How To Get Rid Of Your Acne Scars

While that pesky blemish you picked may be long gone, if the dark purple or red scar is still lingering, there are things you can do to minimize it. Acne scars are a result of inflammation within the dermis, which triggers skin to produce pigment cells and, unfortunately, acne scars can linger for months. For this reason, one of my top skin rules is to never to pick a blemish until a visible whitehead is on the surface of the skin. Then (and only then), should you gently squeeze to remove it.

Even if you're not a picker, sometimes acne scars are unavoidable, resulting from skin tissue being stretched from within. It's important to take steps to expedite the fading and healing process so you can get your skin clear and even-toned. Acne scars can actually be two things — actual scars/divots in the skin, and post-inflammation hyperpigmentation, which is what I'm focusing on here.

Here are some of my tips on caring for acne scars: 

Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
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Wear sunscreen faithfully. 
If the affected skin is exposed to daylight, the UV rays can stimulate the melanin cells — even if it's cloudy outside — and make the scar darker and redder in color and visible longer. Wearing sunscreen will protect the damaged skin cells from the harmful UV rays, allowing the scars to properly heal and recover. Be sure to use a sunscreen formulated for acne-prone skin to avoid causing any further problems. 
Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Use a gentle exfoliant. 
By increasing your use of exfoliants (glycolic acid, salicylic acid, enzymes, and scrubs), you will help encourage new and healthy skin-cell growth while removing the damaged, scarred cells. (Out with the old, in with the new!) However, be sure to go easy and be gentle since the scar is very sensitive, and you do not want to cause additional inflammation.
Use soothing, anti-inflammatory products. 
Since a scar is basically just inflamed skin, using calming, soothing, and antioxidant ingredients on it will help to sedate the irritated skin tissue and encourage a faster healing process. Use products with the following ingredients: white tea, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant; green tea, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant; and licorice extract, a wound healing formula.

Use a skin brightening product. 
Introducing a skin brightener into your daily routine will dramatically help expedite the fading and lightening of dark, acne marks. Look for a product with vitamin C, which can help even out skin tone and lift discoloration from post-breakout scars.

Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, a water-soluble, stabilized, time-released vitamin C supplement, is a proven melanin suppressant. Salicylic acid is is a BHA exfoliator and brightener that can also help with fading. Finally, look out for retinol, an ingredient that encourages cell turnover to reveal even-toned skin.
Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
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Schedule a chemical peel.
A chemical peel involves applying a chemical solution (acid) to skin to remove and exfoliate the outer layers for a clearer, more evenly pigmented, glowing complexion. The new regenerated skin is smoother than the old skin.

A chemical peel is also instrumental in the stimulation of fibroblasts and in creating new collagen, which is beneficial for keeping the skin’s texture smooth. The newly resurfaced skin will temporarily be more sensitive to the sun, so daily use of sunscreen is a must. There are different chemical peel strengths, so you should speak with your aesthetician or skin-care professional to determine which series of peels is appropriate for the severity of your scarring.

Depending on the type of peel, the treatments are often repeated every 1-6 weeks to achieve the desired results. You can also maintain the results of a chemical peel by using an at-home peel.

While the best defense against an acne scar is to avoid picking at a blemish, if you do experience a post-breakout scar, these tips will help ensure it heals properly and quickly.       
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