Clearing acne is one thing, but it’s another to minimize any unwanted scars that acne leaves behind after they pop – cleaning up after the party, as I like to think about it. One way to do that (not a necessity, by the way), is to choose one of the best exfoliators for acne scars. All of these products contain chemical exfoliants that “remove dead skin cells, speed up cell renewal, and stimulate cell renewal,” says Dr. Mona Vand, PhD. and Beauty & Health Consultant for Bliss, told Elite Daily. It all results in a clearer, more even-looking complexion overall.

In particular, both Dr. Vand and board of certified dermatologists, Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, MDFAAD, with whom I also spoke in this article, recommend glycolic acid to reduce acne scars. This AHA has the smallest molecules of all the major acids, so it can easily penetrate your pores and break down the “glue” between skin cells that contributes to hyperpigmentation. On the other hand, both glycolic and other acids – like lactic acid, an AHA; and salicylic acid, a BHA – maybe cause irritation, redness, and dryness, especially if you have sensitive skin. So look for products that contain soothing and hydrating ingredients like aloe vera, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and plant-based oils.

Some more advice (for exfoliating, but also for life): Take it easy and be kind. Dr. Vand recommends starting with a chemical exfoliant two or three times per week until your skin adapts, and Dr. Ciraldo warns against mixing these products with other harsh topicals. , as benzoyl peroxide and more than 5% L-ascorbic acid. It goes without saying that you should not use all of these recommended products at once. Stick with one product and see how your skin conditions.

Scroll to the store for eight of the best exfoliators for acne scars, from “miracle” liquids to a luxurious toner to a surprisingly gentle overnight treatment and more.

We only recommend products that we love, and we think you should too. We may receive a share of the revenue from products purchased from this article written by our Commerce team.

Peels are perhaps the easiest, fastest, most uncomplicated way to fade unwanted acne scars – and soften your skin in the process. And while all peels are acidic, these Nip + Fab pads have an impressive combination: glycolic acid and salicylic acid to help unclog your pores, while mandelic and lactic acids Provides gentle exfoliation. Niacinamide also helps promote brighter, more even skin tone, while soothing glycerin and hyaluronic acid provide a welcome boost from all of those acids.

If you’re willing to spend a little more, Dr. Ciraldo recommends the Micro Peel Peptide Patch. These lightweight, textured pads are soaked in a balanced solution of 10% glycolic acid, “anti-irritant herbal extracts, and moisturizing peptides to minimize irritation as you get an ultra-exfoliated,” she says. small”.

Whichever peel you choose, Dr. Ciraldo recommends using them several times per week to prevent breakouts from forming in the first place, while also reducing scars left by past breakouts.

The formula for this “miracle in a bottle” liquid exfoliant from Paula’s Choice is super simple. 2% salicylic acid and green tea extract, an antioxidant and skin-cooling agent, are the standout ingredients – so it works as an adjunct that almost any skin condition can enjoy. benefits from exfoliation, such as blackheads, whiteheads, rosacea, hormonal acne, and keratosis pilaris (in addition to unwanted acne scars). It’s pretty strong, so don’t worry if your skin starts to break out when you first use it. Be patient, pray to the exfoliating gods (just kidding, you’ll be fine), and wait until your skin transitions to its clearest, most pore-less version.

This Andalou Naturals mask packs everything you could want in a single product to help minimize discoloration/scars, but my favorite thing here is the Manuka honey – not an exfoliant. dead skin, but the ingredient that has revolutionized my skincare routine. This also has pumpkin puree as its ingredient, which is rich in vitamin A: Another ingredient that skin lightening dreams (and related retinol) are made of. Plant-based AHAs and glycolic acid do the job of exfoliating, while botanicals like aloe and sunflower oils keep your skin soothed and hydrated. A lot of the ingredients here are certified organic, as an added bonus, which is hard to find in masks.

REN’s Ready Steady Glow Tonic is one of the less intensive (but equally effective) products on this list. In terms of skin lightening, it’s packed with lactic acid, salicin (a BHA derived from willow bark), and azelaic acid, another naturally occurring acid known to fight acne and other blemishes. the evidence it leaves behind. This is one of my personal favorites – it never leaves my sensitive, dehydrated skin feeling stripped or irritated, even when I use it daily. Instead, my skin feels tighter and fuller to the touch, and it looks more even, naturally radiant, and basically happier. There is nothing not to love here.

A longtime fan favorite, this L’Oreal Revitalift serum contains 10% glycolic acid, which is an impressive concentration for a pharmacy serum. (For reference, office scrubs use a minimum of 20% glycolic acid.) The short ingredient list has aloe vera, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid, but it will probably still feel a bit itchy. . Apply once or twice weekly, at night, until your skin increases its tolerance to this supercharged serum. And Dr. Ciraldo says to be diligent about applying and reapplying sunscreen the next day, as AHAs can make your skin more sensitive.

This SkinMedica cleanser uses a combination of chemical exfoliation, aided by BHAs and AHAs (including glycolic acid, our main ingredient), plus physical exfoliation through Nourishing jojoba beads. While it’s powerful, it won’t strip or irritate your skin: One Amazon reviewer said their skin felt super soft and well-moisturized after using it. Like all the products on this list, this is also an effective treatment for active breakouts. But a lot of reviewers report a visible change in the clarity, evenness and luminosity of their skin.


Best for sensitive skin

This Acure glycolic treatment actually contains glycolic acid, but it’s cushioned in a beautiful, cozy bed of nourishing ingredients: avocado oil, apricot kernel oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, and oil Olive oil softens and moisturizes your skin, while hemp seed helps soothe redness and irritation. But there’s enough glycolic acid here, as well as lactic acid, to effectively reduce scarring and/or unwanted hyperpigmentation. Additionally, real unicorn roots and quartz encourage further shine, and possibly even a belief in magic. (Or the magic of the ingredients sounds magical.) Apply this overnight mask as the last step in your nighttime skincare routine.

Dr. Vand loves this Bliss Clear Genius Clarifying Toner + Serum, a two-in-one that purifies, brightens and plumps your skin in just one swipe. In addition to clarifying salicylic acid, it also contains some of Dr. Vand’s favorite ingredients to complement exfoliation, like “witch hazel (to calm and soothe) and zinc PCA (to calm skin, reduces redness and hydrates), making it gentle enough for everyday use,” she says. Centella asiatica also helps restore moisture and repair the skin barrier, which is important when you’re exfoliating and/or using harsh acne treatments.


Dr. Mona Vand, Doctor of Pharmacy and Beauty & Health Consultant for Bliss

Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, MDFAAD, Miami-based certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta Skin Care


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