Everything You Need To Know About Acne Scarring And PIH

December 10, 2018

Happy Monday, Beauties. The weekend went by so fast and the fact that I was actually social didn't make it any slower, so apologies you're getting this today instead of yesterday. Now that it's already the second week in December I'm tweaking a bit. So far, "The Real World" has consisted mostly of me wondering how it's already [insert whatever date] and trying to regroup after every mini existential/quarter life crisis. On the bright side, I'm forced to start anew quite often so my life has weirdly been coming together I think. Or not. Honestly who knows?




Either way, I've so appreciated the active participation in my stories this last week! Getting to know so many of your beauty insecurities has given me a better opportunity to create content that actually pertains to your life. It gives me a clearer sense of direction and for that I am so grateful. By far, the most common concern I saw was acne scarring, and I feel you. It's so annoying when you finally put an active breakout behind you and are left with the battle scars to prove it. I suffer from post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) whether or not I pick my spots, but it's almost always worse when I mess with them. A little background for you: 



What's The Difference Between Acne Scars and PIH? 

For starters, PIH is much easier to clear. In fact, if you give it a little time, it'll usually go away on its own. It's the result of any kind of inflammation and/or trauma on the skin. So if you have acne, there's a good chance you also see PIH. Acne scars are typically the ghosts of cystic acne's past, not your everyday whitehead. There will often be an indent in the skin with these, and you'll typically see an even lighter shade of silver/grey in your skin tone there. That's because it's legitimate scar tissue on the surface. PIH is that scar that's left over from a breakout that eventually just turns into a slightly hyperpigmented spot. No indents or scarring, really. So first determine what kind of pigmentation issues you're dealing with. There's a lot that can be done to speed up the healing process of PIH and a ton of treatments that can improve the look and texture of scarred skin as well. 


What Can I Do To Speed Up The Healing Of My PIH?

Your best bet here is to focus on brightening. So any products that boast cell turnover, brightening, or chemical exfoliation are going to be your best friends. With PIH, it's all about speeding up the healing process, plumping, brightening, and cellular exfoliation. I like to alternate between actives in the evenings when I'm experiencing a larger amount of PIH so as not to overload or stress out my skin. My best suggestions are to start with a Vitamin C active like CEO by Sunday Riley or Kiehl's Powerful-Strength Line Reducing Concentrate. The Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) in both of these babies will penetrate deep into the skin's surface to refine and break up the hyperpigmentation while also brightening the rest of the skin overall. Then on days you're not using Vitamin C, I would get into a Lactic Acid like Good Genes to help encourage cell turnover without abrasive ingredients. When you're not using those acids, a retinol like Luna by Sunday Riley will plump while evening skin tone. Finally, if you're looking for a less expensive solution, I cannot rave enough about the effects of lavender oil as a spot treatment for PIH. Definitely patch test on your hand first and avoid if you're sensitive to essential oils, but if you're not, this might be your savior. I've had the BEST personal experiences with lavender lightening and healing my PIH at super-sonic speeds. Highly recommend giving that a shot. And in the mornings? I slather myself in Tidal Brightening Water Cream by Sunday Riley. It's packed with hyaluronic acid and tamarind extract for major plumping and moisturizing. And seriously bless the papaya enzymes for the continued exfoliation while alpha-arbutin brightens hyperpigmentation and dark spots. Keep that routine up for a week and you'll be in the clear. 


What if I Legit Have Acne Scars, Though?

With acne scarring, plumping is going to be your main focus as the scars are generally embedded into the skin. I would recommend following a routine similar to the above to promote radiance and plumpness. But ultimately, you're likely going to have to do more by way of professional treatments to battle these. The good news is you'll be able to get priceless one-on-one professional advice about the state of your skin. Ask about doing a microneedling treatment or a fractional laser treatment to break down and scatter the scar tissue. But again, if you're looking to stay away from professional treatments, you can focus on products with AHAs and BHAs like Drunk Elephant's Baby Facial in tandem with plumping, hyaluronic acid-packed moisturizers to encourage an enviable glow. 


Is There Any Way To Prevent This BS?

Basically you gotta stop picking. You're talking to the queen of pimp popping though, so I'm not even going to preach that bc I don't leave my face alone. I will say though, I've been getting so much better about picking and choosing which guys to leave alone and which to pop. Cystic acne is a big no-no. I learned that a while ago. In addition to cystic acne being super painful and almost impossible to pop, it will almost certainly become a full-fledged scar. No thanks. And my little milia have been sooo persistent lately! Whereas I can typically pop them and see smooth, fully-healed skin the next day, recently I've been seeing these turn into persistent PIH marks immediately after I mess with them. The best thing to do is to leave your skin alone and/or ask a professional for help with popping. But let's be real, you can still pop pimps at home, just get comfortable with which kinds of acne will yield PIH/scars versus the ones that will heal quickly and quietly. As a rule of thumb, I'd suggest giving the pimp a break if it doesn't come clean after 2-3 tries. I also have been OBSESSED with Indie Lee's Brightening Cleanser. It's got strawberry seed oil in there (which you'll definitely smell), so it's an incredible natural source of salicylic acid and antioxidants, as well as vitamins A, B, C, and E. It's amazing at keeping the skin clear, soft, and bright even if I somehow manage to forget the other ten steps of my routine (I came home barely alive on Saturday night so #noragrets). 


To Sum It All Up:

Vary your actives but focus on Vitamin C, AHAs, BHAs, and Retinol. 

Lavender oil works like a charm for anyone who responds well to essential oils. 

Up your hydration while favoring products with hyaluronic acid and brightening enzymes.

Stop picking cystic acne and anything that doesn't pop within 2-3 tries.

If all else fails, go for a microneedling or fractional laser treatment. 


Thanks for your patience with this post and let me know if you have any other tips and tricks for lightening PIH and/or acne scars! I hope this was helpful for you babes! 


All the love, 

Xx Monique 

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