8 Best Scar Creams To Help Fade Every Type Of Cut, Scrape & Mark
Call us skin care nerds, but we find scars fascinating. (Good thing it's our job to dive into these topics, right?) They're a visible reminder that your skin is your biggest ally, as your skin cells quickly jump into repair mode to protect you from damage. They're a token of your skin's resilience—isn't that a beautiful thing?
Although, because those cells are working on overdrive to close up a wound, the result can appear a bit gnarly on the surface. That said, it makes sense why some may want to get rid of a textured, misshapen mark with a good scar cream.
Now, there are many different types of scars (we'll explain more below), which can make selecting the best healing product a very overwhelming venture. Not to worry: Ahead, you'll find the best scar creams to help fade every kind of scar imaginable. Whether you're dealing with post-surgery scars, hyperpigmentation, or an over-picked scab, discover your perfect match below.
What is scar cream?
First, let's discuss how scars happen: When your skin experiences some sort of trauma (be it a wound, scrape, or even breakout), your skin cells jump into overdrive to quickly close any gaps. "To repair damage, your body makes a tissue that's thicker than your skin. This thicker tissue often becomes a scar," explains board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, M.D. "Sometimes, the body makes an excessive amount of extra tissue and you see a raised scar that is bigger than the original wound." (That's called a keloid.)
While true scarring can be permanent, scar creams contain calming, soothing ingredients that can help flatten any raised areas. They might not erase them completely, but a quality formula can certainly help them become less noticeable.
What about acne scars, you ask? Well, there are a few different types of marks you can get post-pimple, but they all develop due to inflammation. "This happens because the inflammation destroys collagen in your skin," says King.
Again, the skin will go into repair mode by producing new collagen fibers, but unfortunately, these are often not as smooth and uniform as the original skin, so they stick out and are more apparent. Because scar creams have anti-inflammatory ingredients, they can help soothe the area and promote skin healing.
How we picked:
Scars come in many forms: post-surgery scars, acne scars, old scars, fresh scars, and the list goes on. We chose products tailored to each type of mark.
All of the products listed contain ingredients known for their scar-healing properties, all vetted by dermatologists and the latest research.
Active ingredients are important, but we can't forget about moisture. A hydrated skin barrier is a happy skin barrier—and a happy skin barrier heals faster.
While everyone's skin is different, we took customer reviews into consideration when selecting our vetted list. It's important to have an idea about the general timeline and sensorial experience before investing in a scar-healing formula.
mbg's picks for the best scar creams of 2022
Best overall: Avéne Cicalfate+ Scar Gel
- Simultaneously heals scars & strengthens skin barrier
- Won't work as well on old scars
This gel includes medical-grade silicone to moisturize and protect the skin, hyaluronic acid to maintain hydration, and a targeted postbiotic specifically shown to help with skin restoration. Of course, it also features the brand's signature thermal spring water to soothe and soften the skin. With such high-quality, skin-healing ingredients, it's a steal at $26.
Best dermatologist pick: Dr. Zenovia Skincare Scar Gel Treatment
- Great for acne scars and hypertrophic scars
If you're looking for a derm-approved pick, why not snag a medical-grade silicone gel straight from a derm herself? This treatment, formulated by board-certified dermatologist Zenovia Gabriel, M.D., FAAD, contains a blend of antioxidant-rich skin-soothers (green tea extract, cucumber extract, glycerin, and allantoin, to name a few), along with an enzyme called bromelain that helps soften a rough skin texture. What's more, the gel quickly absorbs into the skin, so it's a pleasure to reapply.
Best for face: SkinCeuticals Advanced Scar Control
- Wears well under makeup
- Can be too occlusive for acne-prone skin
With 95% medical-grade silicones, this gel provides quite the moisturizing barrier for facial scars. In the remaining 5%? You'll find allantoin, an ingredient beloved for reducing itch and irritation; soline to reduce inflammation; and a cocktail of nourishing oils, like sunflower and jojoba. It also features an ingredient called airlicium, which provides a matte, nonsticky finish, so you can slather it on your face without fear of appearing too greasy.
Best for after surgery: Terez & Honor Scar Remover Gel
- Simple & gentle formula
- Some reviewers note it's difficult to pump out product
Have you ever seen someone wearing a silicone sheet post-surgery? These ultra-thin strips help keep moisture locked in during the healing process, which minimizes scarring as a result. Think of this product as the gel version of those surgical silicone sheets: As it dries, it forms a slight barrier between your skin and the surrounding environment, thus keeping the vulnerable skin soothed and protected from bacteria.
Best for acne scars: Carter + Jane PickFix
- A little drop goes a long way
- Contains essential oils, which can be irritating
Carter + Jane's PickFix was formulated specifically with scar-prone skin pickers in mind. Picking at pimples, as you likely know, damages the surrounding tissue and encourages post-breakout scarring even further. If you've already gone to town on your face, this elixir has you covered: It contains certified organic, cold-pressed Turkish pomegranate seed oil and Moroccan prickly pear seed oil for a dose of skin-healing vitamin E, along with Roman chamomile, Bulgarian lavender, and Australian tea tree oils to calm irritation and stimulate wound healing.
Best for old scars: Derma E Scar Gel with Pathenol and Allantoin
- Great for full body
- Some reviewers say the texture is too thick
This scar gel relies on onion extract and allantoin to help reduce irritation and flatten raised marks; it also features powerful hydrators panthenol and glycerin to keep the area nice and moisturized. Panthenol, in particular, can also help with the wound-healing process and encourage skin regeneration—certainly a worthy ingredient for new and old scars. And although most formulas do their best work on recent scars, it is possible to see long-term scars fade. As the brand suggests, apply twice a day for three to six months to encourage healing.
- Doubles as a moisturizing allover body cream
- Might take a while to see results
A vitamin-packed body butter that helps fade scars over time? Yes, please. This nourishing balm includes a cocktail of conditioning, vitamin-E-rich oils, along with a host of antioxidant-rich, skin-healing extracts. Turmeric, for example, is revered for its skin-brightening abilities, and marshmallow and licorice root extracts help combat free radicals and encourage skin recovery.
Best budget: Quantum Scar Reducing Cream
- Great for sensitive skin
- Can be greasy
Allantoin and onion extracts are the scar-healing actives here, both of which are beloved for reducing irritation and dryness. However, this $10 cream is also brimming with plant-based soothers, like olive oil, vitamin E, calendula extract, Roman chamomile, tamanu oil, and aloe. That last ingredient deserves an extra-special callout: Aloesin, a compound naturally found in the aloe plant, has been shown to effectively fade hyperpigmentation. It's a fragrance-free, deeply hydrating cream that's easy on the most sensitive skin.
The best active ingredients to look for in a scar cream.
You may have noticed a few common ingredients sprinkled throughout our recs above—that's because some players are specifically known for their scar-healing abilities. Here, find a few standouts that have the most research:
- Medical-grade silicone: "Medical-grade silicone products have been clinically [shown] to be one of the most effective at-home scar treatments available for a variety of scar types, including hypertrophic, keloid, acne, and burn scars, as well as surgical scars," says King. It basically forms a halo over the skin to protect and moisturize the area.
- Arbutin: For acne scars and hyperpigmentation, experts are quick to sing the praises of arbutin. "Arbutin works to inhibit tyrosinase, an enzyme present in melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells in the skin," board-certified dermatologist Tiffany Jow Libby, M.D., once shared with mbg. Not to mention, it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, too.
- Onion extract: Yes, really. Studies show that applying onion extract two to three times a day significantly improved the appearance of post-surgery scars, stretch marks, and raised, hypertrophic scars in just three to six months.
- Allantoin: "Allantoin reduces itching, irritation, and dryness," says King. It's a popular ingredient in many scar creams, thanks to its ability to help calm irritation and redness.
- Thyme oil: Thyme oil contains a compound called thymol, which research shows has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Green tea: A popular anti-inflammatory, green tea contains potent antioxidants called catechins. The main catechin EGCG has even been shown in one in vitro study from 2008 to block collagen production in keloid scars, notes King.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E is frequently touted (albeit anecdotally) for speeding up wound healing: People use it to ease itchiness and reduce the appearance of scars, including those due to acne or surgery. The nutrient might also benefit scar formation during healing by interacting with lipids in cell membranes.
mbg review process.
At mbg, high standards are earned—and there are no shortcuts. Our beauty editors stay up to date on the latest ingredient research and innovation. It's a dynamic, continuously evolving space, and it's important we look into the science so we can make informed choices about which formulas earn our stamp of approval (figuratively speaking).
Our high standards also come from testing products—many, many products. Our editors and writers rigorously test and research the products featured in our roundups to offer you the best, most informed recommendations. When we write reviews, you can trust we spend quality time with the formulas: We don't simply rave about products we've slathered on the back of our hand. We endorse products we've tried and loved.
Learn more about our testing process and clean beauty standards here.
Healing scars takes time, so it's important to find a good scar cream, stay consistent, and be patient. We always recommend consulting a doctor if you can, as they can provide the most personalized plan of action for your specific type of scar. But if you are using an OTC scar cream, make sure to apply as directed and keep the area protected from sun exposure—you may want to invest in a sensitive-skin-approved sunscreen to slather on the delicate area while it heals.
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Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.