When I was an acne-ridden teen, I turned to harsh solutions like Stridex pads and Noxema in hopes of calming my skin down. Which, by the way, did not work. I’m so glad I learned later down the line that being gentle with your skin is a lot more effective (thanks, Korean beauty!). Once I used a pimple patch for the first time, I knew I’d found a way to get through breakouts that would change the way I dealt with them for good.
Pimple patches have been around for a while–after all, they're really just hydrocolloid patches. Hydrocolloid was patented in 1967 and was originally created for stoma care, then went on to become a revolutionary way to dress wounds. The reason why it's so good at the job is that it absorbs fluid from the wound while protecting it thanks to a polyurethane film on the outside. The moist environment it fosters also encourages healing. As you might imagine, it was life-changing for the healthcare industry–and now it's also considered a major tool for skincare.
The idea of using hydrocolloid for pimple care was popularized by Korean skincare company Cosrx. In the midst of the K-beauty boom in 2016, it released the Acne Pimple Master Patch, an inexpensive product that was quickly duped by dozens of other companies. For $6 (or less, depending on where you buy them), you could have a stash to combat breakouts that could last for months. No wonder people lost it over them at the time.
Today acne patches are easily found everywhere from your local drugstore to Sephora. That said, I've tried out a lot of them, and I find some more effective at their job than others. Take advantage of my experimentation and scroll down to check out the ones I recommend.
The 5 best pimple patches
I know I just mentioned them a few paragraphs ago, but the original Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch is still my top choice when it comes to acne patches. They're still the faster-acting patches of all the ones I've tried, and the area I apply the patch to also comes away deeply moisturized and looking a lot better. My favorite way to use these is after my PM skincare routine right before I go to sleep, because I always wake up with my skin looking a lot happier.
Price on Amazon: $4.73
Mighty Patch claims to be 50% better at absorbing gunk than other pimple patches on the market. While I do find them efficient, I don't find them doubly efficient in comparison to Cosrx's product. That said, they do the job they promise and do it well. They also come in more than one variety. There's a larger patch for big breakouts, one that's invisible on skin, and a new micropoint one aimed at treating dark spots and hormonal outbreaks (those beastly under-the-skin bumps that hurt). Whatever your acne issue, Mighty Patch probably has it covered.
Price on Amazon: $12.50
When it comes to affordability for quantity, Peach Slices (Peach & Lily's sister brand) has it covered with the Acne Spot Dots. This pack of 30 is the most affordable reputable brand on the market and comes in three different sizes to suit each type of breakout. They can also be worn with or without makeup, and like all pimple patches, they will protect your skin as it heals from irritation.
Price on Peach & Lily: $4.49
Dr. Jart+ is one of those good old trusted K-beauty brands, so I was not surprised to find it carried some excellent acne treatment products. Its patch line contains four different types to choose from to address all those little things that bug you about your face. In addition to the usual acne patch, there are also ones that target dark spots, dark circles, and wrinkles. All of the patches are also packed with my good pal hyaluronic acid, which, if you read my treatise on the subject, you already know what a power player that ingredient is.
Price on Sephora: $18
If hydrocolloid isn't working fast enough for you, this Acne Healing Patch from Rael comes with a little bit of extra oomph. It also contains salicylic acid and tea tree oil, both which are known for their pimple-fighting power. It also uses the same microneedling technology that Mighty Patch's Micropoint patches use, so if you want to make sure you get these ingredients deep into the pimple you want to destroy, these can get the job done.
Price on Amazon: $11.99
Want to learn more about Korean beauty? Check out our guides to doing the 10-step Korean beauty skincare routine, the best sheet masks money can buy, and why Korean sunscreens are vastly superior to American ones. You can also dig through all our Korean beauty coverage right here.
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