While scarring is a natural part of the healing process, and some can certainly tell a story, you may be looking for ways to reduce the appearance of your scars to improve your confidence or make them more comfortable if they're causing irritation. Whether it's been caused by acne, surgery, or a nasty bump, there are some fab scar creams on the market that can improve the complexion of scarring.
We spoke to Claire Williams, skin expert and founder of the WOW Facial, to get her expertise on scar treatments, and we've shared some of the best scar creams that you can buy with glowing user reviews.
Read next: How to get rid of acne scars
Different types of scarring
According to the NHS, the main types of scarring are:
Normal fine-line scars: Often caused by a minor wound like a cut. Leaving a raised line that’ll fade over time.
Hypertrophic scarring: A raised mass of collagen that occurs after damage to the skin. For example, burns or cuts.
Keloid scarring: A bulky scar that develops after trauma to the skin. Unlike hypertrophic scarring, keloid scars can keep growing and are often itchy or painful.
Pitted scarring: Often caused by skin conditions such as acne, the scarring has a sunken or pitted appearance.
Scar contractures: This happens when the skin ‘shrinks’ and becomes tight. Often caused by burns.
How does a scar cream work?
Claire advised, "Scar creams work in different ways to heal the tissue and reduce the appearance of scars. Some skin creams contain mild exfoliants that rub away the top layer of skin cells and any dead skin in the area. Others contain ingredients to hydrate the cells, giving them a fuller look, which may reduce the appearance of scars. Generally speaking, creams work by moisturising the upper layer of skin, trapping in moisture by providing a protective barrier."
Some ingredients to look for in your scar cream include:
• Silicone: Can be used on healed skin to help soften, soothe, and flatten a scar.
• Vitamin E: Keeps the skin well-hydrated and elasticated, improving scar texture.
• Centella Asiatica (Cica): Soothes upset or compromised skin, improves hydration, and support the improvement of scar appearance.
Best scar creams
Claire shared the Kelo-Cote Scar Gel as her top recommendation. “I recommend Kelo-Cote Scar Cream. Great to use about day seven post-surgery or to prevent wounds from turning into scars once the skin has healed. It prevents scars from becoming raised and keloid. Acne scars are a little more difficult to treat with creams, and I would recommend seeing a specialist to discuss micro-needling.”
Great for: Old and new hypertrophic and keloid scars from surgery or wounds.
Review: “I had an accident earlier in the year, which left me with a scar on my arm and I have been looking for a while for something to fade my scar. Decided to give Kelo-Cote a try, and it is brilliant. My scar is flatter, and the redness has almost gone - you can barely notice it now. I am going to keep on using it, but I am so happy with the results so far!!”
Claiming to improve the appearance of scars in just 14 days, the Mederma Advanced Gel penetrates beneath the surface of the skin to provide some welcome benefits. The triple-threat formula, which includes Cepalin botanical extract, can help hydrate and aid skin cell generation, reduce excess collagen, and reduce the redness of scars.
Great for: New and old scars caused by acne, burns, injury and surgery.
Review: “Had surgery on my foot with a cut around 2 1/2 inches across. Once the stitches were out, I started applying Mederma twice a day. It was easy to apply and dried quickly and seemed to put a coating over the wound, which felt protective. The tube looks like it will last for ages.
"Please note this will not create a miracle overnight. You will need to persevere with it, and it will pay off. The scar on my foot has healed great, and I think if it was on another part of the body that sees regular daylight it would be even better. A great product - would recommend!”
Suitable for sensitive skin, the La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Gel B5 is a soothing, moisturising treatment that can help to relieve the feeling of itchiness and tight sensations from scarring. It also has an insulating texture which is enriched in anti-bacterial agents to protect the skin and help aid the skin's natural barrier.
Great for: Protecting and relieving the itchiness of scarring.
Review: “Purchased for use on a recently healed but overly traumatised scar following minor surgery. It’s too soon to give an update on the actual effects of the product, but I’ve been using it twice daily on my new scar and it’s really helping to soothe and comfort it. The gel-cream goes on very smoothly and becomes almost oil-like as you massage it in. My scar feels comfortable, hydrated and less aggravated as a result of using this.”
This creamy mask treatment, designed to be used two to three times per week before bed, works to hydrate and calm the skin to improve the appearance of scarring overnight. It’s enriched with Centella Asiatica (Cica) plus hydrating resurrection plant, bilberry, and wild plum to soothe scars, working alongside the body’s natural night-time rejuvenation processes.
Great for: Soothing and reducing the appearance of scarring.
Review: “I wasn’t sure what to expect with this overnight paste, but it has totally transformed my skin. I have an oily complexion, and therefore I often experience breakouts - this has cleared up all of my breakouts (and dries out any existing spots) and leaves my skin feeling so soft and smooth without the oiliness. It also cleared up my redness and any discolouration from scarring on my cheeks. Love, love, love this product AND its recyclable packaging.”
The SkinCeuticals Advanced Scar Control forms a semi-occlusive film over scars, providing an ideal environment for healing and blocking out aggressors that could hinder recovery. The concentrated silicone-based gel works to normalise the skin’s natural barrier function and lock in essential hydration to smooth scar texture and lessen the appearance of discolouration.
Great for: Cutaneous scarring.
Review: “Absolute game changer! Recently added this product to my routine, as a skin specialist I’m always on the hunt for the purest and strongest ingredients and this product lives up to the skinceuticals rep! I managed to get my acne under control drug free due to a strict skincare and treatment routine but was still slightly struggling with the marks after a breakout. Thankfully I don’t have this problem anymore this product is easy to use and results driven 100% recommend I love it!”
Enriched with vitamin C, Cica, and BHA, the InvisiScar Resurfacing Treatment exfoliates, nourishes, and rejuvenates the skin, helping to blur and minimise the appearance of scars. By filling pitted scars as soon as it’s applied, the velvety scar treatment claims to reduce their depth, texture, colouration, and size after just eight weeks of use.
Great for: Pitted scars.
Review: “I have some tiny scars from a while back and started using this - like the feeling and it does look like I've made some progress! My skin is not sensitive so not sure how that would work for sensitive skin, but no irritation or anything for me!”
Not only is the Derma E Scar Gel great value, but it's highly rated by customers on Amazon, with over 3,000 reviewers rating an average of 4/5 stars. Excellent for scar tissue, minor burns, stretch marks, and calluses, this gel softens and smoothes the skin, addressing the appearance of those imperfections, especially those that are lumpy or discoloured. Suitable for all skin types.
Great for: Improving scar appearance.
Review: “This scar gel is the BEST thing since sliced bread. I’ve suffered with acne scarring for a while now and have tried all sorts of gels/creams/serums etc. But none have worked like this one. It has heavily reduced my acne scarring and even some raised scars from old closed up piercings. Whilst not wearing any makeup during this quarantine I literally just slap this on my face every morning and reapply twice a day. Doesn’t smell bad, feels nice on my face, applies stickyish- but does dry down. Love this stuff! On my second tub.”
While Bio-Oil technically isn’t a cream, it’s the fan-favourite for improving the appearance of scars. Bio-Oil combines a blend of Vitamins A and E and plant extracts that work together to help improve the skin’s texture and increase its elasticity. It helps to diminish the appearance of old and new scars and is the UK’s No.1 selling scar and stretch mark treatment - the reviews speak for themselves!
Great for: Hydrating and improving the appearance of scars and stretch marks.
Review: “Cannot recommend enough! I had open surgery on my stomach five months ago, leaving a nasty scar. I purchased bio-oil about 2/3 months ago - applying in the morning, after a shower, and before bed. The results speak for themselves! I was going to get my scar tattooed over to cover it up, but I now don’t need to as you can barely see it. I will keep on applying it as it keeps the scar moisturised and feels great.”
Related: Is retinol really worth the hype?
What is the best way to treat scars?
Whilst scar creams can help manage scarring and keep them moisturised, for effective scar treatment, you’ll want to talk to your GP.
Claire said, “There are many ways you can treat scars, Skin Needling, Laser therapy, steroids, surgery or even silicon gels/sheets. Topical treatments are great temporary fixes, but I advise seeing a professional to begin your journey of removing scars.
"It’s best to talk with a doctor about the best way to heal your particular scar. This is because there are so many factors at play, including the type of scar, whether it’s new or old, and your age. Oftentimes, if medical treatment isn’t an option, OTC scar creams can be used with other remedies, such as compression garments, skin massages, and moisturising the skin. For topical treatments, the WOW Facial incorporates LED Light to heal and stimulate the skin.”