No matter your age (or your acne history) smooth, clear skin is possible. Today we’re walking you through everything you need to know to get rid of bumpy skin and keep your skin silky-smooth after acne attacks.
Ah acne, the gift that keeps on giving. Giving frustration, anxiety, and skin struggles, that is. Because as irritating it is to wake up with a zit, by now you’re practically an expert in dealing with those. We’ve told you how to prevent them, how to treat them, what ingredients you really shouldn’t use to treat them…but what about after?
It only seems fair that once a blemish has finally cleared up that you’d be rid of it for good, but as so many of us have experienced, even after the bump is no more, the signs of it can linger on for days, months, even years. We’re talking red bumps, brown spots, and yes, scarring (which results in bumpy skin). Rehabbing your skin back to its silky-smooth pre-acne state is possible, though; you just have to put in the work.
The post-pimple marks:
“When acne goes away it may leave behind scarred indentations, but more commonly patients are left with red spots or brown spots which are essentially stains in the skin that will resolve over several weeks to months,” says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner. Those red splotches are usually the product of persistent inflammation aka a zit that isn’t truly dead yet. Though it’s tempting to stop treating it once the worst of the flare-up has passed, the best cure for lingering splotches is to keep up your treatment regimen until the spot has completely disappeared.
For brown spots, brightening ingredients like vitamin C in the Cosrx Triple C Lightning Liquid can help tell excess pigmentation to chill out. Regular exfoliation can also help in smoothing out rough patches and evening skin tone by sweeping away dead skin cells and encouraging the skin to rev up collagen production, a major factor in strong, even skin.
The bumps that won’t go away:
As for actual scarring (you know, the kind that often comes from picking at your skin when you know you really shouldn’t), well that gets a little trickier. For those, you’re going to need a more heavy-duty solution to see significant results; the kinds of solutions that only a doctor can provide.
Zeichner recommends a laser treatment like Fraxel to create ultra-tiny controlled damage to the skin, which in turn gets the message to send in healing factors. While that healing goodness is busy working as a result of the laser, they’ll also take care of some of the scarring, leaving smoother skin in their wake.
Similarly, treatments like derma rolling (aka microneedling) create small punctures in the skin that ramp up collagen production, which works sort of like a laundry steamer to help release the collagen in the scar tissue from wayward patterns and smooth it out.
Dermatologist Susan Bard suggests dermarolling, as well as options like radio frequency treatments or chemical peels, all of which similarly encourage skin to heal itself, and in turn, post-acne scarring. She also points out that at-home use of retinoids can help further stimulate collagen production, but they probably won’t be enough on their own to make a dent in serious scarring.
How to prevent bumpy skin:
Of course, as with all things acne, the best cure for post-blemish skin texture issues is to prevent them in the first place. That means keeping up with your cleansing and treatment regimens, spot-treating zits at the first sign of trouble, and above all not popping or picking at them.
Taking care of your healing spots is equally essential to keeping your skin at optimal smoothness. Staying moisturized (try the Hanskin Bio Origin 369 Oil) plays a big role; coddling those new baby skin cells as they grow can help encourage them to be smooth operators when they grow up.
Preventing UV damage is extremely important as well. Scars are especially prone to hyperpigmentation (those annoying brown spots) and exposing them to the sun while they’re still developing all but guarantees that you’ll wind up with a dark patch to highlight your ex-acne. You’re already applying sunscreen every day, of course (right?), but make sure to pay special attention to healing blemishes and be extra diligent in reapplying SPF.