From pesky, dark hyper-pigmentation marks, to red spots, to deep craters–acne scars are among the most dreaded skincare issues. Luckily, we've turned to dermatologists to figure out exactly how to treat each type of spot. See which skin-smoothing products and tools they recommend, ahead.
Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45+, $39
First thing's first: prevention. "Getting on a good skincare regimen, avoiding picking, popping, or traumatizing the skin, and protecting it with SPF so it does not darken are important ways to avoid acne scarring," dermatologist Annie Chiu advises. For day-to-day coverage, try this SPF 45 option from Dr. Jart. It's a four-in-one primer, moisturizer, sunscreen, and treatment serum that evens out skin tone from within and offers mild coverage.
Tria Acne-Clearing Blue Light, $299
Hit acne right at the source by using a bacteria-eliminating blue light, which penetrates beneath the skin's surface to stop future breakouts. The gentle treatment lets your skin do it's thing, not stripping it dry nor subjecting it to abrasive scrubbing as some other solutions might.
Missha Speedy Solution Anti Trouble Patch, $5/ea
Stop scars before they happen by taking action as soon as you get a zit. These clear circle-shaped stickers are infused with salicylic acid and tea tree oil to reduce redness from the get-go and cut the lifetime of a pimple. It also protects the blemish from touching and picking–the ultimate culprits for pesky scars.
Hydropeptide Purifying Cleanser, $54
If you've got vascular acne scars, or those pink or red marks more commonly found on fairer skin tones, try this face wash boosted with anti-bacterial salicylic acid and mandelic acid to fade redness, brighten skin, promote skin cell turnover, and reduce breakouts altogether.
Paula's Choice BHA9, $43
Try this spot treatment containing concentrated salicylic acid to erase lighter marks on the skin and unclog pores. It also contains plant extracts to calm redness and keep irritation at bay.
Peter Thomas Roth Camu Camu Power C x 3 Vitamin C Brightening Sleeping Mask, $62
This ultra hydrating overnight mask is powered by the superfruit camu camu berry, which boasts 30x more Vitamin C than an orange and lightens marks. For full results, apply two to three times a week.
DHC Renewing AHA Cream, $43
Dr. Chiu suggests looking out for "Products with alpha hydroxy acids to boost turnover of the skin." This treatment from DHC contains 10 percent alpha hydroxy acids to effectively slough away dead skin cells and even out skin tone.
Derma E Overnight Peel, $19
This treat-in-your-sleep offering from Derma E contains 5 percent alpha hydroxy acids to effectively exfoliate and diminish spots.
SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector, $90
Finally get rid of the most stubborn marks on your face with this formula made with salicylic acid to exfoliate the skin, hydroxyphenoxy propionic acid to slow down melanin production and prevent further hyperpigmentation, and ellagic acid to help reduce discoloration. Apply this once or twice a day and be sure to follow up with SPF.
Proactiv Advanced Dark Spot Correcting Serum, $50
This gel serum is designed to tackle post-acne marks with its 2-percent hydroquinone formula, a popular scar-lightening ingredient which works to inhibit melanin production, eliminating any discoloration.
Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum, $60
This serum, also powered with 2 percent hydroquinone, contains glycolic acid for lifting away dull, dead skin and letting ingredients better penetrate.
Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution, $50
Kiehl's brightening formula is powered with Activated C, which prevents new dark spots, white birch extract, which restores hydration and nutrients to the skin, and peony extract, which works with Activated C to reverse discoloration.
Vasanti Brighten Up! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator, $34
Old marks still sticking around take patience and consistency to treat. One way to even out skin tone over time is with regular exfoliating. "[Exfoliating] is important in treating acne scars at home as it lifts dead skin and allows new skin to grow and proliferate," Dr. Moy explains. This exfoliator contains papaya enzymes to break down dead skin cells and microderm crystals to buff away acne scars. Aloe vera, coconut, and vitamins E and B nourish the skin simultaneously.
Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion Skin Exfoliant, $78
Along with smoothing crystals, this microdermabrasion scrub contains chamomile to reduce irritation, aloe vera to prevent scarring, jojoba for softening, and lactic acid to wash away dead skin cells.
Neostrata Enlighten Pigment Controller, $70
Even the oldest of dark marks will lighten up thanks to this potent blend of retinol, Vitamin C, and dark spot-preventing Tyrosinase.