We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again… the scars, marks, and pigmentation that breakouts leave behind are often so much worse than the breakouts themselves. Lasting for weeks, months, and sometimes even years, post-acne pigmentation is a common skin concern for those who experience both severe acne and occasional spots.
Appearing as red or brown marks, acne scars (officially known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) occur when your skin reacts to damage (the breakout) by making extra melanin (the pigment that gives skin its colour). The pigment can then be worsened by things like over-exfoliation, picking, and sun/UV exposure – which is why wearing a high factor SPF daily is the best thing you can do to prevent future breakouts from scarring.
The pigmentation can either affect your epidermis (the top layer of your skin) or the dermis (the deeper layer beneath). Although pigmentation will fade on its own eventually, you can speed up the process with products that contain brightening and exfoliating ingredients. It’s much easier to use topical products to treat the epidermis, but deeper pigmentation will probably require professional treatments such as chemical peels or laser therapy.
Scroll down to meet our favourite treatments for targeting post acne scars and pigmentation.
Dermalogica Clear Start Post Breakout Fix
This light gel treatment utilises salicylic acid to gently exfoliate and squalane to nourish and protect skin, but the key ingredient is (relatively unheard of) hexylresorcinol. Derived from wheat and rye, hexylresorcinol works hard and fast to brighten skin, even tone, and reduce discolouration by preventing excess melanin production.
By BEAUTY BAY Soothe Paste Blemish Treatment
Although it won’t do anything for existing scars, this multitasking treatment works to both reduce breakouts and prevent them from scarring in the first place. Zinc minimises swelling and salicylic acid clears the clogged pore, while niacinamide gets to work to reduce redness and inflammation, which reduces the chance of pigmentation occurring.
Zitsticka Hyperfade Patch Kit
Going one step further than the stickers designed to draw pus from breakouts, these cleverly designed patches use microdarts to dissolve a cocktail of pigmentation-fighting ingredients into skin. Key ingredients including vitamin C to brighten and alpha arbutin to reduce melanin production. Apply the sticker as soon as the spot is no longer raised/sore for best results.
Glow Hub Scar Slayer Wand
Known for its brightening benefits, vitamin C is a key ingredient to try if you experience post-acne pigmentation. This roll-on serum can be used all over or to target certain areas. The blend of high-strength vitamin C and tranexamic acid (which slows melanin production) helps with all types of scarring, pigmentation, and dark marks.
Acnemy Postzit Zit Marks Solution
Designed to be used three to four times a week, this powerful serum combines the brightening benefits of niacinamide with the exfoliating power of both salicylic acid and glycolic acid, for both surface level and deep exfoliation. Pigmentation is darker in the upper layers of the skin, which is why it will fade over time as skin naturally sheds. Using exfoliating acids speeds up the process, so with each layer of skin that’s exfoliated away, the mark appears less prominent.
The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
Azelaic acid is another brilliant ingredient to check out if you experience marks and scars from breakouts. It’s also great for preventing future and treating existing breakouts, since it’s anti-bacterial and prevents pore-clogging. It encourages skin cell turnover (which has a similar effect to using glycolic acid) but its superhero power is being able to destroy melanocytes, the skin cells that produce melanin.