- 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 and/or lightening ingredients.
- Natural ingredients like turmeric, aloe vera, banana and lemon juice may fight acne, improve scarring and brighten the skin.
- If you have moderate to severe acne scars, a mask could provide nourishing ingredients to your skin, but likely won’t treat your scars.
Face masks for acne scars are face mask formulations that are specifically targeted toward minimizing the appearance of acne scars. Deep-penetrating and nourishing, face masks deliver a super dose of beneficial ingredients to the skin.
Facial masks for scarring are available for commercial purchase or may be made at home with natural ingredients. Depending on the formula, face masks for acne scars 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. Certain ingredients, such as aloe vera, vitamin C, and lemon juice, may help to lighten certain skin tones. If your acne scars are hyperpigmented, it’s possible those ingredients could lighten the scar tissue.
While face masks are a popular treatment for a number of skin conditions, most scientific reviews do not include face masks as effective treatments for acne scars. If you’re prone to acne and have already experienced scarring, it’s important to prevent new scars from forming.
Benefits of Face Masks for Acne Scars
If you have superficial acne scarring, a face mask could help improve the overall appearance of your skin by smoothing its texture or lightening scars. Results depend on your skin and the unique conditions you’re addressing.
Face masks for acne scars won’t be beneficial for moderate to severe scarring. Deep acne scars require more invasive cosmetic treatments.
When acne scarring is moderate to severe, skin rejuvenation treatments or cosmetic surgery may be more appropriate than face masks.
If you’re looking to treat acne breakouts as well as acne scars, face masks can help minimize and improve your acne.
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 must be applied, then washed off after 10-15 minutes. Other formulations may be left on overnight.
- Wash your face with gentle, non-irritating cleanser before you apply a mask.
- If you’re using a cream, charcoal, or clay mask, it should be rinsed 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 a few 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. Masks with non-comedogenic ingredients that won’t clog pores or aggravate acne are your best bet. Avoid using sheet masks if you have acne-prone skin, as these can make your acne worse 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
- Melanin inhibitors
- Aloe vera
- Lemon juice
- Vitamin C
AHAs and BHAs are found more often in chemical peels than face masks. Exfoliating ingredients will help to smooth your skin and even out its texture, which should help minimize the appearance of scars.
Drying ingredients like salicylic acid shouldn’t be left on the skin for long, though, and are best used as spot treatments on small areas.
Best Face Mask for Acne Scars in Specific Skin Types
The ingredient combinations and types of face masks you choose largely depend on your skin type–whether you have acne scarring combined with dark, dry, oily or sensitive skin.
Darker skin tone
When treating acne and acne scars in people with a darker skin tone, 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 post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which could actually worsen the appearance of existing acne scars. Retinoids should be used with caution, and at low concentrations.
If you have dark skin, you may choose to focus on peel-off masks that gently exfoliate, as well as charcoal, clay, gel, or cream masks that moisturize and smooth the skin. Avoid covering your face in ingredients that may worsen hyperpigmentation.
For dry, acne-scarred skin, choose a cream or gel mask to soften, plump, and moisturize. Peel-off masks can be helpful in removing dead skin cells and clearing debris from pores, but should be used with caution. Some ingredients in peel-off masks are irritating to the skin.
You’ll want to avoid using drying ingredients like salicylic acid in a mask that covers your face, because they can worsen your dry skin. Clay and charcoal masks may not be appropriate for this skin type, since it’s already starved for moisture.
Clay and charcoal masks are great options for oily skin with acne scars. These formulations gently draw out excess oil without drying out the skin. As an added bonus, they gently tighten your skin, too.
If you have acne scarring on oily skin, avoid using gel, cream, and sheet masks. The types of masks are formulated to add extra hydration, and can trigger extra oil production in your skin. Sheet masks clog pores and can trigger acne breakouts.
If you have sensitive skin, use gentle formulations like cream or gel masks that are easy to apply, easy to rinse off, and don’t contain irritating ingredients that dry the skin or strip its natural oils, like alcohols and synthetic fragrances. Avoid potentially irritating peel-off masks, and use caution with clay and charcoal masks.
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. Use clay or charcoal on your T-zone, then apply a soothing, hydrating cream mask to your cheeks.
Alternatively, use a clay mask all over your face, but be sure to apply a moisturizer to dry areas immediately after removal.
If you have normal skin with acne scars, good news: you can experiment with different types of masks until you find what works best for your skin. Keep in mind that you don’t want to recreate the oily conditions that led to your scarring, though, and avoid comedogenic oils and formulations that could clog pores and trigger future breakouts.
Natural Face Mask Ingredients for Acne Scars
Natural ingredients that can be found in the kitchen are commonly recommended for DIY face masks, combined with honey, yogurt, or aloe vera as a base. 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.
Powdered turmeric can be mixed with other mask ingredients like 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.
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 a simple aloe vera face mask by leaving aloe gel on your face overnight, or you can mix it with simple ingredients like lemon juice or honey for a soothing mask treatment before bed.
Banana face masks–and banana peels–are simple, easy natural treatments that may help fade acne scars, brighten and rejuvenate skin. In addition to antimicrobial properties, bananas have high phenolic and antioxidant content.
Banana also contains esterified fatty acids, which have been studied in a product created to treat psoriasis; however, there isn’t adequate scientific evidence to support medical claims about banana’s potential benefits.
Lemon juice has been examined as a potential skin lightening agent, and is considered a melanin inhibitor. It may lighten hyperpigmentation when applied to the skin.
If you have sensitive skin, though, lemon could be irritating; it’s an acidic fruit, and could alter your skin’s pH.
Face masks for acne scars could potentially reduce the appearance of superficial scarring by lightening scar tissue and smoothing the skin’s surface. If you have moderate to severe scarring, though, a face mask may nourish your skin without an affect on your scars. Deeper scars from past breakouts may require more invasive cosmetic procedures to even the skin’s surface.