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Treating scars and hyperpigmentation

Once you’ve cleared your acne (for the most part), you may choose to focus on fading the look of scars and hyperpigmentation. In this blog, we’ll go over the difference between scarring and hyperpigmentation plus a variety of treatment options.

The difference between scarring and hyperpigmentation

The major difference between acne scarring and hyperpigmentation is the type of skin lesion left behind from the breakout. Scarring occurs in two cases: there is excess tissue as a result of a breakout, or there is a depression in the skin leftover from a blemish. Hyperpigmentation is merely a discoloration of the skin rather than a buildup of excess tissue or divots in the skin. Hyperpigmentation appears as dark patches on the skin after healing from a breakout.

Scarring treatments

There are a number of ways to treat acne scarring, and some are more invasive than others. Below you will find the most common forms of acne scarring treatments and their benefits. Keep in mind that if you’re breaking out often, it may not be the right time to invest in scarring treatments. You essentially don’t want to waste the time and money you’re investing in acne scarring treatments if you’re still breaking out. We recommend speaking to your dermatologist to determine if it’s the right time to start focusing on softening the look of scars.

Steroid Injections

Steroids are commonly used to treat extreme scarring. Lab-created corticosteroids mimic our body’s natural healing response and allow for the scar to heal and fade away in time. Steroid injections are best suited for people who experience extreme scarring. Consult with your dermatologist to determine if steroid injections would be best for you.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are often used to treat scarring because of their ability to remove dead skin cells and reveal smoother skin. However, chemical peels are not typically recommended for people with deeper skin tones due to the risk of temporary or permanent changes in skin color. Chemical peels are not to be taken lightly – always contact your dermatologist before opting for a chemical peel.


Dermabrasion is a skin resurfacing procedure commonly used for acne scars, wrinkles, and injuries. Dermabrasions are performed using a sanding technique that reveals smooth skin and removes acne scarring. Dermabrasions are exclusively performed by licensed dermatologists or plastic surgeons. Dermabrasion is a medical procedure that requires a doctor’s approval and should only be considered if you have extreme scarring.


Microdermabrasion treatments clear acne scarring by removing excess skin cells from the affected areas along the skin barrier. They are not recommended for those who have raised acne scars because the affected area must be flat to the epidermis to achieve results. Since this treatment is more invasive, be sure to speak with your dermatologist before booking an appointment.


Known for its success in smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles, Botox is also used to treat divots in the skin from acne scarring. Botox works to reduce acne scarring by releasing the tension in the skin and therefore making it easier for breakouts to heal.


Filler is another option for depressed acne scarring because of its ability to plump the skin. Filler is not suitable for those with raised acne scars – it would actually make them much worse for obvious reasons. However if you struggle with depressed scarring due to painful, deep breakouts, filler could be the treatment for you!

Hyperpigmentation treatments

Overall, hyperpigmentation is harmless, but it can still be disheartening to clear a blemish only to have a dark spot left in its place. Read below to learn more about the common treatments of acne hyperpigmentation. Because treatments for hyperpigmentation are topical and can often help with active acne breakouts, you don’t need to wait to clear your skin before beginning treatment. These products may already be in your skincare regimen!

Vitamin C

Vitamin C boosts collagen to even out your skin tone and is suitable for most skin types. The serum brightens skin and promotes a youthful appearance. Vitamin C is commonly used to treat hyperpigmentation and achieve vibrant skin. While using vitamin C can be a great way to brighten dark spots, it can actually cause acne in some cases. For this reason, it’s best to perform a spot test before you apply the serum to your entire face. As always, it’s important to check the ingredient list to watch out for pore-clogging ingredients.

Azelaic Acid

Not only does azelaic acid treat hyperpigmentation, it also prevents future breakouts. Azelaic acid works to brighten discoloration by remaining gentle on the skin and evening your skin tone. The acid also has anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe redness. In some cases, azelaic acid can lead to hypopigmentation – the lightening of skin color caused by skin injuries or extreme conditions. The risk for hypopigmentation is high for those who have deep skin tones.

Mandelic Acid

Mandelic acid is a gentle AHA and fights against hyperpigmentation by gently fading away dark spots and discoloration. Thanks to its large particle size, mandelic acid is easier to absorb into your skin than other acids. On top of its skin-evening qualities, mandelic acid also works to smooth out wrinkles.


Retinoids penetrate the skin barrier to balance your skin tone and even out dark spots. Derived from vitamin A, retinoids enhance epidermal cell turnover to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Implementing retinoids as a treatment for hyperpigmentation is an effective choice for those looking for healthy skin cell growth and balanced skin. Retinoids can trigger breakouts in some, so it’s best to start with a spot test for about a week before applying it all over.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are reserved for people who have tried topical, OTC treatments with no result. The treatment works by removing the surface layer of dead skin with a chemical solution. Typically, results are only seen when a patient has undergone several treatments. Talk to a dermatologist before deciding to undergo a chemical or laser peel. This treatment is exclusively for those who have extreme cases of hyperpigmentation.

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