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12 derm-approved products to treat acne scarring

Combat scarring and discoloration once and for all.
Woman squeezing pimples while looking at the mirror
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Summertime calls for beach days, camping trips, picnic brunches and other kinds of outdoor fun. With sunnier days ahead, it's important to make sure your skin is ready to have fun, too. However, this can be difficult if you have acne or acne scarring.

But what exactly is acne scarring and how can you combat it? Shop TODAY spoke to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Yoon-Soo Cindy Bae to find out more.

What causes acne scarring?

According to Dr. Bae, acne scarring happens when there's an increase of inflammation and bacteria on your skin and the tissue underneath it, along with atypical formation of keratin on the outermost layers of your skin (abnormal keratinization) and overproduction of a naturally occurring, oily substance called sebum that can clog your pores. The three most common types of acne scarring include ice pick (narrow, crater-like indentions), rolling (tethering, wave-like depressions) and boxcar (sharp, well-defined depressions) scars.

A few other factors can increase your risk of acne scars, including a family history of scarring and acne cysts or nodules or delaying medical treatment for severe acne. Picking or squeezing your pimples during breakouts could also contribute to long-term scarring.

Dr. Bae also mentioned that patients often confuse acne scarring with dyspigmentation. Dyspigmentation is the pigmentation associated with previous acne and can look like red, pink or brown spots on your skin. "The brown dyspigmentation is technically not scarring," says Dr. Bae, "so it's important to make this distinction for clear communication about treatment."

What ingredients are good for acne scarring?

Dr. Bae recommends evaluation by a professional to determine your best treatment options. However, she said there are products on the market that can help get your acne scarring under control. "Topical treatments like adapalene can help remodel collagen to improve the appearance of acne scars," says Bae.

Using proper protection against the sun, which is known to impact our collagen, is also extremely important in combatting acne scarring. You don't need to avoid the sun for the whole summer, but you should wear a sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or more when you head outdoors. Also, be mindful about the amount of time you spend in the sun if you're not covering your acne-prone skin in some way.

Recommended creams for acne scarring

Differin Gel

Differin is one of Dr. Bae's top recommendations, since it contains adapalene, a recommended retinoid that increases cell turnover. This gel helps heal and prevent breakouts, but also reduces redness and inflammation caused by acne.

Murad InvisiScar Resurfacing Treatment

Antioxidants and salicylic acid work together to target post-acne scarring, uneven pigmentation and breakouts in this resurfacing treatment. This product is known to visibly reduce the the look, depth, texture and coloration of acne scars.

Ambi Skincare Fade Cream

This cream works to improve the appearance of dark spots and discoloration. It's oil-free and contains vitamin E, which helps heal your skin gently.

Pro-SIL Patented Silicone Scar Treatment Stick

Biodermis' treatment stick is clinically proven to reduce scarring and comes in a convenient glide-on stick form. This treatment can be used for acne scars in addition to surgery, cut and burn scars. Definitely a good product to keep on hand year-round!

Recommended cleansers for acne scarring

Glytone Mild Gel Cleanser

Alpha hydroxy acid's (AHA) and glycolic acid team up in Glytone's cleanser to help peel off old, dead skin so that new, better pigmented skin cells grow. It also removes makeup!

PanOxyl Foaming Acne Wash

When used in your daily routine, this acne face wash helps clear existing breakouts and prevents new imperfections from forming. Plus, it's pH balanced with three humectants and four emollients to prevent dryness.

Derma-E Vitamin C Brightening Cleanser

This brightening cleanser is ideal for those with dispygmentation and discoloration. Feel guilt-free buying this product since it's also 100% vegan and free of parabens, sulfates, mineral oil and GMOs.

Differin Gentle Cleanser

This cleanser from Differin contains 0.1% adapelene, Dr. Bae's recommended ingredient to treat acne scarring. It's gentle enough for everyday use and won't cause irritation or dryness.

Recommended sunscreens for acne scarring

EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen

This EltaMD sunscreen has it all: a high SPF to protect from UVA and UVB rays, sodium hyaluronate to moisturize and lactic acid to clears pores and reduce shine. It's highly recommended for acne-prone and sensitive skin.

Brush On Block Mineral Sunscreen Powder

This brush-on mineral sunscreen helps prevent inflammation and irritation in addition to being super lightweight and easy to apply. The best part? It can be worn under or over your makeup.

Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Sunscreen Lotion

Aveeno's antioxidant oat sunscreen is affordable and non-comedogenic, so it won't clog your pores or leave your skin feeling dry. It protects and moisturizes your skin all at the same time.

Differin Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with Sunscreen

Yet another product from Differin that contains adapelene, this moisturizing sunscreen was developed for people with oily skin. Its lightweight coverage won't clog your pores or leave you feeling greasy.

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