If you’re one to suffer from bouts of acne and are constantly frustrated by the marks it leaves behind, we’ve got some solutions for you. But before we get into it, it’s important to know that there’s quite a big difference between acne scars and hyperpigmentation. After a breakout, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation will appear as reddish/brown marks or spots on the surface of your skin. These tend to fade after a few weeks or months, either on their own or with a little help from certain skincare ingredients. Acne scars, on the other hand, will make the texture of your skin look and feel uneven and may require professional medical treatments to get rid of them completely.
The good news is a number of skincare ingredients can help brighten, fade and speed up the healing process of most types of acne scars and hyperpigmentation. Here are the top 5 ingredients to consider incorporating into your skincare routine:
1. Vitamin C
If you’re looking to diminish acne scars and fade hyperpigmentation fast, you need to make sure you have some Vitamin C in your skincare routine! This powerhouse ingredient will work wonders to brighten dark spots and enhance your skin radiance overall. But that’s not all, it also helps prevent hyperpigmentation from forming in the future by inhibiting melanin production (pigmentation).
On top of that, it has the ability to boost your body’s natural production of collagen and help with skin cell regeneration – pssst…this means it’s also great to diminish early signs of aging including fine lines and wrinkles! A powerhouse ingredient indeed.
2. Salicylic Acid (BHA)
Salicylic acid is a type of beta-hydroxy acid (a.k.a BHA). Naturally found in the bark of willow trees, it gently exfoliates the skin and buffs away dead skin cells, as well as clears dirt, oil, and impurities that clog your pores. This makes it ideal for keeping acne, blackheads, and whiteheads at bay.
However, it’s also a great ingredient to fade hyperpigmentation and reduce the appearance of acne scars because as it gets rid of the top layer of dead skin, it exposes fresh skin beneath. It also increases skin cell turnover, which means your skin heals and regenerates faster – key to getting rid of acne scars!
3. Alpha-hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
Like BHAs, AHAs gently exfoliate the skin in a similar way by dissolving the ‘glue’ that holds dead skin cells together. This boosts skin cell regeneration and reveals brighter, fresher skin beneath. Some AHAs, like lactic acid or glycolic acid, will also work exceptionally well to fight acne, as well as hydrate the skin, and reduces fine lines and wrinkles as well.
4. Retinol (Vitamin A)
Retinol, a derivative of Vitamin A, is a powerful ingredient known for its anti-aging properties. However, it also works to unclog pores, fade discoloration, and the appearance of scars, as well as smooth scars and skin texture. It does this by effectively speeding up your skin cell generation.
When used correctly, retinol is safe, but if you overuse it, it can actually cause more harm than good. If you’re considering trying retinol for the first time, be cautious as it can cause irritation including redness, dryness, and peeling. Only apply it occasionally and in low concentrations and it’s best to apply it at night. Additionally, use sunscreen with at least SPF30 the next day, as your skin will be very sensitive to the sun.
5. Centella Asiatica A.K.A Cica
This antioxidant-rich ingredient can help heal and soothe inflammation as well as boost cell growth. If your skin is too sensitive to retinol, Centella Asiatic is much more suitable for sensitive skin. It also has natural anti-bacterial properties, which means it can effectively heal damaged or burned skin, fade scarring and keep acne at bay.
Should I Use ALL Of These Ingredients?
While these 5 ingredients will help you get your skin back on track after a breakout has left its mark(s), we must give you a fair warning (and we can’t stress this part enough): whatever you do, don’t attempt to use all of these ingredients at once or incorporate all of them into your daily skincare routine! They help diminish acne scars but they are each potent in their own right and work by shedding away the top layers of your skin. If you apply them too often, or in very high concentrations, you could very well damage your skin, rather than helping it heal and regenerate.
So, stick to just one or two of these ingredients, alternate their frequencies (don’t use two in one day and spread them out throughout the week) and always go for lower concentrations. And above all, make sure to apply SPF every day after applying any of these ingredients to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Plus, don’t forget the rest of your skincare! You’ll need to make sure you’re replenishing, nourishing, and hydrating your skin with other ingredients in your routine.