Acne is the worst, but the scars they sometimes leave behind are frustrating to deal with. While a custom and consistent skincare regimen can help combat most acne-related skin problems, you have to make sure that the ingredients reduce scarring and flare-ups, not cause them.

The Best Ingredients to Fight Acne at its Source

While a lack of sunscreen, moisturizer, and after-shave can definitely exacerbate acne and its scarring effects, picking the wrong treatment and ingredients can do just as much damage.

1. Niacinamide

Niacinamide is a more “scientific” name for vitamin B. It’s commonly used in Korean skincare, but many online dermatologists, like, are bringing it to the west. When used in a night cream, niacinamide can reduce fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and brighten dull skin.

2. Lemon Peel

Lemon peels are exceptionally high in antioxidants, vitamin C, and contain antimicrobial and antifungal properties. All of these ingredients help brighten and exfoliate the skin. As an added benefit, lemon peels may help prevent bacterial or fungal-based acne, which is difficult to treat.

3. Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is a plant that serves multiple purposes. It reduces skin itching, inflammation, skin injuries, bruises, irritation, acne, minor burns, and heals sensitive scalps. Witch hazel can do all of that and more because it tightens your pores and enhances your skin’s natural microbiome.

4. Red Clay

Most red clay masks come with a famous acne-fighting and scar-reducing ingredient: Alpha Hydroxy acids (AHAs). Extracted from fruits, AHA is added to cleansing masks because it removes dead skin cells required to generate new cells that treat pigmentation and acne.

5. Sunscreen

While sunscreen isn’t an ingredient, you need to use sunscreen free of OMC and Oxybenzone to protect yourself from the sun. 80% of visible signs of aging, including sunspots or scars, are due to UV light exposure. If you have lighter skin, find an SPF 40-50+ and reapply it every hour.

6. Aloe Vera

Although aloe vera gel is often seen as a passing fad, this natural ingredient is actually one of the best acne-fighting treatments around. Aloe vera can reduce acne-causing bacteria due to its anti-aging properties. Try to find a gel that’s enriched with antioxidants to nourish your skin.

7. Apple Cider Vinegar

Another typical household item you wouldn’t expect to help with acne, apple cider vinegar, is a preferred ingredient for mixing face masks because it’s a brilliant toner. Apple cider vinegar can also remove debris, oil, and dirt from your face. It also works as an acne scar spot treatment.

8. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has endless skin benefits, but it’s most well known for its antiseptic properties. By adding a bit of tea tree oil to your skin, you could reduce the appearance of acne scars. However, make sure you dilute it with water if you’re using it for the first time to avoid dryness.

9. Honey

Over-the-counter Himalayan Wild Honey is perfect for soothing inflammation, blemishes, and cleans out dirt and impurities from pores. Honey is rich in vitamin B and antioxidants, which help soothe skin irritations. Use it as a spot treatment or mask by mixing it with warm water.

10. Retinoids

Topical retinoids help to get rid of acne scars by blocking inflammation, speeding up cell regeneration, and decreasing acne lesions. Retinoids are very effective for managing and lightening post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation scars, especially for darker skin tones.

11. Rosehip Oil

Not only is rosehip oil one of the best anti-aging serums out there, but it also reduces acne scars, redness, and inflammation thanks to its high vitamin A content. Similar to retinoids, rosehip oil boosts elastin and collagen production, minimizing the look and feel of scars.