How to Get Rid of Post-Inflammatory Acne Marks Before Your Wedding
Have you ever noticed discoloration or scar-like blemishes after a breakout—spots that seem to last forever, even though the breakout's subsided? One of the most frustrating things about acne (aside from the fact that it seems to pop up at the most inopportune times) is the fact that even once it's gone, it can leave marks for weeks upon weeks. "Dark spots are the skin's response to inflammation, whether from the trauma of a breakout or sun exposure," says Dr. David Goldberg, a dermatologist at Skin Laser and Surgery Specialists. "Darker cells build up to protect over-exposed, irritated skin." Luckily, they're not permanent, and you can eradicate them by your wedding day if you start treating them well in advance of the occasion.
To help you get rid of these annoying marks faster, we went on a search for the best treatment products. With the help of Goldberg, we've listed out exactly what you should be using. Our roundup includes cleansers to wash your skin, serums filled with damage-fighting Vitamin C, and creams aimed at soothing redness. It also features a recommended sunscreen (spots can get darker without the proper prevention), a targeted gel, a retinoid to even your skin tone, and a hydrating moisturizer to fight off any dryness.
Before you begin your new beauty regimen, keep the standard recovery timeline in mind. "You should see some initial fading after a few weeks, but clearing completely typically takes months," Goldberg says. Here, he lays out the ideal regimen to fade post-inflammatory acne marks.
To promote cell turnover (which helps to slowly erase spots), wash with a cleanser that contains exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids. Try this one, which also contains aloe vera to calm and reduce the appearance of redness.
Neutrogena Redness-Soothing Cleanser, $7.99, neutrogena.com
You'll want to pat on a few drops of a concentrated vitamin C serum each day. "Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps even skin tone and repair damage," Goldberg says. "Also, if you still have eruptive acne, it can help lessen the trauma from blemishes that lead to spots left behind."
Skin Inc. "Rebalance" Vitamin-C Serum, $35, sephora.com
Make sure you're using a great day cream. This one contains niacinamide, which reduces redness, and bisabolol, a derivative of chamomile that helps soothe.
PCA Skin Redness-Relief Cream, $115, dermstore.com
After cleansing in the evening, use a spot treatment with hydroquinone. "It's still the gold standard to lighten discoloration and prevent the formation of new coloration," Goldberg says, and recommends this gel.
PCA Skin Pigment Gel, $55, dermstore.com
A few nights a week, use a retinoid, which evens skin tone and helps prevent future breakouts, Goldberg says. Because many people can be sensitive to retinol, be cautious when applying it and use just a pea-sized amount for your entire face.
Dermalogica Overnight Retinol, $87, ulta.com
If your skin feels dry, finish with a hydrating moisturizer. (This one also contains niacinamide, so you'll be getting morning and evening doses of that redness-reducing ingredient.)
CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion, $15.49, ulta.com