How To

Say Goodbye to Acne Scars Using These 4 Powerhouse Ingredients

Written by Dahvi Shira

The only thing worse than tiny, fire engine-red marks all over your face are the indentations or hyperpigmentation they leave behind. You thought you left your cringey adolescence in the past, but surprise—you’re left with lifelong memories. Or are you? If you’re wondering how to remove acne scars, you’ve come to the right place. 

Now more than ever, there are so many variations of treatment, obviously depending on the intensity and age of your scars. There’s everything from natural and over-the-counter remedies, to more intensive prescriptions, lasers and sometimes even surgery.

There are a handful of chemical peels (salicylic acid is known to target both active acne and scarring). Retinoids are also often effective, as they’re known to stimulate collagen, which can fill in concave scars. There are also derm-approved retinol alternatives for sensitive skin. Microneedling is another often effective way to treat acne scars, as this treatment also stimulates collagen (and at a much higher and quicker rate). 

To help you heal those scars, we're breaking down the different types, and giving you our best tips + tricks to treating them.

Types Of Acne Scars

Suitable treatment options may vary slightly depending on the type of scarring that acne has caused. There are three main types of acne scars:

Atrophic Scars

If you spot small indentations on the skin, those are signs of atrophic scars. Within the atrophic scar category, there three types:

  • Icepick scars (small scars that look like pinpricks).
  • Boxcar scars (larger indentations with clear edges).
  • Rolling scars (unclear edges and give the skin a rolling or undulating appearance).

These types of scars occur when the skin does not make enough fibroblasts in the healing process. Fibroblasts are cells that play a crucial role in wound healing and collagen production.

Hypertrophic Scars

On the flipside, however, when too many fibroblasts are made during the acne healing process, raised scars—better known as hypertrophic scars—occur.

Keloid Scars

It’s easy to get hypertrophic and keloid scars confused, but keloids tend to be thicker than the actual acne spot. The pigmentation that accompanies them makes them darker than the surrounding skin. They’re often red or brown, and can lead to itchiness or pain.

Is it Scars or Hyperpigmentation?

It’s common to misidentify acne scars and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. They can both occur after a breakout, but the two are actually very different and require a different approach to fading.

Acne scars occur when too much collagen forms in a particular spot while a wound is healing. The scar often develops within the dermis, where the original acne-induced inflammation formed. When someone has cystic acne, there's a higher probability of having rolling or boxcar scarring. 

When it comes to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, however, this typically stems from something like sun damage or other trauma to the skin that doesn’t involve acne. It isn’t technically considered a scar because it doesn’t damage the follicle. 

Regardless of the permanent mark on the skin, several promising options are available, from professional treatments to at-home products.

How To Reduce The Appearance Of Acne Scars

From acids to retinoids to even sunscreen, there are a variety of ways to minimize the appearance of acne scars. Everyone’s skin is different, so it’s important to sort through the options and figure out what suits you best. 

Salicylic Acid

If you’re wondering how to fade acne scars, salicylic acid, we’re looking at you! This is a naturally occurring compound often found in acne skin care products. Salicylic acid peels help clear dirt, skin cells and other debris that lead to acne from the pores of the skin.

A 2010 review suggests using a peeling product containing 30% salicylic acid and applying it three to five times every 3–4 weeks.

The authors also note that it’s unlikely to cause hyperpigmentation and is, therefore, suitable for use on darker skin. It also helps reduce swelling and redness in the area, which may minimize the appearance of scarring.

And if acne isn’t your issue, rest assured this acid can help treat scars of all types. However, people with sensitive skin should do a patch test on a small area of skin before using it on their entire face, as it may cause dryness or irritation.


Depending on your acne scars’ severity, implementing the use of topical retinoids may be all you need to whisk them away! According to authors of a 2017 review, topical retinoids block inflammation, reduce acne lesions and speed up cell regeneration. The authors also state that retinoids could help lighten hyperpigmented acne scars, including those in people with darker skin tones.

While retinoids are often considered skincare’s MVP, you’ll want to tread lightly. They can make skin sensitive to the sun and can also cause peeling when not introduced to the skin slowly. Whatever the case, you must use sunscreen with retinoids when you go outside.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Do you need to be ready for your close-up? Like, ASAP? This is where you call in your mighty alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) for duty. AHAs are what you can implement when figuring out how to get rid of acne scars fast. They help increase the rate at which skin renews its cells, therefore targeting the appearance of said scars.

So, how does this work? AHAs are a mild form of acid that scrapes away the outer layer of skin to reveal fresh, new skin underneath. In turn, this process may help reduce hyperpigmentation due to scarring. At the very least, using a skin care product with AHAs can’t hurt. 


If you want to get rid of acne scars (or at least give them the opportunity to fade over time), snag that sunscreen from under your sink. Sun exposure can darken scars, making them more noticeable. Opt for products with SPF that you can easily integrate into your daily skincare routine such as the YSE Beauty Skin Glow SPF 30 Primer.

 YSE Beauty

Feel Confident In Your Skin

We know you’d rather look at your diploma as a memory of youth, rather than your acne scars. Unfortunately though, so many of us are stuck with daily reminders of feeling insecure, or being teased in school. That said, not all hope is lost. The journey of how to get rid of pimple scars can be long, but it is 100% achievable. 

Many people have success using one or more remedies. In cases of stubborn scarring that won’t subside by way of intensive topical medication, receiving medical treatments in the dermatologist’s office may be your bet. Always work with a qualified dermatologist when seeking help for acne scars, as some treatments can have adverse effects if misused.

The bottom line is to not let it get the best of you. Every single person you know has some kind of insecurity, whether it’s acne or something else. Take care of yourself as best as you can, and don't let your acne scars define you!