There can be nothing more frustrating than dealing with stubborn acne. You think you have a breakout cleared up and you’re on your way to better skin — and then another breakout, or even just a single pimple, pops up.
If you’ve tried every face wash, face mask, cleanser, toner and cream out there and you still are seeing intermittent spots pop up when you least want them, and you want them gone fast when they do appear, you might want to try acne patches.
What are Acne Patches?
Acne patches are a relatively new form of skincare (to most users, at least), and so they’re not as widely touted as some other acne treatments, though they are growing in popularity.
Acne patches are small little stickers that contain medication and you just pop them on a zit anytime you have one. The idea is that you’re putting a concentrated dose of acne medication right where you need it, at the root of the problem, nowhere else. Acne patches come in an array of designs, from clear or skin tone to more colorful, fun designs.
A range of people use acne patches on a range of different types of acne, but they generally work best with what dermatologists call “superficial” acne — surface-level zits like the small, pus-filled nodules that might pop up related to stress or hormones, as well as blackheads and whiteheads.
Often, acne patches contain the medication hydrocolloid, which in other settings is used for chronic wounds. The hydrocolloid dries the zit and gunk out while trapping the zit’s bacteria in one spot, so it doesn’t spread to the rest of your face.
Other acne patch ingredients include the same ingredients you might spot in other skincare products designed for acne-prone skin, such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide.
Different Acne Patches for Different Acne
If you’ve struggled with acne over the course of your life, you likely already know that acne is not just acne. Different types of acne exist and each type must be treated differently.
While the most popular acne patches treat superficial acne, other acne patches are labeled as “medicated” patches, and they’re designed to be a bit stronger and to fight off more serious acne, such as cystic acne, papules and pustules. In addition to healing a pimple, they can also reduce pain and redness. Popular ingredients include salicylic acid and tea tree oil.
Microneedle acne patches similarly are designed for deep or cystic acne, but there are conflicting reports regarding their effectiveness. These patches contain dissolving microneedles that penetrate the skin to deliver medication on a deeper level.
5 Acne Patches to Try for Stubborn Skin
Ready to try the best acne patches for yourself? Here are five recommended patches you can start using today.
For less than $8, you can zap your next zit fast. This option from Korean beauty brand CosRx comes with 24 different sizes; each size intended to heal active pimples and seal away your blemish so it stops spreading its bacteria.
The hydrocolloid patches are lightweight and stay on your skin quite well, standing up to long usage, sweat and even showers.
While these patches from Australian beauty brand ZitSticka are on the pricier side ($29), they receive rave reviews for their effectiveness.
The KILLA Kit from Amazon combines a swathe of ingredients and treatment styles to hit your zit where it hurts. You start with a priming swab that preps the zit for patch application and then apply the microneedle patch, which contains a range of acne-fighting ingredients, including hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, niacinamide and oligopeptide-76.
The patches are best used for new zits that have yet to reach their full potential, as well as zits that live further below the surface level of the skin.
With each $29 kit, you get eight patches and eight swabs, all vegan and cruelty-free to help with the acne healing process.
For just $12.50, you can be stocked up on acne patches for 36 of your worst blemishes. The huge pack of spot patches from brand Mighty Patch is the OG award winner, shrinking zits in as little as six hours.
The hydrocolloid patches are best for superficial pimples and are meant to be used overnight. Just apply before bed and wake up with a smaller zit and no more redness or pain.
These patches are good for all skin types, non-toxic and UV sterilized. The mighty patches come on perforated sheets, too, for even easier application.
If you want to try some medicated acne patches, for a more powerful treatment without the microneedles, you may prefer this option from Peter Thomas Roth ($32).
Active ingredients include salicylic acid, tea tree oil and hyaluronic acid. You get 72 blemish dots in one pack and they work in as little as eight hours.
Another medicated acne patch option, these acne healing dots from Peace Out contain not only salicylic acid, but also Vitamin A and aloe vera. The idea with these last two ingredients is to not just heal your acne, but additionally prevent any scarring.
Twenty dots come in a $44 pack.
Best Ways to Use Acne Patches
Whatever type of acne patch you buy and try, you’ll always want to use your pimple patch on clean, dry skin before you apply any other products (like moisturizers or toners) to your face.
Additionally, make sure that you purchase acne patches that are large enough to fit your zit. Going with a size that’s too small can further irritate the area. They are really only intended for spot treatments, not your entire face.
Allow your acne patch to remain in place for no more than 24 hours before you remove it and/or switch it out for a new one. If you have sensitive skin, try an acne patch on a small area first.
Still Frustrated By Stubborn Skin?
While acne patches are certainly a nice little tool to have in your medicine cabinet for quickly dealing with a surprise zit, they aren’t a fix-all. You’ll want to dig deeper into the root cause of your acne and talk to your dermatologist if you’re looking for long-term acne treatment.
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