Let’s face it: The only thing more frustrating than your skin going through a rough patch with acne is a case that seems to permanently damage your skin. Acne scars can strike any skin type and at any age, leaving behind dark red or brown marks and an uneven, pitted texture. Depending on the severity, acne scars can last weeks, months—or longer.
If you’re seeing scars, there are things that can help. Skin resurfacing at your dermatologist’s office—which can include chemical peels, dermabrasion, lasers, or a combination of the three—is the fastest route back to a smooth complexion, and probably your best bet if you're dealing with very deep pits. But there are also steps you can take at home to make these stubborn marks fade away.
A good starting point is a fading cream that contains kojic acid, vitamin C, and lower-strength hydroquinone, says R. Sonia Batra, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at USC Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles. “Then to really blend scars over time, retinol, which is a vitamin A derivative, can help promote cell turnover and collagen formation,” she adds. (Bonus: In addition to clearing acne scars, retinol can help prevent new acne from popping up in the first place, and it’s a potent anti-aging ingredient.)
We asked top derms to share how to shop the labels of products designed to get rid of acne scars. Their recommendations will help lighten up new or old scars and even prevent future problems—here seven options to consider today.