The best pimple patches have saved skin more times than I can count. A simple overnight application can be the difference between a month of concealer and a zit just slinking off into the night. And while we can’t guarantee that they’ll knock out every single pimple, these acne patches will deliver a significant blow to any clogged pores. They’ll suck up the gunk that is trapped inside the skin, and in some cases, will also fill the area with healing, hydrating, soothing and bacteria-neutralizing ingredients.
They’re one of many types of spot treatments, but patches have the added advantage of keeping you from touching and picking at any blemishes, because sometimes self control is not enough.
How do pimple patches work?
Primarily with hydrocolloid, microneedles, or salicylic acid—or some mix of the three.
- Hydrocolloid patches: With some exceptions, most pimple patches these days have some kind of hydrocolloid bandage on their sticky undersides. Hydrocolloid is gel—which can be made from a large range of specific ingredients—that seals off the skin from outside influence while soaking up oil and grime.
- Microneedles: Also called microdarts, these tiny spines penetrate the skin to deliver active ingredients into the skin. They can work in tandem with hydrocolloid to suck out gunk while simultaneously treating the area. They don’t hurt, though you will feel their textured surface as you press them into place.
- Salicylic acid: This ingredient dissolves dead cells and excessive sebum trapped inside the pores, as well as exfoliates dead cells at the surface of the skin, in order to promote brighter complexion and steady cellular turnover. It neutralizes bacteria and can also help regulate sebum production in the area, so that the spot doesn’t get any more clogged up than it already is.
Acne patches also often include smoothing, toning ingredients like niacinamide, soothing ones like aloe vera, or hydrating ones like hyaluronic acid. Each brand has its own formula—some of them focusing solely on the hydrocolloid absorption—to achieve its end.
How to Apply an Acne Patch
Press an acne patch onto freshly cleansed skin, with the hydrocolloid underside directly atop the zit itself. Leave it in place for 2-8 hours (overnight tends to work best), in order to let it fully extract the sebum and grime. At the end of your wear, simply peel it off, then cleanse and nourish the area as you otherwise would. You should notice that the hydrocolloid dressing is puffy or foggy, an indication that it worked to extract grime—and that any microneedles have disappeared (having released their ingredients into the skin.
What About Cystic Acne?
Those pimple patches with active ingredients like salicylic acid are the best options for cystic acne. By wearing it overnight after the first sign of a deep, cystic blemish, you can possibly avoid eruption altogether, and even relieve pain in one night’s sleep. Less aggressive pimple patches are better for less furious breakouts.
Our Pimple Patches
The Best Pimple Patches
Feel a deep-seated, potentially volcanic pimple on its way? Slap one of these on to avoid eruption—and months of recovery. It’s a blend of salicylic acid, hyaluroninc acid, peptides, and niacinamide, delivered via microneedles, while hydrocolloid sucks up the gunk.
The Best Simple, Inexpensive Pimple Patches
A rip-and-stick sheet allows you to cover as many or as few blemishes as you need, and to soak up as much gunk as your pretty little pores can procure. (Not to mention, this one’s a steal!)
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Got a large cluster of pimples, or a particularly big one-off? Lay this over top like a bandaid, to extract all that oil in one fell strip.