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Pimple patches have experienced something of a renaissance in recent years. Not only did the you-know-what tune us into our skin on a deeper level, but the brightly colored stickers from Starface made it cool for post-pubescent adults to rock face décor out in public. And why not? Acne befalls everyone, and as Julie Schott (the brains behind those starry patches) once mused, a change in attitude makes all the difference when combating pimples. There’s a bit more to these zit stickers than being adorable, so we spoke to dermatologists to find out exactly what sets a good pimple patch apart from a great one.
What are the benefits of using a pimple patch?
The most obvious benefit of using a pimple patch is preventing you from picking at your acne. Popping, squeezing, and general fussing can exacerbate breakouts and worsen post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. But they work on a deeper level, too. “[Pimple patches] deliver direct levels of anti-inflammatory ingredients to quickly decrease redness and swelling,” says Rachel Nazarian, M.D., board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. She says they often contain ingredients that expedite wound healing and dry up any oozing, effectively speeding up the lifecycle of a pimple. On top of that, Dr. Nazarian says a pimple patch’s occlusive properties lead to enhanced delivery of topical ingredients and stimulate healing, with general improvement taking place anywhere from 24 to 48 hours.
What ingredients should you look for in a pimple patch?
The classic pimple patch is usually a simple hydrocolloid dressing, which tends to be used over whiteheads and wider breakouts. Dustin Portela, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon at Treasure Valley Dermatology in Boise, Idaho says hydrocolloid patches are one of his favorite ways to help heal skin, as they create an ideal (undisturbed, breathable, and moist-in-a-good-way) environment for self-repair.
For hormonal or cystic acne, you may want to reach for a hydrocolloid infused with something a little stronger. “Some of my favorite [ingredients] are salicylic acid, which directly helps fight acne, and niacinamide or arbutin, which can help brighten the skin and fight post-acne dark marks,” says Dr. Portela. He adds that pimple patches with those extra-slim microneedles can be helpful in delivering beneficial ingredients to acne at a slightly deeper level.
When should you use a pimple patch?
“It is totally fine to apply pimple patches to all zits, large and small,” says Dr. Portela. “I recommend using a pimple patch even if you have popped the pimple.” As far as when to use it in your routine, Dr. Nazarian notes: “Ideally, it would be applied as last in your skin care regimen, either in the morning or in the evening while you sleep.”
All In One Pack
For those with breakouts that just won’t quit or prep for a big event, this three-part Patchology acne dot set has everything you need to keep your bathroom stocked in case of acne emergency. In this set, you’ll find hydrocolloid patches for whiteheads, nose strips for blackheads, and salicylic dots for the big bois. Each strip has a dot that’s loaded with ingredients tailored to your pimple’s specific needs.
Hydrocolloid, salicylic acid, tea tree oil, volcanic ash | 51 count | Cost-per-patch: $0.39
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