be real: The only thing worse than a breakout is a scar from a previous breakout. While the skin might’ve healed from the zit, the constant reminder of it (dark spots, we’re referring to you) is enough to make us want to schedule a visit with a skincare professional. Luckily, celebrity facialist Vee Mistry gave us insight into how to heal acne scars with ease—meaning the journey to clear skin is closer than ever.

From understanding the different types of scars to diving into both at-home remedies and professional procedures, we did the dirty work to find out the best acne scar treatments for every skin type. Whether you’re dealing with shallow depressions, pigmentation issues, or something in between, keep reading for expert tips on how to heal acne scars once and for all.

Vee Mistry

For over 25 years, Vee Mistry has dedicated herself to the art and science of the skin through her certification as an esthetician and facialist. Born and raised in the UK, Vee has advanced her skills by training in Paris, NYC, London, and now Toronto, where she currently runs her private facial studio, SKINBYVEE.

How Can I Avoid Getting Acne Scars?

OK, so the key to avoiding acne scars is to avoid getting acne—but, as we know, that’s obviously easier said than done. However, there are a few ways to prevent both acne and acne scars. “To prevent acne scars, start with a quality cleanser containing salicylic or glycolic acid,” explains Mistry. “These ingredients dissolve the mix of sebum and dead skin cells clogging pores, clearing the way for healthier skin.” They also help remove dirt, makeup, and other gunk. In terms of some of our favorites, we’ve found the Dermalogica Daily Glycolic Cleanser and the CeraVe Acne Control Cleanser are great for all skin types.

But, What Happens If I Get a Zit After Using a Good Cleanser?

Zits happen. But, the key to keeping skin clear—and preventing acne scars—is to avoid the temptation of picking, squeezing, or popping pimples. (Trust us, we know it’s hard.) Picking at zits can cause inflammation, disrupt the healing process, and most definitely increase the likelihood of scarring. Instead, try using a spot treatment (like the Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment or the Skinfix Acne+ 2% BHA and Azelaic Acid Acne Spot Treatment) or acne patches (like the Peace Out 2% Salicylic Acid Early Stage Acne Dots), which allow blemishes to heal naturally.

What Ingredients Are Most Effective For Fading Acne Scars?

When it comes to fading acne scars, there are a few certain skincare ingredients that have gained a reputation for their serious efficacy. “The key ingredients for fading acne scars are retinol and retinaldehyde, which speed up cell turnover, bringing fresh, healthy cells to the surface,” says Mistry. Prescription-strength tretinoin, as well as over-the-counter retinol and adapalene, are great choices when it comes to incorporating retinoids into a skincare routine. These ingredients not only target existing scars but also help prevent new ones from forming (a win-win!).

In addition to retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are effective solutions for fading acne scars. Glycolic acid and lactic acid, which are members of the AHA family, work by gently exfoliating the skin’s surface, removing dead skin cells, and promoting cellular turnover. This exfoliating action helps diminish the appearance of scars and hyperpigmentation, revealing fresher and clearer skin underneath.

The best part? AHAs can be found in various skincare products, including toners, serums, and chemical peels. Some of the bestselling products with AHAs include the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Exfoliating Peeling Solution, and the Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel Pads.

Source: Pexels

What Professional Treatments Are Available For Stubborn Acne Scars?

If at-home treatments just aren’t cutting it, consider looking into professional treatments that’ll help minimize acne scars. “For stubborn acne scars, microneedling is highly effective,” says Mistry. “It creates controlled micro-damages to stimulate collagen production and improve skin texture. For deeper scars, consulting with a plastic surgeon for laser treatment options can provide targeted solutions.”

In terms of laser treatment options, laser therapy uses focused beams of light to target specific areas of scarring, while fractional laser treatments (such as fractional CO2 or erbium lasers) work by creating micro-injuries in the skin, prompting collagen production to improve the appearance of scars. Plus, intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy can target pigmented scars, reducing redness and discoloration.

What’s The Best Way To Fix Deep Acne Scars?

If you’re struggling with shallow depressions and deep acne scars, fear not because there are ways to fix them. The most effective ways are through professional treatments such as fractional laser therapy, microneedling, and chemical peels. These treatments get straight to the point, targeting acne scars and working overtime to improve collagen production in the affected areas.

As for a pro tip, be sure to always incorporate sun protection into your daily skincare routine since exposure to UV radiation can make the appearance of acne scars worse and hinder the healing process. Sunscreen is a nonnegotiable.

What Are the Best Products For Fading Acne Scars at Home?

Dealing with acne scars can often feel like a long battle, but with the right arsenal of skincare products, achieving clear, even-toned skin is within reach. From serums and exfoliants to antioxidant-rich formulations, there are a handful of great options—in addition to the ones we mentioned earlier!—that work to fade acne scars. Whether you’re dealing with hyperpigmentation, textural irregularities, or stubborn marks left behind by past breakouts, these products offer targeted solutions backed by science and skincare professionals.

The Ordinary
Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

This serum combines niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 known for its ability to reduce inflammation and fade hyperpigmentation, with zinc to regulate sebum production (read: fewer zits) and promote overall skin health. Niacinamide helps diminish the appearance of acne scars while also improving skin texture and tone.

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Vitamin C E Ferulic Serum

This fan-favorite antioxidant serum combines vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid to provide powerful protection against environmental damage while also promoting collagen production. This serum also brightens complexions and enhances overall skin health.

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Dynamic Resurfacing Night Cream

“Ideal for overnight use, this targets hyperpigmentation and smoothens skin texture,” says Mistry. Plus, it’s infused with a blend of enzymes derived from papaya and pineapple, which gently exfoliates, resurfaces, and renews the skin’s surface. Yes, please.

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Paula’s Choice
8% AHA Gel Exfoliant

This exfoliating gel contains glycolic acid, which gently removes dead skin cells, promotes cell turnover, and fades hyperpigmentation. Use this regularly to improve the texture and appearance of acne scars.

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Mini Pumpkin Mask

Infused with natural pumpkin enzymes, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), and antioxidants, this mask gently dissolves dead skin cells, unclogs pores, and promotes cell turnover. It works to fade acne scars and improve skin texture, and it leaves skin oh-so-glowy.

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Jan Marini
Luminate Face Lotion

Recommended by Mistry, this is a serum-lotion hybrid with retinol and turmeric that’s perfect for nighttime use to lighten scars.

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