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How to Treat Brown Spots and Discolouration Caused by Acne

Acne, while a common skin concern, can often leave behind a challenging aftermath in the form of brown spots and discolouration. These blemishes, a form of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), occur when the skin overproduces melanin in response to the inflammation caused by acne. The good news is that these are the easiest scars to address as they are excessive coloured skin cells only, not textural changes.

Brown scars are generally associated with Fitzpatrick Skin Types III and above. With the right skincare approach, incorporating a combination of proven acne scar treatments and proactive measures, these scars can be effectively lightened and will fade.

Understanding Acne-Induced Hyperpigmentation

Before diving into treatments, it’s crucial to understand what you’re dealing with. When acne heals, it can leave behind brown spots, especially in darker skin tones. These spots are not actual scars but pigmentation changes that can be addressed with targeted medical-grade skincare (cosmeceuticals) and very careful sun protection. See this blog if you’d like to learn more on the post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation left behind by acne.

Key Ingredients in Treating Brown Acne Scar

Tinted Zinc-based Sun Protection with Vitamin C (Terminalia Ferdinandiana/Kakadu Plum)

Tinted moisturisers with SPF are the hero of winning against the brown marks left by acne. Zinc not only reduces inflammation but it acts as a physical block against the sun to reduce the stimulation of melanocytes. High quality and non-irritative Vitamin C is a powerhouse antioxidant that helps lighten hyperpigmentation and even out skin tone. It works to help suppress the stimulation of the melanin cells in the skin. Our Suntint Protect SPF 25, in dark is the perfect product for those prone to PIH from acne.

Retinaldehyde (Retinoid)

A derivative of Vitamin A, the gold standard retinol retinaldehyde accelerates cell turnover, helping to fade brown spots and improve skin texture. This is found in the Vitamin A & B Serum. Unlike retinol, it is very gentle because it converts into its active ingredient, retinoic acid in the skin. This reduces the chance of irritation to darker skin types that triggers PIH.


Niacinamide, or Vitamin B3, is renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to reduce redness and hyperpigmentation. It is a tyrosinase inhibitor which blocks the production of melanin under the skin, this is a great prevention for PIH and other pigmentary issues. It is also found in our Vitamin A & B Serum.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)

These acids exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin cells, and promoting new cell growth. AHAs like lactic, malic and mandelic acid work on polishing the skin’s surface, while BHAs like salicylic acid work deeper to dissolve sebum and unclog pores, making them ideal for acne-prone skin, blackheads and whiteheads. AHA made from fruit acids can be found in our Carbon Cleanser and a good quality chemical exfoliator like our Exfoliant Serum are ideal for BHA activity.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid (HA) hydrates the skin, facilitates wound healing, and can help instantly reduce the appearance of scars by giving them a “plumped up” appearance. HA also has a potent anti-inflammatory action, helping to calm darker skin types. HA is a key active in the Vitamin A & B Serum.

Tea Tree Oil, Aloe Vera, Green Tea

Tea tree, found in the Carbon Cleanser is known for both its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Reducing inflammation is a cornerstone of reducing PIH and is also an action of aloe vera, green tea, and the ceramides found in Hydra Lotion.

A Proactive Approach to Managing Brown Acne Scars

  1. Gentle Cleansing: Use Carbon Cleanser to detoxify, reduce oil and exfoliate without causing irritation.
  2. Exfoliating with Care: Regular use of the powerful AHA and BHA enriched Exfoliant Serum can help in the cell turnover process, aiding in the fading of brown spots and revealing healthier, more luminous skin.
  3. Targeted Treatment Application: Apply pigment-reducing serums like Vitamin A & B Serum, focusing on areas with hyperpigmentation.
  4. Consistent Moisturisation: Use Hydra Lotion which keeps the skin hydrated with ceramides, and reduces inflammation with green tea and aloe vera to help in the healing process and maintaining overall skin health.
  5. Protecting from Sun Damage: Daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen like Suntint Protect is non-negotiable to camouflage blemishes and to prevent further pigmentation. It can be used by all sexes.
  6. Our Breakout System makes implementing this routine a breeze.

Treating brown spots and discoloration from acne is a journey that requires patience, consistency, and the right skincare products. By understanding the causes of these scars and using targeted treatments enriched with key ingredients, you can significantly improve your skin’s appearance. Remember, the best approach is a proactive one, combining high-quality, expert-recommended skincare products with a consistent and holistic skincare routine. To see a list of our trusted skin experts click here.