Posh Beckham

Dear Marta, I have acne scars that laser treatment failed to remove or fade. I am thinking about copper peptide solutions such as Skin Biology’s Super Cop2X and was also wondering about Collaxyl. What would you advise?

It wasn’t actually Posh Beckham writing in, but hey it’s comforting to know you’re in good company. Acne scars are double punishment — after distressing breakouts the skin can remain vexingly, stubbornly marked. So when I got this email from a reader, it prompted me to think about the various options for dealing with them. There are different types of acne scars with the most common being: darkish spots/hyperpigmentation, ice pick (deep pits or punctures), boxcar (resembling the scars left by chickenpox and rolling). These classifications were designed by a team of dermatologists in 2001 to help doctors determine the right treatment for different scars, from laser to punch excision.

But what can you do at home? The first thing that is required is patience. Acne scars will take time and persistence. There are a number of different approaches, but the basic regimen is exfoliate, repair and light therapy.

Let’s start with my correspondent’s copper peptide question. It is important to understand how copper peptides work. They will not fade scars per se. Basically, copper peptides need something to repair. So this is where exfoliation comes in. The idea is that the scar tissue needs to be exfoliated and then the traumatized skin is ready for the peptide (or other active, which I’ll come back to) does its repair work.

A typical exfoliator that dermatologists prescribe is tretinoin (a retinoid sold under the name of Retin-A). I personally wouldn’t go for this option as tretinoin has some issues. It is a toxin and its absorption is systemic. For this reason it should not be used by pregnant women. At least one study concluded that, despite its ability to stimulate skin repair, tretinoin was cytotoxic. There are some more benign alternatives — although they will take longer to work.

Skin Biology, which makes the aforementioned Super Cop 2x, recommends a strong glycolic peel (called Lacsal) before using the peptides. Glycolic is certainly gentler than retinoids, but Lacsal may not be for the sensitive of skin as it may dry and irritate, plus it may result in uneven tone for darker skins. A gentler alternative would be Lumixyl’s Glycopeel 20, which has glycolic, malic and lactic acids.

Using a glycolic cream with LED light could be especially helpful for acne scars that have left hyperpigmentation. In the last year or so I have become more convinced by using LED light. And I would really recommend alternating between blue and green lights (blue for acne, green for hyperpigmentation). Research backs up blue light helping to clear up acne and I know people who have benefited from using green and/or red LED light to improve acne damaged skin.

Baby Quasar has a blue light version. However, Sirius Aurora has green, red and blue lights. The red light is a great at keeping the skin looking plump and overall the Sirius is a great investment. In addition, or alternatively, you can find a salon for monthly or so LED treatments.

Then I would recommend regular use of a good skin repair cream. I would take a look at ReLuma as this was originally developed for scar repair.

Incidentally, I also checked out Collaxyl as my correspondent mentioned it. Hexapeptide-9 is often marketed under the name Collaxyl and is widely touted as a repairer of acne scars. A relatively new peptide, hexapeptide-9 is supposed to boost collagen synthesis, although I couldn’t find any studies that back this up.

If anyone has tips for dealing with acne scars at home, or has a good dermatologist solution to report, we’d love to hear from you.