Our editors have independently selected the items featured in this article because we think they’re worth knowing about. Shop TODAY has affiliate relationships so we may get a small share of the revenue if you buy something through our links.
Korean beauty brands — the geniuses behind popular sheet masks and many more cult products — have done it again, introducing us to yet another beauty innovation: pimple patches. But what are they exactly?
“They are innovative acne treatments made out of hydrocolloid material, which helps draw out impurities and help the pimple heal faster,” esthetician Charclotte Cho, founder of Korean beauty (K-beauty) website Soko Glam, told TODAY Style. “Most pimples patches are thin, clear, adhere to your skin and can be worn throughout the day discreetly.”
Basically, you can think of them of as pimple Band-Aids. You place a sticker — which is packed with acne-fighting ingredients — right on top of the blemish and wait a couple of hours or overnight before peeling it off to (hopefully) reveal a much smaller pimple afterward.
“They work by occluding the site of the pimple and encouraging the body to heal it,” said Dr. Rachel Nazarian, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist. “The anti-inflammatory properties of the hydrocolloid and active ingredients decrease bacteria and redness.”
As for how they compare to other topical spot treatments, Cho explains that most Western acne creams are designed to dry out the skin and pimple with harsh ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide. In her opinion, the pimple patches have gentler ingredients.
“They are designed to protect (the blemish) from further inflammation and bacteria, while drawing out the impurities and healing the pimple,” she said. “It is also a great alternative to covering it up with makeup, because it minimizes the redness and unsightly side effects of acne such as pus.”
The trend has clearly caught on since there seems to be a patch for every type of acne — from hormonal, cystic acne to basic whiteheads — but Nazarian says the best candidate for patches is a person who breaks out only occasionally. Someone who is dealing with more severe acne should visit a dermatologist and look for preventative measures.
“The use of patches prevents the absorption of other topical medications that would ideally be used nightly to prevent breakouts, and these medications need to be used consistently to work effectively,” she said. “So although I support the occasional use of patches, the ideal scenario would be to prevent the breakout in the first place.”
If you’re looking to test out this latest trend in skin care, we’ve rounded up the best in the market to cover every type of acne need.
1. COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch, $5, Amazon
Nazarian recommends these pimple patches for occasional breakouts because they're nonirritating and Cho says these are great overnight fixers that make whiteheads, blackheads and picked zits disappear by the next morning.
“The thin clear hydrocolloid patch adheres to your skin strongly. It'll stay on through showering and washing! It treats breakouts by eliminating infection and bacteria, which is what causes them in the first place,” Cho said. “It's able to breakdown debris from blackheads and absorb gunk from whiteheads overnight, so you won't experience a harsh dry patch from using this.”
2. Acropass Trouble Cure Instant Acne Pimple Patch, $20, Amazon
According to Cho, this two-step acne treatment is perfect for those with cystic or hormonal pimples.
“This patch contains innovative, dissolving microneedle technology to truly infuse skin with hard-working ingredients, including hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and oligopeptide-76, that dig deep into the blemish and attack bacteria and inflammation faster than other pimple patches,” she said. “Each microneedle is thinner than 1/3 the width of a hair (strand), making the entire process painless and actually satisfying.”
To use, first sanitize the pimple with the pad that contains salicylic acid and tea tree leaf oil. Then place the pimple patch directly on top of the blemish.
3. Peach Slices Acne Spot Dots, $5, Target
You know a skin care product is good when it's included on the popular beauty site Into the Gloss' "Top 25" best of beauty 2018 list. At less than $5 for the package with various sizes included, this beauty-expert favorite is hard to resist.
4. Yes To Tomatoes Detoxifying Zit Zapping Dots, $9, Ulta
Also available at Target.
Packed with acne-fighting ingredients such as charcoal, salicylic acid, and tomato extract, these patches target blemishes and reduce them in size in eight to 10 hours. While they’re not subtle and clear like the other patches on this list, they make for funny selfie accessories.
5. Peace Out Acne Healing Dots, $19, Sephora
By using hydrocolloid technology, which extracts impurities while creating a protective barrier that guards acne from external irritants, these patches not only fight acne-causing bacteria, but also reduce the chance of scarring.
6. Nexacre Acne Cover, $6, Amazon
Also available in a 2 pack for $13 at Walmart.
These non-medicated patches essentially work like a sponge to extract the bacteria and excess oil causing the breakout. It changes from clear to white so that you know when it's time to remove it.
Shop TODAY takes care to recommend our favorite items chosen by trusted experts and editors, as well as inform our readers of great deals, customer favorites, and newsworthy products from around the web. For more on our process, click here.