Ever stand in front of your bathroom mirror, zoom in on one zit that you can barely see but think it’s, like, the biggest pimple ever, and then proceed to perform uncertified surgery on your face until it’s legit three times the size of the blemish you started out with? HI, SAME. I honestly used to do this on repeat, even though I know the danger zone that is the magnifying mirror, but I had to, it was so satisfying. Why, though? There’s actual science behind the fact that, “evolutionarily, many seemingly strange behaviors/habits (like picking our skin) actually make sense from a health perspective,” Dendy Engelman, a cosmetic dermatologist in NYC, explains. “If we go way back to less sophisticated times when we didn’t have physicians (like back in the days of the caveman), when you had a skin cancer or skin abscess you’d literally pick it off as a treatment.” So, basically, your bad bathroom behavior is really just you executing what you were wired to do. That doesn’t mean your skin likes it, though, or that it’s safe to do (bc acne scars are real).
Cue your new BFF: pimple patches (if you’re not already using them, that is). “They’re great because they treat the blemish and help us resist the deeply engrained desire to pick,” Dr. Engelman adds. TBH, I’m a huge-ass fan of acne patches because the hydrocolloid material they’re made of (fun fact: it was used in WWI to help heal and keep bacteria out of wounds—oh, and you can also use if you’re preg or nursing (hi, me!)—how cool?!) is clinically proven to not only keep bacteria from reinfecting the area, but also pull out any fluid that’s in your zit. I know, mind. Blown.
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Super Comfortable Pimple Patch
Starface Hydro-Stars™ Acne Stickers
Consider these acne stickers the Commando underwear of pimple patches, because you won’t even be able to tell you’re wearing them—they’re THAT comfy. Oh, and these babies are not only v cute—hi, stars, hi!—they won’t peel up as you talk, eat, stay on for hours on end and they work (they were made by Julie Schott, former beauty director of Elle.com, so you know they’re good). How? Straight hydrocolloid. Just make sure, as the cool-ass website states, “you have pus percolating,” so the fluid inside your zit can be absorbed as you wear them.
Expect to get: 32 pimple patches in its tiny ear bud-like case.
Tea Tree Oil-Infused Pimple Patch
Alba Botanica Acnedote Pimple Patches
Infused with tea tree oil and witch hazel to ensure your zit(s) shrink asap, these acne stickers are clear, meaning they’re transparent against your skin and can even be covered with foundation!
Expect to get: 40 pimple patches
Microdart Pimple Patch
ZitSticka KILLA™ Kit Pimple Patches
These acne stickers are def in my top three. Here’s why: ZitSticka is a two-step sitch that has you clear the site around your blemish with an alcohol wipe (because sanitation, people) first, before popping on their microdart pimple patch. WTF is a microdart, you ask? It’s a little round hydrocolloid with pimple medicine embedded into the gel-like bandage in a formation that’s slightly pointy. The slightly sharp cone tips are meant to penetrate the acne-fighting and anti-inflammatory ingredients (we see you, salicylic acid and niacinamide) into your skin, so you’re left with a flatter, barely noticeable zituation after a few hours. Heads up, though, if you’re preg (and nursing), it’s best to avoid sal acid, so be prepared to choose a hydrocolloid-only acne sticker instead.
Expect to get: 8 clearing alcohol swabs and 8 microdart patches per box.
Jewel-Adorned Pimple Patch
Flower Power Acne Patches
These cutie acne stickers that showed up on the beauty scene recently, created by model Charli Howard. Like Starface, these pimple patches work thanks to hydrocolloid only, but are topped with a flexible colored fabric and mini faux diamond gem in the center to make your selfie extra, well, EXTRA.
Expect to get: 20 floral-shaped, gem-topped patches to decorate your face with/help minimize any breakouts.
Most-Reviewed Pimple Patch
CosRx Acne Pimple Master Patch
With over 4,000 reviews on the Internet, the OG of pimple patches promises to keep bacteria out with its hydrocolloid material, while eliminating any fluid inside the acne that you’re trying to get under control.
Expect to get: 24 patches on a total of 10 sheets.
Hyaluronic Acid Pimple Patch
Dr. Jart Focuspot™ Blemish Micro Tip Patch
It’s 65 percent hyaluronic acid micro tips are also packed with peptides and vitamin B3 to alleviate any redness and swelling—all while draining out any pus.
Expect to get: 6 patches.
Clear Hydrocolloid Pimple Patch
Mighty Patch The Original Hydrocolloid Acne Pimple Patch Spot Treatment
One of the first acne stickers to come out, Mighty Patch relies on hydrocolloid to remove any extra fluid in a zit, leaving your skin flat (versus mound-like) so that you can actually cover it with makeup.
Expect to get: 36 patches to pop on your pimples.
Vitamin A-Infused Pimple Patch
Peace Out Acne Healing Dots
One product that can’t stay on shelves in Sephora? These pimple patches. They use salicylic acid, vitamin A, and aloe vera to calm acne without drying it out or irritating it, like a typical spot treatment might.
Expect to get: 20 acne stickers per pack.
Translucent Pimple Patch
Peach & Lily Peach Slices Acne Spot Dots
Prevent picking (I know, it’s hard to resist) with these translucent hydrocolloid stickers that come in a variety of sizes to cover the smallest to the largest of pimples.
Expect to get: 30 patches total.
Tea Tree Oil Pimple Patches
Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots Blemish Treatment
These clear, tiny patches use 0.5 percent salicylic acid, skin-clarifying tea tree oil, and hyaluronic acid to clear away pus, minimize bacteria, and heal the skin.
Expect to get: 6 sheets of 12 patches.
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