Acne scars can be more clingy than a bikini you accidentally bought two sizes too small. And unfortunately, there's no 'return to sender' option for the pesky post-pimple marks on your skin.
But although 'acne scars' sound scarily permanent, dermatologists and skincare experts are confident they can be cleared, as long as you're willing to commit...
Stop picking your face
We get it, broken record, but it is the main contributing factor to acne scars. "When a pimple heals, it leaves behind either a red or brown mark on the surface of the skin," says Julie Morris, Aesthetics Nurse, . "If this pimple has been squeezed or picked at it, the damage can go much deeper."
That's not to say that unpicked pimples won't cause scarring, but you'll certainly be lessening your chances if you sit on your hands.
Keep on top of your cleansing
If you consider yourself Dr Pimple Popper and really can't stop yourself from squeezing, make sure you're maintaining a good cleansing routine – morning and night.
"A proper twice-a-day cleansing routine is paramount in acne control", says Dr Yannis Alexandrides, Founder and Head Of Surgical Practice at . "The amount of product you use is key – you should use an amount equal to the size of a water bottle lid. Any less can result in breakouts as dirt and makeup debris may still be clogging pores."
Use resurfacing products
If you have existing acne, as well as acne scars, your best bet for addressing both is to use products with resurfacing ingredients. "Glycolic acid and Lactic acid (which is gentler on the skin), help to minimise the depth and severity of scars, while working to keep the pores clear," says Morris, who recommends £44.50 Effortless Skin to clear up active acne while addressing mild scarring.
For creams, look for "an active ingredient that contains either salicylic or glycolic acid," says Alexandrides. "I would also recommend the effective anti-bacterial £50 111skin to retexture acne-prone skin."
Don't disregard retinol
Retinol aka vitamin A carries a lot of clout for its youth-boosting abilities, but it's resurfacing powers can also help with acne control and scar healing.
Here’s exactly what each vitamin does for your skin
"Vitamin A in mild doses dries out sebum production," says Shabir Daya, Co-founder of . "With less sebum in the pores, the chances of the pores becoming clogged are reduced, ultimately decreasing the chance of acne breakouts."
As for acne scarring, it also encourages the proper shedding of dead skin cells.
"This will stimulate cell turnover and collagen production to help minimise the depth of scarring and combat existing blemishes," says Morris.
When using retinol, avoid using other acids in your routines – AHAs & BHAs – and always apply suncream.
Try a professional treatment
If your active acne is cleared and scarring is your main concern, both Morris and Alexandrides recommend trying a clinic treatment.
"The most effective way to rid the skin of acne scarring is through a treatment performed in clinic, such as microdermabrasion, laser resurfacing or a peel," says Morris.
Scarred skin can be fragile, so it's extremely important to speak to a skin specialist before deciding on a treatment.
Another option is microneedling, "a unique, non-surgical treatment, which boosts the skin’s natural repair system without having to remove the top layer of skin," says Alexandrides. "This, in combination with laser treatment (dependent on the patient's skin type), is a great way to treat acne scarring."
Similar to laser hair removal, laser skin resurfacing is recommended for people with fair complexions.
Eat for your skin
Diet plays a big part in the health of our skin and one of the best things you can do to help clear both acne and acne scarring, is to pay attention to what you're eating and drinking.
32 skin clearing foods for a glowing complexion
"Gluten can be very bad for the skin’s complexion and the shape of your face," says Alexandrides. "There is a protein in gluten which often results in ‘leaky gut syndrome’ whereby food proteins enter the circulatory system resulting in an inflammatory response, translating itself into swelling of the face and skin pigmentation problems."
"You can replace your daily intake of gluten by trying vegetable-based alternatives such as sweet potatoes, “zoodles” (zucchini noodles) or chickpea based pasta."
In an ideal world, you'd be quitting all forms of alcohol, sugars and carbohydrates - but we don't like to focus too much on the negative.
Instead, focus on filling your diet with plenty of seasonal fruits and vegetables, and drinking three litres of water per day will earn you a gold star and flush the toxins from your skin.
Use non-comedogenic makeup
Some of your everyday products could be exacerbating your acne and scarring problems – so to be on the safe side try switching to non-comedogenic or mineral makeup.
"Makeup products which include parabens and artificial oils in their ingredients can sometimes worsen one’s skin if not properly removed at night," says Alexandrides.
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Here's our edit of the best acne treatments:
The best acne treatments and spot-busters in the business
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