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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, according to experts.
Best Overall: Ren Clean Skincare Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask
Active Ingredients: Alpha hydroxy acids | Size: 1.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
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 evens out the skin tone and drastically diminishes the look of dark spots over time.
Best Brightening: Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask Enzymatic Dermal Resurfacer
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.
Active Ingredients: Pumpkin enzymes, alpha hydroxy acids, aluminum oxide crystals | Size: 5.0 ounces | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
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.
Runner-Up, Best Brightening: GlamGlow Flashmud Brightening Treatment MAsk
Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that works to exfoliate the skin. Its molecule is slightly larger than glycolic acid, meaning it works a bit slower and doesn't penetrate the skin's outermost layer as easily.
Active Ingredients: Lactic acid, salicylic acid, vitamin C, niacinamide | Size: 1.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
This creamy, exfoliating mask has been a go-to of mine for years. It's one of those instant-gratification masks. Your complexion will be noticeably glowier afterward. It's full of salicylic acid, lactic acid, and vitamin C, which is a powerful combination of ingredients.
Best Exfoliating: Murad Pore Extractor Pomegranate Face Mask
Active Ingredients: Volcanic clay, polylactic acid beads, pomegranate extract | Size: 1.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
When looking for a mask to fade acne scars, accelerating cell turnover is key because it promotes skin cell growth and a smoother surface. This mask contains volcanic clay, which cleans surface skin impurities and dirt. "Meanwhile, lactic acid polishes by detoxifying the dead skin cells, and pomegranate extract leaves skin glowing and radiant," Lerma explains.
Runner-Up, Best Exfoliating: Noto Botanics Resurface Scrub
Active Ingredients: Alpha hydroxy acids, walnut shell powder | Size: 2.0 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
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."
Best Sheet Mask: Joanna Vargas Dawn Face Mask
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.
Active Ingredients: Mandelic acid, vitamin C | Size: 4.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
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.
Best for Hyperpigmentation: May Lindstrom The Problem Solver Face Mask
Active Ingredients: Raw cacao, rhassoul clay, activated bamboo charcoal | Size: 8.45 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
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."
Best Firming: Palermo Vitamin C Facial Mask - Pink Clay + Rosehip
Active Ingredients: Pink clay, vitamin C | Size: 1.2 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
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.
Best Clay Mask: H is for Love Propolis Face Mask
Active Ingredients: French green clay, kaolin clay, vitamin C | Size: 5.07 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
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.
Best Calming: L:A Bruket Hydrating Face Mask
Active Ingredients: Aloe vera, cucumber extract | Size: 1.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
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."
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.
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 Bazaar, Marie Clarie, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.