20 Best Products for Acne Scars That Will Fade Dark Spots and Brighten Skin, According to Derms
After what felt like a century getting rid of your acne, now you’ve received its parting gift: red, sometimes indented scars. Unfortunately, these spots like to overstay their welcome too. Thankfully, the best acne scar treatments can help fade the pesky remnants of pimples gone by. But, to get the best results, you’ll first need to figure out what kind of scar you’re dealing with.
Types of acne scars
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), there are two types of acne scars.
Depressed: “There’s the pitted scarring that can occur when an inflamed blemish resolves with an ice-pick-like divot in the skin,” says Susan Massick, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. There are also two other kinds of depressed acne scars: Rolling (where the skin has indents with sloping edges that make the skin look uneven) and boxcar (indents in the skin that have sharper edges and go pretty deep down).
Raised: This type of acne scar happens when fibrous tissue and collagen (a substance that supports the skin) overgrow, which then causes the scar tissue to rise off the skin, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Those annoying pink spots you may notice after breakouts are “known as post-inflammatory erythema, which is when your acne goes away and you still have a pink area for a few weeks to a few months, much like with a cut or scratch,” says Jennifer T. Haley, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Arizona.
So what causes acne scars, exactly?
When acne breakouts penetrate the skin deeply, they can cause damage and affect the tissue beneath it. As the body attempts to repair the damage in the skin, sometimes it can “over-produce collagen, which may result in raised acne scars, also known as hypertrophic scars,” explains Rina Allawh, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Pennsylvania. “Under-production of collagen may lead to depressed or pitted scars (a.k.a. atrophic),” Dr. Allawah adds.
Those with deeper complexions can also get post-inflammatory pigmentation (PIH). “It occurs in those with medium-to-dark skin tones, where the inflammation invites pigment cells to the area, and when the acne resolves, a brown spot is left for weeks, months, even years,” adds Dr. Haley.
How we chose the best products for getting rid of acne scars
To find the best products for getting rid of and treating acne scars, we tapped a few dermatologists to weigh in on the serums, creams, toners, and pads that they swear by for various types of acne-related scarring. They looked at the science behind the ingredients and formulas to see how well each product performed.
Ready to get bright, even-toned skin? Here, find the best products to help fade your acne scars.
Our top picks
Your acne scars will fade over time—but these creams and serums can speed things up. Here, dermatologists share how to find the best acne scar treatments products.