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Once acne remedies get rid of whiteheads, pimples and cysts, scars are bound to linger. If you leave superficial scars alone, they will eventually fade. But why prolong your pain when face masks can quicken their removal? They're better options than scrubbing your skin with an abrasive pad or face scrub. However, if you have sunken scars, or pits, a face mask won't do bupkis. You'll need to see a dermatologist for a treatment such as microdermabrasion or a dermal filler.
Alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs, are better known as ingredients in chemical peels, which are popular treatments for warding off the signs of aging, such as age spots and fine lines. However, they can also be your allies in fighting acne scars, as they peel away the top layer of skin. Derived from fruit and milk, AHAs help to prevent acne scars by reducing breakouts. For instance, they speed the rate at which skin cells shed, thereby preventing them from building up and clogging pores, which causes pimples. Alpha hydroxy acids also zap some of the bacteria that live on your skin and contribute to acne.
Masks containing the topical exfoliant derived from the willow tree, beta hydroxy acid -- also known as salicylic acid -- also help remove scars and provide several anti-acne benefits. Unlike exfoliant alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acid is fat-soluble, so it penetrates your skin better to get at oil, dead-skin cells and bacteria in clogged pores, or pimples. Salicylic acid is also a potent anti-inflammatory, and inflammation is involved every step of the way in producing all types of pimples.
Retinol is a cosmetic darling, known for its ability to help heal sun damage and rejuvenate your skin. Products with retinol may also cause your skin to peel, thereby minimizing the appearance of scars; however, that’s not retinol’s primary purpose. Retinol is a cell-communicating ingredient, which is a fancy way of saying it tells cells to develop normally and also helps to prevent malformed cells from emerging once you remove the scarred cells. In other words, it helps to produce new, healthy cells to replace those damaged and discolored by pimples.
Using Masks for Acne
Because hydroxy acids and retinol can peel and irritate your skin, expect some irritation, such as burning or stinging. If you’ve never used one of these masks before, test it on a small area of your skin affected by acne. Over a 24-hour period, watch for any adverse reactions such as a rash or excessive redness. If there’s not too much irritation, go for it. Follow the instructions on the product label to a tee. Pat your skin dry and apply a thin layer of a noncomedogenic moisturizer. Before going outside, slather on sunscreen after your moisturizer to prevent those acne scars from darkening.