Dark marks: How to treat & prevent them

Getting a pimple is bad enough! Scrambling to cover up an unsightly blemish is annoying, but there’s nothing worse than those who experience the dark, purple or red scars and marks that are leftover long after the blemish has healed. I truly believe these are far worse than the blemish itself simply because a blemish only lasts for 5-7 days, but the acne scars can last up to 8 months, leaving you feeling frustrated and helpless!

Red or dark acne scars and marks are the result of inflammation within the dermis that triggers the skin to produce pigment cells. In addition, capillaries get dilated (or can even break) during the blemish cycle which brings out some additional redness. The blemish must be cared for properly to expedite the fading and healing process to prevent long-term damage to the skin.

There are some factors that effect the severity of these mark:

1. Skin Tone- Deeper and darker skin tones will scar easier than fair skin tones due to the increased amount of natural melanin content in the skin.

2. The Type of Blemish- If the infection came to a head and broke through the surface of the skin the way papules, whiteheads and pustules will do, then you’ll get even more of a mark. If it’s a cyst and your body reabsorbed the infection and it never broke the skin’s surface or a blackhead which was simply a clogged pore, you’ll have less of a mark.

3. How Long It Lasted-Some people’s healing process may be slower than others. Additionally, every type of breakout seems to have a life of its own, and some will last longer than others based on size and the location on the face.

4. If It Was Picked At- There’s a reason your esthetician tells you not to pick! Every move you make once a blemish appears will greatly affect the outcome of the scar. This is why you have to be so careful in how you treat it. FACT: Less picking = less scarring. More picking = more scarring. Trust me on this one!

So what can you use on your skin once the mark shows up? Once the blemish is all healed and you’re left with a red, dark or purple mark, now is the time to focus on doing THREE things.

When cells are damaged and discoloration has formed, using a gentle acid exfoliant will work very well to loosen scarred cells to get marks to fade quickly. Also, a gentle facial scrub (that uses non-plastic, round beads) massaged very lightly over the area twice a week is also effective to ensure the discolored cells are getting lifted off. One of these or the combination of the two (not used on the same days) will be very beneficial to fade acne scars. 

When you’re exfoliating the skin and loosening up the surface damaged cells, a skin brightening product can absorb deeper within the mark and help to settle down active melanin so the mark can go away faster. Many forms of vitamin C work very well to gently calm redness and fade acne scars. Hydroquinone also helps reverse pigment damage. Ask one of our EC Beauty Esthis for their product recommendation.

And finally, while the sun and daylight is never your friend when it comes to keeping the skin free of wrinkles, it’s also not good for blemish scars and marks. Any UV light (even on cloudy days) that sees your skin will naturally want to activate melanin cells. Since the red, dark mark is an indication of pigment, UV light will make the scarring stay visible for longer. You must use sunscreen every single day and avoid getting sunlight on your skin. If you’re blemish-prone, it’s important to use one that is lightweight and non-pore clogging. The last thing we want is your sunscreen to actually cause you breakouts since no breakouts = no marks or scars to have to deal with.

So there you have it! Now, be off to prevent and care for those pesky marks! Remember to wait until or facial to tackle a bad blemish, or come in for our complimentary zaps if you can’t wait! We at EC Beauty are always here to keep your skin looking healthy and beautiful

Erica Cerpa