- Face masks for acne scars are intended to minimize the appearance of facial scarring caused by acne.
- Superficial acne scars may respond well to a face mask formulation that includes mildly exfoliating or lightening ingredients.
- Natural ingredients such as turmeric, aloe vera, banana and lemon juice may help fight acne, improve scarring and brighten the skin.
- If you have moderate-to severe acne scars, a mask can provide nourishing ingredients to your skin but likely won’t treat your scars.
Deep-penetrating and nourishing, face masks deliver a concentrated dose of beneficial ingredients to the skin and are designed to treat various skin concerns. Face masks for acne scars are specifically formulated to target and reduce the appearance of these scars. They are available for purchase or may be made at home with natural ingredients. Depending on the formula, these masks can gently exfoliate or brighten the skin.
Can a Face Mask Treat Acne Scars?
Face masks may be beneficial for minimizing the appearance of some types of acne scars if they contain skin-lightening ingredients, such as aloe vera, vitamin C and lemon juice. If your acne scars are hyperpigmented, it’s possible those ingredients could lighten the scar tissue.
While not scientifically proven to treat moderate-to-severe acne, face masks can be beneficial for mild acne, most notably by preventing new scars from forming.
Benefits of Face Masks for Acne Scars
If you have superficial acne scarring, a mask could help improve the overall appearance of your skin by smoothing its texture and lightening scars. Results will depend on your skin and the unique conditions you’re addressing.
If you’re looking to treat acne breakouts as well as mild scarring, face masks can help minimize these breakouts and help prevent acne scarring. When scarring is moderate to severe, mildly invasive skin rejuvenation treatments or cosmetic surgery would be more appropriate options than face masks.
How to Use a Face Mask for Acne Scars
Incorporating a face mask for acne scars into your skin care routine is easy. Most masks are applied, then washed off after 10–15 minutes; other formulations are left on overnight.
- Wash your face with a gentle, nonirritating cleanser
- Apply your mask of choice
- If using a cream, charcoal, or clay mask, rinse off before you continue your nighttime skin care routine.
- An overnight mask should be the last skin care product you apply before you go to bed.
If you want to lighten acne scars, a leave-on mask might be your best option. Apply your mask several times a week for best results.
Best Face Mask for Acne Scars
The best face masks for acne scars are clay, cream, gel, peel-off, and charcoal masks because they help to mildly exfoliate the skin. Some, like aloe vera and lemon face masks, may even help lighten hyperpigmentation that is often found in scar tissue.
Opt for masks with noncomedogenic ingredients that won’t clog pores or aggravate acne. Avoid using sheet masks, as these can worsen acne and put you at risk for further scarring.
Ingredients to look for
Some of the best ingredients for acne scars include mild exfoliants that remove a thin layer of dead skin cells, as well as melanin inhibitors that lighten skin tone over time. Melanin inhibitors may help lighten scarred, hyperpigmented areas and brighten the overall look of your skin.
Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs)
- Glycolic acid
- Lactic acid
- Tartaric acid
- Citric acid
- Malic acid
Beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs)
- Salicylic acid
However, ingredients such as salicylic acid can irritate and dry the skin and are therefore best used as spot treatments on small areas of skin.
Best Face Mask for Acne Scars for Specific Skin Types
Choose ingredients, combinations and the type of mask that is best suited to your skin type. Peel-off masks are effective in removing dead skin cells and clearing debris from pores but some are irritating to the skin. When choosing a peel-off mask, avoid using ingredients such as charcoal and glue.
If you have normal skin with acne scars, you can experiment with different types of masks until you find what works best for you. Look for ingredients that gently brighten and resurface the skin, such as vitamin C and glycolic acid.
Avoid comedogenic oils and formulations that can clog pores and trigger future breakouts.
For dry, acne-scarred skin, choose a cream or gel mask to soften, plump and moisturize. Look for ingredients such as aloe vera to moisturize and help lighten hyperpigmentation.
You’ll want to avoid using drying ingredients such as salicylic acid in a full mask, because they can worsen dry skin. Salicylic acid is better as an ingredient in a facial cleanser or spot treatment. Clay and charcoal masks also may not be appropriate for this skin type, since these ingredients could dry it further.
Clay and charcoal masks are appropriate options for oily skin with acne scars. These formulations gently draw out excess oil without drying out the skin. As an added bonus, they also gently tighten skin.
If you have acne scarring on oily skin, avoid using gel, cream and sheet masks. These types of masks are formulated to add extra hydration, and can trigger extra oil production in your skin. Sheet masks should also be avoided as these clog pores and can trigger acne breakouts.
If you have sensitive skin, use gentle formulations such as cream or gel masks that are easy to rinse off, and don’t contain irritating ingredients, such as alcohols and synthetic fragrances, that dry the skin or strip its natural oils. Avoid potentially irritating peel-off masks, and be gentle when rinsing off clay and charcoal masks. Don’t scrub, as this action can irritate skin.
If you have combination skin with acne scarring—for example, if your T-zone is oily but your cheeks are dry—you could try using two different types of masks at once. Apply a clay or charcoal mask on your T-zone, and a soothing, hydrating cream mask to your cheeks.
Alternatively, use a clay mask on your entire face, but be sure to apply a moisturizer to dry areas immediately after removal.
Darker skin tone
For those with darker skin, some specific issues should be taken into consideration. Retinoids, in particular, can remove melanin from the skin. However, some darker-skinned people may have a reaction called postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which could actually worsen the appearance of existing acne scars. Retinoids should therefore be used with caution, and at low concentrations.
For optimal results, you may choose peel-off masks that gently exfoliate, as well as charcoal, clay, gel, or cream masks that contain argan oil or hyaluronic acid to moisturize and smooth the skin. Avoid skin-lightening ingredients such as lemon, vitamin C and aloe vera.
Natural Face Mask Ingredients for Acne Scars
DIY face masks are commonly made with natural ingredients that can be found in your kitchen. These include honey, yogurt and aloe vera. Some natural ingredients have nourishing, skin-rejuvenating ingredients, while others can be irritating to skin.
Proceed with caution and always patch-test a small area of skin before you apply any new product or natural ingredient to your face.
Aloe vera is one of nature’s most well-known medicinal plants, and it’s a popular skin care ingredient. It is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, and is widely regarded as a healing, moisturizing, anti-aging and anti-inflammatory plant extract.
Aloe is commonly used to combat acne breakouts. As a melanin inhibitor, aloe may also help reduce the appearance of acne scars by lightening the pigmentation of scar tissue. Creams containing aloe vera have been clinically shown to reduce acne scarring.
You can make an easy aloe vera face mask by leaving aloe gel on your face overnight, or you can combine it with simple ingredients such as lemon juice or honey for a soothing mask treatment before bed.
Banana face masks are simple, easy natural treatments that may help fade acne scars, and brighten and rejuvenate skin. In addition to antimicrobial properties, bananas have high phenolic and antioxidant content. Phenols are antibacterial and serve to brighten skin, while antioxidants protect the skin from damage.
Lemon juice has been studied as a potential skin-lightening agent, and is considered a melanin inhibitor. It may lighten hyperpigmentation when applied to the skin.
However, if you have sensitive skin, lemon could be irritating as it is acidic and may alter your skin’s pH level.
Powdered turmeric can be combined with other mask ingredients such as honey or yogurt and applied to the skin to combat both acne and acne scarring. Its active ingredient, curcumin, is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.
Use caution when applying turmeric to your face, particularly if you have a light skin tone. Turmeric powder is bright orange and can stain your skin.
Face masks for acne scars could potentially reduce the appearance of mild acne scars by lightening scar tissue and smoothing the skin’s surface. These masks have not been proven to treat more severe acne scars, but they may be beneficial because they nourish the skin and may prevent future scarring.
Mild acne scars can benefit from face masks because some ingredients, such as lemon or aloe vera, can help lighten hyperpigmented scar tissue. Other ingredients such as glycolic and hyaluronic acid can help gently exfoliate and resurface the skin, smoothing and plumping it.
The best ingredients are those that are chosen based on your specific skin type and concern, therefore it’s important to research and consider your options carefully. Some masks are available for purchase, or you may opt to make your own, cost-effective mask using natural ingredients.
While masks may be beneficial for light scarring, moderate-to-severe scarring likely won’t de addressed with this treatment. Deeper scars from past breakouts may require minimally invasive cosmetic procedures to resurface the skin.
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