How to Fade Acne Scars

You feel like a champion. You’re about to finally defeat the annoying pimple you’ve been complaining about to your bestie all week.

But when you wake up the next day, ready to see flawless skin, you realise that in that spot’s spot is a red, pigmented scar. Great.

This might feel like the end of the world, but we have great news: there are ways to fade acne scars. The key is to find the treatment that works for your skin type—and to practice a little bit of patience.

how-to-fade-acne-scars_Antipodes Apostle Skin Brightening & Tone Correcting Serumhow-to-fade-acne-scars_Antipodes Apostle Skin Brightening & Tone Correcting Serum

How long does it take to fade acne scars?

The length of time it takes an acne scar product to work depends on a myriad of factors, including the severity of your breakout, your body’s normal healing time, and your skincare routine and habits.

In general, you should expect to see an improvement in your breakout in 24 to 48 hours. Your breakout should be starting to heal within 3 to 4 days and completely gone within a week.

When it comes to scarring, the brown or red patches (discolouration) left behind by pimples can fade away with time. Left to nature, fading would take around 3 to 6 months.

But by consistently using targeted products, you can speed up the healing process. For deeper scars like ice-pick scars or boxcar scars, it’s recommended to see a professional for a strong treatment.

Can I combine products to fade acne scars?

When it comes to acne scars, less is sometimes more. If your skin is red and inflamed, and you've got a big event coming up—or you're sick of trying to hide pigmentation—you might be willing to try anything to get your skin back into shape.

Some people take matters into their own hands by using multiple products. Others double the dosage of their favourite product or apply it many times each day. But overzealousness is a recipe for skin mayhem.

If you use more than the recommended dosage of any product, you can dry out and irritate your skin, and actually worsen the breakout. You could even suffer an allergic reaction or develop a painful rash, and that’s the last thing you need when you’re trying to clear your complexion.

Aim to use 2 to 3 products at a time, consistently and as directed. When you’re wanting to pair treatments, have a look at the ingredients and make sure you’re not doubling up on strong actives (like Retinol).


The best products to fade acne scars

When you want to fade acne scars, it’s important to cleanse your skin daily. Cleansing ensures that dust, pollutants, and leftover makeup are removed, as these substances can clog pores and make the situation worse. Dermalogica Age Smart Skin Resurfacing Cleanser is formulated with Lactic Acid, an Alpha-Hydroxy Acid (AHA). Lactic Acid exfoliates the skin by gently loosening and sweeping away dead skin cells from the skin’s surface, promoting smooth, even skin and faster cell turnover to heal your acne scars. This rich treatment cleanser nourishes skin with Vitamin E, a natural antioxidant, to protect the skin from irritation by environmental factors as well as free radical damage. Gentle enough to use morning and night. Ensure you incorporate an SPF during the day due to the AHAs.

Powerful Vitamin C serum to brighten uneven skin
Powerful Vitamin C serum to brighten uneven skin

An option that incorporates Vitamin C is a great choice to fade acne scars and pigmentation. Estée Lauder Perfectionist Pro Rapid Brightening Treatment uses this powerful antioxidant to improve overall skin radiance, tone, and texture while hydrating and plumping skin. This treatment is non-acnegenic (won't clog pores) and can be used morning and night with your moisturiser of choice.

For the sensitive souls who’ve been burnt by Retinol in the past: this is a serum that will look after your sensitive skin. La Roche-Posay Redermic Retinol B3 Serum is an anti-ageing serum with pure Retinol to reduce dark spots and acne scars by brightening the skin. After cleansing at night, apply 3 to 4 drops to your face and neck. Always use in conjunction with a moisturiser and sunscreen.

Bright, clear, and even—isn’t that the dream complexion we all want? Housed in dual-chamber packaging, Murad Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum combines Vitamin C with Glycolic Acid to clear away dead skin cells. These ingredients also stimulate collagen and elastin to help heal acne scars for overall smoother skin. Apply 1 pump of the serum to a freshly cleansed face, morning and evening. Follow with moisturiser and use an SPF during the day.

Natural Apostle Skin Brightening & Tone Correcting Serum uses a complex of superfruits, including Kiwifruit and Vinanza Oxifend Grape, to minimise the appearance of age spots, sun spots, freckles, and acne scarring. This lightweight serum easily fits into any natural skincare regime and can be applied before moisturiser for an extra boost of hydration. Suitable for all skin types and ages, but particularly beneficial for those with pigmentation and acne scars.

Unleash your glow with Sand&Sky Australian Pink Clay Porefining Face Mask. Formulated with Australian Pink Clay, this mask not only draws out impurities. It also brightens pigmentation and uneven skin tone with Vitamin C derived from Kakadu Plum. Unlike other clay masks, Sand&Sky can be used up to 3 times a week (on oily skin).

Rich in ingredients that lighten and inhibit hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone, Dermalogica PowerBright Pure Light SPF 50 will have you truly beaming. It’s ideal for those who spend a lot of time in the sun and are looking to avoid sun spots and hyperpigmentation, or to protect their acne scars. Use in conjunction with your treatment or serum of choice in your morning skincare rotation.

Highly concentrated and featuring natural, plant-based ingredients from the pure island of Jeju, innisfree Perfect 9 Repair Serum is the best Korean serum for fading acne scars. Created with 9 botanical actives to target 9 signs of ageing (including pigmentation, dehydration, and uneven skin tone), Green Tea Extract helps protect the skin by fighting free radical damage. And Mushroom Extracts help improve the skin barrier.

Factors that can contribute to fading acne scars

If you really want to fast-track fading your acne scars, it’s important to think about lifestyle factors. Habits like sleeping in your makeup, not wearing SPF during the day, and picking at your pimples and scars can counteract the products you’re using and slow the healing process.

Some ways to help speed up the healing process are to take a collagen supplement, drink enough water (hello hydration!), and wear a strong SPF daily.

Prescription and systemic acne treatments for fading scars

If your skin doesn't respond well to at-home acne treatments, your doctor might recommend a prescription medication instead. These products typically take a bit longer to work, since they address the underlying cause of the acne.

But for people with health or skin issues that prove intractable to the usual products, prescription remedies can work wonders. Be sure to give your doctor a complete overview of your symptoms, and ask about any topical products (including medicated cosmetics) you're using.

If you haven't seen results within a month, or if you develop new symptoms, such as itching, redness, severe sunburns, or a burning sensation, tell your doctor immediately. Sometimes, it's necessary to tweak the dosage, combine your treatment with another drug, or switch to a new medication.

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