While pimple patches may not be the most glamorous of beauty products, they're an absolute essential to keep on-hand. As long as you've got a pack of the best acne patches at your disposal, you’ll be able to eliminate blemishes that are just budding, ones that have come to a head, and even those deeply-clogged blackheads that are so difficult to extract.
Most commonly made of hydrocolloid, a substance renowned for its use in medical dressings for the way it absorbs any excess fluid associated with healing, these patches are placed on top of blemishes to suck out all the makeup, dirt, and impurities, not to mention pus, that could be making your pimple appear so prominent. They then turn those impurities into a gel-like form that adheres to the sticker, which stays tightly sealed beneath the patch's protective barrier to keep it out of your pores and off your face. The result? An almost-instant solution for curing your very worst breakouts.
Since these patches (which, like almost every other innovative beauty product, originated in Asia) have become so popular, many brands have come out with their own variation — so it’s important to know which ones actually work, and which ones will be best for your skin. To not make your breakouts worsen, you want to look for hydrocolloid patches that are non-irritating, anti-bacterial, and contain acne-fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
To help make your search easier, I've done the research and rounded up four of the best pimple patches on the market; Whether you need ones that are non-drying, vegan-friendly, or deep-reaching, you'll find the best in each category, below.
1. These Cult-Favorite Patches From Korea That Battle Pimples, Whiteheads, And Blackheads
Many consider these Cosrx patches — a Korean beauty staple — to be the OG of the bunch (they've also won numerous awards, including Teen Vogue's 2017 Acne Awards). Each protective sticker seals at the edges, creating an impermeable barrier against bacteria to ensure that no other germs can cause a secondary infection; it's that air-tight barrier that helps create the suction that's necessary for pus and fluid removal. They also work to flatten the blemish and reduce any accompanying redness and will turn from translucent to opaque. These are best used on whiteheads or any other pimple that's come to a head, and are also excellent at speeding up the healing process for popped zits. If you tend to squeeze your own pimples, these are a must-have for post-popping to disinfect and reduce inflammation. One box contains 24 hydrocolloid patches in three different sizes.
2. These Best-Selling Pimple Patches For Pus-Filled Pimples And Whiteheads
Another highly-rated product from Korea, these blemish patches are saviors at absorbing the pus and fluids out from pimples that have come to a head. The all-natural formulation — which doesn't include any alcohol, parabens, and sulfates — makes these patches super gentle, ensuring that, in the process of absorbing excess fluids, they won't irritate skin or cause any other issues. And, in case you're wary of whether or not they're working, these ultra-gentle patches change color (from clear to white, depending on the level of fluid) as they absorb so you can visualize the process. Unlike the Cosrx patches above, these only come in one size, with 36 patches in each box.
3. These All-Natural, Hypoallergenic Patches For Cystic Acne And Blemishes That Haven't Yet Come To A Head
Unlike other acne patches, these hypoallergenic stickers feature hydrocolloid that's lightly treated with tea tree and calendula oil. Where tea tree oil is known for its ability to heal and prevent pimples, calendula is antiseptic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory. Together these oils work with the hydrocolloid to absorb the impurities, disinfect the area, and heal the spot for a reduced appearance come morning. Unlike most other patches, reviewers claim that they actually treat cystic acne and pimples that haven't quite come to a head. Leave them on overnight (or longer, if you wish) and take them off once they turn cloudy. One box contains 40 patches in four different sizes: small, medium, large, and extra-large.
4. These Non-Medicated, Pus- And Oil-Absorbing Patches For A Non-Drying Alternative
Hydrocolloid, along with most other acne-fighting ingredients, is known for being quite drying, so if you're worried about worsening your already parched skin, it's best to use these non-drying, acne-absorbing covers. Unlike the others on this list, they're non-medicated, meaning they don't run the risk of causing any unwanted irritation or reactions. Designed to gently yet effectively absorb pus and other fluids from your inflamed, infected pores, these transparent patches will transform from clear to white as they work. Each box includes 36 covers in two different sizes.
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