It’s estimated that up to 90 percent of people experience some degree of acne during their life. Generally, these blemishes gradually go away on their own, leaving no trace of their existence on your skin. Occasionally, however, blemishes stick around in the form of post-acne marks. These marks are a form of discoloration and may be visible for months or even years after the initial breakouts clear up. Sometimes, post-acne marks will clear on their own, but other times, you’ll need the help of skincare products designed to brighten the skin and minimize the appearance of discolorations.
Thankfully, with nearly 170 years of experience, we’ve curated effective products that can help keep breakouts at bay and diminish the appearance of existing acne marks. Read on for more information about post-acne marks.
What Are Post-Acne Marks?
Post-acne marks are small dark spots left behind after an inflamed blemish heals. They’re sometimes referred to as “acne scars,” but this is a misnomer. True acne scars are either raised (hypertrophic) or indented (atrophic) and are generally the same color as your skin. They’re also permanent scars and can only be removed with professional skin-resurfacing treatments. Post-acne marks, on the other hand, are flat and generally appear light to dark brown in color. Anyone can develop these post-inflammatory discolorations, but they’re most common amongst people of color.
Why Do Post-Acne Marks Form?
Post-acne marks form as a result of inflammation in the skin. For some, this inflammation can trigger the body to overproduce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. It can also cause melanin to clump in the skin. In either case, the result is the formation of a dark spot or discoloration.
Help Fade The Look Of Post-Acne Marks: The Routine
Thankfully, it is possible with the help of skincare products to improve the appearance of post-inflammatory discoloration at home. Keep reading to learn how to fade post-acne marks the Kiehl’s way.
The best products for acne scars and the best products for post-acne marks aren’t always the same since scarring and discolorations have different causes. The former is related to collagen synthesis, while the latter is due to melanin production. (You can find a routine for smoothing the appearance of acne scars here.)
There is some overlap, though. For one, no matter what specific skincare routine you follow, cleansing your face is an important step for a healthy-looking complexion. If you deal with blemishes and post-acne dark spots, the right cleanser can also help keep breakouts at bay and minimize the appearance of discolorations
For daily use, we recommend an exfoliating cleanser, such as Clearly Corrective Brightening & Exfoliating Daily Cleanser. This clarifying face scrub contains peony extract, white birch extract, and pearlstone. It helps brighten the complexion, while exfoliating to remove dead skin cells, excess oil, and other buildup. This effective cleanser is suitable for all skin types, and gentle enough to use day and night for a smoother, more radiant-looking complexion.
When you’re dealing with active or persistent breakouts, reach for a targeted acne cleanser, like Blue Herbal Acne Cleanser Treatment. This foaming cleanser contains exfoliating salicylic acid and ginger root essential oil to cleanse pores and visibly reduce blackheads, whiteheads, and other blemishes. It also helps prevent new pimples from forming for a clearer-looking complexion.
After washing your face, we recommend following it up with a toner to help remove any remaining residue and prep your skin for the rest of your routine. For people who struggle with acne marks on the face, try Clearly Corrective Brightening & Soothing Treatment Water. This gentle yet effective toner contains activated C (a potent form of vitamin C), licorice root, and white birch extract to refine the complexion. It also contains illuminating minerals and imparts a subtle glow for brighter-looking skin.
When you notice brown or red acne marks beginning to form, target them early. We recommend incorporating a brightening facial serum, such as Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution, into your skincare routine every day. This top-rated serum contains a blend of ingredients, including activated C, white birch extract, and peony extract. This formula helps boost radiance and even skin tone. It’s clinically-demonstrated to help visibly reduce post-acne marks and other forms of discoloration, and is suitable for all skin types and tones.* Apply it to your entire face daily after cleansing for a brighter, more even-looking complexion over time.
*Results based upon a clinical study of upper layers of the skin. This product was tested on a multi-ethnic panel equally distributed: 25% African American, 25% Asian, 25% Caucasian, 25% Hispanic.
Take your skincare a step further with Clearly Corrective Accelerating Clarity Renewing Ampoules. They contain a blend of glycolic, lactic, and phytic acids to visibly even skin tone. The ampoules can be paired with our dark spot solution for a brighter, more radiant-looking complexion.
To help avoid having acne marks and discoloration form, start by using products designed to keep your skin clear. When a blemish starts to form, don’t pick at it. Instead, apply an acne spot treatment, such as Breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment. It’s formulated with mineral sulfur and vitamin B3 (also known as niacinamide), which work together to rapidly reduce the appearance of acne blemishes for a visibly clearer complexion. Dab it on pimples one to three times daily or as needed until the blemish heals.
The idea that people with oily or acne-prone skin don’t need to moisturize is a fairly common misconception. In reality, the opposite is true: Dry skin tends to over-produce oil, which can clog pores and lead to breakouts. As such, keeping skin hydrated with a lightweight moisturizer is a must—especially if you’re prone to blemishes.
To minimize noticeable dark spots while hydrating your skin, reach for a moisturizer with gentle chemical exfoliants, such as Clearly Corrective Brightening & Smoothing Moisture Treatment. It’s formulated with glycolic acid, activated C, and white birch extract to help reduce the appearance of skin discolorations while providing continuous, 24-hour hydration. It also helps smooth rough skin texture.
Arguably the most important step in any skincare routine is sunscreen. We know you’ve heard it a hundred times, but we’ll say it again: You should be wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day. We recommend Super Fluid Daily UV Defense 50+, which provides broad-spectrum coverage while also helping to protect skin from environmental aggressors, like pollution.
Since discolorations can be exacerbated by sun exposure, keeping your skin well-protected is key for maintaining a clear and even complexion. If you have sensitive skin, look for a mineral sunblock instead, such as Super Fluid Daily Mineral Defense.