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, 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 like excess melanin brown spots.
These spots are caused from excessive inflammation in the skin that sets up a cascade that causes the permanent destruction of collagen and elastic 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 these skin care 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.
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 in 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 six weeks to two 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 scars, age spots, and other discoloration. 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. The UV radiation, on the other hand, will damage collagen and cause more dark spots! 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 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 can disinfect the skin and act as an antiseptic.
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. 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 the 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 1910, an early essential oil researcher badly burned his hand, and after it developed gangrene, he treated it with lavender oil. It quickly started to heal, and the redness and inflammation decreased. He went on to coin the word ‘aromatherapy’ as the study of the medicinal uses of essential oils.
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 and turmeric are great for lightening acne scars on your face. Sandalwood speeds healing and lightens hyperpigmentation. Turmeric evens out the skin tone by inhibiting the skin enzyme that produces pigment. Mix a pinch of sandalwood powder with turmeric powder and add water or hydrosol to make a thick paste. Apply it to 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 as well as omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, which help to repair damaged skin cells and plump fine lines. Rosehip oil is also incredibly regenerating. 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, 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 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 an antioxidant, 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.52