Pimple scars are the WORST. Whether you suffered from full-blown acne as a teen and are dealing with the scarring aftermath, or you just had a really bad pimple that never seemed to completely heal, most of us have dealt with those small red marks at some point in our lives.
Obviously just not having acne or pimples is the best way to prevent scarring, but we’re not all that lucky. They’re also not necessarily the result of being shit with your skincare – often they’re just an unfortunate situation thrust upon you by the universe.
There are ways to prevent and fix pimple scars, though. We chatted to Jocelyn Petroni, one of Australia’s most sought-after facialists, to find out how to deal with the pesky marks.
1. PREVENTION IS EASIEST
The best thing to do if you notice some of these red marks is to prevent more from forming. Exfoliation is key when it comes to prevention, because as Jocelyn explains, the scarring is the result of blocked pores that don’t return to their original size.
Scar tissue is essentially a stretched pore from excess sebaceous build up. The pore usually dilates and constricts back to its usual form, however scarring is when something dilates and doesn’t constrict from the sebum – it’s the oil presence making it dilate.
Not physical exfoliation, though – which can irritate sensitive acne-prone skin. Acids are the way to go.
Look for ingredients such as, salicylic acid, mandelic acid, oil soluble fruit acids that penetrate into the pore and help to break down sebum to prevent it from dilating and stretching the pore. Strong fruit acids and keeping the pores clean daily is important.
Jocelyn recommends using a gentle acid like one suggested above daily (apply after cleansing, then use moisturiser on top). She also recommends a series of peels if you really want to keep congested skin clear.
At Jocelyn Petroni, we perform a treatment called a ‘Skin Regenerating Mandelic Peel’ ($230 for 45minutes) and recommend it fortnightly for a course of 6 treatments, to treat acne and congestion. It’s a specialised peel designed to immediately eliminate dead skin cells and unblock pores, drawing upon the benefits of Mandelic Acid to absorb excess oil combined with anti-inflammatory properties.
2. LASER TREATMENTS ARE BEST FOR HEALING
If you want to get rid of acne or pimple scars that already exist on your face, the best treatment is laser, according to Jocelyn.
Laser is the most efficient treatment for scarring and specifically Fraxel Laser. However it really does depend on the skin type and intensity of the scarring.
Fraxel can be a LOT if you haven’t had a laser treatment before (Clear & Brilliant, another laser treatment, is often called ‘Baby Fraxel’ and has less down-time, if you want to ease in). But it’s a fantastic treatment for dealing with scarring.
Jocelyn also warns that too many treatments and product overload can exacerbate pimple scars.
You should not be overtreating your skin and having lot’s of invasive treatments as this can often cause inflammation and make the scarring worse. Consult a reputable skin expert that you trust first!
Basically – IF you’re gonna go the Fraxel route, chat to a skin expert before you dive in. They may consider your skin too delicate, or you might need to strengthen your skin barrier before starting.
3. THERE ARE PRODUCTS THAT’LL HELP, TOO
Jocelyn’s take is to start using skincare products that can fade acne and pimple scars, then to progress to laser treatment if you need extra help.
A prescription strength Vitamin A can help treat scarring – it fades and softens the scarring and would be my first step recommendation and if this is not enough, then explore laser.
Vitamin A is a real skincare hero, but you have to use it properly or you can risk irritating your skin.
Vitamin A assists with the natural desquamation process. We’re shedding skin cells constantly but at an uneven rate throughout the day. Vitamin A evens the skin’s natural desquamation process creating a smoother and clearer tone and texture. Seems simple but the impact and visible results are enormous as it reduces pigmentation, fine lines and breakouts while revealing fresh, dewy, radiant, glowing skin.
How do you use it correctly? Use it at night only – it can make skin more photosensitive. Ease into it, too – using it once every few nights at first, building up slowly to nightly use is best. Basically, if you go in too hard with Vitamin A you can end up with red, flaky skin.
Also, prescription Vitamin A is just that – prescription. So unless you see a skin specialist who can prescribe it for you, you can’t get it. Still – starting with something that utilises Vitamin A but in a lower dose is a good entry point, and can still work wonders.
For an at-home option, we love Ultraceuticals Ultra A Skin Perfecting Serum, which contains all the benefits of Vitamin A plus this unique formulation is also a natural anti-inflammatory to reduce redness and flaking.
Overall, don’t expect miracles. Your acne and pimple scars won’t clear up overnight, and it can take a good while before you see them fade even a little. But over time, with the right skincare routine, you can fade them out significantly. And if you get on the preventative bandwagon with your exfoliating, you can halt the formation of new scars.
Words by Melissa Mason for Pedestrian TV