How to Get Rid of Post-Inflammatory Acne Marks Before Your Wedding
These products will help those pesky spots fade so much faster.
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 Dr. 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," Dr. 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.
Shop Now: Neutrogena Salicylic Acid Facial Cleanser for Redness, $9.49, walgreens.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."
Shop Now: Skin Inc. "Rebalance" Vitamin-C Serum, $35, nordstrom.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.
Shop Now: 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.
Shop Now: PCA Skin Pigment Gel, $64, 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.
Shop Now: Dermalogica "Overnight Retinol Repair" Cream, $90, dermstore.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.)
Shop Now: CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion, $15.99, ulta.com.
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