No one who has ever had acne wants to be reminded of those unpleasant skin blemishes. The fact that these bulbous spots existed in the first place is bad enough, but then comes the indignity of scarring — a permanent reminder of all the skin ailments you’d rather forget.
There are two main types of acne scars. Depressed scars sit below the surface of the skin and are a result of collagen damage during the healing process. Hypertrophic, or raised scars, are the result of too much collagen being produced during the healing process. Dark spots are a small spot of discoloration left behind after the blemish has gone done; they’re not really a scar because they’ll go away after a few months. Scars are primarily produced by inflammatory acne, swollen pores that fill up with oil, bacteria, or dead skin cells. However, non-inflammatory acne, like whiteheads and blackheads, can also cause scarring if the pimple is picked at or irritated.
If you have acne scars on your face or any other part of your body, the good news is that there are ways that you can get rid of them. Here are some of the best natural remedies and ingredients that are excellent at banishing acne scars.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Lactic acid, a key component of apple cider vinegar, has been shown to help improve the texture, appearance, and pigmentation of skin that’s affected by acne scars. Evening the skin texture and calming down areas that are discolored does a lot to help improve the overall look of skin affected by acne scars. If you’re willing to drop a ton of money on a lactic acid peel at a dermatologist’s office, you can — or you can just use apple cider vinegar.
A mixture of apple cider vinegar and water has been used in the past as an effective spot treatment for acne scars. Another option is to use it over your entire face, to help improve the overall look and feel of skin.
2. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera has been used for centuries as a soothing balm for irritated or damaged skin. People have used it for anything from burns to insect bites and found that it helps reduce swelling and irritation.
If you suffer from acne scars and also have problematic, sensitive skin, aloe vera is a great ingredient because it’s so gentle. You can rub it into the skin to help heal acne scars, then leave it on as a gentle moisturizer. You can buy aloe vera gel from most neighborhood pharmacies, but fresh aloe vera is best. You can find the thick, fleshy leaves at a grocery store or buy a potted plant to ensure a regular supply.
3. Coconut Oil
Many people consider coconut oil to be one of the most multi-functional substances in the world. There aren’t many ingredients that can add delicious texture to baked goods and improve the look and feel of your skin!
Coconut oil is deeply moisturizing and contains essential fatty acids necessary to your skin’s ongoing health. Just make sure you’re not using too much, and only use it on areas that you’d like to moisturize. Too much coconut oil could lead to more breakouts as the oil builds up on your skin. Use only a tiny amount — pea-sized or less — and apply it to problem areas directly.
4. Baking Soda
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is something that almost everyone has in their home, but most people aren’t using to its fullest potential. Did you know that you can use it as a gentle skin scrub to slough off dead skin cells? Scrubbing with a mixture of baking soda and water will improve the look and health of the skin by restoring its pH balance, a process that’s integral to reducing acne scars and preventing acne from reoccurring. You can use it as a spot treatment on acne scars by making a paste and leaving it on each spot until it dries off. It’s extremely gentle, so it won’t irritate sensitive skin.
Humans have been using honey to support our internal and external health for centuries since it’s one of the only ingredients that never goes bad. Before modern antibiotics, honey was spread on wounds to help protect them from bacterial and fungal infection.
Honey is hugely moisturizing and can be used as a one-ingredient moisturizing mask — just spread over the skin and leave on for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing off. It helps protect against acne and acne scarring by clearing bacteria from pores and preventing inflammation. You can also use it to lighten the discolored areas around acne scars without subjecting them to further irritation. Many commercial products that claim to lighten skin actually do it with caustic and irritating bleaching ingredients since honey is a great way to lighten discoloration naturally.
6. Lemon Juice
There are a lot of studies that have examined the efficacy of lemon juice on acne and acne-related scarring. The truth is that lemon juice does have antibacterial properties, but these properties are due to the lemon’s extremely acidic nature. It may cause irritation and even minor chemical burns if you’re regularly applying lemon juice to your skin.
Instead of rubbing it on to your healing acne (which will definitely sting), make sure that you’re drinking plenty of lemon juice. One glass of water with a few squeezes of lemon juice every day should do the trick. The vitamin C in the lemon will help build up your skin’s collagen, which will smooth out scars.
7. Gram Flour
Gram flour, which is made from crushed chickpeas, is a common ingredient in Indian cuisine. Often called besan, it’s frequently used as a facial exfoliant since the small granules help slough away dead skin cells and removes sebum which can build up and cause whiteheads and enlarged pores. Many people also use it as a spot treatment for persistent acne scars. Mixed with water or a bit of milk, it can be applied to the face, left to sit for 20 to 25 minutes, and washed away.
Gram flour is an anti-inflammatory, so it helps reduce the appearance of irritated spots. There are many different masks, exfoliating scrubs, and spot treatments that you can make with gram flour.
8. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil comes from a tree native to Australia, the Melaleuca alternifolia. It’s been a staple of alternative and natural medicine for many generations as it contains antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Multiple studies have found that tea tree oil can reduce the swelling associated with painful inflammatory acne, quickly clearing up breakouts. Some people use tea tree oil or gel after breakouts occur to try and minimize hypertrophic scarring, but research has been less conclusive on this benefit. Even if it doesn’t minimize the appearance of scars, it will still help prevent more from occurring by clearing up acne before it becomes severe. If you want to use tea tree oil directly on your skin, make sure to dilute it with a carrier oil first.
9. Vitamin E
One study on vitamin E found that patients who applied it topically over surgery scars were able to help their wounds heal more effectively, with less residual scarring. Some people believe that this research applies to acne scars as well. There’s no harm in trying it out.
Many people simply purchase vitamin E gel capsules, and make a small pin prick in one end, squeezing the contents on to their acne scars. It can also be mixed into your daily moisturizer if you want to try and improve the overall look of your skin. You can also get vitamin E in foods like green leafy vegetables, seeds, and nuts. Ingesting lots of vitamin E rich foods plus vitamin E supplements has been shown to help improve damaged skin over time.
Turmeric, which is a popular spice used in Indian cuisine, is also a common ingredient in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Many people have studied it in recent years to see whether the folk remedies using turmeric are actually effective. It was found to have antibacterial properties that helped to get rid of a common type of bacteria that causes inflammatory acne. Many people rely on it to help diminish the appearance of hyperpigmentation around acne scars, and although there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence, there’s been no solid studies done on this hypothesis yet.