How to Get Rid of Acne Scars

The best treatments, lasers, peels & more

acne laser skin treatment NYC
Eloissa Cunningham/Flickr

Acne scars -- the deep, discolored reminders of your pimply past that pock skin post-puberty (say that 10 times fast) -- can be a huge bummer. But there's help for those of us with scarring. Here's how to get rid of those acne scars for good. 

The best ways to remove scars from most expensive to least expensive are as follows:

  • Lasers
  • Chemical peels
  • Retin-A
  • OTC topical treatments

I discuss each on further below.

 

Lasers

The best way to get rid of scars permanently is to get professional help from a reliable dermatologist. Lasers and chemical peels will likely be on the treatment schedule. Both remove layers of scarred skin, but the secret to both is to do them a few times. 

Your dermatologist should set you up on a program. 

The only con? Price. Both can be quite costly. 

Salicylic Acid Peels

Salicylic acid peels are relatively light chemical peels that help keep breakouts at bay and help remove acne scars. The peels is applied in a dermatologist's office, does its work for about 5 minutes and then is cleaned off your face. The active ingredients work their magic even once the initial product is removed. 

It may take a few treatments to see results. 

TCA Peels

TCA Peels penetrate deeper than other acid peels making them a great choice for acne scarring. The TCA peels will likely cause redness a few days after use.

You'll want to stay out of the sun for a few months after your treatments to protect your new top skin layers.

See How Chemical Peels Work. 

Retin-A and Retinols

Retin-A is famous for being a prescribed treatment for acne, and it's also known as a great anti-ager because it increases cell turnover in the skin.

But what few people know is that it's also good for treating acne scars. 

Most people can use Retin-A safely, but it's not a great product for people with rosacea, sensitive skin or eczema. It's also not good for pregnant or lactating women.  

The prescribed treatments are best, but you can get retinoids (which are what Retin-a is derived from) in lower dosages in OTC products. 

See How to Use Retin-A & Other Retinoids Safely

OTC Treatments

There are several over-the-counter treatments that work to remove the signs of acne scarring. 

All of these have gotten great reviews:

How to Camouflage Your Scars With Makeup

To camouflage your scars, you are also thinking along the right track. You will find concealers and foundation to be lifesavers if you have spots or discoloration from scars. If you have pockmarks, it may be harder to camouflage, but let’s talk about covering up discoloration first.

You can disguise a concave pockmark or scar by using an angled brush dipped in a concealer that's a shade lighter than your skin tone.

Fill in the center of the pockmark without going over the edges and then dust skin with translucent powder. If the scar is raised, use a concealer that matches your skin tone and pat the scar with the concealer, setting the concealer with powder. Learn more in How to Conceal a Pockmark.

For more information, see How to Properly Apply Concealer.  

More on Acne:

  • 8 Adult Acne Facts (Plus, How to Treat it)
  • Acne & Teens: How to Treat Pimples (& Cover Them Up)
  • Aspirin & Lemon Juice Mask for Acne
  • Why Do I Get ‘Back Acne’?
  • 5 Reasons Your Acne Isn't Going Away