According to the gospel of skincare, thou shalt not pick at one’s pimples.
“It increases bacteria and infection,” a dermatologist will say.
“The chances of scarring or discoloration are high,” your facialist might tell you.
“Zero out of 10, no gloves,” TikTok will collectively gasp as you attempt to aggressively pop a spot with grimy fingernails.
But we’re all guilty, aren’t we? When a zit is ready to erupt, the temptation to pop it ourselves often wins.
Thankfully, all that is changing with the rise of the mighty pimple patch. Or zit sticker. Or acne dot. Whatever you call them, these face products are changing the pimple-popping game for the better.
What is a pimple patch?
The job of the pimple patch is to extract gunk, accelerate spot healing, and, of course, mitigate the urge to pick, squeeze, or pinch. As the name suggests, these adhesive patches are master healers, absorbing toxins within blemishes while flattening inflamed bumps and acting as barriers against bacteria.
How does a pimple patch work?
The magical ingredient is often hydrocolloid. Commonly used for wound healing, hydrocolloid has the ability to seal the skin underneath the patch while drawing oil and dirt away from a pimple. It’s a simple solution capable of reducing redness and size within a matter of hours, while simultaneously kickstarting the recovery process to prevent scarring. But hydrocolloid isn’t the only acne-fighting ingredient formulated into these patches—salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, Vitamin A, and aloe vera extract can often make appearances.
It’s crucial to apply a patch onto clean skin, right after a thorough cleanse and before doing the rest of your skincare routine (even with serum and moisturizer applied, it won’t budge). You’ll know it’s working because you’ll be able to see the process happening: the translucent patch will turn white and expand, and the skin will flatten out and become less red. After a couple of hours (or a good night’s sleep), peel it off to reveal all of the accumulated gunk; it may sound gross, but it’s extremely satisfying.
The best pimple patches
Step one: find a zit. Step two: put a star on it. Step three: feel cute. When it comes to dressing up your pimples, Starface Hydro-Stars are your go-tos. Formulated with just one ingredient (the aforementioned hydrocolloid), the patches are moisture-retentive, which helps draw out the gunk while improving redness and calming inflammation. Plus, these yellow stars come in a travel-friendly case that also has a mirror if you need to swap out patches on the go.
Peace Out Acne Dots
The name says it all. Wave goodbye (seriously: these thick patches work fast to extract impurities) to zits with Peace Out Acne Dots. Boasting all the classic acne-fighting ingredients to rid pores of bacteria and dirt, the dots pump salicylic acid, aloe vera, and Vitamin A (better known as powerhouse ingredient retinol) into the skin for a soothing, bacteria-neutralizing, and skin-brightening result.
Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots
What makes Peter Thomas Roth’s Acne-Clear Invisible Dots stand out is their additional blemish-busting ingredients that benefit the pimple-healing process. Rather than the usual hydrocolloid, these thin dots are formulated with salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and hyaluronic acid, which all assist in fading any redness or scarring.
Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch
One of the first acne stickers on the market, COSRX’s Acne Pimple Master Patch is a tried and true method for treating blemishes. It’s said that one pack of this award-winning acne treatment is bought every 25 seconds, earning it cult status. Featuring blemish patches in three different sizes, these stickers are uniquely developed with 100 percent hydrocolloid dressing material, leaving skin soothed, calmed, and de-gunked by morning.
Zitsticka Killa Sticka
For zits stuck below the surface (ouch), it’s Zitsticka Killa Sticka’s oh-so-cool signature microdart technology to the rescue. With tiny, dissolvable microneedles, these patches penetrate deep into the pimple to target inflammation and swelling with the help of hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, and niacinamide. For anyone needing to get rid of a stubborn breakout before a big event, these are for you.
Zits? What zits?