Given that my battle with hormonal acne is finally over *touch wood*, I've set aside my blemish battling artillery in favour of products that seek to address the aftermath of breakouts, most specifically blemish marks. There seems to be a general misconception that marks and scars are one and the same, when in fact they are quite different; and blemish marks are relatively unprovided for in the world of skincare. There are few products named or designed specifically to cater to fading those flat pink marks left behind by a particularly nasty breakout, so it's been up to sufferers to be savvy and do their research in order to find out which ingredients and products will do the trick. Similarly, online beauty advice tends to lean heavily towards either clearing up blemishes or clearing scars, so said research is often a more long-winded process than anticipated.
I suffered an incredibly severe bout of hormonal acne in December [mainly upon my cheeks, jaw, and temples], which took a good few months to get under control, and I've since spent the past three and a half months working on fading its remnants. Last week I shared reviews of the five products I credit most with solving my blemish marks, but in today's post I wanted to share something a little more extensive and detailed. This piece has been a long time coming and has involved extensive research, testing, and note-taking; I can only hope that its contents will be of benefit to those of you who need it.
When cleansing with the goal of fading blemish marks, it's best to pay heed to a well-balanced approach to both hydration and exfoliation; both are key to the process, but are rarely addressed in a single product. Consistency is also key, so don't be tempted to switch up your cleanser too often; it normally takes a good few weeks of regular use for its benefits to kick in and for results to really show.
Direction : Take the time to massage your cleanser into your skin for a good three minutes to reap all of its benefits. It's not to everyone's taste/approval, but I also love to use my Clarisonic a few times a week [with non-exfoliating cleansers], and find that my marks faded much faster when I'm consistently doing so.
BIODERMA White Objective H20 Micelle Solution* - Bioderma's excellent newly launched White Objective range places a pigmentation-fading spin on everyone's favourite micellar water for optimal 2-in-1 efficacy.
EVE LOM Cleanser* - I've sung my praises regarding this cleanser here, and will no doubt do so on many more an occasion. It's multipurpose [cleansing, toning, exfoliating, moisturising], but by no means lacks efficacy. I credit it both with clearing my hormonal acne and aiding the blemish mark fading process. N.B. This cleanser changed my mind on mineral oil as an ingredient; whilst I certainly don't worship at its proverbial altar, but it's well used here, and by no means aggravates my sensitive complexion.
LA ROCHE-POSAY Physiological Cleansing Gel - My daily morning cleanser [recently discontinued but there are some precious last bottles on eBay!], this has helped me to both keep blemishes at bay and fade marks. It's super moisturising, and perfect for dry/dehydrated/sensitive skin. Detailed review here.
MURAD AHA/BHA Cleanser* - Combining physical and chemical exfoliation, I use this scrub 2-3 times a week, before applying a face mask [exfoliation allows for deeper absorption and improved efficacy of consequently applied products]. It's the best of both worlds.
DEAD SEA SPA MAGIK Black Mud Soap - Those with an ear to the ground of the skincare world will know that Dead Sea mud has long been heralded as effective in reducing and preventing pigmentation and scarring. This soap is delightfully gentle and creamy.
If you're only going to buy one product, let it be an exfoliating/acid toner. Literally the best thing you can use when fading marks with both speed and prowess are upon your agenda. Potent and concentrated, they succeed in their endeavour by gently buffing away the top layers of your skin [where marks are most profound], with each layer removed the scar will appear less visible until it eventually disappears. Look for toners that contain high counts of AHAs and BHAs [chemical exfoliants such as glycolic, lactic, salicylic, and benzoic acids]. You will generally have to part with around £20 to ensure an effective toner, but if you do invest, rest assured that a single bottle/tub is all you'll require; acid toners are so effective that you probably won't need to repurchase.
Direction : Soak a cotton pad or use a single wipe. Sweep in upwards motions over your face post-cleanse and pre-treatment every night [or less often if your skin is overly sensitive]. Always use an SPF during the day when you're using chemical exfoliants, the process makes skin more susceptible to the effects of UV light, which worsens pigmentation.
RADICAL Exfoliating Pads* - Amazingly effective, you'll notice a difference after just a few days use. These are incredibly potent but not at all harsh or drying - ideal for sensitive skin.
CLARINS Gentle Exfoliating Brightening Toner* - The original favourite. This is more like a thick lotion than a traditional watery toner, which makes it a great option for those with dry skin. Again, you'll see improvement before the week is out.
PIXI Glow Tonic - Despite being one of the most popular products in the blogging world, I found this to be least effective of the three. Don't get me wrong, it's great and it does the job better than cheaper versions will, but you won't notice a difference quite so fast.
The one-stop wonders of the skincare world, there is undoubtedly a mask for any and every skincare concern. When it comes to fading blemish marks, I find that the best are those that not only instantaneously soothe inflammation and promote brightness, but that also work on a long-term basis - helping to really make a difference when used regularly. Anything that aims to brighten the skin, fade pigmentation, calm inflammation, and that offers chemical exfoliation will work wonders.
Direction : Apply a generous layer to a freshly cleansed and exfoliated face. Leave for around 20-30 minutes [or as directed by the packaging] before removing with a warm soaked flannel.
EVE LOM Rescue Mask* - I used this on an almost daily basis when my acne was at its worst and its effects were amazing. Skin looks clearer and brighter with removal, and feels deeply cleansed without any tightness. I use it weekly still and it continues to make a massive difference in promoting a brighter and more even skintone.
RADICAL Instant Revitalising Mask* - An active mask that applies like a thick serum, before foaming and evaporating from the skin with a pleasant bubbling sensation. Redness is immediately vastly reduced and skin brightens with prolonged use.
BANISH Pumpkin Enzyme Mask* - A recent but already adored addition to my routine, this all-natural mask is a blend of nature's very best healers; a cocktail of pumpkin, bilberry, orange, lemon, rosemary, packed with AHAs, zinc, and vitamins A and C. Expect skin to look clearer and brighter with one use.
BANISH Rose Mask* - With 10% glycolic acid, this is a mask for those who mean business. Providing deep chemical exfoliation, which helps to unclog pores as well as fade pigmentation, it leaves skin feeling as good as new.
TL;DR Essentially, patience, daily sun protection, and chemical exfoliation is the key to fading blemish marks.
In terms of makeup, I'd massively recommend a green tinted primer [both No7 and KIKO have brilliant offerings] to cancel out redness, as well as a good concealer; MAC's Studio Finish is the only one I've used that can make blemish marks completely disappear [and it has the added benefit of SPF35].
Also, if you have acne scars as well, I would suggest looking into the Banish Kit - a micro-needling roller that helps to stimulate collagen production in order to encourage speedy and efficient skin repair.
Serums & Oils
A good serum will prove one of the most effective and fast-working product in your lineup. Blemish marks are essentially post-inflammatory pigmentation, so any concentrated treatment that aims to address hyper-pigmentation is appropriate. Look for those which aim to address discolouration and improve brightness, and in terms of ingredients, seek products loaded with Vitamin C and retinols, which help to defend skin against further damage whilst speeding up their reparative process.
Direction : Apply 2-3 drops every night post-toning and allow to absorb fully before applying moisturiser.
BIODERMA White Objective Lightening Serum* - An incredibly powerful and potent blend of highly active ingredients [inc. Vitamin C and glycolic acid] specifically formulated to address pigmentation and promote an even skintone. This stuff means business.
VERSO Super Facial Serum* - Rich in a notably virtuous blend of retinols and Vitamin A [it's 8 times more effective than standard retinol], this creamy gel-like formula helps to repair and regenerate skin cells. A proactive addition to any skincare routine.
CODAGE Spring Break Serum* - It's expensive, but it works miracles [I genuinely saw a difference in my skin after a single use]. If I had to choose one product to take to that ever elusive desert island, it would be this. For a more extensive review, see here.
CLARINS Skin Beauty Repair Concentrate* - Whatever your skincare concern, see this mini bottle as the answer to your SOS call. It's particularly effective when it comes to fading blemish marks as it's rich in Vitamin A, and noticeably reduces redness and inflammation as well as dealing with active blemishes.
By day : Wearing sunscreen is vital to good skincare anyway, but if you want to speed up the process of fading your blemish marks, it's important to use SPF consistently in order to prevent marks from darkening further as a result of UV exposure.
By night : As with a serum, look for products containing Vitamin A and retinols. Hydration is key to healthy skin so never be tempted to skip moisturiser; whilst moisturiser may not seem as targeted a product as a serum or mask, healthy hydrated skin will heal faster. Look also for creams that target lightening and brightening skin; many Asian skincare products do so, and it's a trend that is beginning to translate into brands worldwide.
Direction : Apply liberally for optimal results and pat rather than rub into the skin for better absorption [you will notice a massive difference!].
BIODERMA White Objective Lightening Fluid SPF25* - A lovely lightweight lotion that feels instantly cooling and comforting and offers broad-spectrum UV protection alongside a potent dose of Vitamin C. A day cream catered specifically to fading pigmentation is rare, but this one more than performs.
EVE LOM Brightening Cream* - Without a doubt the best moisturiser I have ever used, this is no bog standard night cream; you'll see a difference after first use in both your blemish marks and skin in general [which will look infinitely fresher and glowier]. Its consistency is delightfully light and gel-like. More info here.
RADICAL Restorative Moisture Creme* - By no means as good as the above, but on a very similar level in terms of its effects [you just have to wait a bit longer to see them]; this thick cream aims to increase moisture levels and address dark spots, and does both, well.
Enter below to win your very own jar of the BANISH Pumpkin Enzyme Masque.
- Entry is via Rafflecopter giveaway only.
- Simply follow me on Twitter and Banish on Instagram to enter.
- Tweet about the giveaway to earn a bonus entry.
- The giveaway is open internationally.
- If you're under 18 please ask for your parent/guardian's permission to enter.
- The winner will be announced via Twitter on August 12th 2015.
What are your recommended products for fading blemish marks?