Mar 24, 2024

8 Best Scar Creams to Heal and Treat, Tested & Reviewed in 2023

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I consulted the surgeons.

After going through a pretty big surgery almost two years ago, as you can imagine, I was left with scars. Though it was inevitable—and I was okay with that fact—I personally wanted to find a way to soften their appearance as much as possible. This pursuit led me to test a million and one scar creams—i.e., silicone-based body creams or gels that reduce collagen overgrowth, therefore, resulting in smoother, flatter scars over time.

Though genetics, lifestyle factors, and the type of injury/scar all play a role in its outcome and healing process, when it comes to over-the-counter products, board-certified plastic surgeon Alexis Parcells, MD, says that silicone-gel-based creams and tapes have the most proven scientific evidence to smooth, soften, and minimize the appearance of your scars. And lucky for you, over the past year and a half, I personally tested a ton of scar creams and treatments and compiled a list of ones that actually work, weeded out the ones that don't, and consulted Dr. Parcells as well as board-certified plastic surgeon Noël B. Natoli, MD, for all the tips and facts when it comes to treating your scars at home, below.

Keep reading for the full breakdown of the best scar creams and treatments—according to my own testing and product reviewers—along with tips from plastic surgeons on choosing the best scar treatments, how to safely treat your scars during the healing process, and what to look for before you buy.

This product (combo'd with silicone tape) was my ride-or-die scar treatment for a year after my surgery. Made with 100 percent silicone—at a pretty affordable price compared to similar products—it's the ideal scar treatment because the silicone creates a protective barrier over the scar, keeping it hydrated and resulting in a smoother, flatter scar over time. Plus, it's a water-resistant, non-greasy formula that dries clear and easily layers with sunscreen sans the pilling.

THE REVIEW: "I’ve used this product in the past following thyroid surgery that resulted in a four-inch scar and have seen it at work," one tester notes. "The scar was raised and very dark, but with consistent use and combo'd with an alternating schedule between the ointment and scar tape, it leveled the scar so that it was even with my skin and far lighter."

Say hello to the holy grail, crème de la crème of scar treatments: Silicone tape. This baby has been ~scientifically~ proven to be the number one most effective treatment for scars. After the scar is fully healed (~three weeks), and with your doctor's approval, apply the silicone tape to the scar site and keep it on for 23 hours daily. Not only will it treat your scar by reducing its size, redness, itchiness, and swelling, but it'll also prevent a raised scar from forming. Just FYI, for it to work properly, you need to be consistent about wearing it, which means all day (with the exception of an hour or so to give your skin a break) for at least three to four months.

THE REVIEW: "I love that you can actually sweat and it stays on, even on a 100-degree day!" one tester notes. "The color is an added bonus—it blends so well that most people don't realize I am wearing one. The results are looking very promising, So happy with this purchase and highly recommend the product and the seller."

Plastic surgeon Noël Natoli, MD, says that scar creams high in silicone can be effective and personally recommends biocorneum. "An additional benefit of some of these scar products is the combined use of sunscreen which helps to protect the healing scar and is essential," she says. This one is combined with SPF 30, so your healing skin also stays protected from the sun's harmful rays.

THE REVIEW: "This stuff works like a champ," one tester writes, adding, "I had a large incision done above my eye—the stitches ran the length of my eyebrow and then up my forehead to my hairline. The Dr. that did the procedure recommended this brand for treatment as I healed and my scar is almost invisible! No skin irritation and I didn't have to put globs of this on."

Another one of my favorite scar treatments is this kit created by plastic surgeon Alexis Parcells, MD. In addition to the silicone tape and scar gel (filled with silicone, panthenol, and allantoin), it also has a vibrating beauty bar to massage your scar. Studies have shown that massaging your scar daily can help to fade red or dark scars, decrease pain and itching, and even help to flatten them.

THE REVIEW: "Easy to use, does not leave stains or sticky spots behind, makes my scar less itchy, and improves the look and feel of the scar tissue," writes one reviewer.

If you have experienced moderate to severe acne at some point in your life, you may have developed atrophic scars—i.e., scars that look sunken and are commonly associated with acne. This scar gel treatment is a wonderful product for acne-prone individuals due to the fact that it addresses your scars with silicone and also treats redness, uneven texture, and current acne (s/o to the super gentle retinol-alternative, bakuchiol).

THE REVIEW: "This gel has been so amazing!" reads one review. "It has almost completely eliminated my acne scars. I highly highly recommend it. It has made a huge impact on my face and self-confidence."

This scar gel is definitely pricey, but it's worth it thanks to being packed with two super-powerful ingredients, silicone and allantoin. By now, we know that silicone is the best treatment out there for scars; however, allantoin is soothing, softens your skin while protecting it, and promotes wound healing. Pair these two together, and what do you get? A pretty powerful scar treatment cream, that's what.

THE REVIEW: "This stuff is incredible," writes one tester, adding, "I use it on any scars I have that are old and I see visible improvement. It significantly speeds up the healing process and drastically reduces any scarring. This product is magic in a bottle."

Hi, quick fact: A scar is super sensitive because it forms to heal damaged skin, which means it's incredibly susceptible to the sun's harmful rays. So much so that exposure can even lead to the darkening of the scar, so if the scar cream you're using doesn't contain SPF—or you don't place a protective silicone tape sheet over it—you absolutely should be applying an SPF 30+ sunscreen on top of it, like this one for sensitive skin. Dr. Natoli even advises her patients to stick with a sunscreen and scar massage regime if silicone creams are out of their price range.

THE REVIEW: "My dermatologist told me that this is currently her favorite sunscreen on the market, so I bought several tubes for a beach vacation and it is amazing!" notes one tester.

So, disclaimer first: This product does not contain silicone, which means it's ineffective for reducing a scar's appearance. However, it is wonderful for healing superficial and small burns and can be a great product to use for preventative measures. It's packed with moisturizing emollients (hi, avocado oil, and squalane) to create an optimal moist environment to promote healing. Apply the cream thick (as in 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick) to any superficial and small burns, and continue to do so every 24 to 48 hours until it has fully healed. Just FYI, if you have a healing scar, don't use this product and instead consult your doctor.

THE REVIEW: "I am using it as directed by my doctor for my face after cancer surgery and after laser scar removal," one review reads. "It’s calming, cooling, soothing, and just works."

Yes, scar creams actually work, and silicone has been scientifically proven to help reduce redness and thickness over time. "Scar creams can benefit all scar types as they help to take normal redness out of scars and can help flatten them," says Dr. Natoli, adding that scar creams are best initiated in the first year after scarring, and beyond this, they can have limited benefit.

"For severe or refractory scars, including keloids and deep atrophic scars, over-the-counter scar creams may not be sufficient enough," Dr. Natoli says. She explains that at this point, additional and more invasive therapies, including laser treatments, corticosteroid injections, or surgical interventions, will be the best option to improve the overall appearance and feel of the scar. If this is your case, it's best to consult your doctor.

Anytime the bottom skin layer, or dermis, is injured, the body heals by producing a scar, explains board-certified plastic surgeon Alexis Parcells, MD. She adds that while most people with a scar experience this natural healing process, there are several different types of scars that can occur depending on the insulting injury and an individual’s genetics. Here, Dr. Parcells breaks them down:

"A scar cream can work to soften, fade, smooth, and flatten scars," says Dr. Parcells, listing a few of the most common ingredients that you'll find in scar creams:

Just note that according to the American Academy of Dermatology, a lot of non-prescription scar treatments contain ingredients such as onion extract, vitamin A, and vitamin E—excluding silicone—and research on how well these ingredients work is limited.

In order to treat a scar and get the most benefits out of your scar cream, you need to be very diligent about applying it. "Silicone sheets are highly effective for scars but because they have to be worn for a minimum of 12 hours daily, compliance is an issue with this treatment, especially in visible areas such as on the face," says Dr. Natoli. And when it comes to scar creams, most are indicated for twice-daily use, every single day.

Dr. Parcells says that for most patients who will experience normal scarring, "you can start a scar cream or gel approximately three to four weeks after injury or surgery, and continue for up to two years when a scar is mature."

Siena Gagliano is an associate editor who writes beauty at Cosmopolitan and has three years of experience writing about beauty, fashion, and lifestyle news. She’s an expert at researching and writing skincare stories, like the differences between mineral vs. chemical sunscreen and the best anti-aging cream. She regularly tests and analyzes scar creams and treatments on her own scars for efficacy, while working with the industry’s top dermatologists and plastic surgeons to assess new treatments, formulas, and products.

Siena Gagliano is the associate editor at Cosmopolitan, where she primarily covers beauty in the makeup, skin, and hair spaces, as well as some fashion and lifestyle. Wanna know how to get the best brows of your life? Gotchu. What about how to achieve ridiculously glowing skin, a super bouncy blowout, or exactly how to use that viral face mask? Check, check, and check. Before joining Cosmopolitan, Siena was a writer at Bustle and several other media outlets. As NYC's newest resident, she has vowed to find the best (extra) dirty martini this city has to offer—and yes, that means ~attempting~ to try every cute cocktail spot in the city (hit her up with some recs, pls). Follow Siena on Instagram where you'll see that her account is mostly dedicated to pics of her cute dog and that magazine life.

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scar creams—i.e., silicone-based body creams or gels that reduce collagen overgrowth, therefore, resulting in smoother, flatter scars over timesilicone-gel-based creams and tapes have the most proven scientific evidence to smooth, soften, and minimize the appearance of your scars protective barrier over the scar, keeping it hydratedKey ingredient(s): Product formula: THE REVIEW: number one most effective treatment for scarsKey ingredient(s):Product type:THE REVIEW: personally recommends biocorneumKey ingredient(s): Product formula: THE REVIEW: fade red or dark scars, decrease pain and itching, and even help to flattenKey ingredient(s): Product formula: THE REVIEW: treats redness, uneven texture, and current acneKey ingredient(s):Product formula:THE REVIEW: promotes wound healingKey ingredient(s): Product formula: THE REVIEW: you absolutely should be applying an SPF 30+ sunscreen on top of it,Key ingredient(s): Product formula: THE REVIEW: optimal moist environment to promote healingKey ingredient(s):Product formula:THE REVIEW: help to take normal redness out of scars and can help flatten themlaser treatments, corticosteroid injections, or surgical interventions,Consider the type of scarHypertrophic scars: Keloids: Atrophic scars:Contracture:Striae (or stretch marks):Evaluate the ingredientsSilicone*:Vitamin E:Aloe vera:Onion extract:Allantoin:you need to be very diligent about applying itAlexis ParcellsMD,Noël B. Natoli, MD,Siena GaglianoSiena Gagliano is the associate editor at Cosmopolitan, where she primarily covers beauty