Many acne sufferers are saddened to realize that just because the blemishes heal, it doesn't mean the skin looks flawless. In fact, many people with healed acne have to deal with post-acne marks. These marks are red or brown and can look like scarring. The good thing is that these marks fade within a year. The bad news is that you have to deal with these pesky marks until then. That being said, there are things you can do to even out your skin tone and improve the look of your acne-free face.
Wear oil-free sunscreen, no matter what. Apply a thin layer of sunblock before you go outdoors to protect your skin from sun damage. Excessive sun exposure can make your post-acne marks darker and prolong their period of healing.
Apply lemon juice to your skin. Squeeze a fresh lemon and dab the juice onto your post-acne marks. Allow it to sit for up to 20 minutes before rinsing. Don't leave it on overnight, as your skin could become red or irritated. The acid in lemon juice will bleach your dark spots and make your skin tone more even with regular use.
Exfoliate your skin with a mild scrub a few times a week. The scrub should contain exfoliating beads that are round and smooth. Exfoliants containing shells or jagged pieces of seeds are too rough and will damage your skin. Stick to round beads that will slough off dead skin to help unclog pores without irritating the skin's surface.
See your dermatologist to have a chemical peel or dermabrasion performed on your skin. These procedures are a bit more invasive and help to slough off the top layer of skin faster so that your red or brown marks will fade away at a quicker rate. During a chemical peel, your dermatologist will apply an acid to your skin. After sitting for a few minutes, the acid will be removed. Your skin may burn or tingle, but this is normal. Irritation is to be expected, and your skin might peel. However, this goes away usually within a week, and your skin will be smoother with fewer pigmentation issues as a result.
Dermabrasion involves using a wand to sand off the top layer of skin. This creates an open wound. Your skin will require delicate care and a few weeks to heal. Once it does, you'll notice fewer marks and a smoother skin texture.
Use a bleaching cream that contains hydroquinone. This cream removes the pigment from the skin and is generally used to treat serious skin disorders like vitiligo. However, it can be applied to your post-acne marks to help them fade into the rest of your skin. Individuals with dark skin shouldn't use this cream, as it could leave permanently de-pigmented spots.
Brenda Barron is a writer, editor and researcher based in Southern California. She has worked as a writer since 2004, with work appearing in online and print publications such as BabyZone, "Cat Fancy" and "ePregnancy." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from California State University, Long Beach.