The 15 Most Effective Acne Scar Treatments Dermatologists Swear By

The 15 Most Effective Acne Scar Treatments Dermatologists Swear By

We’ve all given into the temptation. You know what I’m talking about: popped a zit, picked at our skin, and maybe even gone so far as left a scab on our face. But what comes next can be a major stressor for some. I’m talking about the dark red and blue marks or uneven texture of scars that remain after the acne disappears.

“Much of the ‘scars’ leftover from acne are really skin color changes of hyperpigmentation and redness,” shares New York-based dermatologist Blair Murphy-Rose. “While the true scars from acne can be treated with in-office laser procedures, those pigmentation changes can be worked on effectively at home and to some degree and textural changes can be improved.”

Working that magic at home can be as simple as having the right products in your routine. We polled our favorite derms from around the country to see what they actually recommend to their patients who are hoping to fix acne scarring.

Murphy also adds an important tip: “Always protect old acne marks from the sun with a mineral sunscreen containing zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.” You can find options for both acne scar treatments and SPFs you’ll fall in love with here.


Murad InvisiScar Resurfacing Treatment

“The ingredients to look for in at-home products are exfoliators to encourage skin cell turnover thereby shedding off the hyperpigmentation, and skin brighteners like those ingredients that prevent pigmentation. Murad Invisiscar Resurfacing Treatment contains both! The beta hydroxy acid, salicylic acid, exfoliates to help clear old marks as well as preventing future breakouts. Centella asiatica (cica) decreases inflammation. Hydroxytyrosol and Vitamin C are antioxidants that lighten dark spots by directly and indirectly inhibiting tyrosinase activity which reduces the production of melanin. This serum also contains light diffusers and a “blurring powder” to improve the appearance of skin immediately. Use twice daily to improve the appearance of acne scars.” – Blair Murphy, MD


Alpha Beta® Universal Daily Peel

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare


“True acne scarring is like a bad boyfriend—it needs attention from lots of different products and just when something seems to be working it can stop being as effective. I find that acne scarring does the best with a combination of procedures and skincare products,but two easily available products that can help are Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peel Pads and Differin Gel. These glycolic and salicylic acid containing two-step peel pads are portable and help to exfoliate the skin. They can prevent future breakouts and can help to lighten the dark spots that are often left over even after you’ve kicked your acne. These are great for patients with active acne, dark spots and dullness. Both of these can be irritating so starting slow and building up to 2-4 times a week (for the pads) or every other day/every day for Differin is what I would recommend.” – Papri Sarkar, MD


Bliss Bright Idea Vitamin C + Tri-Peptide Collagen Protecting & Brightening Serum – 1 fl oz

“I consider vitamin C to be the gold standard when it comes to brightening and alleviating dark mark acne scars. Bliss Bright Idea Serum is an amazing formula with clinical-grade vitamin C (most effective and non-irritating form of vitamin C) along with tri-peptide to fade dark marks, brighten and firm skin.” Dendy Engelman, MD


Best for Acne-Prone Skin

SkinCeuticals Silymarin CF



“I also love SkinCeuticals Silymarin CF, which is rich in vitamin C and designed specifically for acne-prone skin.” Dr. Engelman


BioRenew EGF Drops

Glo Skin Beauty


“Texture acne scars: EGF (epidermal growth factor) is a game-changer for treating acne scars — both texture scars and dark marks. EGF triggers your cell’s receptors to produce more collagen (a function that naturally declines as we age) which helps fill in texture scars, making them disappear from the inside out. It also strengthens the skin barrier and evens out skin tone for healthier, better-looking skin overall. I recommend Glo Skin Beauty Bio-Renew EGF Drops, which contain 100 percent vegan EGF and a multi-peptide complex.” Dr. Engelman


Gold Roll-CIT Microneedling Face Roller



“At-home microneedling treatments can also help eliminate texture scars by creating micro-wounds that trigger controlled skin injury and healing.  I recommend Environ Cosmetic Gold Roll-CIT.” Dr. Engelman


Acne Treatment Gel



“Differin Gel is an OTC retinoid, containing adapalene, is a great option as not only does it work to prevent breakouts, but it also treats acne and helps to improve scarring. It can help discoloration and textural changes that go along with acne scars by evening out the skin tone and boosting collagen production. It can be used once daily and it is often best to start just a few times per week and increase the frequency as tolerated. It can be used by all skin types and can be used while getting active breakouts and should continue to be used after breakouts subside to help reduce scarring and prevent new breakouts from forming.” Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD


C E Ferulic



“I like skin brightening agents like glycolic acid cleanser, vitamin C, and skin agents like retinoid and retinols that help target cellular turnover. For a cleanser, I like Glytone and for a serum try Skinceuticals C E Ferulic. This combination helps to lighten pigmented scars and help smooth the skin texture. This combination is safe in all skin types.” Elizabeth Bahar Houshmand MD


La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Topical Retinoid Acne Treatment

La Roche-Posay


“La Roche-Posay Effaclar is an OTC retinoid, which works better than a retinols at speeding up skin cell turnover and building new collagen and slowly remodeling scars. There was a split face study done with micro-needling and tazorac [editor’s note: this is another OTC retinoid similar to Effaclar] showing that both improved the appearance of acne scars.” Caren Campbell, MD


UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF46 Facial Sunscreen

“Sunscreen is a must especially for the red acne scars as this will help them fade more quickly. Elta MD Clear is mineral sunscreen, meaning it’s a physical blocker and reflects light off the skin. The particles are also nanoparticles meaning smaller than usual so they rub in clear rather than looking white on the skin like some other physical/mineral sunscreens.” Caren Campbell, MD


Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

The Ordinary


“The Ordinary Azelaic Acid 10% product targets the brown spots and redness left behind from healing acne spots while also helping to clear whiteheads and blackheads. It works best for those who already have an acne regimen as an add on treatment. It helps post inflammatory redness and hyperpigmentation resolve more quickly.” Cindy Wassef MD


La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Face Sunscreen SPF 60

La Roche Posay


“Wearing an SPF like La Roche Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid every day will not only help prevent new discoloration, but keep your current scars from worsening over time,” Anne Chapas, MD


Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 Face Lotion

“Scarring and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can darken with sun exposure and linger on the skin longer than needed. Therefore, a broad spectrum sunscreen, most preferably a physical blocker like CeraVe Sun Protection SPF 30 Sunscreen Face Lotion, is strongly advised.” Shereene Idriss, MD


Advanced Correcting Serum with IlluminotexTM

Visha Skincare


“The Visha Skincare Advanced Correcting Serum, which I formulated, contains retinol, vitamin c, vitamin e, ferulic acid, hyaluronic acid, and Illuminotex- a patented natural lightening agent tested to work equivalent to hydroquinone 4% – a prescription level dose. It works best for hyperpigmentation in all skin types and genders, and those that are still currently breaking out.” Purvisha Patel, MD


Purifying Cleanser



“SkinCeuticals Purifying Cleanser encourages cell turnover without drying out the skin. The glycolic acid washes away dead skin cells on the top layer of the skin, leaving a very clean feel and improving acne blemishing.” Y. Claire Chang, MD

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