Your 4-Week Battle Plan for Getting Rid of Scars and Discoloration

Because bug bites don't make great souvenirs.

Woman looking terrified set against a calendar backdrop.
(Image credit: Getty, design by Jen Baumgardner)

Even though, by now, you've probably been toasted to a nice golden-brown, you've probably also done some other things this summer that have (probably negatively) affected your skin. Like: Going into nature thinking "Oh, I should do this more often"—and promptly injuring yourself. Leaving a two-centimeter crack in your window overnight to "enjoy the breeze"—and waking up with seven (record!) mosquito bites. Losing a Trenta's worth of bodily fluids power-walking to work because you're like "might as well do the whole get-fit thing," resulting in a pimple on your sweaty forehead that will eventually heal—but leave a ghost of its former self as a scar. 

With these situations in mind/covering our arms and legs, we hit up board-certified dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian at Schweiger Dermatology Group with an Important Question: How do you safely and methodically fade scars and dark marks before it's burgundy-lipstick season because that stuff picks up redness like nothing else? Here, she shares her week-by-week guide, AKA How to Ready Yourself for NARS Scarlet Empress in 30 Days.

Week 1

"Avoid all the things that prolong healing and keep these scars and stains from resolving on their own. Sunscreen, at least a SPF 30, will help encourage fading by blocking UV radiation, which typically keeps and produces more pigment in skin. Wound care is also important because areas of healing are prone to infection and inflammation, making scarring and staining of the skin more likely. That also means cleaning the skin with a gentle cleanser and *not* picking at the leftovers (scabs or old pimple scars)."

Week 2

"This is when the real repair starts. Use gentle chemical exfoliants to enhance and increase the rate of skin cell renewal—basically, replace damaged skin with new skin cells. This is done with topical creams, washes, and solutions that have ingredients like vitamin C or glycolic acid. [Editor href='">Neostrata Foaming Glycolic Wash.'] Sunscreen is still a must at this point. Microdermabrasion can be used at this time to physically induce faster cell turnover too."

Week 3

"If the scars and stains are still sitting around, it's time to see your dermatologist for a real boost. Prescription lightening creams are ideal for stubborn dark spots, and deeper chemicals can be used to lift stains and help with scarring. Even small cortisone injections can be given to settle those raised scars old acne or big bites might have left behind."

Week 4

Got super persistent marks? At this point, Dr. Nazarian says lasers can be used to finish them off. *zap*

Chelsea Peng
Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.