If you’ve ever had a pimple, read this…







How do I fade the scars left behind from pimples?

– From Everyone Commenting On Last Week’s Post.

Dear ECOLWP, allow me to correct you before we proceed.

“How do I fade the POST INFLAMMATORY PIGMENTATION left behind from pimples?”

That’s better!

Because it isn’t a scar. It’s post inflammatory pigmentation, which is a show-offy way of saying the discolouration of skin due to the production of melanin after inflammation. In this case, we’re referring to the site of a pimple you’ve picked at, or was VERY persistent and hung around for ages, and has now left a reddish, browny or purpley mark. Cool.

Bottom line: melanin is what is causing the mark.

What you are actually dealing with here is hyperpigmentation, the same stuff that sprinkles and spreads across your upper lip, forehead and cheeks post-summer thanks to the sun, (adorable!) or after pregnancy or the pill thanks to hormones, and creates uneven skin tone and dark spots on the face (fun!).

Kate Winslet

As you can imagine now that you know this fancy fact, treating it as you would a traditional scar (with vitamin E, bio or rosehip oil, for example) won’t work. Yes, they heal and fade traditional, actual scars, but like I said, what you’re treating is not a scar. Keep using these oils, obviously, because they’re gorgeous, but don’t expect them to do much on those purple/red marks that refuse to buzz off.

What you need to be doing is the same stuff you would to fade pigmentation anywhere else: with specific whitening and brightening products. These work to break up and disperse the melanin, and therefore reduce the appearance of the browny-purpleness, and fade it to the point of not needing to use concealer on it every morning, as someone who shall remain nameless (“Zoe Blanche Foster”) has to do with the marks on her chin each day. They also give a terrific all over brightness to the skin, as the term ‘brightening’ suggests. For those too shy to ask, no, there is no bleaching involved.)

Here’s a plan of attack:

Cleanse with a brightening cleanser. This makes more difference than you would expect, as the melanin that has started to come out on my face – this is normal, it can become a bit darker before it, uh, “falls off” – this week proves. I like Priori’s CoffeeBerry cleanser and Dermalogica’s ChromaTRX White Tri-cleanse.

Use an all-over brightening product at night to fade the marks, and get some impressive luminosity and even skin tone, (I firmly believe it is THIS, not reducing wrinkles, that makes you look younger and more glowy), and then do a bit of targeted prodz-work on the marks as well.

So. Use either a serum (under your night cream, on cleansed skin) such as:

Murad Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Gel

Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector

Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum

Ultraceuticals Eventone Sensitive Serum

Or bump your night cream and switch to one of these for a while:

– John Plunkett’s Superfade face cream. (It has 2% hydroquinone – the most effective skin lightening ingredient available – which is the strongest amount you can get over the counter, although you can get 3-4% by prescription. Be careful if you have sensitive skin; can be irritating.)

Ultraceuticals Ultra C diminish Cream (strong! Beware sensitive souls)

Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Moisture Cream (the matching serum is pretty fantastic also)

Cate Blanchett

After doing this, I also recommend taking some strong brightening cream (such as the Superfade accelerator or a prescription hydroquinone cream) and dabbing a little bit onto any residual pimple marks for a very strong and targeted hit. Clever you!

Happily, all of this effort will do more than just fade your pimple marks, it will give you devastatingly glowy, eventoned skin, which is probably the best side-effect a dame could ask for, am I right? Or AM I LEFT? NO! I am right. Definitely right.

Fun facts that don’t fit anywhere else on this post:

1. There are also more intense and expensive options for those with severe pigmentation including having a program of IPL, Fraxel Re:store Dual, or Helios II Laser Toning, but that’s a whole other post.

2. Brightening prodz tend to be quite active in order to do their biz. It’s just how the Mars Bar melts, I’m afraid. Hydroquinone has an especially bad rep. The Shiseido and Clinique gear will suit sensitive types.

3. This stuff takes time to see results. Worth it. Stick with it, sweet ladybeetles! Please stick with it. And winter is the best time to start as you’re less likely to be in the sun. (According to traditional myths about winter and summer, but living in Sydney they feel more and more like fairytales, these “seasons.”)

And finally, what’s a Zoë post with out some ranting about sunscreen!!!!

Wearing sunscreen every is crucial if you’re brightening your skin. There is ZERO point spending cash and energy on brightening prodz to fade your melanin if you are just going to go in the sun and have UV re-ignite all of it all over again. (Especially since a lot of brightening ingredients – AHAs, kojic acid, retinoids, vitamin C, and hydroquinone – make your skin more susceptible to sun damage.)


Keira Brightly.

Zoe is an author, columnist and porridge fan. She was beauty director of Cosmopolitan, Harper’s BAZAAR and PRIMPED and then collated all the best tips and tricks from her time in these roles for the beauty bible, Amazing Face. She is currently the dating columnist for Cosmopolitan magazine, although her best advice in this arena can probably be found in the dating and relationship guide, Textbook Romance , which she co-wrote with Hamish Blake. Zoe has published three novels, Air Kisses, Playing The Field and The Younger Man, and she rates them among the best novels ever written in the history of the written word. Find more info on her here, or supervise on her daily procrastination here and here.

Please understand that Zoë cannot respond to ALL your questions – but never fear, there are readers that are bound to know the answers, so don’t be afraid to ask – and answer!


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