I’ve been very lucky when it comes to acne scarring. Though I had horrible skin as a preteen, and tend to pick a lot, I somehow escaped all those pimple-filled years relatively mark-free. My arms and back have a bit of scarring that will never fade, but my face was always surprisingly clear, to the extent that complete strangers told me how nice my skin was and I almost never wore any foundation, powder or concealer.
A few months ago, though, something changed. Maybe it was a hormonal shift, or the horrible weather, or my cell phone conversations with my mom. Whatever it was, my skin didn’t like it. One side of my face started to break out in a massive wave of painful irritation and redness. I was getting deep, throbbing, cystic pimples, and I couldn’t make them go away.
Having had no experience with cystic acne before, I had no idea what to do to calm down the inflammation, and so I did what I’ve always done: I picked. By the time I went to visit Julie at Province Apothecary for my first facial a few weeks after the initial breakout, I had deep, red scars all down my left cheek.
Julie taught me all about the acne I was experiencing, and together we discussed potential causes (diet, alcohol, stress, hormones) and what I could try changing to fix it. Cystic acne differs from ordinary pimples because it occurs much deeper within the skin, where it's harder to treat, often leading to more intense scarring.
She gave me a vial of her Clear Skin treatment, taught me how to break down scarring and encourage healing with oil cleanser massages, and warned me never, ever to pick the cystic acne.
Of course, old habits die hard. I couldn’t help but pick every time a new, painful lump emerged on my cheek. My skin was getting worse and worse, and I was at a total loss. The skin I was once so proud of started to feel like something I needed to hide, not show off.
I began experimenting with skin makeup. Some days, I set up my camera to take my xoVain pictures, looked at how bad my skin looked in the first couple photos, and put off the entire shoot. I knew something needed to change.
First, I decided to invest in a great concealer. I turned to Tarte’s Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Waterproof Concealer, a product highly recommended by friends and commenters alike.
Sold in a handy stick that makes application super-easy, this product has been a total lifesaver when it comes to covering my scars and breakouts. It’s definitely my new absolute favourite (and it works great on dark eye circles too!).
Next, I did some research about diminishing acne scars. I wanted to try some DIY methods, as well as a handful of products from a cruelty-free brand.
In the DIY corner, I decided on a few well-known natural healers that I already had around my house: fresh aloe vera (my plant needed a trim anyway), raw honey, and lemon juice.
The aloe was a natural choice because it has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and is known to reduce redness and help with skin regeneration; raw honey (though it’s not vegan) is a natural moisturizer and promotes tissue regeneration; lemon juice naturally bleaches skin and contains alpha-hydroxy acids, which break down dead skin cells.
I decided to create a two-part treatment to try every second night for two weeks: a honey aloe vera mask to wear during the evening, and then a careful application of lemon juice to my scars with a Q-tip before bedtime. If there were no noticeable improvements, I’d break out the big guns.
The big guns: Mario Badescu.
I ended up with Glycolic Foaming Cleanser and Glycolic Acid Toner, which both break down dead skin cells while soothing and exfoliating at the same time.
I also decided to try MB’s drying cream, an aloe-rich product that dries out pimples, the Healing and Soothing Mask that promises to reduce inflammation and calm breakouts, and the oil-free Aloe Moisturizer to soothe the skin daily.
After my DIY experiment, I’ll use these products as instructed by the packaging for two weeks, and judge my progress with you fine folks then!
How have you treated intense scarring? Has anything worked?