How To Fade Acne Scars


Acne sufferers face more than one concern which of course includes the nuisance of acne itself, however most sufferers are usually anxious about acne scars since unlike acne, which may be temporary, acne scars are perceived to be for life.

There are numerous topical products aimed at treating scar tissue but before we investigate the types of acne scars, it is important that one should try and prevent acne in the first place.

How to prevent acne

With acne affecting some 85 percent of the population at some time in their lives, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, it is important to try and prevent and treat acne effectively. Normally, antibiotics are prescribed such as tetracycline to eradicate the specific type of bacteria living on the surface of the skin. These bacteria block the pores leading to inflammation, which in turn causes excess sebum production and then leads to acne.

Whilst many experts point out that diet has nothing to do with acne, in my opinion, there is nothing could be further from the truth. A diet containing refined carbohydrates and sugar causes the release of excess insulin. Insulin has numerous effects on the body however it does cause the production of excess male hormone, testosterone, which causes the production of excess sebum production which the acne-causing bacteria thrive on. This is just the basic reason but there are also other processes involved which lead to the different types of acne.

From a dietary point of view, all grains are carbohydrates which are converted into sugar leading to acne so it is important to reduce the consumption of these. Reducing the consumption of bread, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes and corn will all help to prevent acne outbreaks to a degree.

A supplement that I know helps many teenagers and adults to keep acne at bay is Clear Skin Complex by Viridian Nutrition. This supplement contains probiotics which we now understand to have an influence on many concerns including skin. In the most simplistic way, probiotics help to rid the gut of toxins which may seep into the bloodstream. Clear Skin Complex also contains zinc which helps reduce inflammation so skin can heal quickly and Burdock root which displays antimicrobial properties helping to reduce the numbers of bacteria living on skin’s surface.

Types of acne scars

Acne scars develop as a result of the loss of skin tissue or an increase in skin tissue formation. Studies indicate that the severe forms of acne, those that develop in the deeper layers of the dermis, are mostly responsible for causing acne scars. No matter what type of acne, some people are simply prone to scar formation. Sometimes skin simply does not heal itself correctly resulting in acne scars. Squeezing or popping acne can also result in scars.

Types of acne scars include:

  • Acne spots – Discolouration of the skin, they are usually brown or red. These fade in time or quicker with the help of topical treatments. Also known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, PIH, because inflammation causes excess melanin build-up in the area.
  • Ice Pick scars – Usually appearing on the cheeks, these arise from sebum and bacteria being buried in pores. Skin becomes inflamed because of the pus and bacteria which puts pressure on the tissues damaging them and leaving skin with a deep and narrow indentation which resemble ice which has been cut repeatedly with an ice-pick.
  • Boxcar scars – Usually on cheeks and temples, boxcar scars are a U-shaped scar with defined edges and generally wider than Ice Pick scars.
  • Rolling scars – Rounded in appearance, rolling scars are caused by the development of bands of tissue under the skin with a rippling effect.

Whatever the type of scar, it is important to tackle this as early as possible to avert the possibility of permanent scarring.

How to treat acne scars

Getting rid of acne scars is not easy and requires patience. Whilst there are many topical products on the market against preventing acne, there are a few which are of benefit in minimising the appearance of acne scars. A chemical called azelaic acid shows great promise in addressing all types of mild acne scars.

Azelaic acid is a mild acid that can be found in grains such as barley, wheat and rye. It is a keratolytic agent, which means that it softens keratin and prevents the build-up of keratinocytes, which are skin cells, so that they do not build up and block pores. Azelaic acid also has antibacterial properties which prevents the bacteria living on skin’s surface from thriving and in this way helps many people in preventing acne breakouts. Azelaic acid also helps skin renewal and in doing do helps to fade dark spots, minimise the appearance of acne scars and eradicate blemishes often associated with acne.

Azelaic acid also helps to minimise the appearance of red acne marks and also has brightening properties which helps to tackle uneven skin tone. In addition to these properties, Azelaic acid is also a powerful anti-inflammatory which calms skin down which also explains its frequent use in controlling rosacea. This multi-tasker works on so many levels to improve the appearance of acne-prone skin as well as improving the appearance of all types of acne scars.

How to use azelaic acid

Azelaic acid comes in serum, gel and cream forms. I recommend the use of a ten percent azelaic acid serum, applied at night on the whole face or you can simply use it to target the specific areas. Regular use of azelaic acid suspension will help prevent moderate acne from becoming worse before it spreads further and creates scars. Just like retinoids, azelaic acid helps to enhance skin cell turnover rates so that new skin is growing faster as dead skin cells are exfoliated away. This is why azelaic acid helps to counter post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, PIH, and improve the appearance of acne marks and scars.

GoW Azelaic Acid 10% Serum, £9, is silicone-free, which makes it ideal for acne-prone skin as it won’t clog your pores. It also has the additional benefit of glycerin and jojoba protein to help moisturise and nourish skin.

After the application of azelaic acid, use a nourishing oil, such as 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil, £9. Rosehip seed oil underwent clinical trials in South America in the early 1980’s. The trials studied people with extensive scarring, acne scarring, deep wrinkles, surgical scars and UV damaged skin. The results showed a marked improvement in the appearance of scars especially after four months use, although improvements were noted at monthly intervals. Rosehip seed oil was found to regenerate skin, improve the appearance of all types of scars and prevent the advancement of wrinkles.  It may also be prudent to use a salicylic acid, a beta hydroxyl acid, to deep clean pores of excess sebum.

A word of caution; azelaic acid may cause slight dryness, redness and itching. Should this occur, use once or twice a week increasing gradually to daily night time usage.

This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner.

Shabir Daya | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • Victoria Health

    You are welcome.

  • Polly

    Hi there,
    I really enjoyed your video with Trinny and this article. Please could I ask your advice on something?

    I am 20 and had mild acne for most of my teenage years, it has now mostly gone but I still get the occasional spots and have scarring on my face. My skin is very dry, pale and I have quite open pores and blackheads on my nose. I wash my face twice a day and use moisturiser, toner, exfoliating scrubs and charcoal masks (throughout the week).
    I also have some hyaluronic acid, niciamide + zinc and squalene oil from the Ordinary and a La Roche Posay retinoid.
    Would you recommend I use salicylic acid for blackheads? I am cautious to use all the acids as my skin is very dry but would really like to reduce my scarring and blackheads (if I exfoliate in the evening my skin feels ‘clean’ and smooth but by the next day my nose and chin feel bumpy again?)
    I guess my main question is can I use the above products together, and if so how? Or would you recommend any other products that could help?

    Thank you very much in advance, Polly

  • Victoria Health

    Hi Polly, You can use Salicylic acid for blackheads treatment but it might be prudent to start initially with Azelaic acid which is a skin friendly acid known to unblock pores, to enhance cell turnover gently (which will help improve pore size) and in this way also help with acne scars. You can use The Ordinary products alongside Azelaic acid serum without fear of side effects.
    Best wishes,

  • Aan

    i want to start trying the ordinary skin care products. i have acne prone skin and oily skin on my T zone and normal skin elsewhere. i have suffered from acne scarring for several years now and want to get rid of them . can you please suggest me a AM and PM routine to get rid of scarring/blemishes. also currently pregnant and will be breastfeeding soon so i am aware i cannot use the retinol in the skin care regime.

    thank you for your help!

  • Victoria Health

    Hi Aan, please have a look at the Garden of Wisdom regimen guide for help as in the link below.

  • Victoria Health

    Hi Kasina, I have set out a simple regimen in order of usage below.

    AM: Re:Pigment; Alpha arbutin + Kojic acid Serum; Niacinamide Serum
    PM: Re:Pigment; Azelaic acid Serum; Vitamin C Serum 23%

    Alpha arbutin works to inhibit the enzyme tyrosinase which is involved in the production of melanin whilst kojic acid helps to brighten skin safely.
    Niacinamide Serum helps to prevent the uneven deposition of pigment onto the cells and is a must for anyone with melasma. Niacinamide also helps to improve pore appearance.
    Azelaic acid Serum helps enhance cell renewal gently and this property is of benefit in tackling scar tissue as well as preventing spots; it also helps brighten and freshen dull looking skin.
    Vitamin C Serum 23% provides L-ascorbic acid which is known to lighten pigmentation areas.
    All products with the exception of Re:Pigment are in the link below.

    Best wishes,

  • Kasina

    Hi Shabir, thank you so much for your recommendation.
    I will give this regimen a try and I will let you know how I’m getting on.


  • Victoria Health

    Hi Kasina, thank you and please keep us posted if you can.
    Best wishes,

  • prexident

    Hi Shabir,

    I came across this article in my hopes of fading my acne scars. I am 31/female/ asian and i had a disastrous acne some 2 years ago.
    It left my face with scars both mild and severe. and red spots. I am currently using The Ordinary products but I am not sure whether my regimen is helpful.
    AM: buffet, sunscreen, moisturizer then my makeup
    PM: buffet, rose hip oil, Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%, moisturizer.

    i just want my scar to fade out to makes my skin softer. any recommended regimen? thanks!

  • Victoria Health

    Hi, your regimen certainly is of benefit in providing your skin with hydration and I presume you are not using them in the order listed because remember that water serums first followed by heavier serums and finally oils.
    For acne scars, my favourite product at the moment is Sheald Recovery Balm which was created for post procedure recovery of skin after lasers, peels and other treatments however this balm has been shown to enhance cell turnover and regeneration. For a more economical product, you may wish to consider Garden of Wisdom’s Azelaic Acid Serum which helps enhance cell turnover gently and also works to brighten skin. Azelaic acid is also great for acne prevention because it unclogs pores and because of its antimicrobial properties, it helps destroy the acne-causing bacteria that live on skin’s surface. GoW Azelaic acid serum has had very positive feedback.

    Best wishes,

  • prexident

    hi shabir,
    thanks for the prompt reply. I am actually using it in the same order as i specified. I think I got it wrong then. thank you for pointing that out, I’m pretty novice with regimens. LOL

  • Victoria Health

    Hi, you are welcome.