Acne scars are a common skin concern that can be even more difficult to treat than acne itself.
This is because acne scars signify the damage inflammation has done to the lower layers of the skin, and this type of damage can be challenging to address because skincare products typically work on the surface layer of the skin and don’t really target the deeper layers below.
However, some ingredients with smaller molecules and the right formula can penetrate the skin and deliver great long-term results.
Which is why, when trying to address acne scars, you should always opt for a lightweight serum that can be easily absorbed by the skin and is also packed with beneficial active ingredients that will specifically target the issue that occurs much deeper than our eyes can see.
Therefore, in today’s article, we rounded up the nine best serums for acne scars that will help you improve this pesky condition while simultaneously nourishing your skin and addressing multiple other skin concerns in the process.
How I Reviewed Each Product
The main goal of finding the best serums for acne scars was to pick products that could improve the appearance of both new and old scars and are also suitable for various skin types based on their ingredients, consistency, and potential triggers.
When making this list, I also looked at whether the serums are suitable for acne-prone skin because you have to remember that you can’t treat acne scars with a serum that could potentially clog your pores. This is why choosing something that’s made with acne-prone skin in mind is the first step toward getting rid of acne scars.
Lastly, I also read through customer reviews to get a feel of how each product actually worked for other skin types, concerns, and as part of different routines.
With all that said, each of the product reviews below is a result of testing done by other members of the Good Glow team, and we made sure to only recommend products we believe will give you the best results for your acne scars.
Here are our eight recommendations of the best serums for acne scars.
Best Serums for Acne Scars Summary
Jump to Review
|CLEARSTEM – Cellrenew Collagen Stem Cell Serum|
|Best Paula’s Choice Serum|
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|Paula’s Choice – RESIST Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum (Amazon)|
|On a Budget|
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|Naturium – Tranexamic Topical Acid 5% (Amazon)|
|Vitamin C Serum|
Jump to Review
|TruSkin – Vitamin C Serum (Amazon)|
|For Oily Skin and Acne Scars|
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|Galderma – Differin Resurfacing Scar Gel (Amazon)|
|For Dry Skin and Acne Scars|
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|Caudalie – Vinoperfect Radiance Dark Spot Serum (Amazon)|
Jump to Review
|COSRX – Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence (Amazon)|
|Retinol Serum for Acne Scars|
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|SkinMedica – Retinol 0.25 Complex (Amazon)|
|The Ordinary Serum for Acne Scars|
Jump to Review
|The Ordinary – Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum (Amazon)|
CLEARSTEM – Cellrenew Collagen Stem Cell Serum
Collagen stem cells increase collagen production and boost elasticity.
Saw palmetto, green tea, and reishi mushroom, which work together to balance oil production & regulate hormonal acne
No hormone disruptors, no toxins, cruelty free, gluten free, vegan, and silicon free
For all skin types
Including dry, mature, sensitive, acne-prone, combination, and normal
One of the absolute best acne scar serums is the Clearstem Skincare CELLRENEW Collagen Stem Cell Serum. This multi-tasking powerhouse not only fades scars, but also balances oil production and calms inflammation related to acne while providing potent anti-aging benefits. It can work as your all-in-one serum for achieving and maintaining a clear, calm, and youthful complexion.
This serum is formulated with reishi mushroom, which activates the natural healing process of your skin to improve the overall look and feel of your complexion. It detoxifies while hydrating and tackling uneven texture for a smoother complexion. Of course, as the name suggests, at the heart of this Clearstem serum are collagen stem cells, which work to stimulate the production of collagen in the skin to maintain a firm, youthful complexion.
In addition to these ingredients, this serum is packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients that minimize redness and irritation tied to acne, including aloe vera, turmeric, willowherb, saw palmetto, and green tea leaf extracts. Many of these botanicals also provide potent antioxidant protection, helping to protect against damaging free radicals.
Another reason why this serum is so beneficial is that it’s made to be safe for acne-prone skin, which means you don’t have to worry about it causing more breakouts. It’s also vegan and cruelty-free, and made with high-quality, clean ingredients.
Clearstem Skincare CELLRENEW Collagen Stem Cell Serum Pros:
- Fades acne scars while improving overall texture and tone.
- Fights signs of aging for a more youthful complexion.
- Vegan, cruelty-free, and made without toxins, silicones, or gluten.
Clearstem Skincare CELLRENEW Collagen Stem Cell Serum Cons:
Best Paula’s Choice Serum:
Paula’s Choice – RESIST Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
If targeting multiple skin concerns that range from acne, scars, uneven skin tone, texture, and even signs of aging is your goal, the Paula’s Choice RESIST Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum is the best serum to add to your current skincare routine.
Brighten and refine
Harnesses the power of hyaluronic acid to visibly refine large pores increasing the smooth firm appearance of skin while enriching the skin’s natural barrier layer
Light as air on the skin
Water-light texture that delivers heavy-duty antioxidants & skin-identical ingredients for anti-aging & skin-smoothing hydration
Normal, oily, combination, and acne prone
No fragrance, no parabens, no fluff
Science-backed formulas that target any concern from wrinkles to breakouts
Loaded with active ingredients, including antioxidants, melanin inhibitors, as well as antibacterial and anti-inflammatory components, the Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate is a potent serum that leaves the skin with a more even tone, softened scars, diminished signs of damage, and a radiant glow.
Starting with the basics, a potent combo of resveratrol, niacinamide, and vitamin C works to brighten the skin and fade existing scars while also protecting the skin from further damage.
High-quality antioxidants such as ubiquinone, epigallocatechin gallate, and enisoneda, a cell-communicating ingredient that helps visibly repair skin damage and improve the appearance of scars, will deliver a potent boost of defense against further damage while also helping repair existing scars.
And lastly, skin-soothing bisabolol works along the superstar skin-calmer, beta glucan, to help keep any irritation at bay while also delivering much-needed moisture to dehydrated skin.
All this goodness with the lack of fragrance makes this serum suitable for even the most sensitive skin.
On the other hand, the lightweight yet hydrating texture that makes it sink into the skin like a dream and not leave the thinnest layer of greasiness on its surface screams suitable for all skin types, including the oiliest of them all.
And while it might be a little pricey, considering the ingredients and the action it aims to provide, the Paula’s Choice RESIST Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum is definitely worth the splurge and our top choice for a serum to help with scars.
Paula’s Choice RESIST Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum Pros:
- It contains calming, soothing, and skin-repairing ingredients.
- Excellent for active inflammation, acne, and discolored scarring.
- Fragrance-free and suitable for sensitive skin.
Paula’s Choice RESIST Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum Cons:
Best on a Budget:
Naturium – Tranexamic Topical Acid 5%
Anti-aging, skin brightening
Naturium’s leave-on acid is formulated to help fade the look of dark spots & hyperpigmentation, improving skin discoloration without irritation
Powerful, non-irritating formula
Formulated with a potent level of tranexamic as well as kojic acid, niacinamide & licorice, which is naturally rich in glabridin, an antioxidant supporting brighter skin
Clean formulation, non-toxic
Cruelty free, paraben free, vegan, gluten free, fragrance free & non-toxic
Best for normal, combination, and dry skin.
Naturium’s Tranexamic Topical Acid 5% serum uses a gentle and effective blend of amino acids, antioxidants, and soothing agents to target uneven melanin production in the deepest layers of the skin, soothe inflammation caused by acne, and brighten the overall skin tone.
The serum’s main active —tranexamic acid— is a super gentle amino acid often prescribed to patients that have experienced some skin trauma, such as post-surgery scars, burns, etc., to help with the healing process and prevent hyperpigmentation and discoloration.
It’s also an excellent choice for those with very sensitive skin as it’s much gentler than other dark spot-fading ingredients like hydroquinone or retinoids.
In addition to the main active, Naturium’s Tranexamic Topical Acid 5% serum also contains barrier-strengthening niacinamide and brightening licorice extract, which helps fade existing dark spots while preventing new ones from forming.
The serum itself has an oily texture and leaves a slight glow once applied and settled on the skin. It definitely doesn’t dry into a fully matte finish, so those with oily skin might want to watch out when using this serum in the mornings, as it’s going to make you glow even more.
Yet, despite the glowy finish, the Tranexamic Topical Acid 5% isn’t a greasy serum, and just the tiniest amount of it will leave your skin looking smoother and softer without necessarily feeling heavy and suffocating.
Lastly, the Tranexamic Topical Acid 5% serum doesn’t contain added fragrance and has no scent.
Naturium Tranexamic Topical Acid 5% Pros:
- Lightweight and non-greasy.
- Reduces the look of hyperpigmentation.
- Targets uneven skin tone & texture.
Naturium Tranexamic Topical Acid 5% Cons:
- Oily skin might find it greasy if a lot of product is used.
Best Vitamin C Serum for Acne Scars:
TruSkin – Vitamin C Serum
With over 100,000 five-star ratings on Amazon, the TruSkin Vitamin C Serum is a customer favorite—and for a good reason. Packed with brightening, gentle, and antioxidant ingredients, this glow-in-a-bottle is loved by skincare enthusiasts and professionals in the industry alike.
Anti aging face serum
Vitamin C blends with Botanical Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin E, Witch Hazel, and Jojoba Oil in an anti aging, skin brightening formula designed to improve wrinkles and dark spots
Antibacterial and pore-tightening
Ingredients that eliminate excess oil and acne
Vitamin C and E
Gentle and stable form of vitamin C makes it non-irritating and suitable for sensitive skin
No added synthetic colors, fragrances, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, PEGs, or GMOs
The TruSkin Vitamin C Serum is an affordable Amazon find packed with brightening, hydrating, and skin-soothing actives.
It has a lightweight consistency and a faint citrusy scent, making it a perfect option for all skin types, including oily and sensitive skin.
While vitamin C is the main ingredient in this serum, it also contains hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and witch hazel, an acne-fighting ingredient that has a pore-shrinking effect on the skin.
Frequently praised for its quick effectiveness and the results it provides after as little as one week of using it, the TruSkin serum is an easy-to-use option for brightening dark spots, redness, and blemishes.
TruSkin – Vitamin C Serum Pros:
- Provides a noticeably brightening effect after as little as one week of use.
- Excellent for stubborn hyperpigmentation and red acne scars.
- Affordable and easy to find.
TruSkin – Vitamin C Serum Cons:
Best for Oily Skin and Acne Scars:
Galderma – Differin Resurfacing Scar Gel
Brightening and lightweight, the Resurfacing Scar Gel from Galderma’s Differin line is an excellent follow-up treatment for acne scars. Specifically formulated for those with oily skin, the lightweight gel quickly absorbs into the skin and can be used as a spot treatment or in larger pigmented areas.
Promotes surface cell turnover
To visibly improve uneven skin and delivers peptides to leave skin looking firm
Formulated with skin-soothing and moisturizing ingredients to support the skin’s moisture barrier and soften the appearance of scars and surface imperfections
Non-irritating, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, paraben-free and dermatologist-tested
Best for normal, combination, and oily skin. Suitable for sensitive skin.
Galderma’s Differin Resurfacing Scar Gel is an excellent serum/spot treatment for those who are dealing with the aftermath of acne.
The gel serum has a lightweight consistency that absorbs into the skin within seconds of applying it and leaves a smooth, non-greasy, but somewhat tacky layer on the surface.
The super short ingredient list features bakuchiol as a main active ingredient that targets discoloration and hyperpigmentation.
Additionally, bakuchiol is also a barrier-repairing antioxidant that can brighten the skin and even out the complexion after as little as one to two weeks of consistent use.
Lastly, the Resurfacing Scar Gel can be used on larger hyperpigmented areas, but due to the precise applicator, it can also be used as a spot treatment to fade and brighten hyperpigmented spots left by pimples or UV damage.
Differin Resurfacing Scar Gel Pros:
- Lightweight and non-greasy.
- It can be used as a serum or a spot treatment.
- Affordable and long-lasting.
Differin Resurfacing Scar Gel Cons:
Best for Dry Skin and Acne Scars:
Caudalie – Vinoperfect Radiance Dark Spot Serum
Instantly nourishes dry and dehydrated skin
Leaves a beautiful glow on the skin once it settles
Proven to be 62x more effective
Than Vitamin C in correcting dark spots, acne scars, sunspots, brightening skin tone, and boosting radiance
Natural and effective on all skin types
Targets all dark spots (sun-spots, age spots, pregnancy, and acne scars)
Formulated without 90+ harmful ingredients
Free from: parabens, mineral oils, sulfates, phtalates, phenoxyethanol, animal ingredients + more
Caudalie’s Vinoperfect Radiance Dark Spot Serum is a milky, lightweight serum that brightens the complexion while reducing the appearance of dark spots and discoloration left from acne.
The chief brightening ingredient in this product is Caudalie’s patented Vine Sap Viniferine, a powerful antioxidant and a less irritating vitamin C alternative that stabilizes the production of melanin and prevents dark spots from forming in the deeper layers of the skin.
Additionally, ultra-moisturizing and skin-softening squalane derived from olive offers a non-greasy layer of protection against moisture loss and subsequent dehydration, making it excellent for those with dry skin prone to acne and scarring.
All in all, this is an excellent serum that can be incorporated into your daily routine and used alongside other products in your skincare arsenal to address discoloration, redness, and UV damage.
Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Dark Spot Serum Pros:
- Best for dry skin.
- It contains a patented brightening ingredient that addresses hyperpigmentation, scarring, and UV damage.
- Vegan squalane helps replenish the skin barrier and improve its function.
Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Dark Spot Serum Cons:
- Not the best option for someone with active acne.
Best After Microneedling:
COSRX – Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
Formulated with 96.3% Snail Secretion Filtrate
This essence repairs and rejuvenates the skin from dryness and aging. It improves skin vitality by reducing dullness and soothing dehydrated skin.
Fast absorbing natural and healthy glow
Guarantees long-lasting hydration without heavy feeling on the skin
NO Snails are Harmed
Snail Mucin is obtained in a safe and environmentally friendly way in a favorite environment of snails and then processed as a cosmetic material. 100% Natural, Hypoallergenic, Dermatologist-tested.
Best for all skin types, including oily and acne-prone skin.
While strong actives such as exfoliating acids, vitamin C, and retinoids are effective for fading acne scars, they can also leave the skin feeling dry, irritated, and inflamed, which is why you should avoid them especially in combination with professional treatments such as microneedling.
Although super effective in minimizing skin texture and pitted scarring, this popular treatment delivers controlled trauma to the skin that will eventually help it rebuild itself but not without leaving it feeling raw and uncomfortable for the first couple of days.
Therefore, when looking for something that will give you the ultimate glow and help repair the skin post-microneedling, the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence is definitely the product that needs to be on your radar. Microneedling typically takes 2-3 sessions to start showing results and you should make sure you are following your “post-microneedling” skincare routine for at least 30 days after your last treatment
The essence/serum contains 96% snail secretion filtrate, which helps hydrate, plump, and heal the skin that has just undergone this type of trauma. This action will accelerate healing and will ultimately work with the professional treatment to give you the best results possible.
Lightweight, gooey, and ultra-hydrating, the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence sinks into the skin like a dream and works well for all skin types and skin concerns, including acne scars.
COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence Pros:
- Gentle, soothing, and suitable for all skin types.
- It plumps and repairs the skin.
- Works excellent alongside professional treatments such as microneedling.
COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence Cons:
Best Retinol Serum for Acne Scars:
SkinMedica – Retinol 0.25 Complex
Moisturizing, plumping, and firming, the mildest of SkinMedica’s retinoid family works to improve the appearance of uneven skin tone and discoloration left from acne. Furthermore, and due to its skin-softening properties, the Retinol 0.25 is excellent for anyone dealing with those stubborn atrophic acne scars.
Enhances skin tone, texture, and resiliency. Diminishes appearance of fine lines and coarse wrinkles. Enhances skin tone and texture.
Improve the appearance of skin with effective formulas that help address the many factors that lead to premature aging
SkinMedica’s Retinol 0.25 Complex is a moisturizing retinol with a gentle and creamy consistency that contains barrier-repairing lipids and a couple of fatty alcohols that help soften the skin and strengthen the skin barrier to prevent dryness and dehydration.
It’s also the mildest of SkinMedica’s retinols, which means you are unlikely to experience the initial side effects of retinol use, such as redness, dryness, peeling, and flaking.
Besides that, the formula also contains brightening niacinamide and bisabolol, which are two antioxidants that work to even out uneven skin tone, fade hyperpigmentation, and discoloration left from acne as well as improve those pesky red spots that remain for a long time after a pimple has healed.
SkinMedica Retinol 0.25 Complex Pros:
- It contains mild retinol concentration that won’t cause initial dryness, redness, and peeling.
- Suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
- It helps fade hyperpigmentation and even out uneven skin tone.
SkinMedica Retinol 0.25 Complex Cons:
Best The Ordinary Serum for Acne Scars:
The Ordinary – Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum
Balancing, soothing, and barrier-repairing, the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is a lightweight serum that has done wonders for those dealing with red and pigmented scars left from acne. Especially loved by oily skin types, this serum is bound to become a staple in your skincare routine after the very first try.
Hydrating and antioxidant niacinamide helps balance out oil production and reduce pore-clogging
Sensitive, oily, combination, normal. acne-prone, and mature skin
Niacinamide + Concentration of Zinc
To balance visible aspects of sebum activity, thereby reducing the appearance of textural irregularities, enlarged pores and visible shine
Alchohol-free, oil-free, silicon-free, vegan, gluten free, and cruelty free
Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is one of the most popular products by The Ordinary, and for a few good reasons.
The serum has worked wonders for many people dealing with discoloration, hyperpigmentation, and redness left from acne. But it’s also excellent for those who are dealing with active acne due to its ability to balance out oil production, soothe inflammation on the skin and improve barrier function.
Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% has a lightweight, gel-like texture that sinks into the skin without a greasy or sticky feel. Its matte finish also makes it an excellent primer as it sits well under makeup and helps control excess oiliness throughout the day.
Pair all that with its ridiculously affordable cost, and you will get a cult classic loved by many.
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Pros:
- Excellent for active acne and inflammation.
- Helps fade discoloration, hyperpigmentation, and red acne scars.
- It has a matte finish and sits well under makeup.
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Cons:
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Vitamin C can help reduce acne scarring, dark spots, and inflammation due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
If you have infrequent acne breakouts your scars should typically fade within a few weeks. However, if you have frequent breakouts you may need to use a combination of skincare products and supplements to effectively fade your scars.