A friend recently shared a haunting story about a scar—two old nicks on her legs.
She was 13 years old at sleepaway camp, and her little legs would get scraped up from the sharp edges of a friend’s trunk that was always left out in their cabin. They were just laughable little fumbles at the time. Two years later, when this friend of hers was killed in a car accident, those old scars became treasured reminders of an old friendship that lasts to this day.
Scars can be painful—physically and emotionally. But instead of looking at them as an unsightly blemish on the body, think about them for what they are: Collagen produced in the skin to fill and close a wound—and how miraculous is that? They can change color and shape over time. Sometimes they fade on their own. While most likely some scars won’t disappear completely, there are a few things that can be done to help diminish them.
Certain foods can help keep the body’s healing abilities in top form: Good fats from avocado and coconut oil; essential fatty acids from wild salmon and chia seeds; zinc and copper from spinach and kale.
An early approach
Getting a handle on a scar early on can accelerate healing. For immature scars less than three months old, a little trick called skin rolling can help improve blood circulation and break up scar tissue. Just take the scarred skin between two fingers, and very gently “roll” or massage it for five minutes a day.
Avocado oil can help heal wounds by boosting collagen production. But to prevent excess collagen growth, which could produce a surplus of scar tissue and lead to a more noticeable scar, try raw honey and baking soda. Both are mildly antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Mix the two and massage onto scars for a few minutes a day to regulate collagen and prevent dead skin accumulation.
Aloe vera can increase the elasticity of scar tissue and reduce inflammation. Break open a fresh leaf or use bottled aloe vera gel and apply it to the scar daily.
Get ahead of acne scars
Don't be afraid of oil if you suffer from acne. Once blemishes start to subside and turn into red marks—or even before pimples crop up at all—certain oils should have a sure place in a beauty routine. Rosehip seed oil is a miracle worker that rejuvenates the skin with vitamin C and lycopene, repairing it and restoring elasticity. Coconut oil contains antioxidant medium-chain fatty acids that can prevent and reverse free radical damage and stop oxidation, speeding up healing time. Lavender essential oil can increase the skin’s cell turnover. And olive oil contains vitamin E and K, which promote skin healing and regeneration.
When things get dark
Even being obsessively hands-off while letting a pimple run its course can still leave a lasting impression on the face in the form of a dark spot. Cocoa butter, which contains vitamin E, is an old remedy for fading dark spots—not just from acne, but from all types of scars.
Lemon juice is another old trick. Its natural alpha hydroxy acids can exfoliate, regenerate cells, and have a bleaching effect on dark spots. Dilute it with water, infuse onto a cotton ball, and swipe it on scars.
For pitted scars
Sometimes acne can leave dreaded pitted scars, which look like tiny indentations in the skin. Addressing these may call for some big guns. Enter the dermaroller, which could easily be mistaken for a torture device. It looks like a paint roller with tiny, tiny microneedles that pierce the skin. Sound terrifying? And counterintuitive? The logic behind this insane-sounding practice is that the tiny traumas that occur from rolling these microneedles on the skin will elicit a response from the body to stimulate collagen production in the area to repair the damage.
Some studies have actually shown positive results in reducing scarring, so brave beauties might want to give this method a try. These tools are available on the market—just practice it safely and sanitarily at home—or order this treatment at the spa.
For more severe scars
Raised scars like hypertrophic scars or keloids are tough cookies, but silicone gel sheets have been clinically proven to greatly reduce texture, color, and height of these. This treatment increases hydration and regulates collagen production to help soften and flatten scars.
But instead of thinking of a scar as something that must be banished, remember that it’s a sign of healing. If you can muster it, own those battle scars—they’re a part of you.
Illustration by Katherine Prendergast