How to get rid of acne scars: 7 tips from the experts

We look at the options, from serums to laser treatments

Jessica B

For anyone who has ever suffered from acne, the marks and scarring can remain long after your skin has recovered from outbreaks. Although acne scars naturally get less noticeable over time, there are a number of treatments you can use to speed up the process, from expensive salon-based therapies to at-home ointments. Here's everything you need to know: 

What's the difference between acne scars and marks?

Before deciding on which treatment route to go down, it's vital to know the difference between a scar and a mark so that you can treat the skin properly. The difference between these can be surprisingly subtle. 

An acne scar will be white in colour and the skin will be dented whereas a mark, that has not yet scarred, will be red and irritated in colour. A mark can also be light to dark brown which is a sign of Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH). It's only a scar once the skin has gone pale. 

If you've noticed any of these conditions on your skin, here are the best ways to get rid of acne scars and marks:

1. Microdermabrasion

For those with fair skin, microdermabrasion – where tiny crystals are gently sprayed over the skin to remove the outer layer – can be an effective way to reduce acne scarring. Treatment prices can vary widely from around £60 to £200, but you will find salons that perform it all over the country. If you have darker skin, you do need to be careful – microdermabrasion may lead to further scarring or discolouration. For a gentle at-home version of the treatment instead try Hydrafacial – a three stage extraction facial which also works to brighten and cleanse polluted skin.

2. Specialist serums

Pick a serum that's specifically geared towards repairing damaged skin. Try Priori DNA fx221 Recovery Serum (£60), which claims to "act as our skin's DNA enzymes would, cutting out and repairing damage" and return your skin to "pristine factory settings". Another one to try is Clarins Mission Perfection Serum, which promises to target dark spots and even out skin tone.

3. Laser treatment

Laser treatment is an effective way of repairing damaged skin. The Pixel CO2 laser, which costs £450 per treatment, claims to be minimally invasive. It creates small microscopic indentations in the skin, which then stimulate new collagen production. Only opt for laser treatments after consulting with a specialist, as the results will depend upon your skin condition. You will find clinics around the country that responsibly offer the service.

4. Bio-Oil

One of the best-known at-home remedies for scarring is Bio-Oil. This wonder ointment is made from a blend of plant extracts and is designed to reduce the appearance of light scars, such as stretch marks and acne scars. Plus it's a bargain, at only £13 for 200ml. Be warned if you're still suffering from acne though – because of its oily consistency, Bio-Oil is best left for treating scars only.

5. Regular exfoliation

Be sure to exfoliate regularly – even though it won't get rid of scars completely, it will improve the texture and appearance of the skin’s surface and encourage new cell growth. Exfoliators we would recommend include Murad's Skin Smoothing Polish (£32), Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Original Formula (£81) and Eucerin Dermo Purifyer Scrub (£9.50).

6. Skin peels

During a chemical peel, concentrated chemicals are applied to the surface of the skin to remove scar cells and let new ones grow. The best type for treating acne stars is a phenol peel, which penetrates deep into the layers of skin beyond the epidermis. Thanks to its potency, penol peels must be carried out by professionals only. Phenol peels are not a procedure that you will commonly find at salons however leading places like Harley Street offer it. 

7. LED facials

The Light Salon specialises in LED facials which are excellent for helping mild to severe adolescent and adult acne. Non-invasive, a blue light destroys the bacteria causing blemishes, and speeds up the healing process of irritation which improves the overall condition of the skin. With zero downtime and prices starting from just £35, it's one of the best things you can do for irritated skin. 

8. Treat from underneath

As well as treatments which deal with the top of the scar, leading cosmetic surgeon and CMO of Dr MediSpa, Dr Munir Somji says you should also look at procedures that treat the scar from underneath too, such as subcision or radiofrequency microneedling. Subcision uses special hyperdermic needles to break scars away from the tissue underneath. Radiofrequency microneedling uses radiofrequency technology to plump up damaged skin.