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Best Acne Scar Serums

Updated November 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 20 Models Considered
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    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best acne scar serums

    Last Updated November 2018

    No matter how old you are, acne can wreak havoc on your self-esteem – and one of the worst things about it is that even if you’re lucky enough to find a treatment that gets rid of your pimples, there are often scars left behind from your breakouts. Fortunately, with the right acne scar serum, you can diminish the appearance of those scars and achieve a smooth, flawless complexion.

    Not all acne scar serums are created equal, though, so if you want to see results, choosing the right one is key. That means deciding on the ideal formula, ingredients, and other features to make sure that the serum is the best fit for your skin’s needs. Considering how many options there are on the market, shopping for an acne scar serum can easily get overwhelming.

    At BestReviews, we’re committed to making shopping as stress-free as possible. With our in-depth product research, you have all the facts you need to make the best shopping choices for your home. Are you in the market for an effective acne scar serum? Keep reading our shopping guide for everything you need to know before you buy.

    An acne scar serum should be the first skin care product you apply to your face after you cleanse it. Add any moisturizer and sunscreen after the serum has soaked into your skin for a few minutes.

    What causes acne scars?

    Having to deal with acne breakouts is bad enough, but struggling with post-acne scars and hyperpigmentation makes the whole ordeal even worse.

    Scarring occurs because of damage done to the skin as a result of the breakout. The area with acne experiences abnormal collagen production during the body’s rush to repair the skin, which gives the skin a bumpy or pitted appearance.

    Acne scars can be raised or depressed, but both types are usually very difficult to treat.

    Fast-acting and powerful acne scar serum

    The iS Clinical Active Serum is potent enough to provide results in as little as a week. Not only does this acne scar serum fade hyperpigmentation, but it also boosts collagen synthesis to help smooth textured scars. We also love that the paraben-free botanical formula leaves your skin feeling moist and supple instead of dry and flaky.

    Types of acne scars

    While they may all look roughly the same, there are actually several different types of acne scars.

    • Rolling scars are usually wide depressions in the skin that aren’t particularly deep. They have a rounded shape with edges that slope slightly, so the skin takes on a wavy texture. Most rolling scars occur if you suffer from inflammatory acne for a prolonged period of time.

    • Boxcar scars are similar to rolling scars in that they’re wide but shallow depressions in the skin, but their edges have a sharp, steep appearance, so they’re well-defined. Boxcar scars typically occur after inflammatory acne.

    • Icepick scars are deep, narrow indentations in the skin with jagged edges. They make your skin look as if it’s been punctured with a small needle, which gives them their name. Icepick scars typically result from hormonal acne.

    • Hyperpigmentation, or the dark, reddish spots that are the most common aftermath of acne breakouts, aren’t technically scars. These flat marks are the result of the skin’s natural healing process and occur because inflammation in the skin causes an increase in melanin production. Post-acne hyperpigmentation usually fades on its own, but it can take months or years.
    DID YOU KNOW?

    Popping or picking at your pimples is the most common cause of acne scarring.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Using a derma roller before you apply an acne scar serum can often help you see results more quickly.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Depressed acne scars may need the professional help of a dermatologist for the best results.

    Active ingredients in acne scar serums

    There are a variety of active ingredients that can help treat and fade acne scars. Most of the common ingredients in acne scar serums are designed to fade red marks and other hyperpigmentation left behind by breakouts, but they aren’t as effective at treating textured scars. In most cases, the best acne scar serums incorporate more than one active ingredient to boost their effectiveness.

    AHAs and BHAs

    Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are often used in acne scar serums because they are powerful chemical exfoliators that can remove dead surface cells to smooth and brighten the skin.

    Glycolic and lactic acid are common AHAs used in acne scar serums and are suitable for all skin types except the most sensitive. These acids dissolve the bonds that hold dead cells on the surface of the skin, which allows them to be easily removed. AHAs can help improve uneven skin tone and texture, so they’re effective on a variety of acne scars.

    Salicylic acid is the most common BHA used in acne scar serums and is oil-soluble. Unlike AHAs, BHAs can actually exfoliate inside the pores, so they’re a very effective treatment for acne, as well as acne scarring. They’re suitable for all skin types except the most sensitive.

    Some acne scar serums include both AHAs and BHAs to effectively exfoliate both the surface of your skin and inside the pores, so you can fade your scars and prevent future breakouts at the same time.

    Retinol

    Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A that stimulates collagen production to make your skin appear plumper and improve your skin tone, so it helps with both textured acne scarring and hyperpigmentation. Because it can also reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, acne scar serums with retinol are a good option for mature skin or anyone wanting to incorporate anti-aging ingredients into his or her skin care routine.

    Retinol-based serums are suitable for most skin types unless your skin is very sensitive. It’s important to note that retinol can cause dryness and flakiness when you first start using it, so you should ease your way into using an acne scar serum that contains it.

    Vitamin C

    Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help brighten and even out skin tone, but it’s also effective for boosting collagen production. It works well for both textured acne scars and red spots and can be used by most skin types.

    Stem cells

    Plant-based stem cells can be beneficial in a variety of skin care products, but they’re particularly effective for skin rejuvenation. They help with wound healing and tissue damage, so they’re an ideal ingredient in an acne scar serum. Stem cells are usually a safe ingredient for all skin types, too.

    Niacinamide

    Niacinamide is a water-soluble form of vitamin B3 that has a wide range of benefits for the skin. It helps promote cell turnover, which is why it can be an ideal ingredient for acne scar serums. Niacinamide is particularly effective for fading hyperpigmentation, so it works best on red marks left over from acne breakouts.

    Natural scar-fading treatment that’s ideal for mature skin

    The InstaNatural Vitamin C Serum boasts a host of good-for-you natural ingredients like plant stem cells, sea buckthorn oil, and green tea extract, but it’s the vitamin C that really helps fade hyperpigmentation from past acne breakouts. This acne scar serum can also smooth fine lines and wrinkles, so it’s an ideal serum if you’re struggling with adult acne and want to fight aging at the same time you treat your acne scars.

    Features to consider for acne scar serums

    Formula

    While those with oily skin are the most likely to experience acne, every skin type can suffer a breakout from time to time. If you’re choosing a serum to reduce the appearance of post-acne scars, it’s important to take your skin type into account to make sure that you choose the best formula.

    For oily and combination skin, thin, water-based formulas are usually the best bet. They tend to be oil-free, so you don’t have to worry about the acne scar serum clogging your pores and causing another breakout.

    For dry and normal skin, a thicker, oil-based formula is a better choice. It will hydrate your skin to prevent it from drying out due to the potent active ingredients the serum contains to help treat your acne scars.

    Scent

    Some acne scar serums have a fairly strong medicinal scent, which some users find unappealing. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to avoid formulas that use artificial fragrances because they can easily irritate the skin. For most people, a fragrance-free acne scar serum is the best option.

    Price

    Acne scar serums usually vary in price based on the number of active ingredients that they contain. In most cases, you can expect to pay between $6 and $160.

    Acne scar serums that include one active ingredient usually range from $6 to $30. Acne scar serums that include two to three active ingredients usually range from $30 to $70. Acne scar serums that include three or more active ingredients usually range from $70 to $160.

    When you’re using an acne scar serum, it’s important to incorporate sunscreen into your skin care routine. Not only can the serum make your skin more sensitive to the sun, but UV rays can darken hyperpigmentation.

    FAQ

    Q. How long does it take to see results from an acne scar serum?

    A. It depends on what type of acne scars you have. Hyperpigmentation usually fades the fastest, so you can expect to see results within three to four weeks using an acne scar serum. Textured scars can take much longer to fade with topical serums, so it may take three to four months to see results.

    Q. What type of acne scar serum is the best choice if I have scars and active breakouts?

    A. If you want to fade existing acne scars and heal active breakouts, opt for an acne scar serum that contains salicylic acid. Because salicylic acid can clean deep within the pores, it’s ideal for not only exfoliating your skin to fade acne scars but also getting rid of the dirt, oil, and bacteria that can cause breakouts. Some retinol-based acne scar serums are also effective in treating active acne, but make sure that any serum you choose is oil-free if you’re trying to prevent breakouts.

    Q. How often should I use an acne scar serum?

    A. It depends on the product, so it’s important to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to determine the best way to use a particular serum. Some formulas can be used morning and night, so you’ll see results as quickly as possible. However, other acne scar serums should only be used at night because they make your skin sensitive to the sun. In particular, products that contain retinol and AHAs are often not recommended for daytime use.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Katherine
      Katherine
      Editor
    • Kristin
      Kristin
      Writer
    • Linsay
      Linsay
      Editor
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer

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