a girl with acne scar

We’ve all been there: you wake up with a pimple seemingly out of nowhere and in your haste to get rid of it, you go crazy applying lotions and potions. While this may have saved the day for now, you’re left with an unwanted souvenir: an acne scar! 

Though you might be thinking that disappearing those blemishes is super hard, fear not! I'm here to share some easy tricks on how to get rid of these pesky scars fast so that they won't keep turning back up and ruining your already fabulous skincare routine. Let's dive in and tackle those acne scars!

What is an acne scar?

Let’s face it, acne isn’t fun. But when it goes away, what’s left behind can be even worse than the acne itself! Acne scars occur when there is a loss of tissue after an acne lesion heals. Think of it like a pothole in the highway, it’s easier for damage to occur once the surface has already been weakened. When this happens, collagen breaks down and a scar appears. 

They are usually formed when a normal acne lesion causes enough damage to the skin tissue to trigger some form of response from the body in an attempt to repair itself - yet falling short of achieving perfect results. Often permanent in nature, they can take many forms such as depressions in the skin or raised bumps, and come in all shapes and sizes depending on how much trauma was done and how your body reacted.

While these kinds of blemishes can be annoying, thankfully there are several treatments available that help to lessen acne scarring and even fade it over time. 

Acne Treatment
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Types of acne scars

Acne scars can come in many shapes, sizes, and types - the variety is almost as impressive as a Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor lineup! The two main types of acne scars are atrophic scars, which are made up of depressed marks on the skin, and hypertrophic scars, which appear as raised marks. However, each type has its own sub-types, so let’s unwrap them: 

Atrophic scars

Atrophic acne scars are the remnants of acne that occur when collagen and elastin layers become damaged. These scars appear as sunken marks on the skin and appear after a severe case of cystic acne. They are often mistaken for wrinkles due to their shallow appearance, but they can be identified through their lack of texture compared to the surrounding skin. 

There are 3 types of atrophic scars: 

  • Boxcar acne scars

Boxcar scars are depressions or hollows that appear in the skin as a result of severe acne. The walls of the scar are usually vertical in shape, giving the appearance of an old-style railroad box car. These types of scars mostly appear on the cheeks or where the skin is thick. 

Though they tend to be the result of a severe case of acne, they can also be caused by other conditions like chickenpox and varicella. 

  • Ice pick scars

Ice pick scars are a type of acne scar that can look like deep holes in the skin. They're usually less than 2mm in width, but can be quite penetrating and give the skin an uneven texture. 

Not to be confused with boxcar scars, which are angular and oval-shaped, icepick scars are characterized by their deep, narrow appearance that can make normal skin texture look dimpled or pitted. The reason why these scars tend to look so deep is because they were created when the lesion penetrated deeper into the layers of the skin and disrupted collagen production. 

  • Rolling scars

Rolling scars are a common form of acne scars that have a distinctive up-and-down pattern, making them look like the surface of an ocean wave. While rolling scars aren't usually as large or deep as other types of acne scarring, they can be troublesome for those who have them. 

Hypertrophic and keloid scars

These pesky bumps of fibrous tissue are the result of an overproduction of collagen in the body and can be caused by anything from surgery or acne to even just plain old cuts. 

Hypertrophic scars are raised, darkly pigmented, and characterized by overgrown dermal collagen. Located around areas of trauma or surgery, these excess amounts of collagen can sometimes grow larger than the original wound, forming thick plaques. 

Keloids, however, go even further. They can continue to grow beyond the wound area into normal tissue. What’s noteworthy about keloids is that they may sometimes contain parts of dead skin cells or small pockets filled with blood, also known as hematomas. 

Acne scars and hyperpigmentation: Here’s the difference

Acne scars and hyperpigmentation can really be a pain, making us look way older than we are and having us reach for a heavy-duty concealer. But although they may seem similar, they really couldn’t be more different.

Acne scars are marks on the skin left after inflamed lesions have healed. The marks are caused by a loss of collagen and elastin which leaves behind deep indents or raised scars on the skin. 

On the other hand, hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition that affects people of all ages. This condition occurs when the body produces an excessive amount of melanin, the natural pigment that gives skin its color. In most cases, skin hyperpigmentation appears on exposed areas such as the face and hands, where it can look like freckles or sections of darker discolored skin.

Though it’s possible to experience post-inflammatory pigmentation once the skin heals after a severe case of acne breakout due to increased melanin production, this doesn’t mean that acne scars and hyperpigmentation are the same. 

Do acne scars go away?

Acne scars can be downright depressing and affect our self-esteem, however, they’re not impossible to conquer. The answer kind of depends on how extreme the scarring is, but in general the answer is yes. Over time, the skin goes through multiple renewal cycles and your body slowly replaces older, damaged skin with new healthy looking tissue that appears to replace the scar.

While it may take a while, there are many procedures and skincare ingredients that can treat acne scars and heal them faster than just waiting for the skin to repair itself. 

How to remove acne scars?

When it comes to treating acne scars, there are many effective procedures and products that can help you out. Here are the most common: 

Important: always consult with your doctor before submitting yourself to any acne scar treatment

  • Laser resurfacing

Laser resurfacing is one of the buzziest terms when it comes to cosmetic procedures, and it's got a lot of positive things to offer. Using small, concentrated beams of light, a laser can remove old and damaged skin tissue to reveal fresh and glowing skin underneath. The process is often used for the treatment of scars and wrinkles, leaving the treated areas healthier and younger looking than before. 

This type of treatment can carry some side effects for those with darker skin tones and with keloid scars. 

  • Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion is like a deep exfoliation that involves carefully sanding the skin with a rapidly rotating brush or diamond wheel to remove its top layers and smooth out the scar tissue, wrinkles, and other blemishes. This often leaves behind a dramatic improvement in skin texture, allowing it to look smoother and fresher. 

Best for: atrophic scars

  • Chemical peels

An ideal alternative to invasive treatments and needles, a chemical peel is a safe way to refresh your skin without fear of going under the knife. Essentially, they’re solutions applied to the face that causes old skin cells to peel off and make way for new, fresh ones. They can be used to reduce wrinkles, acne scars, sun damage, freckles, age spots, and even out skin tone. Chemical peels also stimulate the growth of collagen which helps keep the skin looking young and supple. 

Best for: all types of scars

  • Soft tissue fillers

Soft tissue fillers are injectable gels that help to reduce acne scars and improve volume and definition which can contribute to creating a more youthful-looking appearance. The most popular soft tissue filler is made of hyaluronic acid, a natural molecule found in the skin. Another type of soft tissue filler uses synthetic materials that bind tightly with collagen creating an even firmer surface than hyaluronic acid. 

Though they’re effective in filling atrophic acne scars, you may need to reapply the fillers every now and then as the effect is temporary. 

Best for: atrophic scars

Best products for acne scars: 4 Skincare ingredients you should use 

Taking care of your skin should be an integral part of your everyday life, especially if you want to treat acne scars. Skincare products help regenerate and repair our skin tissue, helping smooth out from the smallest dark spot to the deep acne scar. This means that having a curated regimen can help you treat acne scars over time. 

Here are our favorite skincare ingredients you should be looking for: 

1. Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is a superstar when it comes to treating acne scars. The acid helps exfoliate and break down dead skin cells, allowing for new skin to grow in its place. Moreover, it helps your skin get rid of the bacteria that cause acne, preventing you from developing another acne breakout. Finally, it helps with the inflammation and redness that tends to appear after a severe case of acne. 

Best for: all types of scars and skin types 

Facial Exfoliator
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Facial Exfoliator Bha Blackhead Power Liquid
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Foot Care
Foot & Heel Peeling Mask - Asian Beauty Essentials
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2. Lactic acid

Lactic acid, one of the most-known alpha-hydroxy acids, is known for its exfoliating capabilities, helping to slough off dead skin cells and improve the texture of your skin. But many people don't realize that it can also help reduce the appearance of acne scars. 

Studies have shown lactic acid can increase cell turnover and stimulate collagen production, helping to soften depressed scars while allowing new skin to better form in its place; another benefit is that lactic acid can help minimize existing pigmentation, evening out your overall complexion.

Not only is it considered safer than other chemical peels, but it is also less irritating on sensitive skin types. 

Best for: all types of scars and skin types 

Facial Exfoliator
AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid
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3. Retinoids

A retinoid is a vitamin A derivative that works by speeding up the skin's natural process of regenerating and repairing itself, leading to an overall improvement in skin texture and tone. By increasing the rate of skin cell turnover, retinoids help stimulate collagen production and diminish the appearance of scarring. 

Though effective, retinoids can be highly irritating to sensitive skin, causing itchiness, redness, burning, and peeling in the outer layer of your skin.

Best for: depressed and deeper scars 

4. Vitamin C

With acne scars often come post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and vitamin C is just the thing for that. 

Hyperpigmentation is when your skin has too much melanin, which can result in dark spots or patches on the skin. Fortunately, vitamin C can actually help to balance out the melanin in your skin, reduce any existing dark spots or patches, and even prevent future ones from forming. It can do this by producing new collagen, helping to lighten existing pigmentation, and blocking enzymes that produce excess color.

Best for: all types of scars and skin types 

How long does it take for acne scars to fade?

It's not easy to determine how long it takes for acne scars to fade because this varies on an individual basis and on the treatment you’re using. For example, dermabrasion offers results from the first session, while chemical peels take seven to fourteen days. In the same way, skincare products can take more than one month to start showing signs of improvement on your skin. 

That being said, some scars (the deepest ones) might hang around for a few months so don't be discouraged if you're still seeing them past the four-week mark. Patience is truly a virtue when it comes to monitoring these marks.

Products to reduce acne scars: Where to find them?

Acne scars can bring on holiday blues, not the seasonal kind, but a sadness that lingers much longer than any festive decorations. But now that you know how to get rid of acne scars, we’re sure these pesky marks will soon disappear and you’ll regain your confidence back. 

If you’re looking for products to help you treat acne scarring faster, visit Asian Beauty Essentials! From goodies with salicylic and lactic acid to amazing products with vitamin C, we have everything you need to start healing and repairing your skin. 

Create your own beauty arsenal and let’s start fighting acne scars together!

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