Ever since becoming a beauty editor, I’ve been pretty candid about my acne-prone skin. Especially considering my skin has gotten worse (or at least had higher highs and lower lows) since my professional start in beauty. Between lots of stress, lots of product tries, and lots of sleepless nights (plus some hormonal ups and downs), trying to treat and reduce acne and scarring has felt like a full-time job.
As I shared here, it wasn’t until I met celebrity facialist Vanessa Hernandez (who has worked with A-list clients like Gwyneth Paltrow and Amber Valletta) that I learned how to train and treat my skin correctly and efficiently. That said, it hasn’t been a passive treatment plan. I have a simple yet strict regimen, and I head to her clinic in Brentwood on a weekly basis for extraction-heavy facials, microdermabrasion, and other specialized and targeted treatments.
Thankfully, my uncontrollable breakouts have reduced significantly, and now the treatment has become more about addressing my leftover marks, dents, and pigmentation—aka stubborn acne scarring. Slowly but surely, we’re getting there. Since so many of us struggle with acne, and since residual scarring is an annoying par-for-the-course side effect, I asked Hernandez and Rachel Nazarian, MD, FAAD, of Mount Sinai Department of Dermatology for their best tips, tricks, and treatment strategies for those of us wondering how to get rid of acne scarring—either at home or in-office. Keep scrolling for everything I learned.
Fraxel: “This is a non-ablative fractional laser treatment for skin resurfacing that helps smooth out acne scars and any textural issues,” says Hernandez. You can expect about seven to 10 days of downtime post-treatment, and the skin will likely be red, swollen, warm to the touch for two to three days and then dry and a bit scaly for the next four. Depending on the treatment area, shes says pricing can vary between $450 and $1000.
IPL: Hernandez explains this treatment as a photorejuvenation laser that helps to lighten up hyperpigmentation on the skin, dark spots, brown spots, and some red spots, making the complexion look bright and even. There will be about five to seven days of downtime, and the complexion will be mildly pink on the first day with brown, coffee ground–like spots that last about seven days before gently flaking away. Depending on the treatment area, she says pricing can vary between $350 and $550.
VBeam Prima: “This is a new pulse dye laser that helps to reduce redness from acne, rosacea, scarring, broken capillaries, diffused redness, and many more indications,” says Hernandez. Your downtime will vary depending on what is specifically being treated, but in general, plan for between seven and 14 days; pricing will vary between $150 and $750.
DON’T: Cake on your makeup. Instead, allow the skin to breathe, heal, and be in as natural of a state as possible.
DON’T: Pick your skin. “If the pimple is popped, squeezed, extracted, or even scratched the wrong way, it can rupture, causing an acne scar,” warns Hernandez. “Always allow any scabs to completely heal and fall off on their own. The skin underneath the scab is regenerating and growing, and if the scab is picked off too soon, and the skin cells have not had the chance to heal and re-grow, you can be left with hyperpigmentation, a depression, or a scar.”
DO: See a real expert. “Don’t take risks with your skin and don’t look at online blogs, social media, or do-it-yourself websites for help… you could risk more damage to your skin,” says Nazarian.
DO: Avoid long periods of sun exposure. Carry/wear a hat at all times, always wear SPF, and reapply after two hours.
DO: Be patient. “Beautiful skin takes compassion, commitment, and patience,” Hernandez reminds us. “It is achievable for everyone with the proper education of their own skin, in addition to consistency with at-home product use and in-office treatments.”