Experts Say These Face Masks Actually Help Heal Acne Scars

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Byrdie / Danie Drankwalter

Acne and scarring: Two skin woes that go hand in hand. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, over 50 million Americans are affected by acne annually. Rest assured that if you're convinced you can't ever catch a break from its side effects like scarring, hyperpigmentation, and inflammation, you're not alone, and you will get through this. Trusting in a reliable skincare regimen will make all the difference.

When it comes to fading acne scars, a lot of products come into play. There are serums, cleansers, home remedies, and more that you can use for treatment. One of the best products for bringing on clear, glowing, radiant skin is a trusty face mask. Curling up on your couch with Netflix going and a face mask on could be the answer to getting those dark spots to finally fade away. We tapped the pros to figure out which masks have the best acne-fading reputation.

Keep scrolling to discover the best face masks for acne scars.

Best Overall: Ren Clean Skincare Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask

4.8
Ren Clean Skincare Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask

 Courtesy of Ren Clean Skincare

What We Like
  • Potent formula

  • Pump bottle

  • Little goes a long way

What We Don't Like
  • Strong smell

Who else recommends it? Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, and Today all picked the Ren Clean Skincare Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask. 

What do buyers say? 89% of 150+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

This peel-off mask has an effective concoction of four acids to speed up cell turnover and leave you with baby-soft skin. The powerful grouping of acids helps to even out the skin tone and diminish the look of dark spots over time.

Benefits: Exfoliates, boosts radiance, smooths texture, firms | Active Ingredients: Alpha hydroxy acids | Skin Type: Balanced, dry, combination, oily | Size: 1.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Brightening: Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask Enzymatic Dermal Resurfacer

Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Face Mask
What We Like
  • Smells good

  • Quick results

  • Littles goes a long way

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for sensitive skin

Key Ingredients

Alpha-hydroxy acids are a group of acid compounds most often derived from plant-based sources. There are a variety of different ones out there, some of which include glycolic (derived from sugarcane) and lactic (derived from sour milk). While they all act on the surface of the skin as chemical exfoliants, they differ in size and subsequently penetration and potency.

Mōda artist and skin expert Dominique Lerma loves this triple-action mask because it revitalizes dull-looking skin with its exfoliating properties while soothing acne-prone areas. "I am especially a fan because pumpkin is packed with fruit enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids to increase cell turnover and boost collagen production," she says.

Benefits: Exfoliates, peels, boosts radiance, smooths texture | Active Ingredients: Pumpkin enzymes, alpha hydroxy acids, aluminum oxide crystals | Skin Type: Balanced, dry, combination, oily | Size: 5 oz. | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Runner-Up, Best Exfoliating: Noto Botanics Resurface Scrub

Noto Botanics Resurface Scrub

Courtesy of Noto Botanics

What We Like
  • Potent formula

  • Natural ingredients

  • Preps skin for serum application

What We Don't Like
  • Can be drying

Founder of skincare line Noto Botanics and makeup artist Gloria Noto suggests using this scrub as a mask to reap optimal benefits. All of the alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) blended with the grounded walnut shells deeply penetrate the skin when you let it seep in for at least five minutes. "Once ready to remove, you are adding extra resurfacing by gently exfoliating the micro-ground walnut shells off of your face," Noto explains. "AHAs are known to help repair and bring fresh skin to the surface."

Benefits: Exfoliates, boosts radiance | Active Ingredients: Alpha hydroxy acids, walnut shell powder | Skin Type: Acne-prone | Size: 2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Sheet Mask: Joanna Vargas Dawn Face Mask

Joanna Vargas Dawn Mask Set of 5

 Courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue

What We Like
  • Potent formula

  • Easy to use

  • Paraben-free

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Key Ingredients

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body, including the skin, but we cannot produce it on our own. For the skin, it helps to boost collagen, fade discoloration, and fight free radicals.

Exfoliating powers are always a plus when looking to fade acne scars. "This mask has mandelic acid along with vitamin C, so it's both exfoliating and healing, which is perfect for people with acne and scarring,” celebrity aesthetician Joanna Vargas explains.

Benefits: Smooths texture, reduces wrinkles, exfoliates, boosts radiance | Active Ingredients: Mandelic acid, vitamin C | Skin Type: Acne-prone | Size: 4.5 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Hyperpigmentation: May Lindstrom The Problem Solver Correcting Masque

What We Like
  • Warming sensation

  • Quick results

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

The best remedy for curing cold-weather blues? A warming mask, of course. "This is a warm correcting mask that is rich in raw cacao," Lerma adds. "Its unique formula heals inflammation and aides with fading hyperpigmentation while also treating current breakouts."

Benefits: Boosts radiance, fades hyperpigmentation, provides antioxidant protection, restores skin barrier | Active Ingredients: Raw cacao, rhassoul clay, activated bamboo charcoal | Skin Type: All | Size: 8.45 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Firming: Palermo Vitamin C Facial Mask - Pink Clay + Rosehip

Palermo All Natural Vitamin C Facial Mask Pink Clay + Rosehip

 Courtesy of Palermo Body

What We Like
  • Non-irritating

  • Quick results

  • Smells good

What We Don't Like
  • Messy application

This mask is rich in rosehip, vitamin C, and strawberry extracts. "These ingredients are key in the production of collagen, which can help heal scarring, plump up the skin, and reduce the appearance of sun damage," Noto says. 

Benefits: Exfoliates, boosts radiance, firms | Active Ingredients: Pink clay, vitamin C | Skin Type: All | Size: 1.2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Clay Mask: H is for Love Propolis Face Mask

H is for Love Propolis Face Mask

 Courtesy of The Choosy Chick

What We Like
  • Tingling sensation

  • Natural ingredients

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Noto points out the generous amount of clay in this mask, which draws out impurities, deep-cleans clogged pores, and prevents future breakouts and scarring. "This mask also has orange peel and frankincense, which are both known to help heal and purify the skin," she explains.

Benefits: Boosts radiance, unclogs pores, prevents scarring | Active Ingredients: French green clay, kaolin clay, vitamin C | Skin Type: Acne-prone | Size: 5.07 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Calming: L:A Bruket Hydrating Face Mask

L:A Bruket Hydrating Face Mask

Courtesy of L:A Bruket

What We Like
  • Natural ingredients

  • Smells good

  • Can leave on overnight

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

This Swedish skincare line's international skin advisor Teja Mulic always recommends this mask because it's great for soothing the skin and calming down microinflammation, as it's formulated with aloe vera and cucumber extract. "Acne-prone skin is often sore, irritated, and dehydrated from deep cleansers used every day that balance sebum production," Mulic explains. "Therefore, it is ideal to use products with calming and super-hydrating ingredients to balance and calm the inflammation, which helps avoid scars."

Benefits: Hydrates, soothes, calms | Active Ingredients: Aloe vera, cucumber extract | Skin Type: Acne-prone | Size: 1.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Final Verdict

We're giving top picks to the Ren Clean Skincare Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask. With a powerful blend of four acids to promote quicker cell turnover, this mask will give you soft, even-toned skin and fade your acne scars over time. Have acne scars on your body? Look no further than the Noto Botanics Resurface Scrub. Its gentle but effective blend of AHAs and grounded walnut shells will promote new, healthy, and glowy skin.

What to Look For in Face Masks for Acne Scars

Type

From scrubs to creams to sheets and peels, there are several types of face masks to treat acne scars. When exploring masks, consider which specific type will best heal your acne scars. If you’re looking for added exfoliation properties, a scrub is a great option. If you want to avoid messy application, opt for a sheet mask that’s easy to apply and remove.

Formula

Face masks differ in what specifically they target, key ingredients, and how “clean” they are. If you also want to tackle wrinkles or hydrate your skin, look at other listed benefits on the product’s packaging. As for ingredients, if you have sensitive skin or find yourself irritated by salicylic acid, pay attention to the dominant ingredients to avoid inflammation on top of acne scarring. Finally, if you’re committed to all-natural, vegan, or cruelty-free masks, it’s also important to double-check the product’s packaging and the company’s core values.

FAQ
  • How do face masks help to address acne scars?

    It’s all in the formula. Face masks for acne scars often contain peeling agents, like alpha hydroxy acids, which accelerate exfoliation. This helps improve skin texture and hyperpigmentation associated with scarring.

  • How often should you use a face mask for acne scars?

    People differ in specific skin types, even among those prone to acne and acne scarring. Look at the product’s packaging for guidelines and consider your skin’s sensitivity and dryness.

  • How long should you leave on a face mask for acne scars?

    It depends. Face masks for acne scars can be designed to wear overnight or might work in as little as five minutes. Take into account your schedule, skincare routines, and how long you prefer to wear a face mask when selecting one to heal acne scars. Pay attention to the product’s packaging to maximize efficacy.

How We Researched

To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.

Why Trust Byrdie

Maya Allen is an experienced journalist who has covered all things beauty for Byrdie, Cosmopolitan, InStyle, O, The Oprah Magazine, and many more publications. This article was also reviewed by a certified-board dermatologist, Dr. Rachel Nazarian, whose writing contributions have been featured in Byrdie, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, and more.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any face masks for acne scars from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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  2. The 13 Best Face Masks For Acne-Prone Skin. Women's Health. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/beauty/a19938529/face-masks-for-acne/

  3. 17 Best Blackhead Face Masks That *Actually* Work. Cosmopolitan. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/style-beauty/beauty/g29962770/best-blackhead-face-masks/

  4. 11 best face masks of 2020. Today. https://www.today.com/shop/best-face-masks-drugstore-according-celebrity-experts-t106791

  5. Ewg skin deep® | what is ascorbic acid(Vitamin c). EWG.

  6. Ewg skin deep® | what is mandelic acid. EWG.

  7. Gozali MV, Zhou B. Effective treatments of atrophic acne scarsJ Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2015;8(5):33-40.

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