How to Fade Post-Acne Marks


In This Article:

No one wants acne, but for many people, from the pre-teen years on, acne happens. The right skincare can help manage acne, but what about the red areas breakouts often leave behind? Why does acne lead to these marks on skin—and just how does acne cause permanent changes on skin? We'll explain and share advice on what you can do now to minimize the risk of seeing post-acne marks.

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How Do Post-Acne Marks Happen?

At its core, acne is a skin-aggravating disorder. Research reveals that multiple factors occur within skin as acne develops. Skin's internal machinery tries to help by kicking in to high gear. Unfortunately, this well-intentioned effort ends up causing more aggravation, which tends to make acne larger and redder.

Everything that happens within skin when a breakout occurs can leave behind a pink-to-red or tan-to-brown mark that lingers (and lingers) long after the blemish goes away.

If you have a fair to medium skin tone, you're more likely to see pink to red post-acne marks. Those with medium to very dark skin tones will see tan to dark brown marks dotting skin's surface.

In essence, post-acne marks, no matter their color or size, are a leftover reminder of the battle your skin waged against a breakout. Despite how long they tend to last on skin (and you can help reduce this time…more on that in a moment), these marks are not permanent.

How Does Acne Cause Permanent Changes on Skin?

In some cases, depending on the type of acne you have, the damage can be much worse, resulting in permanent uneven skin. Stubborn acne can also cause skin's texture to change for the worse, sometimes leaving damage that cannot be improved by skincare.

Reduce Your Chances of Post-Acne Marks

Although you can't completely control whether any type of acne breakout will leave a red area or some other mark on skin's surface, there are some steps you can take to reduce the odds! Here's our research-supported advice:

  • Use gentle, fragrance-free products that contain proven acne-fighting ingredients. Anything you can do to treat skin gently will help; remember, acne cannot be scrubbed away and it doesn't occur because skin is dirty, scrubbing skin only makes matters worse. Following a consistent skincare routine that includes a gentle cleanser, a salicylic acid-based exfoliant, and an anti-acne product containing benzoyl peroxide (all formulated to also be skin-softening) is a great approach to combat acne. These are proven ingredients that can bring about dramatic improvement, including fewer post-acne marks.
  • Paula's Choice CLEAR was specifically formulated to be gentle while giving all skin types struggling with acne the ingredients it needs to bring about dramatic improvement, including fewer post-acne marks. The key is to be consistent with your anti-acne routine; don't stop using it when your acne is under control, as this approach can backfire.
  • Don't pick at your skin! If you are keen on popping that pimple (and we understand this desire!) be sure you do it correctly but other than that, leave your skin alone. The harm you could do with repeated attempts only makes matters worse.
  • Regrettably, these gold standard anti-acne ingredients don't work for everyone. At this point, it's absolutely necessary to see a dermatologist. This is especially important if the type of acne you have results in large, painful blemishes.
  • Stop tanning in the sun or in tanning salons. While tanned skin does help reduce the contrast that can make acne breakouts obvious, the damage tanning causes keeps post-acne marks around even longer. It also harms skin in numerous other ways.
  • Use additional skincare products loaded with skin-renewing ingredients, especially antioxidants and skin-replenishing ingredients. Our SKIN BALANCING Super Antioxidant Concentrate or our RESIST Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum have robust yet weightless formulas that contain what your skin needs to be renewed and look dynamically healthy! Both are a great way to fight the visible aftermath of acne!

The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here: The same type of in-depth scientific research used to create this article is also used to formulate Paula’s Choice Skincare products. You’ll find products for all skin types and a range of concerns, from acne and sensitive skin to wrinkles, pores, and sun damage. With Paula’s Choice Skincare, you can get (and keep) the best skin of your life! See Paula's Choice Products for Acne Breakouts.

References for this information:

The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, May 2012, issue 5, pages 32 – 40
Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery, June 2005, issue 2, pages 73 – 78

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

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