Acne Scars and Hyperpigmentation

It’s not so easy battling acne! What’s even harder is when your acne is gone, it leaves behind dark spots and scars on your skin. 

Fortunately, you will find acne scars cream, and gel that reduce discoloration on your skin. However, acne scars can take very long to heal—even years. 

Hyperpigmentation is another similar issue many people face. Although it’s different from acne marks in nature, it looks pretty similar. 

The good news is that there are some methods and products that can take your skin back to being smooth and even-toned. Employ them correctly, and you will see visible results in a matter of weeks. 

What is Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation refers to dark spots on the skin or just a darker area of skin. It includes age spots, sun spots, and liver spots. Unlike acne scars that might cause a dent in the skin, hyperpigmentation causes uneven skin tone in the area. 

Hyperpigmentation and acne scars might result from acne, but they are two different problems with separate treatment methods. 

Most of the time, what you believe to be acne scars are post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) rather than actual scars. This type of hyperpigmentation causes discoloration and it is only a form of skin pigmentation.

Woman with her hand next to her cheek.

PIH does not cause a bump or a dent in the skin but just a flat discolored area. This type of hyperpigmentation can appear anywhere from white and pink to brown and black, depending on your skin tone. 

The pigmentation usually results from an irritation, such as a pimple, rash, or scratch, which causes inflammation. The inflammation causes your skin cells to produce excessive amounts of melanin in one spot. 

Melanin is a natural skin pigment that gives your skin its color. The overproduction of melanin in your skin trying to protect or heal itself from cellular damage. 

The excessive production of this pigment in one spot on the surface of the skin makes the area appear darker than your normal skin color. The spot may fade in a week or take longer. The fading time depends on the cause of the mark and your skin type. 

Hyperpigmentation or Acne Scars? 

Acne scarring refers to different marks that are left on your skin due to a breakout. This type of scarring occurs when you touch or squeeze inflamed spots and damage veins, glands, or tissues around the area. 

More severe acne scars occur at tissue loss, causing a dent in the skin, or excessive tissue, causing a raised bump. 

The type of scarring and its severity will depend on your skin type and breakout. For example, cysts are the most severe kind of acne. Therefore, depending on the acne type, you will get different types of acne scars. 

Here are a few common types of acne scars and their appearance:

  • Boxcar Scars—deep, box-like dents with defined edges
  • Icepick Scars—narrow indentations in the skin
  • Rolling Scars—wavy indentation with sloping edges
  • Keloids—raised bumps with discoloration

While acne scarring is a serious skin issue, PIH is only “pseudo scarring”, that does not damage the follicle. Unlike acne scarring, hyperpigmentation is a result of trauma to the skin, and it fades away with time. 

Treating Hyperpigmentation and Acne Scars 

There is no magic acne scars cream that will heal scars and hyperpigmentation causes overnight. However, some powerful products can lessen the appearance of the marks very quickly. 

Effective Ingredients in OTC Products

When buying an OTC product, look for these ingredients.  

Vitamin C

Vitamin C offers benefits for your body, and it’s great for your skin too. You might come across Vitamin C by the name of ascorbic acid in many skincare products.

This antioxidant boosts the production of collagen, which reduces hyperpigmentation and acne scarring to even out your skin tone. 

Vitamin C can be used on all skin types and colors. You will see a visible difference in acne scars before and after applying this vitamin. 

Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring acid that treats active acne, scars, and hyperpigmentation. It’s also effective on raised acne scars and prevents future breakouts. 

This acid improves the texture and tone of your skin by promoting new skin cells. However, keep in mind that you might experience some side effects, such as burning or peeling after using azelaic acid products. 

If your skin feels too dry or flakey after using an acid, apply a vitamin-rich moisturizer to put back moisture in your skin. 


Retinoids are chemical compounds made of vitamin A, and they are a trusted remedy in the skincare world. They penetrate deep into the skin to even out texture and skin tone. 

Retinoids improve acne scars and reduce hyperpigmentation. You will see a significant difference in acne scars before and after using them on your skin. 

Natural Remedies

Try out these natural remedies that have been around for ages. 

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is an excellent healing agent that lightens up your skin and heals dark spots. When applied regularly, it depigments the skin cells for a more even tone. 

You can apply aloe vera directly to your skin or mix it with other natural ingredients, such as apple cider vinegar and turmeric, to enhance the effects.

Grape Seed Extract

Grapeseed oil is derived from the seeds of grapes and is proven to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties. The extract helps with acne breakouts and evens out skin tone. 

Grapeseed oil can be taken orally or used as a serum on your face. You can also mix a drop of grapeseed oil in your body cream to keep your skin smooth and glowing. 

Professional Treatments

If you prefer going to the dermatologist to treat your acne scars or hyperpigmentation, consider these treatments. 

Chemical Peel

This method uses acids to peel away the outer layer of your skin to reveal healthier and even-toned skin underneath. This treatment is preferable for people with extremely dark marks or deep acne scars. 

Chemical peeling solutions contain AHAs or BHAs to remove dead skin cells and improve the overall texture of the skin. Since all acids used for “peeling” are quite powerful, you will notice a drastic change in acne scars before and after the treatment. 


Woman that has a smile.

Microneedling is a method of using fine needles to make micro punctures in your skin. In theory, the pricking process leads to more collagen and elastin production that smooths out your skin and fills up any scars. 

It’s better to use derma rollers with thin needles to reduce redness and inflammation. Never use a dermaroller on active acne. 

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Acne scars and hyperpigmentation are hard to deal with on your skin and in your mind. However, there are a variety of effective treatments to free yourself from these annoying skin conditions.  

Try our suggested at-home remedies consistently to see visible differences or visit a dermatologist for in-office treatment. Whatever you choose, remember to love your skin—it’s you and your skin against the conditions.

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