Acne scars and hyperpigmentation can stick around long after a pimple heals. Here is how to prevent and fade acne scars and hyperpigmentation, naturally.
Acne Scars or Hyperpigmentation?
There are many different types of acne scars. The most common are rolling scars, boxcar scars, ice pick scars, and hyperpigmentation.
Acne scars occur during wound healing when too much collagen forms in a particular spot. They occur more commonly with cystic acne, especially when they have been popped or picked at. When you squeeze spots, you can damage surrounding tissues, or drive the inflammation and infection deeper, which results in scarring. Acne scars leave depressions in the skin, which may persist for years.
Hyperpigmentation, on the other hand, is more temporary. It leaves a darker red, pink, purple, brown, or black mark on the skin where the pimple was, which generally fades in a few months. Hyperpigmentation is not considered a true form of scarring, although it can be just as distressing.
While most people think that topical treatments are the most effective way to prevent and reduce both acne scars and hyperpigmentation, the truth is, good nutrition plays a huge role, too.
How to Fade Acne Scars
There are a number of ways to fade acne scars. Keep in mind, sometimes harsher treatments aren’t better. For acne scarring, it is best to work with a holistic esthetician and/or dermatologist who can offer you personalized guidance. That said, some of the treatments I have tried and liked the most include:
While there are many acne scar treatment options, such as lasers and microdermabrasion, my top pick is microneedling, as it is the gentlest, and does not disrupt the skin microbiome or skin barrier, which the other two, do. In addition, it is highly effective, and I have personally seen a huge reduction in scarring using it.
During a microneedling procedure, a practitioner uses a device with tiny needles on the scars which create micro-punctures in the scar. This causes the body to repair the micro-wounds, which kickstarts cellular renewal resulting in greater collagen and elastin production.
Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant-Rich Diet
The skin is an organ that requires a variety of nutrients in order to function and repair itself optimally. It is also negatively affected by inflammation – which triggers both acne breakouts and exacerbates scarring (not to mention other skin issues and even collagen breakdown which leads to premature aging of the skin).
Whether you’re dealing with acne, scarring, or both, you’ll find your skin looks better and heals quicker when you’re consuming a low-glycemic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich diet. A low glycemic diet is one that keeps your blood sugar stable and is well studied and well known to reduce acne breakouts. Fewer breakouts mean less chance of scarring.
An anti-inflammatory diet is one that helps to reduce systemic inflammation in the body and includes things like vegetables, fruit, spices like turmeric, wild salmon and fatty fish, and other whole foods. Reducing systemic inflammation will help to reduce inflammation of the skin, and therefore, the risk of both breakouts and scarring.
And finally, an antioxidant-rich diet helps to repair the skin, supports collagen production, and reduces both inflammation and scarring. Key skin antioxidants include Vitamin C and Vitamin A, which can be consumed from fresh vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods, such as citrus fruits, and bright orange and green vegetables. B-Vitamins and protein-rich foods are also important for wound healing and reducing scarring. For over 100 skin nourishing recipes that help to clear your skin from within, check out my Clear Skin Plan.
How to Fade Acne Hyperpigmentation (Dark Spots)
Gentle Acne Spot Treatments
I’m a huge fan of the Fancy Face Serum, made with a blend of oils including Tamanu, Neem, and Sea Buckthorn, which work together to synergistically fade scars and inflammation. Use Code Maria12 for 12% off. I’m also a fan of their Clarifying Bar, Clarifying Serum, and Clarifying Mask for anyone with acne-prone skin.
Sipping on hibiscus tea regularly may help you fade dark spots faster. Hibiscus is a rich source of Vitamin C, which aids in collagen production. It also prevents the degradation of collagen and elastin and aids in inflammation reduction. It is a source of anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants which are found to prevent melanogenesis or the formation of dark spots. (1, 2)
Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant-Rich Diet
Just as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich diet are helpful for preventing scarring, it’s also helpful for speeding up the reduction of acne hyperpigmentation.
A healthy diet including fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in vitamin C and flavonoids, can help reduce hyperpigmentation. It also encourages healthy skin cell turnover and healthy collagen production. You can find over 100 delicious, healthy, skin-clearing recipes in The Clear Skin Plan.
Expert Tip to Avoid Acne Scars and Spots
No matter what you do, don’t pick your skin! I know it’s easier said than done, but when you pick, you increase the chances of developing dark spots and/or scarring. Moreover, the inflammation and redness will persist for longer. If you let the pimple go away naturally, through diet and acne spot treatments, you minimize the time the pimple will last and the chance of having dark spots.
If you want to see your skin clear up (for good) check out the science-backed, dermatologist-approved The Clear Skin Plan.