My high school days are long behind me, but the effects of my bad skincare decisions still haunt me. I could never patiently wait for a pimple to go away. I was so obsessed with clearing out every pore that I briefly thought about becoming a dermatologist. (And yes, I still hate-watch those pimple popping videos—and yes, they are gross.)
The frustrating fact is that all that picking and poking not only makes the skin more inflamed, but it can also lead to annoying, unsightly scarring. If you can pop a superficial whitehead without leaving any fingernail marks or redness, go for it.
But, once you get started, it’s really hard to stop. And if you have to pick and poke and scratch and leave a scab or marks, you are doing more harm than good and forming a scar.
What are acne scars?
The skin creates more melanin in response to an injury, like acne. That hyperpigmentation creates a dark or red spot where the acne occurred. Then there are scars that change the texture of your skin. These types of indentations or marks won’t fade over time [source] like excess melanin brown spots.
These spots result from excessive inflammation in the skin that sets up a cascade leading to the permanent destruction of collagen and elastin fibers, thus causing that divot that looks worse in certain lighting.
If you have a hard time keeping your hands off when acne strikes (raises hand), you’ve probably earned a few scars along the way. There’s still time to improve skincare mistakes with these acne scar home remedies that can speed up the healing (and fading) process.
A word of caution, though: home remedies work best for mild acne scars. For deep scarring, consult a dermatologist for other treatment options like laser resurfacing, medical-grade microneedling, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, or a personalized combination approach [source].
21 Home Remedies to Eliminate Acne Scars
1. Be consistent
The best way to fight scarring is prevention, so put together a good skincare routine and stick with it. If you’re not already doing a weekly clay face mask to deep clean your pores, now is a good time to start. It is essential to do everything possible to reduce inflammation (redness) and protect your skin from damaging ultraviolet radiation.
And if you’re using home remedies to even out your skin tone, don’t expect immediate results. New skin cells are created deep within the epidermis of your skin, and it can take 4–8 weeks for them to make their way to the skin’s surface. Any treatment aimed at improving the skin will need at least 6 weeks to 2 months before you can expect to see real improvement—so be patient and consistent.
You may want a quick fix, but lightening acne scars and improving your skin’s texture requires time, patience, and consistency. So add a few remedies to your skincare arsenal and stick with it!
2. Wear sunscreen
While you’re waiting for acne scars to fade, don’t let the sun reverse all of your hard work. Sun exposure increases melanin production, which can darken any of the already darkened areas such as scars, age spots, and other discolorations. It’s easy to stop worrying about sunscreen during cooler fall days, so make sure you’re applying SPF 30 every day. Check out our sunscreen picks here.
One of our favorites is EltaMD Clear Tinted Facial Sunscreen. The tint helps to cover up brown and red areas and also works dually as a makeup base. The sunscreen is broad-spectrum, and it also contains niacinamide to help lighten and reduce inflammation.
While some people think that sunlight helps their acne, it is actually the blue light in visible rays that has been scientifically studied to help with acne [source]. On the other hand, the UV radiation will damage collagen and cause more dark spots [source]! If you cannot afford to get blue light treatments with your dermatologist, there are some at-home treatments you can use.
Speed up cell turnover
Cellular turnover is your friend when trying to fade scars, stimulate fresh collagen, and even out your skin tone. Removing dead skin cells stimulates your skin’s rejuvenation process, causing it to produce new cells and replace surface cells. These superficial dead skin cells also hold onto unnecessary pigment.
You want to be super gentle when exfoliating your face because too much scrubbing can be irritating and slow down the healing. For a simple physical exfoliation, use rice flour face scrub or cleansing grains daily when cleansing your face. If your face is red or feels tender or raw, you are being too aggressive.
4. Frankincense essential oil
Frankincense rapidly increases cellular turnover, which means it encourages the skin to produce healthier cells to replace aging cells. This may result in minimizing the appearance of wrinkles and acne scars.
An additional benefit of frankincense? It’s incredibly soothing—it is anti-inflammatory and can also act as an antiseptic to disinfect the skin [source].
5. Vitamin C
Women often turn to hydroquinone to lighten skin and correct dark spots, but the skin-bleaching chemical is a controversial ingredient that may cause irreversible skin damage [source]. Vitamin C helps to rebuild the collagen, which forms the structure of your skin [source]. So instead of toxic chemicals, look to vitamin C-rich alternatives like lemon juice, neroli oil, and orange oil to even out your skin tone instead.
The natural acids in lemon juice remove dead skin, promote skin elasticity, and encourage new skin cell growth. Neroli oil is derived from orange tree blossoms, and this vitamin C-rich oil improves the elasticity of aging skin and boosts overall luminosity. From the same tree, comes orange oil, which contains the same vitamins and nutrients the delicious fruit does.
Use a honey mask with lemon juice and a drop of neroli or orange essential oil (bonus points for including baking soda) twice a week, or make a toner by diluting lemon juice with rose water and witch hazel.
Speed up healing
6. Lavender essential oil
In addition to helping treat burns, eczema, and breakouts, lavender’s healing and soothing properties also help fade scar tissue. Lavender rapidly repairs damaged skin and helps minimize scarring. The anti-inflammatory oil calms inflamed skin and redness, and its regenerative properties stimulate new cell growth to help eliminate acne scars.
7. Skin-Soothing Masks
If you’ve ever battled acne, you’re probably well aware that long after the breakout is gone, you’ve still got some leftover red marks, known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Try a skin-calming cucumber mask to reduce residual inflammation or this avocado mask to stimulate collagen production and reduce inflammation, which aids in cell regeneration.
8. Sandalwood and turmeric
Sandalwood powder is great for lightening acne scars on your face. Sandalwood speeds healing and lightens hyperpigmentation. It is known to even out the skin tone by inhibiting the skin enzyme that produces pigment [source]. Mix a pinch of sandalwood powder with turmeric powder (for its known skin bleaching ability), and add water or hydrosol to make a thick paste. Apply it to any areas of scarring or discoloration, and rinse after 20 minutes.
9. Raid the pantry
So many foods in your fridge and pantry have natural skin-lightening effects, everything from cucumbers and papaya to tomatoes and potatoes. Try a parsley mask, a rice milk toner, an aloe vera face pack, or spot treatments with apple cider vinegar.
Supercharge your face oil
10. Rosehip Oil
Rosehip oil is a natural source of vitamin C and omega-3, -6, and -9 fatty acids, which help repair damaged skin cells and plump fine lines. This flower-scented oil is also incredibly regenerating for sun-damaged and aging skin [source].
For centuries it’s been known for its ability to firm and improve skin texture, which is helpful if you have indentation scarring from acne. Add rosehip oil to your moisturizing routine with a rejuvenating cream or this repair serum.
11. Neem Oil
I’ll be honest—neem oil doesn’t smell good. But it has a low comedogenic rating (meaning it won’t clog your pores), has potent anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties [source], and is loaded with omega fatty acids. So it not only kills off acne-causing bacteria and reduces redness, but it also works to repair damaged skin and eliminate acne scars. Add a few drops to your face oil (6 drops to 1 ounce of carrier oil) and use twice daily to get the benefits.
12. Vitamin E
Thanks to vitamin E’s anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties, it may have the potential to aid in wound repair and protect and maintain the skin barrier. Since vitamin E is a natural antioxidant [source], the best way to apply it is topically. The next time you notice a cut that may turn into a scar, consider rubbing a little vitamin E oil or a Vitamin E Scar Lotion on it to see if it can help the skin heal faster.
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Haley, a board-certified dermatologist with extensive experience in medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical review board here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.65