For those of us healing acne, this is a distant yet truly riveting question. For the lucky ducks who have completed their journey to clear skin, you may be knocking down your esthetician's door trying figure out the answer.
For me, I remember my acne like little glaciers that moved slowly and forcefully through the environment of my skin. They sometimes trailed one another down the same path creating a shallow yet noticeable valley over time. Now I’m left pondering the aftermath of this natural phenomenon each time I examine my scars in the mirror.
After getting the breakouts under control seeing scars was frustrating, to say the least. What brought me from being mad to being okay with these inconsistencies is the daily reminder of how powerful it feels to heal acne. Now the scars are like little cheerleaders saying, “Good morning, don’t forget you’re a badass!”
Still not feeling your post-acne marks? We’re going to be straight with you: some deep scars will prevail even after the best natural remedies. But, armed with patience and information, you can make a noticeable difference, sometimes from the comfort of your own bathroom. The first step is identifying which type of scaring you’re working with.
If you look in the mirror and see dark red, purple, or brown marks where pimples use to be, you’re looking at hyperpigmentation, or more specifically, Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation. Pssst, good news: They are easy to clear up using natural topical products.
Technically, the marks are not classified as scars, but a lot of people deal with them after acne. “The inflammation of acne can cause a spike in the layer of skin where melanocytes produce melanin or pigments,” says Erin Murphy Medical Aesthetician at Restore SD Plastic Surgery. This, in turn, causes extra pigment in the skin, which can present as discolored spots.
Hyperpigmentation will fade over time but is easily treated with from-the-earth skin-brightening products. “Most of the time it’s is a result of vitamin depletion in the body such as vitamin B or vitamin D,” explains licensed esthetician Hayley Wood of Therapeutic Skin Coach. “So using ingredients to replenish and encourage a strong immunity with vitamin C is a great way to encourage a brighter, healthier complexion,” she adds. Let’s look at a few favorites.
Our Neroli Toner has 4% vitamin B3 (Niacinamide) and rich stores of vitamin C to even and brighten skin. “Vitamin C will help encourage new collagen stimulation and Niacinamide will encourage blood flow for optimal circulation,” says Wood.
Also helpful is exfoliating with acid, like that in our hibiscus mud mask, which has an immediately impactful by sloughing off the build-up of over keratinized cells that hold excess melanin proteins. “But it's only half the work, the nutrient recovery is most valuable towards bettering the skin's immunity and capability to recover from stagnation that causes pigmentation,” says wood.
The wide world of dermatology has fondly identified and named four common atrophic acne scars. As a whole, these bad boys are a little more challenging to love. Why? Because whether they are deep or shallow (we’ll get into that in a bit), they are nonetheless very not smooth. And they admittedly take some professional help and a bit more patience to resolve than hyperpigmentation.
Icepick scars are deep narrow holes in the skin caused by inflammation in a pore from bacteria or infection. They basically start like an average blackhead then continue to inflame down into the layers of the skin and prevent collagen production. And I think we can all agree the name is needlessly aggressive.
These scars are like icepick scars except slightly wider with steep jagged corners. Usually, from larger cysts and cystic acne, these scars are caused when inflammation destroys collagen and leaves an area of the skin unsupported. Kind of like the middle of a trampoline.
Rolling scars are shallow and wavy. They’re caused when the skin tries to creates a fibrous band of tissue attached to deeper stricture of the skin causing a taut look. Like what happens if your boobs are too big for a t-shirt.
The appearance of the above three scars can be reduced with natural remedies administered by your esthetician or dermatologist. Of course, it’s important to understand this is a slow and steady process. Happy skin results from improving health, including mental and emotional. Setting up achievable goals for your precious skin will steer your journey in the direction of relaxed progress rather than stressed expectation. These are not quick fixes, rather a long-term (and natural, safe, dare we say fun?) solutions.
With all the hype of home derma-rolling on social media, you might think it’s no big thang. But this at-home treatment is not to be taken lightly, and actually, Wood cautions against it. “I don't believe anyone should be able to tamper with their barrier other than with a physical exfoliant for their home care practice,” she warns. “So many things could go wrong; that’s why professionals who administer micro-needling have a license to do so.” For this natural treatment, check your local natural spa and ask for an esthetician who is well-versed in treating acne scars.
How it works
If you’ve never seen a dermaroller, it looks like a cute yet intimidating paint roller with lots of tiny needles. “Microneedling is a device that makes microscopic wounds in the skin to increase the production of collagen and elastin to treat wrinkles and scars,” explains Murphy. But fear not, the more collagen and elastin stimulated from the painless needling around the scar the more cells regenerate and repair. “Depending on the scars, usually 6 micro-needling sessions will do the trick,” adds Murphy.
Your esthetician will give you a post-treatment plan, but here are a few other tools for your arsenal. “The skin is an intelligent organ and will know what to do, but the client can make a conscious effort to support the whole body by choosing nutritionally beneficial foods and intaking a lot of water,” advises Wood. She also says avoiding excess heat, sun, and blue light will aid the skin in recovery.
2. Chemical peels
Stronger professional-strength peels like TCA or Jessner’s fall in the middle of the spectrum and mark where an esthetician is needed because they reach deeper layers of the epidermis. They require a bit of downtime, a focused post-care plan, and, yes, you will see skin flaking off. For acne scars, you’ll want either a medium or deep peel. But of course, talk to your esthetician. Anything weaker than this, like enzyme, light glycolic, even retinol peels reach only the first layer of skin and are safe to play with at home.