Help! A Reader Has Acne Scars…


Acne is never fun, but to add insult to injury, we’re often left with dark marks and scars from the infection—even when we behave ourselves and resist fussing with it! So what’s the deal? Will these pesky marks ever heal? One of our readers recently wrote in asking about our favorite treatments for acne scar reduction. Here’s what she says…

“I have a sensitive, acne/cystic acne prone skin, with redness, red scars and some indented scarring, and I was hesitating between Laurel Sun Damage Repair Serum and Yuli Cell Perfecto PM to help them fade. I have never tried Yuli’s products, but i’m currently using Laurel’s anti-inflammatory serum (and loving it!). Based on your experience, which one would you recommend?”  —Nastassia

We hope you will weigh in with your thoughts about the best treatments for fading acne scars. Here are 3 solutions for acne scars in the meantime…

1. Vitamin C rich treatments and botanical oils can really brighten, fade scars and help with discoloration.

Vitamin C is one of the most important ingredients in our routine, and it makes a visible difference like whoa. We love La Bella Figura Modern Radiance Concentrate for this purpose—expensive but worth every blooming penny. The feather light gel serum layers beautifully and contains a whole and natural source of C from kakadu plums. We also love mixing our own for overnight use with the ever fresh Pacific Topical Vitamin C Treatment by True Botanicals. These are little capsules full of vitamin C that you blend into your nightly serum, making this quite customizable. You’ll love how bright and clear your skin looks in the morning.

2. Rosehip seed oil is a potent catch-all for common skin woes like acne scars and fine lines.

Rosehip seed oil fades discoloration and evens out the skin tone much like vitamin C does, and while rosehips are naturally high in vitamin C, the seed oil is actually a better source of vitamin A and essential fatty acids. It’s perfectly calming for sensitive types and actually helps keep acne at bay by balancing out the skin. Hyper-pigmentation, sun damage, age spots and acne scars are greatly improved with regular use of rosehip seed oil. Trust. Our absolute favorite source is the Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil. An organic blend of both the rosehip berry and the seed, you’re getting five times the carotenoids and twice the regenerative sterols as rosehip seed oil alone.

3. Consider a tried and true natural scar cream (the kind in your first aid kit) for an inexpensive yet high-quality option.

The obvious and maybe only choice here is the CELSUS Bio-Intelligence Scar Cream. Just look at the ingredient list and you’ll know you’ve got some serious stuff on your hands. It includes 22 active ingredients and features some mega-healers like helichrysum and tamanu as well as MSM (methyl sulfonyl methane), which helps repair connective tissue and maintain supple collagen cell walls while increasing blood flow to the skin. Healing herbal extracts like onion bulb and gotu kola help encourage cell regeneration and inhibit scar formation. Hint: you can use CELSUS to treat those fine lines that seem to have emerged overnight around your eyes.

Ok, your turn! What do you turn to for acne scars and the like? Tell us in the comments!


22 Responses to “Help! A Reader Has Acne Scars…”
  1. Carrie says:

    I wish I had a good natural or topic solution for facial scaring to offer . . . I had a lot of chicken pox scars, similar to cystic acne scars in that they are indentations (‘pitted’). The good news is that no body notices them as much as YOU notice them, and you probably have magnified them 100x in your mind. The most natural solution would be to accept that the scars are part of what make you you, etc, and are not ugly. They just are.

    It sounds like some of the scaring and redness you might have is fairly new, in which case, the topical treatments mentioned will probably help reduce scaring in the first place. However, if the scars are old, the topic treatments can only soften and plump up the surrounding skin. Nothing can actually “fill in” the indentations. In that case, ablating the surrounding skin via laser or microdermabrasion is the only thing that can result in evening out the scars.

    I eventually got laser ablation treatment– which has good results (75% improvement), but is expensive (multiple treatments cost $500-2000). However, its a little like laser eye surgery in that once you’ve had the treatment, its done and good for a long time so the initial investment might be worth it compared to spending hundreds of dollars on topical products that just plain won’t work. Here is a national institutes of health article from pubmed on resurfacing pitted facial scars:

  2. Stacey says:

    Of the products mentioned above, I’ve tried La Bella Figura Modern Radiance Concentrate, Yuli Cell Perfecto PM, and Pai Rosehip oil. LBF Modern Radiance did absolutely nothing for me sadly. I’ve definitely noticed some lightness with Yuli Cell Perfecto on my hyperpigmentation (some sun damage). I’m not sure whether Pai Rosehip oil had any effect with hyperpigmentation but I really enjoyed using it. Definitely good bargain as well for the amount you get in the bottle. I’ve also used different Laurel products but haven’t had the chance to use the Sun Damage Repair Serum (am very interested). Jade, Nephritic blogger, posted an in-depth review of Yuli Cell Perfecto PM for her acne scars with pictures (!). I’ve really enjoyed Odacite Green Tea + Lemongrass serum. Definitely had brightening of my whole face whenever I used it. I’m really interested to hear from other readers what has worked for their hyperpigmentation issues. :)

  3. Jenny says:

    I had really good luck with the Mad Hippie Exfoliating Serum. The serum has really helped to fade acne scars/redness/discoloration in my skin but I also like how it keeps any acne from appearing and my face has been clear. I highly recommend it!

  4. Tianna says:

    I deal with acne scars on my cheeks and I’ve had good results from a lot of different creams, serums and face oils. Oil cleansing also helps. My favorite is probably Celsus Bio-Intelligence Scar Cream. That one works really well.

    I’ve done a post on things we do that cause acne breakouts and include a list of my favorite products for acne scars as well >

  5. Sarah says:

    I had good but not magic results with a few things: retinol, cell perfecto, and pai rosehip. If you buy the yuli serum, you should totally consider one of their mom-containing mists, and Liquid courage for the best form of vitamin c out there! The Laurel serum was nice but not visible results like some others. Now I am leaning toward trying drunk elephant’s glycolic serum, though honestly I think I might should get over my fears and see a derm for laser and or micro needling… It is just so hard to know who I could trust with my skin! I am also looking into the newish Moss Skincare options for scarring (will report back when I get and use my samples: the whole line is geared toward acne!). Also wanting to try a sea buckthorn/tamanu blend, but I only have one face and so many oils :)

    P.s. Wear sunscreen! And a hat! And eat your bone broth, healthy fats, and multi colored fruits and veggies :)
    P.p.s. I know a lot of folks avoid silicones, but suntegritys tinted sunscreen does a great job of evening out the appearance of my skin’s texture compared to others I have tried. Good luck!

  6. Emily says:

    I’ve had success with putting lemon juice on my face before bed (and wearing plenty of sunscreen the next day!) but I also don’t consider my scarring to be very severe.

  7. Nicolle says:

    I’ve been using ARCONA’s Brightening Serum once a week and have seen a major improvement in my acne scarring. Red spots that have been stubbornly sticking around have faded in the two months I’ve been using it. Definitely recommend trying that out too! It’s a spot treatment, so a little goes a LONG way. Also love the LBF Modern Radiance Concentrate – I saw huge improvements when I used that too!

  8. Nicolle says:

    OH! And Josh Rosebrook just wrote a great blog about fading scars:

  9. Sarah says:

    I already posted my suggestions, but I was thinking more about the dermatologist/medi-spa/laser path and thought I would reach out to the No More Dirty Looks world for some help! Does anyone have advice on finding a skincare professional? I obviously want things like fair prices, skill/safety, etc. but I would also prefer someone who isn’t going to suggest I use neutrogena and vaseline products! (They don’t have to be totally green, but at the very least I would want someone who looks for non-toxic options when possible.) May NMDL could do a whole post on finding the professionals?

    In case anyone has specific people to recommend, I live in Philadelphia. I’d totally be willing to travel to new york or even maryland, but my suspicion is that everything in NYC is going to be more expensive than I am used to here. (For example, I get a great haircut for $35.)

  10. Christie says:

    I have the same type of issues you do. For indented scars, I have seen much improvement with punch elevation + lasers from the dermatologist and the Yuli Cell Perfecto PM. Yuli’s product requires patience but after a few months, it has really helped. The fact is, for deep, indented or ice pick type scars, you’ll really have to consider some sort of laser treatment or dermabrasion (not micro dermabrasion) type of solution. It really just depends on how bad your scars are and how much it bothers you. I use Yuli everything (and some May Lindstrom too) and the Yuli line really has fixed my acne issues. Now just dealing with fixing the scars.

  11. Helen says:

    @Sarah: Where is this $35 haircut you speak of?! I just moved to Philly and haven’t found a place yet.

  12. Thank you for including our Topical Vitamin C Treatment. We’ve had great success in treating acne scars and hyper-pigementation in general by combining the Topical Vitamin C Treatment with our Night Serum with Retinol. We recommend using this nightly in the beginning, then transitioning to every other night and your scars should fade quickly, and you will see a visible improvement in your skin.

  13. Megan says:

    I moisturize scars a ton and it seems to help. My go-to at the moment is Kypris beauty elixir healing bouquet, but I also like Andalou as a (significantly!) less expensive option.

    Choose a natural cover up and let time do the rest. If you’re feeling self conscious, try playing with eye makeup or spend a bit of extra time on your hair. Like another poster said, few will notice… But you also want to feel good about yourself!

  14. Robin says:

    If you want to seek out more expensive treatments, I recommend plastic surgeon and dermatologist offices. Almost all of them near me have a separate side for skin care. Make sure to check prices as they can vary widely. You may not love the products they use, but most have paraben free options.

  15. Kenna says:

    Hey! I’m currently studying to be a certified aromatherapist. Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) essential oil with Lavandin (lavendula hybrida) essential oil are an unbeatable scarring solution. Simply add 4 drops of each to 15 ml carrier oil to get rid of scarring. You will see results within 3-4 months. Apply twice daily under your cream.

    This is not some magic product and the ingredients are right in front of you. Helichrysum is an expensive oil but if you suffer from acne scarring, I definitely recommend you invest in this.

    If you want to learn more about how these oils work to improve and eventually get rid of scars all together… don’t hesitate to contact me at

    I hope this helps!

  16. Amy says:

    Hey Nastassia, I came across derma rolling or micro needling after reading Peaceful Dumpling I have been trying it myself after my sister gifted one to me. I also have some deep scars and if there’s anything I notice how amazing my skin feels the day after use. I use it when my skin is at its clearest. I alternate using Haut Cosmetics Purifying Primer and Enkido’s Synergy Infusion. Just having had a baby I know my hormones cause skin changes but I’m hoping my eating habits and beauty rituals will continue to keep the cystic acne at bay.I hope you find what works best for your skin!

  17. Sarah says:

    @Helen, I go to Talking Headz in west philly! ( Trims are even cheaper, like $24 I think? They do only dry cuts, which I love for my curly hair. Call to make an appointment though, instead of relying on their website or e-mail.

    It’s definitely the place to go to get weird asymmetrical cuts or fun-but-toxic colors… but my partner and I totally just get “normal” haircuts and I don’t feel out of place as a non-punk ;)

  18. Carol says:

    As someone with severe indented acne scars that are a darker color, I have tried nearly everything. I think there are acid based products like lactic acid and glycolic acid that help to resurface the skin and lighten the scar over time. Retinols are also helpful. Vitamin C helps to take away the pigmentation and maybe build up a little collagen. But I think the biggest is definitely laser treatment which may be more invasive but there is little recovery time and quick results. For topicals, I now use the Odacite pigmentation serum for immediate breakouts so they won’t leave a red mark and Yuli Cell Perfecto PM like many others, which is the most effective topical I have used for more severe scars.

  19. Joy says:

    I have indented acne scars (icepick, boxcar, and rolling—try Google images for examples) and have tried several of these products with varying success! I also have mixed-ethnicity skin that is extremely prone to dark red hyperpigmentation.

    I’ve also used other products that seem to work well for me. I’ll discuss the pros and cons of each—but firstly, I think that dealing with any active acne should be your goal. Try to get down to (at least) mild and/or breakouts, and your skin will thank you! Next, I would try to heal hyperpigmentation—this will likely help with any indented scarring, although I don’t think any topical treatment can eliminate them entirely. Minor indented scarring is always much less noticeable when not accompanied by any hyperpigmentation. (Most people don’t notice my scars, unless I point them out. I have a lot of the ice-pick type now, but they are pretty small.)

    Yuli Cell Perfecto PM: I bought two bottles of this—but eventually realized it made me break out (due to the jojoba oil). I was creating more breakouts to contend with, and so have quit my usage. Both times, Cell Perfecto worked really well for about 3 weeks—no breakouts; hyperpigmentation began to fade. Over time, I saw some improvement in indented scarring, but it was relatively minor. I took photos, and noticed improvement in rolling and boxcar scars.

    Celsus Scar Cream: I used one tube of this, and didn’t see any improvement in indented scars or hyperpigmentation. I didn’t particularly enjoy the texture—it was a little thick for me.

    I believe that vitamin C, gentle acids (exfoliation), and vitamin A products are your best bet for fading hyperpigmentation and smoothing skin texture. MSM is also a good ingredient—I used an MSM cream for awhile (can’t remember the name) and I think I saw very minor improvement in my indented scarring (but I didn’t take photos, so it could have been placebo).

    Vitamin C is probably your best bet for fading hyperpigmentation. I’m currently using a 25% spot treatment (although it’s not a clean product, so I won’t mention names) and have never seen such improvement in my skin. There are some good options listed above—I would try the Pacific Topical Vitamin C Treatment mentioned in this article, so you can really concentrate your dosage. I think it’s generally best to use vitamin C in a water-based serum, but I would research this to confirm.

    As I said, I’ve noticed the most difference with a topical vitamin C treatment. I also really love Kypris Moonlight Catalyst—this provides gentle exfoliation and is a vitamin A alternative. I used one bottle of Moonlight Catalyst and noticed a more even skin tone (although I think the vitamin C product I’ve been using has done most of the heavy lifting) and a reduction in rolling and boxcar scarring. It’s probably my favorite scar-reducing product so far, and it’s more cost-effective than the Yuli.

    I haven’t noticed any difference in icepick scars, regardless of the topical treatment, but rolling and boxcar scars seem to get better—I actually can’t see my rolling scars anymore, and my boxcar scars don’t seem as deep as before.

    Hope you find something that helps you!

  20. My current advice for acne scarring harkens back to my Brightening 101 post from long ago, but adds an important twist. True Nature Botanicals Pacific Night Serum with Retinol For Sensitive Skin + Pacific Topical Vitamin C Treatment combine for a gentle but badass combo, my top pick if your issue is acne or the signs of acne past. This version of Retinol if made for sensitives like me, and gets results without the potential downsides (like thinning skin). The Topical C is a super blast of brightening and healing goodness.

    For long term healing, maintenance, and brightening in general (and my top pick if your issue is sun damage) I love KYPRIS Moonlight Catalyst plus my dream product 1000 Roses elixir.

  21. Ru says:

    Same here, the True Botanicals Vit C treatment helped a lot in fading both old and new scarring for me. For a more budget but equally effective treatment, try Holiskin’s acne scar treatment — it contains helichrysum as mentioned in one of the comments above. I find that the Holiskin treatment is best used only after your acne has healed aka no longer active. Celsus didn’t really work for me either — the texture is too thick for the face and it caused me some small bumps instead. A facial oil like Uma Oils Total Rejuvenation Serum also worked well in overall brightening and scar reducing. :)

  22. Johanna M. says:

    I’ve been battling with acne since I was in high school. I’ve tried them all: Neutrogena, Proactiv, you name it, and I’ve tried out more dermatologists than I can remember. But then I came across (it’s a free eBook) and worked my way through their recommendations in hopes of finding a more natural way of getting rid of acne. In a month, I’ve seen a vast improvement and the fact that I’m using Mario Badescu on top of it helped a huge deal as well. It’s been roughly two months and I only have blemishes left. My natural regime consists of using lemon juice as a toner thrice a week and putting on honey and cinnamon mask twice a week. It’s great, not just for acne scars, but for preventing breakouts as well because of its anti-inflammatory properties. I hope this helps out anyone who is going through what I went through. It takes commitment, but it is all worth it.

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