If you’ve ever struggled with acne, you know how exciting it is to finally clear your skin up. However, even after the acne goes away, many of us are still left with hyperpigmentation and/or acne scars that we’d like to get rid of. Depending on how noticeable they are, they can sometimes be just as frustrating as acne itself.
I struggled with acne in middle school, high school, and the beginning of college, but when I finally got rid of it, I moved onto the next obstacle – the scars. My hormonal, cystic acne left me with a number of indented scars, as well as plenty of hyperpigmentation. Some areas weren’t very noticeable, but others were, and it took a huge toll on my self-confidence. I had gotten good enough at covering my scars with makeup, but I didn’t want to have to cover them up with makeup anymore. I wanted the the scars and pigmentation to go away so I could finally put my acne journey behind me.
Over the years, I’ve tried many different methods of eliminating scars. I started with topical products, buying every over-the-counter and prescription product I could get my hands on. This started far before I was aware of the importance of using nontoxic beauty products, so I really did try everything I could. I was pretty fearless. There was a pattern – the products either made no difference at all, or they made things even worse. A few products literally burned my skin, and some stained my skin for long periods of time. For example, when I used creams with hydroquinone to try to get rid of the redness, they left bright white rings (I didn’t think my skin could get any whiter!) on my skin for long periods of time. Different dermatologists gave me their “best” products, but nothing showed improvement.
After I had wasted far too much money on products that were never going to help, I moved onto stronger treatments, including physical exfoliation of the skin, stronger chemical peels, and laser treatments. I started getting microdermabrasion and chemical peels somewhat regularly, and then I tried microneedling. Microneedling gave me great results. I then moved on to different types of laser treatments, including Fraxel, IPL, Smoothbeam, and Clear + Brilliant, just to name a few. I tried to do every type of laser I could except for CO2, which I wanted to avoid. I wrote about my experience with Fraxel in this post.
After a full round of consistent treatments, I wanted to give my skin enough time to really repair before I decided whether or not I wanted to get more treatments done. During the “wait and see” time frame, I realized that my results from 5 or 6 Fraxel treatments weren’t that much better than consistent microneedling, but microneedling was much cheaper. Later on, I discovered the dermaroller, which I’ve written about here. I immediately fell in love with the dermaroller because it allowed me to get similar results to microneedling, but for a much cheaper price. Plus, I was in complete control of where I used it and how much pressure I put on my skin, rather than having someone else do it for me. I have trust issues when it comes to my skin!
I haven’t gotten a laser treatment in about 2 years, and during that time I switched to using nontoxic beauty products. At the beginning of that transition, I still had the mindset that I would probably never find a safe, nontoxic skincare product that would get me any noticeable improvements with my scars, because I thought nothing natural could be strong enough. As I kept trying new products, though, I was pleased to discover that I actually did find a number of nontoxic skincare products that have given me better results than any of my other hundred-dollar creams, serums, or peels ever did.
My skincare routine now is mostly about maintenance, because I don’t actively struggle with acne anymore. I get a zit here and there if I eat certain things that my body doesn’t like, or if my body is detoxing, but typically my skin is clear. My main focus is getting rid of the leftover pigmentation and scarring from when I did have acne, as well as preventing signs of aging. I have tried a lot of products and treatments, and the regimen I have right now is definitely the most effective thing I’ve ever used for doing just that. When used in conjunction over time, these products have given me better results than multiple sessions of laser have! That’s the key, though – you have to be consistent and patient. Scarring doesn’t go away overnight, unfortunately. You have to work away at that top layer of skin over and over again as new skin grows to take its place.
While an anti-inflammatory diet that contains plenty of protein is a key part of promoting the growth of healthy new skin cells, I wanted to share the products I use to specifically target acne scars and pigmentation that have gotten me the best results. I have one deep scar left that hasn’t gone away (it’s reduced, but it probably won’t ever fully go away because it was so deep to begin with), but besides that, all of my other scars (even after laser) are basically unnoticeable to me now! These aren’t the only products I use in my overall skincare routine, but these are the main products I wanted to mention for anyone else struggling with scars or pigmentation!
- Dermaroller – I’ve written about my dermarolling routine before, so head to this post to read the details on dermarolling. I typically do this 1-2 times a week as of late, focusing specifically on certain areas that need more attention. I know this isn’t technically a product, but it is a key step in getting rid of my scarring because I really do think it helps my products work much better than they would without dermarolling prior to applying them. I only dermaroll my skin when I feel like it’s totally “healed” from my last session. Dermarolling can leave your skin red and raw if you’re aggressive with it, so it’s important to make sure you let the skin recover in between sessions. I always recommend starting with a dermaroller that has the shortest needles before increasing the needle size. Dermarolling has gotten me the same results I used to get from microneedling, but from at-home! I dermaroll after cleaning and drying my skin, and then I move on to the next step.
- Alitura Naturals Clay Mask – I use this mask two to three times a week, and it is by far the most effective mask I’ve ever come across if you’re looking to get rid of scarring and pigmentation. This isn’t one of those masks that you put on for a girls’ night in because it smells good. This mask does #WORK. I mix the clay mask powder with apple cider vinegar in a small bowl to form a paste, and then I apply it to my clean skin until it dries. The mask is much stronger when mixed with apple cider vinegar, but you can mix it with water if you want something less intense but still effective. I recommend starting with water, and only use ACV if your skin can handle it. I’ve done so many peels and lasers over the years that my skin can handle pretty much anything.
After applying the mask, my skin definitely tingles a bit, and my face is usually pretty red after I take it off. This is because the mask really stimulates blood flow to the face – it’s working! I always make sure to keep this away from my eyes, as well, since it is so potent. If you try this mask with ACV and it’s too much for you, I recommend wiping it off and just using plain water with the powder. You can also add essential oils like Clary Sage, Blue Tansy, Frankincense, or Lemon into the mask mixture for added benefits. I cannot say enough good things about this product.
Make sure you listen to my podcast episode with Andy Hnilo (episode 135), the founder of Alitura Naturals, if you want to learn more about how and why he developed this mask – it helped him reverse major scarring on his face after a serious car accident! The ingredients are all natural, but this mask (when mixed with ACV) gives me better results than I used to get from chemical peels from the dermatologist. Remember, it’s normal for the skin to be a bit red and inflamed for a day (or even longer) after doing treatments like this, because the skin is recovering. Rebuilding and repairing. It also means it’s extra important to be gentle with your skin the days after.
- Beautycounter Overnight Resurfacing Peel – This is a product I think every woman needs in her skincare arsenal. This is a very gentle leave-on AHA / BHA peel that helps to reduce dark spots, scarring, fine lines, and any texture on the skin. It’s made with 15 botanically-derived acids, including glycolic, lactic, and malic acid to help remove the top layer of dead skin cells, and hyaluronic acid and essential fatty acids to help soothe the skin. Again, this peel is very gentle, which is why it’s safe to leave on overnight and use multiple times a week. If you’re just getting started, I recommend using it just once or twice a week, and then you can move to every other night if your skin can handle more. Most people would do well with twice a week, though, in my opinion.
This helps leave my skin softer and brighter while also helping to get rid of the texture and red spots slowly over time. It goes on as a clear serum and soaks into the skin while you sleep. You might feel a little tingle when you first apply it. After it soaks in and dries, you can also add a moisturizer or other serum on top, which I’ll discuss next. This is definitely a holy grail product for me, and one I recommend to EVERY woman. Even if you don’t have acne scars, this is a game-changer for preventing the signs of aging, and it’s gentle enough that really anyone could use it and benefit from it. I also think it helps keep acne away. If you want clearer, brighter skin, pick this up!
- Clearstem Skincare – After my Beautycounter Overnight Resurfacing Peel soaks in, I put a thin layer of Clearstem on top. This is another nontoxic product that truly blows me away with its results. I use Clearstem every single night, and I put it on in the morning as well on days when I feel like my skin needs a little more TLC. It’s a light serum that’s specifically designed to target acne as well as the signs of aging, and its stem cell properties help to reverse scarring. If nothing else has helped against acne, we dermatologists usually prescribe this active ingredient isoretinoin, which is a vitamin A derivative. Approximately 80% of all patients get better with this drug (the version available at http://laserhq.com/acne-accutane-isotretinoin/ is called Accutane) after 4-5 months – but usually, you should be prepared for severe side effects.
I feel like I’m doing a million amazing things at once with this product. It helps to keep acne away, prevents fine lines and wrinkles, reverses scarring, and hydrates the skin. I love this product because it leaves my skin very hydrated but not oily at all (I have oily skin), and it soaks in completely so you’re not left with any residue or any feeling of a product on your skin. You can easily apply other products or makeup on top. Again, it’s a thin serum, not a moisturizer lotion.
You only need a small amount to spread over your entire face, so a bottle lasts a long time. I’ve even used this on other scars on my body – it helped get rid of a huge scar I’ve had on my knee since I was 10! The collagen stem cells help to heal the skin in general, so if I do break out or have any kind of blemish on my skin, I make sure to use this morning and night so it heals much faster. The two main ingredients are Green Tea Extract and Mushroom extract, which act as adaptogens to balance the hormones in the skin and hair follicle. I love this because it leaves my skin feeling so soft and smooth in only a few hours, and it shows incredible results when used consistently over time. Pairing the Beautycounter Overnight Resurfacing Peel with Clearstem has been a game-changer for me – these two products are truly magical when used together. Nothing leaves my skin feeling softer or looking more vibrant than that duo! (If you’re interested in Clearstem, my discount code “wellness” will get you $15 off!)
- Beautycounter No. 1 Brightening + Vitamin C Facial Oil – Lastly, I apply my Brightening oil from Beautycounter, which is my favorite facial oil. I just use one or two drops to apply a thin layer over my entire face. This blend of Vitamin C and citrus oils promotes the growth of new skin cells and helps to reduce the appearance of scars and red spots over time. The oil also helps moisturize and soothe the skin, especially after using some potent products beforehand. Vitamin C is a must in your skincare routine if you want to support collagen production and improve your skin’s texture and tone! I also love the citrus scent. Not only is this oil great for calming the skin and reducing the appearance of dark marks, but I also think it helps keep acne away. This is the facial oil that works best for my oily skin, and since using it regularly, my skin has become less oily! I use this oil every night.
These are the most effective products I’ve found for helping to naturally reduce scarring and pigmentation, and they’re all nontoxic and safe for your skin. Like with any products, though, don’t expect to use them once or twice and immediately see amazing results. I saw great results with my hyperpigmentation after doing this routine regularly for at least a month, and then as I continued things got even better!
To recap, I dermaroll once or twice a week, use the clay mask 2-3 times a week, use the Beautycounter Overnight Resurfacing Peel about every other night, use Clearstem every day, and use the Brightening Oil every night. I time the products so that on days when I dermaroll, I also use the mask, resurfacing peel, Clearstem, and the No. 1 Brightening Oil. It’s like my own at-home facial for targeting scar treatments! That being said, this regimen could help many other skin concerns beyond just scarring. It will help anyone’s skin become brighter and smoother in general, as well as prevent signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles. These products can also help with acne in the first place!
Again, this is the routine that has worked for me, but always check with your healthcare provider before changing your skincare products, especially if you are using other topical treatments or taking any supplements that might make your skin more sensitive. I always recommend treading lightly at first. Listen to your skin! If your skin feels like it’s getting dry or too sensitive, pull back and focus on using a gentle moisturizer. It’s important to always give your skin time to heal from any type of trauma prior to trying something new.
Again, good skincare only works in conjunction with a skin-healing diet, drinking plenty of water, and healthy lifestyle practices. That being said, these products are my ride-or-dies when it comes to resurfacing my skin naturally!
If you’ve had success reducing or eliminating scarring or pigmentation, I would love to hear what worked for you. Comment below with your own experience so others can benefit!