How to Minimize the Look of Post-Acne Marks


In This Article:

When a swollen acne blemish finally goes away, it’s all too often replaced by a frustrating reminder, in the form of an unsightly red or brown mark. Actually, frustrating is an understatement!

We want to assure you that this lingering reminder of a blemish can absolutely be alleviated quickly (or even averted before it happens) with some simple, but vitally important, skincare DOs and DON’Ts.

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Why Scrubs and At-Home Remedies Don’t Work

As many of us know from experience, most skincare products claiming to improve post-acne marks don’t work as promised. But, if you know which ingredients to look for, and what not to do, you can minimize their appearance surprisingly quickly.

At-home post-acne mark remedies, such as rubbing lemon juice or other citrus fruits on your face, absolutely do not work. They cannot exfoliate skin properly and their acidic juices are potent skin sensitizers that can cause post-acne marks to last longer. Not what you’re after, right?

Abrasive scrubs are also a waste of time because post-acne marks and breakouts in general can’t be scrubbed away. If anything, using scrubs over acne can aggravate skin, causing micro-tears, which will make leftover marks harder to get rid of and delay bringing your skin back to normal.

How to Minimize Post-Acne Marks

So, what really works? As always, we turn to published scientific studies to find out what really works. Following are the steps research has shown can improve the appearance of post-acne marks for any skin tone, age, or ethnicity.

Research shows that the trio of a non-irritating cleanser, salicylic acid (BHA) exfoliant, and anti-acne product containing benzoyl peroxide can dramatically improve and transform a blemish-prone complexion and minimize post-acne marks.

At Paula’s Choice Skincare we’re proud of our 3-step CLEAR Regular Strength Kit for mild to moderate breakouts, or our Extra Strength version for more stubborn acne. These are the starting point for you to get the complexion you want.

The superhero of these kits is the Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution with 2% Salicylic Acid, which exfoliates skin’s surface to make marks fade more quickly and has a natural soothing effect that minimizes the appearance of redness—double the benefit for post-acne marks!

Wear sunscreen every day, without exception. Unprotected exposure to UV light steadily damages skin, which means the red areas from acne will stick around longer. Protecting your skin from UV exposure every day is critical to diminishing the look of post-acne marks. Wearing sunscreen also keeps your skin healthy-looking and when used as directed with other sun protection measures, it decreases the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging caused by sun—a win-win!

Use additional skincare products loaded with antioxidants, especially vitamin C and skin-restoring ingredients like retinol. These types of beneficial ingredients help safeguard your skin from environmental assault while also revitalizing skin’s surface and minimizing red marks.

Many will find that a potent dose of 25% vitamin C (ascorbic acid), found in Paula’s Choice RESIST Vitamin C Spot Treatment, works with their anti-acne products to brighten an uneven skin tone and help skin feel smoother. This easy-to-use formula can be dabbed on areas of concern at the end of your nightly skincare routine.

Don’t pick at blemishes. We know it’s difficult to keep your hands off, but doing so can worsen post-acne marks! Still, sometimes you just have to pop a zit, or it will stay around longer and look terrible. If that’s the case, follow our play-by-play instructions for how to pop a pimple safely and gently.

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:
Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology, August 2015, pages 455–461
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, December 2012, pages 357–364
Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, January 2012, pages 51–56
AAPS PharmSciTech, September 2011, pages 917–923
Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology, November 2010, pages 135–142
Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy, October 2009, pages 2555–2562

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!

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