How to Improve Acne Scarring as an Adult


*DISCLAIMER: I am not a trained dermatologist or esthetician . I’m just a writer with acne who has used the products listed in this blog post and found some impressive results.

In my teens I had terrible acne. It didn’t particularly affect my confidence because my self-worth was never highly placed on my appearance. Make-up was a form of creative expression, not a medium of insecurity. However, it did cause me to become timid when I entered high-school and found that with acne often comes bullying.

My acne was always hormonal. I’ve always been a total health-freak. My parents refuse to have junk food in the house, and I gave up dairy at a young age. I can count the number of soft drinks I’ve had on one hand. I eat one of those ridiculously anal-retentive diets – a kind of ‘not-vegan-vegan-‘clean’-wholefoods’ mishmash and I work out regularly.

It’s irritating to live your healthiest life and be constantly berated by people with clear skin, yet horrible diets and no idea, telling you to use Lush products or Clearasil while you spend hundreds of dollars per month on skincare, rarely drink alcohol and even eschew fruit from your diet in an effort to save your epidermis.


Fortunately as an adult my acne has settled down into something manageable – a few cystic spots and blackheads around my period – and breakouts that rarely appear above my chin. Unfortunately, due to the years of dryness, oiliness and large pores that will forever be the bane of my existence, I have been left with a fairly decent amount of scarring – from boxcar to ice-pick, and a few rolling scars around my mouth.

I have been diagnosed with oily but dehydrated skin – which is difficult to deal with and definitely has something to do with Melbourne’s incredibly dry and windy weather (and total lack of ozone layer). And over the last year I have been on a journey of trying to improve my scarring and hyperpigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation is the easiest to treat topically and by myself. From retinols, to Vitamin C, to basic at-home derma-rolling. These dark spots left on the skin once acne has healed is the result of the body producing extra melanin. Sometimes these spots fade over time, but if like me you’ve been battling inflammation for around ten years, you might need to use something to help lighten the pigmentation that can make skin look discoloured, and like you still have acne even when it’s no longer active.

Hyper pigmentation can be fought by using lactic or gycolic acids to help with resurfacing. Retinol or prescription Retinoids can also help with stimulating cell turnover to reduce discolouration, and tighten pores. Vitamin E cream is also an incredibly helpful wound healing ointment that can be applied all over the face to promote collagen (although not always recommended for the face). At-home derma-rolling can be thoroughly researched to help, again, promote collagen boosting and cell turnover to reduce hyper pigmentation and other scarring. If you suffer from hyper pigmentation like myself, a good sunscreen is also necessary. I’ve recently been testing out the Skinstitute 50+ Age Defence Broad Spectrum Sunscreen to prevent future discoloration.


I am planning on uploading a video to my youtube channel soon, with past and current pictures regarding my scarring and healing journey, so make sure to subscribe over there to find out when it goes live. In the meantime, I have linked some of my current favourite brightening and retinol creams, sunscreens and derma rollers below.


Brightening Creams and Retinols:

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo (+): This was the first brightening treatment I ever used. The website describes this as a, ‘corrective unclogging care product for acne-prone skin.’ For the first six months I used this product I noticed a noticeable difference in my hyperpigmentation, and the prevention of further breakouts. However, I did also find that it was quite drying when used all over the face, and effectiveness plateaued after about 4-6 months.

Active Ingredients:

  • Procerad
  • Mannose
  • APF
  • Niacinamide
  • Piroctone olamine
  • Zinc PCA
  • LHA and Salicylic Acid

Skinstitute Retinol Cream:  This is, so far, the only retinol cream I have ever used. It is affordable at just $30.00AUD (and allows afterpay) and gentle on skin. Using this leaves me with a slight tingling feeling (a product should never sting, only tingle) and tends to leave me with some initial flaking but an overall more even, plump looking complexion. Reviews on Adore Beauty tend to hit the 4* mark, and many wit sensitive skin praise this product. Note that if retinols are new to your skincare regimen you should be layering them with a moisturiser to ease you skin into the sudden Vitamin A infusion.

Active Ingredients:


La Roche Posay Anthelios Clear Skin 60 + SPF for Oily Skin: This is an oil-free, fragrance free formula designed to absorb pore-clogging oils and not cause breakouts, making it ideal for those who often refuse to put SPF on their face for fear of breakouts. It’s also water resistant, although all sunscreens should be re-applied every 2-3 hours regardless of activity, and especially if you live in an ozone-layer-free place like Victoria. The reviews on the La Roche Posay website typically run to suggest this is a highly-favored sunscreen formula. In Australia it is about $30.00AUD and available at Priceline Pharmarcies.

Skinstitut 50+ Age Defence Broad Spectrum Sunscreen: Another Skinstitut product. I’ve been loving their stuff! This sunscreen is fairly lightweight and designed to prevent breakouts. It’s the perfect face sunscreen to add to your skincare regimen after adding a retinol and in the brighter summer months. Typically this retails for around $32.83AUD. I buy mine from Adore Beauty.

Extreme Healing Ointments:

Egyptian Magic All Purpose Cream: This is a product that has technically been around forever, and is a top 10 all time favourite of mine. The Egyptian Magic All Purpose cream has thousands of uses – from healing scars and scratches, burns, to being used as a lip balm to rehydrate dry winter lips. It’s one of my favourite things to use after a derma rolling treatment and before bed. I slather it over my freshly needled skin, drink some herbal tea and drift off to noticeably plumper, smoother skin in the morning.

At Home Needling:

Derma Rollers: Derma Rollers are a very new favourite of mine. I first began using them about four months ago, after coming across Dr Davin Lim a Gold Coast based dermatologist with a youtube channel that discusses all things skincare without the bullshit, and often without the pricetag (unless you book a treament with him, lol). He showed the correct way to sterilize and use a micro needling tool at home. So with great caution, I tried one, and then I got a little bit addicted. Micro needling is quite easy and with only three monthly sessions I have already seen lots of improvement in my skin regarding reduced redness and a neater, less severe looking appearance in terms of scarring. I use 0.05mm needles (it’s important to never exceed this when rolling at home) which I purchase from amazon and eBay. They are single use only. Check out Davin’s video on proper sterilisation and use for more info.



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