Does Vitamin C Help with Acne Scars?
When you were growing up, did your mom insist that you drink a giant cup of orange juice every time you had the sniffles? If so, she probably thought that the OJ’s almighty power of vitamin C would nip the cold in the bud. While that likely didn’t cure you of your symptoms, vitamin C has been considered beneficial in another, more visible way—for your skin.
That’s right, topical vitamin C can do wonders for your skin. People use it to rid themselves of irritating dark spots, protect their faces from environmental aggressors like sunlight, and improve acne lesions on their faces.
But what if you have scarring due to acne—does vitamin C help with acne scars? It just might!
If you find the right vitamin C products for your skin and use them regularly, it may lessen the appearance of your acne scars, especially when used with other skincare products.
How does acne scarring occur?
Acne vulgaris—better known by its moniker, acne—can happen for a few reasons. Primarily, it occurs when your hair follicles become blocked. Sometimes, this occurs because the sebaceous gland produces too much oil (aka sebum) and clogs your hair follicles. You might also be prone to overly productive sebaceous glands for hereditary reasons or due to hormonal changes. Dead skin cells mixed with sebum can also lead to different kinds of acne.
Once your follicles become clogged, bacteria can contaminate the follicles, causing acne in the form of:
Once you’ve treated your acne with over-the-counter products or had something prescribed by a dermatologist, you can wait for the acne to heal and determine if there are any visible scars.
You’re more likely to notice scarring if:
You had inflammation – If your acne was red, swollen, and painful, it was likely inflamed. This can cause long-term damage to the top layer of your skin.
Understanding how they form can be a great way to learn how to prevent acne scars. But while an acne scar can be caused by any of the above events, a vitamin C product can be added to skin care to help heal it.
Does vitamin C heal all types of acne?
Now to the question we're waiting to answer: does vitamin C help acne scars? Vitamin C is chock-full of beneficial properties that may help with acne scars. For one, it’s a powerful antioxidant, which may reduce inflammation and redness caused by acne. Vitamin C can also help the body produce more collagen. This may help rebuild healthy skin cells and improve the appearance of certain acne scars.
Before diving into the benefits of vitamin C and healing acne scars, it helps to know the different types. Here are the two types of acne scars you might experience, and how vitamin C can flex its mighty powers to help with scarring:
#1 Depressed acne scars
Depressed scars (aka atrophic scars) are often the result of acne or chickenpox and appear as depressions or indents in the top layer of the skin. These pits form when your body doesn’t produce enough collagen to properly heal the tissue surrounding the acne.
#2 Raised acne scars
Raised acne scars occur when your body’s natural collagen production works a little too well. Your body uses collagen to produce new and healthier skin cells, but sometimes it makes too much, causing the skin to become thick and raised where the acne used to be.
There are two different types of raised scars:
How vitamin C helps acne scars
Due to its collagen-increasing abilities (which helps with cellular turnover), it may accelerate the healing of acne tissue.
In a four-week study, participants noticed a moderate improvement in their acne scarring when they received a treatment of micro-needling combined with 15% vitamin C topical cream once a week. The treatment was effective in lessening post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (dark spots) and providing smoother, more firm skin.
The takeaway? The use of a high concentration of topical vitamin C appears to be effective in helping with acne scars.
How long does it take for vitamin C to work on acne scars?
Now that you know how vitamin C works to heal this skin concern, you're probably wondering just how long a vitamin C product takes to work. The real answer is that It depends on the severity and age of the scar tissue and the concentration of topical vitamin C you’re using.
Although research on vitamin C and acne scars is still ongoing, one study saw an improvement in hyperpigmentation and the elevation of scarring after six months of consistent use of a topical vitamin C gel.
How does vitamin C affect acne scars?
In recent years, topical vitamin C has become a popular addition to the daily skincare routine. People looking to brighten their skin, reduce dark spots, or simply slow down the addition of fine lines and wrinkles have sought out vitamin C serums, gels, and creams. This ingredient has become a staple in skin care for any skin type.
Sounds useful, right? But what about acne—does vitamin C have any impact on acne scars? It can, and below we’ve broken down how it may affect them:
It may diminish the appearance of current acne scars
Vitamin C is involved in all stages of the healing process due to its ability to help the body generate more collagen. Collagen is a pint-sized protein that’s usually most effective when healing fresh wounds. However, it may be able to lessen the appearance of previously healed scar tissue by encouraging the growth of new and healthier skin where you currently have scars.
It may prevent future scarring
Not only can it potentially help reduce any current acne scars, but because of vitamin C’s anti-inflammatory properties, it may also prevent future acne breakout scarring.
Vitamin C can treat your current acne by relieving some of the swelling and redness associated with inflammation, therefore making it easier for your acne to heal. Mix that with collagen’s ability to help repair skin, and you might not have as many future acne scars to worry about.
It may reduce post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
This type of hyperpigmentation occurs due to inflammation of the skin, typically caused by acne. When your skin becomes inflamed, the production of melanin (what gives your skin it's color) in those areas increases. Those patches of skin can then become darker.
Vitamin C may be able to diminish those dark spots by doing the following:
Things to consider before using vitamin C on the skin
So you’re ready to introduce vitamin C to your skincare routine—excellent! We’ve put together some suggestions to help guide you on your healing journey:
Choose your topical wisely
There are many topical vitamin C products to choose from—gels, masks, serums, and creams. With such a wide variety to choose from, you might be wondering which one will be most effective at improving the appearance of your acne scars.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you.
When you’re scouring the shelves for the perfect product, be on the lookout for a vitamin C serum. They have a higher concentration of L-ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C) which means they will have more antioxidants and are more potent than most creams. In addition, certain creams may further clog your pores, exacerbating any current acne you have.
Here are some tips to consider when shopping for a vitamin C serum:
Start with a low concentration and work your way up – When you begin using a serum, start with one that has a low concentration, preferably around 5%. If your skin is dry or sensitive, it can help keep your skin hydrated without causing itching or irritation. If it hasn’t caused your skin any discomfort after two weeks, opt for a serum with a 10% concentration or higher for more effective results.
Pair your serum with other ingredients
You can add other helpful ingredients to the mix to provide even more protection and assistance with your acne scars. Some of these ingredients may be found within the serum itself, or you may encounter them in other products that you can use in tandem with the vitamin C:
Vitamin E and ferulic acid – Ferulic acid is an antioxidant that boosts the powers of other antioxidants. If you combine vitamin C with the power of ferulic acid (and vitamin E) then you have a highly effective antioxidant on your hands—and face, which may help heal current acne lesions and possibly lessen your acne scars.
Hyaluronic acid – If your skin is sensitive, you might notice that vitamin C makes it appear dry. Hyaluronic acid may help to keep skin hydrated, heal wounds faster, and reduce scarring. If you pair them together, the hyaluronic acid may help to create a moisture barrier on the skin, which can ease your acne’s healing process.
Witch hazel and aloe vera – Both of these ingredients are extracted from plants and may be effective at soothing inflammation in acne-prone skin. They may also provide hydration to dry skin. You often find witch hazel in toners, which you can use before applying vitamin C serum. Aloe vera has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties, and you can use it directly from the plant itself, or in creams, cleansers, and moisturizers.
When it comes to an active ingredient like this, it’s important to understand what not to mix with vitamin C. Be sure to stay away from using multiple active ingredients to prevent further acne marks. For example, you would want to avoid using vitamin C with salicylic acid, for instance. Vitamin C also shouldn't be used with glycolic acid, lactic acid, and other types of AHA's and BHA's.
It’s unanimous—we’re all in Favor of happy, healthy skin
If you’re looking for a natural way to diminish your acne scars, vitamin C is a great place to start. Adding it to your skincare regimen and using it consistently may help to lighten acne-related dark spots and smooth out your skin’s complexion. It could even prevent future scarring by helping to heal any current acne blemishes you have.
Favor wants you to feel comfortable in your skin, and that’s why we have a line of products aimed at helping you with your unique skincare needs. Try our vitamin C serum if you’re looking to dip your toes in the skin care waters. Its gentle, but effective ingredients treat uneven skin tones and can help reduce redness.
However, If you’re ready to jump right into the deep end and let a dermatologist find a treatment plan made specifically for your skin needs, we can help with that, too.
Start down the path today to achieve your skincare goals.
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