Q. How can I get rid of brown marks after an acne breakout?
A. These types of brown marks happen after the skin has suffered any kind of damage and are called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. They can result from from acne, bites, burns or skin infections. The affected area may appear light brown to black in colour, and will become darker if exposed to sunlight (UV rays).
When the skin suffers this type of damage, the activity of the immune cells and pigment producing cells is altered. As a result, the skin produces more pigment than usual , which causes the brown marks you can see in the areas where the acne used to be.
When treating these hyperpigmentation marks, exfoliation is your friend. Even after the inflamed cells have stopped producing the extra pigment the marks will remain visible in the top layers of skin. A regular routine of gentle exfoliation helps to speed up the process of shedding these marks. However, mechanical exfoliation will only achieve so much. It is also important avoid using harsh abrasives on newly healing acne.
For this reason consider using an Alpha Hydroxy Acids cleanser such as Ishtar’s Mandelic Gluconic Acid Face Wash, which exfoliates and helps to speed up cellular turnover. Alpha Hydroxy Acids exfoliate in a different way to scrubs, working from the bottom-up rather than top-down, improving skin structure at a deep level.
In addition to this use a vitamin C product. Avoid ascorbic acid based products which are unstable and can also be irritating. Instead, use a sodium or magnesium ascorbyl phosphate based product, such as Ishtar’s Perfect & Glow This contains a sodium ascorbyl phosphate liposomes and Perfection peptide P3. Importantly, vitamin C acts as an anti-inflammatory and therefore encourages the skin cells to stop producing the extra pigment, bringing an end to the cause of hyperpigmentation. As a bonus, these forms of vitamin c also encourage collagen production and discourage new acne breakouts.
Other well known actives that help combat hyperpigmentation are niacinamide (which also helps reduce breakouts) and licorice extract. There is also a newer active, known by its trade marked name Chromabright, that has started making waves in high end products. We include all three of these ingredients in our Brighten-Up Fluid. This is a light moisturising fluid, that makes a perfect third step in our hyperpigmentation busting routine.
These three products are gentle enough to use daily. They will encourage the skin to renew and refine and help to fade unsightly marks. For stubborn marks, consider adding a 10% Mandelic Acid treatment serum two or three times a week. Mandelic Acid has been shown to help eliminate persistent hyperpigmentation over time