As if getting a full-fledged breakout isn't enough, you also have to deal with the aftermath of acne scars and dark spots. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick explains in a report from Allure that the scars and spots or discoloration occur as a result of injury to the skin.
In the case of an acne breakout, the injury is related to excess sebum production, bacteria, and inflammation. Because of those aspects, the hyperpigmentation after acne differs from the dark spots or hyperpigmentation that is caused by too much sun exposure and other environmental stressors.
How To Deal With Dark Spots
Allure asked top dermatologists for product recommendations for post-acne marks and spots. Here are some of the most effective discoloration solutions.
Neutrogena Rapid Clear 2-in-1 Fight & Fade Toner
Salicylic acid is one of the best ingredients for treating acne, but it also has exfoliating properties to deal with the marks left behind. Dr. Garshick says that salicylic acid can remove dead skin cells and promote new ones, thus improving your skin tone and texture.
She recommends Neutrogena Rapid Clear 2-in-1 Fight & Fade Toner as it fights active breakouts while cleaning up after it.
Peace Out Microneedling Dark Spot Brightening Dots
For effective spot treatment, Dr. Garshick likes these microneedling stickers that contain licorice, tranexamic acid and niacinamide. The combination reduces redness and inflammation from acne and also prevents you from picking at healing pimples.
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic
You'll probably find this multivitamin serum in almost every article about acne and hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C is well-known for its brightening properties and has been proven to lighten dark spots.
Dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner adds that vitamin E, as an antioxidant, helps in repairing the skin barrier and improves the appearance of scars.
Ole Henriksen Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner
With its high concentration of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), the Ole Henriksen Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner can reduce discoloration within a week. Aesthetician Dija Ayodele tells Harper's Bazaar AHAs such as glycolic, lactic and mandelic acid breaks down the glue that holds dead skin cells together to reveal the fresher skin underneath. This toner is formulated with glycolic acid and lactic acid.
PCA Skin Pigment Gel
Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Rebecca Kazin says she often recommends PCA Skin Pigment Gel to patients as a post-acne scarring treatment. This potent gel contains 2 percent hydroquinone and skin brighteners like kojic acid, resorcinol, and azelaic acid which lightens without irritating the skin.
As a bonus, lactic acid prevents overdrying, which can worsen dark spots.
Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser
For acne-prone skin, Dr. Zeichner suggests using a salicylic acid cleanser as a preventive measure. He likes Aveeno's Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser because it delivers salicylic acid without drying out the skin and it helps remove excess sebum.
Salicylic acid also exfoliates dead cells from the skin's surface to keep the pores clear. Excess oil and clogged pores are the main culprits of acne so this cleanser will help keep it at bay.