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9 The Ordinary Products for Acne Scars (2023 update)

Did you know you could use The Ordinary for acne scars? The Ordinary is a skincare brand with wide range of products, but known best for their over the counter acne treatments. The nine products in this post are the best The Ordinary products to banish acne scars.

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Acne can leave dark spots or marked inflammation in the deeper layers of the skin as well as scars.

Other than hyperpigmentation there are three types of scars left by acne: ice pick acne scars, rolling acne scars and boxscar scars (see the classification system of acne scars).

Ice pick acne scars are deep holes in the skin’s surface that look like the skin has been punctured by a sharp object, rolling acne scars form when bands of scar tissue develop under the skin giving an uneven appearance, and boxscar scars are depressions or craters in the skin.

Fortunately The Ordinary produce a number of products that can minimise or banish all different types of acne scars. All products from The Ordinary are free from parabens, sulfates, mineral oils, mercury, artificial dyes, and formaldehyde.

This post is all about using products from The Ordinary for Acne Scars

The Ordinary Acne Scars

About Acne Scars

Before we look at which The Ordinary products are best for acne scars, let’s look a bit closer why acne scars develop in the first place and other ways you can treat them.

Although genetics plays a role in whether we develop acne scars, you are more likely to be left with scars if you squeeze or pick at spots. Also, the longer you leave acne untreated, the more chance scars will start to develop.

While it’s possible to treat some acne scars with topical treatments such as creams or lotions, in more severe cases cosmetic surgery, dermabrasion, microneedling or laser treatments may be required.

All the products from The Ordinary listed in this post will help to address superficial acne scarring. You may also wish to combine these products with red light therapy which has been shown to help with scarring and has no side effects.

1. The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% 

Available at: Amazon | Boots | Cult Beauty

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% 

Best treatment for Rolling Acne Scars and Dark Spots

Azelaic acid is an over the counter remedy for acne scars as it is effective at evening out dark marks. Since it targets cells that produce pigment it causes any discolouration on the skin to fade over time.

Azelaic acid also prevents the growth of acne causing bacteria, so reduces the likelihood of further breakouts. It is excellent at reducing inflammation, so is recommended to rosacea sufferers.

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid is a lightweight cream which absorbs well into the skin. It is recommended for those with acne scars which have mild hyperpigmentation. Over time the product brightens skin tone, minimises blemishes and evens out the texture of the skin, making it a good choice to reduce rolling acne scars.

The product can banish acne scars if used regularly, however it does make the skin more sensitive to the sun so a good broad spectrum sunscreen should be used with this product. It would be a good option for anyone with rolling scars that are combined with red marks and textural irregularities.

Study: Read about the use of azelaic acid in the treatment of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and acne

2. The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Available at: Amazon | Boots | Cult Beauty

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

The Ordinary Niacinamide + Zinc is one of the brand’s best selling products. It helps to lighten dark spots and balance out any uneven skin tone. It is excellent for acne prone skin since it is oil free and won’t clog pores.

The product contains 10% pure Niacinamide (vitamin B3) which reduces the appearance of skin blemishes. When combined with Zinc, the two ingredients work together to clear out pores and control oil production.

Niacinamide hinders the effectiveness of Vitamin C, so if you are using this product be sure to use it at a different time to any Vitamin C serums. The Ordinary Niacinamide + Zinc is recommended as one of the best The Ordinary products for acne scars with skin discolouration.

The Ordinary Niacinamide serum helps to minimise the appearance of blemishes and reduce cystic acne caused by pore congestion. It’s a great choice for anyone with uneven skin tone as it helps to increase cellular turnover, and reduce the appearance of blemishes and marks.

Study: Read about the efficacy of Niacinamide in treating mild and moderate acne

3. The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion

Available at: Amazon | Boots | Cult Beauty

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion

Reduces Ice Pick Acne Scars and Boxscars

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion was formerly known as The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%. It contains Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate which helps to accelerate the rate at which skin cells turn over. For this reason it is excellent at healing acne scars.

This product reduces blemishes, clears pimples and helps to banish acne scars. Over time it also improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, reduces sebum production, minimises pores and improves skin texture.

Granactive Retinoid not only helps to banish acne scars, but also has anti-ageing benefits. Regular use can reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles. As we age the body’s collagen production goes down. Granactive Retinoid helps to stop the breakdown of collagen breakdown and increase skin elasticity and suppleness.

This would be a good option if you have acne scars and are also worried about signs of ageing. It helps to improve the overall skin tone, and leave you with a radiant complexion.

Further Reading: How to Use Retinol to Treat Acne

4. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + Hyaluronic Acid 2%

Available at: Amazon | Boots | Cult Beauty

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + Hyaluronic Acid 2% 

Minimises Boxscars and Rolling Acne Scars

Lactic acid helps to exfoliate the skin. It acts as a gentle peel to remove dead cells on the surface of the skin. In doing this is smooths out the texture of the skin, and reduces the appearance of scars. Lactic acid also lightens the appearance of dark marks and blemishes.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + Hyaluronic acid also contains Tasmanian Pepper Berry extract which is effective at reducing redness and inflammation. It works well when combined with lactic acid since it lessens the sensitivity associated with exfoliation.

Tasmanian pepper berry is rich antioxidants and unique phytochemicals. It is also antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, making it a perfect ingredient for calming and protecting acne-prone skin.

Lactic acid is another ingredient that makes your skin more sensitive to the sun, so you should use a good broad spectrum sunscreen with this product. Chemical exfoliants also help to reduce active acne since they clear out the skin pores, and make breakouts less likely.

Study: Read about the use of Lactic acid in treating superficial acne scarring in Indian skin

5. The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane

Available at: Amazon | Boots | Cult Beauty

The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane 

Best treatment for Ice Pick Scars

The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane is a serum contains 1% of pure retinol. Retinol works to thicken the skin. It increases cell turnover which makes scars less viable and heal faster.

In this formula retinol is combined with squalane. Squalane is a more stablised form of squalene. Squalene is found naturally in the skin’s lipid barrier and keeps the skin soft and supple. Squalane mimics your skin’s natural oils and is therefore an excellent moisturiser.

The combination of Squalane and retinol provides the perfect environment for skin healing, and since these ingredients won’t clog the pores they are perfect for acne-prone skin.

Retinol is especially good for acne suffers since it targets multiple skin concerns including reducing scars, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, active acne and the look of blemishes. It also helps to combat the signs of aging.

Since retinol can cause the skin to be more sensitive to UV rays make sure you wear a good sunscreen when using this product.

6. The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

Available at: Amazon | Boots | Cult Beauty

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

Glycolic Peel for Ice Pick Scars

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Solution contains a combination of glycolic acid, amino acids, aloe vera, ginseng, and Tasmanian pepper berry.

Glycolic acid is an effective treatment for acne scars. Consistent use of glycolic acid peels have been shown effective for removing lesions from the skin. The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toning Solution is not as harsh as a peel and works to brighten dull skin as well as smooth out scars and uneven skin.

Using glycolic acid for acne scars works by removing layers of dead skin and leaving the smoother, newer skin underneath. As with other exfoliants it’s important to use a sunscreen when using this product.

As well as smoothing the skin this product also treats mild hyperpigmentation and dark spots. If you have acne scars and congested skin, skincare products containing glycolic acid can improve your complexion with great results.

7. The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres

Available at: Amazon | Boots | Cult Beauty

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres

Treatment for Rolling Acne Scars

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% treats acne scars by increasing the production of collagen in the skin. This then enables the skin to rebuild itself and accelerates the healing of acne wounds.

Vitamin C also works to brighten the overall appearance of the skin and smooth the skin’s surface. Vitamin C is well known for its ability to reduce dark marks and hyperpigmentation, and The Ordinary product is one of the best vitamin c serums for acne scars.

Vitamin C is a multifunctional brightening ingredient which not only reduces the appearance of scars, but also minimises hyperpigmentation, dullness and fine lines. It is a popular skincare ingredient for good reason, since it protects the skin from environmental stressors throughout the day, and prevents further damage.

For the best results use The Ordinary Vitamin C serum regularly as part of your skincare routine.

Study: Read about the role of Vitamin C in skin health

8. The Ordinary Peeling Solution (AHA 30% + BHA 2%)

Available at: Amazon | Boots | Cult Beauty

The Ordinary Peeling Solution

Treatment for Deep Acne Scars

The Ordinary Peeling Solution contains a mixture of alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids, including salicylic acid which has the ability to exfoliate the skin at a deeper level. This is one of the best products from The Ordinary for acne scars if your scars are especially deep. Be aware however that this treatment is very strong and would not suit sensitive skin types.

The formula includes Tasmanian pepperberry to reduce inflammation and redness, hyaluronic acid and black carrot to retain moisture in dry skin. Together the ingredients in this peeling solution radically improve the skin’s texture giving it a velvet like softness. Acne scars are smoothed and fine lines reduced.

This is among the best Ordinary products for reducing deep scars since it is packed full of effective ingredients. The acid formula which contains a strong combination of alpha and beta hydroxy acids should, however, be used with caution. I’ve written a separate post to help you use this product which can be viewed below.

Read more about how to use The Ordinary Peeling Solution for acne scars

9. The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%

Available at: Amazon | Boots | Cult Beauty

The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%

Best Treatment for Fading Pigmented Scars

Alpha Arbutin is a skin lightening ingredient derived from berries such as blueberries or cranberries. It helps to fade dark spots and pigmentation left in scar tissue from old acne scars. It also inhibits melanin production which prevents further dark marks from forming.

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin also contains ascorbic acid (pure vitamin C). The combination of these two powerful brightening ingredients is very effective at reducing dark marks. Topical vitamin C is known to make the skin tone more even and and radiant over time as well as soften dark spots from sun damage.

Since neither Vitamin C nor Alpha Arbutin perfom well when combined with water, this formula is completely water free. It is also free from oil despite the fact it feels slightly oily. This would be a good product for oily skin types since it won’t leave any greasy feel or make your skin oilier.

This water-free vitamin c serum is best suited to acne scars that are very pigmented. It is one of the best over the counter products for fading hyperpigmentation on the skin. Since I love this product so much I’ve written a separate post, which can be viewed below about the amazing effects of alpha arbutin.

Read more about using Alpha Arbutin for acne scars and hyperpigmentation

Summary of Skincare Ingredients that Reduce Acne Scars

1. Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid increased the rate at which your skin cells turnover. This can reduce the appearance of severe acne scarring. Azelaic acid also prevents the synthesis of melanin which minimises dark spots on the skin.

Due to it’s ability to reduce inflammation of the skin, Azelaic acid is a popular ingredient for acne sufferers. It is often used as part of a skincare routine to reduce acne scars which also includes glycolic acid and retinoids.

2. Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)

Studies have shown Niacinamide to face acne scars after 8-12 weeks. It works by stabilising the production of melanin and improving the appearance of hyperpigmentation and melasma.

Niacinamide also boosts the production of collagen which helps the skin to heal and repair marks on the skin. It makes the skin more elastic and smooths out any rolling scars or wrinkles.

3. Retinoids

Retinoids don’t just reduce the appearance of acne scars but they also reduce acne breakouts by preventing the pores from being clogged with dead cells. When used with other ingredients, retinoids help other products to be absorbed better into the skin.

Since retinoids increase cell turnover they support the production of new, unblemished skin cells. With regular use the skin texture becomes transformed to appear clearer, smoother and more even. Retinoids are frequently used to treat both acne and acne scarring since they help to reduce discolouration, redness and marks.

4. Lactic Acid

Lactic acid reduces the appearance of acne scars by pulling dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. It acts as a gentle peel and smooths the overall texture of the skin.

Lactic acid also lightens blemishes and dark marks on the skin. It is good for all skin types and over time will lighten the skin tone. It is especially good for minimising rolling acne scars.

In a study conducted in 2010, lactic acid peels were performed every two weeks for three months on patients with  superficial acne scarring. At the end of the study all the patients saw a significant improvement in the texture of their skin. They also found that the lactic acid worked well at lightening any hyperpigmentation.

5. Glycolic Acid

Chemical peels using alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are a popular treatment for acne scars, and glycolic acid is the most popular AHA for acne scars. Glycolic acid is a natural exfoliant and effective at stripping away dead scar tissue.

Many studies have proven the effectiveness in using glycolic acid for acne scars. It also helps the skin to retain moisture and elasticity, leaving a clearer complexion and healthier, more radiant skin.

6. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is well known for evening out skin tone, reducing hyperpigmentation and dark acne scarring or blemishes. It brightens the appearance of the skin and reduces fine lines and wrinkles.

Vitamin C also increases the production of collagen which is a protein responsible for your skin’s structure. It helps to rebuild healthy skin and and speed up the healing of acne scars.

7. Citric Acid

Citric acid is a mild exfoliant which can help to unclog the pores and remove dead skin cells. It also helps to reduce redness and inflammation, and treat acne scars. Citric acid is found in lemons which is why lemon juice is a common natural ingredient found in homemade acne masks.

8. Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid which is beneficial for all acne scar types. It helps to clear excess sebum, dirt and dead skin cells from the pores, and reduce any redness or inflammation. This is a popular ingredient both to reduce scarring and active acne lesions. It is considered one of the best treatments for acne scarring.

9. Linoleic Acid

Linoleic acid which is found in oils such as rosehip oil can help to reduce the appearance of scarring. It’s particularly good at minimising the appearance of flat, pigmented scars left from old acne lesions. One study showed that linoleic acid helped to lighten dark marks on the skin.

Final Thoughts

Whenever you are using a chemical exfoliant on your skin, remember to also use sun protection. Any active ingredient which causes even mild exfoliation will leave your skin more sensitive to the sun. Always use a SPF 50 especially if the product you are using has a high concentration of acids.

When using The Ordinary to minimise acne scars you also don’t always need to apply the products to the entire face. Many of them can be used solely on a problem area or as a spot treatment.

The Ordinary FAQS

What The Ordinary product will help with old indented acne scars?

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is one of The Ordinary’s best selling products. The Niacinamide helps to minimise old indented acne scars, and the zinc lightens dark spots.

Why is The Ordinary so cheap?

The Ordinary focuses on specific ingredients and are therefore able to keep their costs down and sell their products for a lower price.

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This post was all about using products from The Ordinary for Acne Scars

Thank you for reading my post on using The Ordinary for acne scars. If you have used any of the products I have recommended then please leave me a comment and let me know how you got on. The Ordinary produce some excellent formulas for acne-prone skin and inflammatory hyperpigmentation. They offer some of the best over the counter products to help clear skin and reduce the look of fine lines.


Monday 31st of May 2021

Hi, Mamta! Great post ❤️. I have some rolling scars on one of my cheeks, and one near my mouth. I've been using Tretinoin .025. I still buffer, but I've built up to nightly use. I believe the Tretinoin has helped to smooth out the scars. I see old pictures and my scars looked a lot more noticeable. So happy 😊 I googled 'Ret247get' and got tretinoin. I also have a very hydrating routine, which I think helps plump up the skin so that scars are less noticeable. I have a certain elevator I take once a week for work. It has the most stressful, disturbing lighting in the world. It makes skin texture look 10,000 times worse. I remember seeing myself in a selfie in that lighting back when I started Tret. Well, recently, just to torture myself, I took out the selfie cam again in that same elevator and noticed a much smoother texture than before. I sound toxic and obsessive. Sigh. But they've gotten better! I will probably wait until I run out of this Tret tube and then up to .05.

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