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5 Acne Scar Treatments That Actually Work

*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you).

When you’re paying for acne scar treatments, you want to make sure they actually work. Below, I’ll share my experience and results after using acne scar treatments, as well as tell you one option that people are RAVING about.

Before you decide on the right acne scar treatment for you, realize that there are different types of acne scars. For example, there are:

  1. Ice pick scars
  2. Box scars
  3. Hyperpigmentation
  4. Raised scars (hypertrophic or keloid)

Different scars can require different types of acne scar treatments. Some scars may never go away, but many do get better with time.

4 Acne Scar Treatments I’ve Tried and the Results

1. Laser peels

Note: This is NOT my skin.

Since high school, I’ve gotten at least three laser peels done. After each one, I had to stay home for at least 2 or 3 days while my face healed. I mainly got these done to heal the box scars and ice pick scars that were dotting my cheeks.

The idea behind using laser peels for acne scars that leave pitting in your skin is that, by “resurfacing” your skin with lasers, your skin will generate more collagen and “fill in” the holes. While I didn’t notice a major difference, my dad says he sees a difference. And my pitting has improved over the years, which may be because of the many laser peels I got done.

2. Salicylic acid

According to Healthline, “Salicylic acid clears pores, reduces swelling and redness, and exfoliates the skin when applied topically. It’s considered to be one of the best treatments for acne scars.”

I use Salicylic Acid on and off. Usually, it comes in my acne treatment creams. But, sometimes, it can also be used to fade acne scars. A great product for this is the Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. For YEARS, I’ve seen people rave about this stuff for healing acne scars. (Tip: “BHA” and “salicylic acid” are the same thing!)

I have never used Paula’s Choice, but I would like to try it soon. I had been using a French product I bought in Paris (sadly, it is not available in the U.S.), and it seemed to help a little.

3. Red LED light therapy

I used an LED light therapy mask every night for about 30 minutes for months. To kill acne bacteria, I used the blue light. But sometimes I’d use red light too, which is supposed to help heal acne scars.

According to Harvard, “Experts believe that red LED light acts on cells in the skin known as fibroblasts, which play a role in production of collagen, a protein that makes up a large part of connective tissue and helps the skin to recover when it’s harmed.”

4. Hyaluronic acid moisturizer

If you’ve read my Neutrogena Hydro Boost review, then you KNOW how much I love this moisturizer! I use it every day, morning and night. It’s got Hyaluronic Acid, which helps your skin retain moisture.

According to North Pacific Dermatology in Washington, “While hyaluronic acid can’t fill in visible acne scars, it can help reduce redness and the visible appearance of acne.”

I’ve been using Neutrogena Hydro Boost (which has Hyaluronic Acid) since 2018, and the drastic red marks that my cystic acne left behind have FADED away, sometimes COMPLETELY.

Bonus? HA reduces wrinkles, too!

The Acne Scar Treatment I REALLY Want to Try Next

5. Micro derma roller

Micro derma rollers (or microneedling) are best for indentations/pitting left behind by acne. Much like the laser resurfacing, the micro derma roller creates hundreds of little holes on the surface of your skin in the hopes of encouraging your skin to generate more collagen to fill in the little holes and the pitting left behind from acne scarring.

According to Healthline, “[Microneedling] may also help with acne scars and clinical studies have shown overall positive results.

Use a derma roller AND a Vitamin C serum for best results.

The best and cheapest acne scar treatment? Time

I was hesitant to write a post about acne scar treatments that have worked for me because, well, there’s no way to tell if those interventions healed my acne scars, or if time healed them. I strongly suspect my body did its work and healed my skin over time. Maybe the products I used helped it along. It’s impossible to know for sure.

According to Mayo Clinic, “In most cases, acne scars do improve over time without treatment. That’s particularly true of discoloration. Indentations may be more stubborn and less prone to disappearing on their own.”

Here are my acne scar treatment results showing the pitting and hyperpigmentation on my forehead over the course of 9 months:

In December, I had massive cystic acne spots on my forehead.

By January, those cysts had gone away, and I was left with red marks (hyperpigmentation) and an indentation from one large cyst.

By September, the hyperpigmentation was gone! Even the giant indentation left behind by one cystic acne spot filled in! (It’s tough to see the indentation in photos though).

Perhaps, over time, your skin will gradually heal too, especially if they’re red spots. The red spots on my face go away in several weeks or months, even if I don’t do anything to them.

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Advice for Millennials shares real-life advice from real-life millennials about all the things they wish they'd known—from finance to health to careers.

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