The only thing worse than a pimple is the dark spot it leaves behind.

By Erin Lukas
Updated Apr 10, 2018 @ 12:00 pm

I used to be one of those annoying people with clear, perfect skin. That all changed once I hit my late 20s. Seemingly out of nowhere, deep, painful, hormonal cystic acne appeared all over my chin and jawline. It was immune to every spot treatment I tried. Two years later, my skin is relatively pimple-free thanks to a spironolactone prescription, but I still have dark spots from past breakouts.

From acne-scar creams to Bio Oil, there are a ton of products that claim to erase acne scars. But it can be hard to tell which ones will actually do the job. Many masks, serums, and spot treatments claim to "brighten" instead of "fade," which leads you to believe that they'll add allover radiance instead of ridding you of dark spots.

A more straightforward solution is Renée Rouleau's Post-Breakout Fading Gel ($39; I came across it when trying Rouleau's Anti Cyst Treatment ($46; This was before I discovered that my acne struggle was an internal hormonal issue and couldn't be treated topically.

The Post-Breakout Fading Gel is a blend of exfoliating AHAs and anti-inflammatory ingredients that promote skin cell turnover to lift and fade dark acne marks with minimal redness and irritation. The tube may look tiny for its price ($40), but one pump is usually all I need to cover the handful of acne marks I have on my face.

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It's easy enough to use, but don't expect to see an immediate improvement. I noticed a difference in my acne scars after about three weeks of application, using the gel as the last step in my nightly skincare routine. Results vary depending on the size, age, and color of each acne mark being treated.

Renee Rouleau says there are a few factors that determine how long it will take for your post-breakout marks to go away. Your skin tone (darker complexions tend to scar more easily), the type of blemish (whiteheads that break the surface scar more than cysts), how long the breakout lasted, and whether or not you picked it all affect healing time.

"Generally, a post-blemish mark will last one to eight months," Rouleau tells us. "But using the Post-Breakout Fading Gel will give a 50-percent quicker recovery than using nothing at all because it expedites the fading process."

An acne-scar laser treatment may give you instant gratification. But one tube of gel is a whole lot cheaper than paying for a laser.