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Even if fighting zits is a distant memory filed with high school gym class and algebra tests, acne marks and scars can persist annoyingly long after the pimples disappear. "If someone has a very large pimple or cyst, the natural healing process of the skin will create a scar," says dermatologist David Avram of Heights Dermatology and Laser. "The more intense the inflammation, the more likely it is to leave a scar."
True acne scars, such as clefts in the skin such as ice pick scars, can only be cleared by professional procedures such as microneedles or lasers. Fortunately, what most of us call "scars," according to Julia Tzu, founder and medical director of Wall Street Dermatology, are actually marks caused by post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (brown spots) or post-inflammatory erythema (red spots) that will fade for several months or years Fortunately, there are also products that can speed up the process.
We speak with Tzu, Avram and seven other dermatologists to get their recommendations to treat, prevent and camouflage acne marks.
The best general product for acne scars
EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
Since UV rays and visible sunlight can further darken acne marks, all dermatologists agree that daily sunscreen is essential. "Sun protection can make a big difference in whether these brands remain permanent or not," says Arielle Nagler, a dermatologist at the Langone Medical Center of NYU. He often recommends that patients wait and see what their scars look like after a year of careful sun protection before opting for an expensive or invasive procedure.
One of the best options among dermatologists for facial sunscreens, this EltaMD sunscreen is also recommended for fading acne brands. Dermatologist Natalie Moulton-Levy likes to "contain lactic acid, an ingredient that causes a reduction in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation," while Debra Jaliman, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, says she is rich in niacinamide, another ingredient that works to fade dark spots. Dr. Dendy Engelman, of Medical Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery, is a fan of this product because, along with lactic acid, "it has zinc oxide to protect from lightning (UVA / UVB) and antioxidants to repair damage."
The best hydroquinone products for acne scars
Ambi Skincare Fade Cream
According to several of the derms we talked to, the hydroquinone skin lightening agent is one of the most effective ingredients for fading acne scars. Naissan Wesley, a dermatologist at Skin Care and Laser Physicians in Beverly Hills, explains that hydroquinone "can help acne marks fade more quickly by inhibiting melanocytes (pigment-producing cells in the skin) from producing more pigment."
Ambi Fade Cream includes 2 percent hydroquinone, the highest concentration allowed without a prescription. "It also contains soy, which is well known for treating pigmentation problems, and vitamin E, which helps heal," says Tzu. While the FDA considers hydroquinone to be safe, it is banned in Europe and can cause irritation or further discoloration, so remember to perform a patch test and ask a dermatologist if it is right for you.
Murad Environmental Shield Anti-Aging Stain and Pigment Serum
Although it is much more expensive than Ambi cream, this serum, recommended by dermatologist Y. Claire Chang of Union Square Laser Dermatology, combines hydroquinone with vitamin C and glycolic acid, two ingredients more proven to fight brands. "Glycolic acid helps improve existing brown spots by increasing the renewal of skin cells and chemically exfoliating the skin," she says. "(Y) Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can brighten the skin." The writer Or Gotham is also a fan of Murad serum and told us he saw "a visible reduction in dark spots" after only three days of using it.
The best hydroquinone-free products for acne scars
Ordinary suspension of 10% azelaic acid
If you prefer not to use hydroquinone, there are other options to treat acne scars. One of these is azelaic acid, which according to Dr. Michele Farber of Schweiger Dermatology, inhibits the formation of an enzyme called tyrosinase, which in turn stops the mechanism that produces melanin that darkens the skin. Moulton-Levy recommends this treatment with affordable and effective azelaic acid from Ordinary.
SkinCeuticals C + AHA
Like Murad serum, this treatment combines vitamin C with glycolic acid (and lactic acid, another scrub) to fade the marks but without hydroquinone. Nagler recommends vitamin C because it is "a supplement to prevent free radical damage, which helps with pigmentation," and says that the most effective formulas, such as this one, are often more expensive because vitamin C is a difficult ingredient. to stabilize
THE ORDINARY 7% glycolic acid toning solution
On the cheaper side, Moulton-Levy says that this strong glycolic acid toner is another good option to reduce acne marks.
The best cleanser for acne scars
SkinCeuticals Purifying Cleanser
In addition to sunscreen and specific treatments, the right cleanser can help minimize acne marks. A favorite of both Moulton-Levy and Chang, this cleanser stimulates cell renewal without drying out the skin. Chang says that "it contains glycolic acid to remove dead skin cells in the upper layer of the skin, leaving a very clean feeling and improving acne spots."
The best products to prevent acne scars
Neutrogena oil-free acne wash
When it comes to acne scars, especially the most difficult to treat, the best ones are a good defense. If you are still struggling with active acne and want to avoid future scars, Avram likes this basic pharmacy neutrient cleanser because it contains salicylic acid, which "exfoliates the skin, softens the appearance of acne and has some antibacterial properties." "Chang agrees that the cleanser" can help unclog pores, treat comedones (pimples) and pimples, and prevent active acne. "
Peter Thomas Roth Max complexion correction pads
If you want to treat both your current pimples and existing scars, these exfoliating pads, recommended by Chang, contain ingredients that help with both. "Salicylic acid increases skin cell renewal and unclogs pores to reduce blackheads," she says. "Glycolic acid chemically exfoliates the skin to match skin tone and reduce spots." Often seen in acne treatments, salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid that prevents and treats acne, which ultimately means fewer marks and scars.
Differin acne treatment
A prescription retinoid that was available without a prescription a few years ago, Differin affects cell turnover faster than over-the-counter retinol to prevent the formation of new acne, but remains, according to Engelman, "softer compared to other retinoids ". Avram recommends it for those who deal with many small pimples and only the cyst of occasional monsters. Because Nagler says that retinoids "encourage collagen remodeling," a well-tolerated formula such as Differin can reduce the appearance of deeper scars. Moulton-Levy also likes to clarify existing brands.
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