How To Get Rid Of Acne Scarring For Good

Whether you’ve tackled your acne once and for all, or you’re still going through the long-winded battle, there is one thing that’s inevitable: acne scarring. It doesn’t matter if you’re a picker or leave them well enough alone, there’s still a dark mark left behind every spot.

We’ve all been through the trials and tribulations of experimenting with what works to get skin clear and even. A natural reaction may be to reach for a rough scrub to brush the spots away but an abrasive take often leaves skin angry and red – not ideal. Don’t even get us started on the toothpaste myth.

Don’t fret, there are some treatments that actually work to fade and eventually get rid of the traces of acne and some really effective skincare you can buy during your weekly shop too.

Acne Scar Treatment No.1: Dermal Fillers

Not just here to make you look like a contestant on Love Island, fillers can be used to help an array of skin problems, one of them being acne. A tiny amount can temporarily plump and smooth over any skin craters left behind from acne.

‘Dermal fillers are very good for indented scars, ‘says Dr. Anjali Mahto, Consultant Dermatologist and British Skin Foundation Spokesperson. ‘However, depending on the type of filler used, the treatment will need to be repeated at regular intervals – most probably every six months – to maintain the results.’

Your skin’s initial reaction may be to bruise, swell up and go red but be patient and wait for the magic to happen. As acne scarring treatments go, this one isn’t the priciest and is relatively non invasive and pain free. Hooray!

Acne Scar Treatment No.2: Microdermabrasion

For those with a low pain threshold, microdermabrasion might not be the one for you. Whilst it’s not torture, it is a tad uncomfortable to sit through, but the results tend to be worth it.

‘It may sound a little strange and uncomfortable, but microdermabrasion involves using a jet of abrasive crystals to exfoliate the skin,’ says Dr. Mahto, ‘and while it can play a role in minimising stubborn red marks, it needs to be used with caution in darker skin types.’

Whilst it may help with stubborn marks on most skin types, as with anything exfoliating, you may want to err on the side of caution if you have sensitive skin. It can be too much for fragile skin to handle and can leave it angrily red.

Acne Scar Treatment No.3: Chemical Peels

Whenever chemical peels are mentioned, an image of Samantha from Sex And The City turning up to Carrie’s book launch party with red raw skin and a black veil immediately comes to mind. But, peels have come a long way since then and, thankfully, veils are no longer required.

The best update? You can now use them (at a lower dosage) in your own bathroomAHAs and BHAs have become a staple in most skin lovers routines because they tackle an array of issues. From whiteheads to blackheads, acids are a top problem solver if you choose the right one.

Glycolic acid is the most popular when it comes to AHAs. It’s the most potent when it comes to exfoliating, which means it’s incredibly efficient but can be too strong for sensitive skin types.

Lactic acid actually comes from lactose in milk, rather than fruit acids like other AHAs which means it’s particularly effective when it comes to erasing signs of ageing.

When it comes to BHAs, salicylic acid is the most commonly used. Good news for sensitive skin sufferers, this one’s for you. It helps calm down redness and inflammation, which also makes it super useful when it comes to getting rid of any blemishes.

Shop At Home Face Peels

Left to right: REN Clean Skincare Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask (S$61.44); Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask (S$97.28); Pixi Peel & Polish (S$36); Claudalie Glycolic Peel Mask (S$43)
From left to right: Alpha-H Beauty Sleep Power Peel (S$92.18); Mario Badescu Rolling Cream Peel with AHA (S$26.46); Zelens PHA+ Bio-Peel Resurfacing Facial Pads (S$116); Time Bomb Overnight Peel and Reveal (S$75)

Acne Scar Treatment No.4: Radiofrequency With Microneedling Treatment

This powerful combination is designed to rebuild collagen and elastin using pulses of light energy from radio waves with microscopic needles that gentle puncture skin to help fill the indentation acne scars tend to leave behind.

The idea is to leave skin looking brighter and firmer with scars looking smaller and lighter in colour, whilst skin texture is left touchably smoother.

Unlike with IPL, this can work no matter what your skin tone and has minimal downtime, with redness only sticking around for an hour or two after.

Acne Scar Treatment No.5: Retinol

Also known as vitamin A, retinol goes hand in hand with anti-ageing treatments but can also be used to unclog pores and fade scars. It’s a more gradual treatment but is popular for leaving skin looking brighter and smoother.

Avoid if you have rosacea – it can upset and irritate.

Do try bakuchiol – it’s a natural alternative rich in vitamin C and E that works to provide the same brightening results. 

Left to right: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion (S$13.65); Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil (S$148); Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum (S$127.97); DISCIPLE Skincare Dreamy Skin Retinyl Oil (S$59.71)

Acne Scar Treatment No.6: IPL Laser

If it’s good enough for Kendall Jenner, it’s good enough for us. The reality star admitted that laser treatments did wonders for her skin when she was scrutinised by the public for suffering from acne. IPL lasers are non-invasive and extremely gentle to skin, so it’s the perfect lunch time treatment.

‘Not just for hair removal, IPL lasers have a fantastic anti-inflammatory role and can take action against the bacteria that cases acne,’ says Dr. Mahto, ‘but they also work well to reduce redness and skin staining. Just be prepared to undergo multiple sessions and maintenance treatments for good results.’

The problem with most lasers are that they work better on paler skin due to pigments, so won’t be your best bet for darker skin tones.

Acne Scar Treatment No 7: Wear SPF

It might seem like the simplest way to get rid of acne scars and we bang on about it a lot but SPF really does solve all your skin troubles. Not only does it protect against the dreaded sun damage but it helps avoid the more long term risk of skin cancer and, in turn, the marks it can leave on your skin.

But SPF is never more crucial than when you’re using acids, retinol or extensive treatments that can leave your skin vulnerable. ‘The skin is more vulnerable to damage and pigmentation change following acne treatments such as IPL laser and even using products that contain AHAs (like glycolic and lactic acid) and BHAs (including salicylic acid, found in acne moisturisers and cleansers) and pigmentation spots can potentially get worse is SPF is not applied,’ says Dr. Mahto.


Left to right: Elemis Daily Defence Shield SPF 30 (S$82); Caudalie Anti-wrinkle Face Suncare SPF 30 (S$30.71); Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily UV Defense SPF 50 (S$56); Darphin Intral Shield SPF 50 (S$64.84)

Acne Scar Treatment No.8: Skincare with Niacinamide

Niacinamide is the magical treatment can tackle everything from wrinkles, acne, rosacea and pigmentation so it’s definitely one to look for on an ingredients list. It’s a form of vitamin B3 and although it’s been popular with dermatologists for decades, it’s only just hit the mainstream when it comes to skincare you can buy.

It not only tackles the spots themselves but also the scarring that comes with it without irritating skin.

Left to right: Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster (S$63); Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum (S$138); Alpha-H Vitamin B with Copper Tripeptide (S$66.55); The Ordinary Niacinamide 20% + Zinc 1% (S$9.26)

This article first appeared on ELLE UK.