Maybe you haven’t broken out in years. Maybe you were searching for a quick fix for your tween’s new acne situation. However you got here, we’re happy to guide you through the pimple patch scene. Which is really hot, BTW. As of today, there are three different pimple patches on Amazon’s beauty and personal care bestseller list. And you’d be hard pressed to find a beauty publisher’s “Best of” list that doesn’t contain at least one pimple patch.
So, why are pimple patches so hot right now? The answer’s pretty straightforward — they work. Quickly. Without damaging your skin. In fact, when our co-founder Ju first discovered hydrocolloid patches when she was living in South Korea, she was in awe of how effective and gentle they were and simply had to bring them to the U.S. market. And so, Hero Cosmetics was born. 🌱
Three years later, the pimple patch market has blown up and we now sell five different types of pimple patches. That’s right — not all pimple patches are the same. From the OG pimple patch experts, here’s the tea on what pimple patches are, how they work, and exactly how to use pimple patches for maximum zit-busting results. 💥
The three types of pimple patches
Most pimple patches fall into one of three categories: hydrocolloid patches, medicated patches or microneedle patches. The patch that began the whole pimple patch craze, hydrocolloid non-medicated patches use only hydrocolloid to absorb gunk and pus from a pimple that has already come to a head. Flat, medicated acne patches use ingredients to kill acne-causing bacteria, reduce inflammation or repair damaged post-pimple skin. Microneedle patches use teeny-tiny microneedles to deliver active ingredients beneath the surface of the skin.
How does hydrocolloid work?
While hydrocolloid pimple patches are relatively new, hydrocolloid bandages have been used in medical fields for ages. “Hydrocolloid dressings are used by dermatologists and wound care RNs for open, non-infected wounds – including pressure ulcers and bedsores, as well as in the treatment of eczema,” explains Dr. Rina Allawh, a board-certified dermatologist practicing in the Philadelphia area. “These dressings may provide a protective barrier for those who frequently pick acne pimples (termed acne excoriee) and absorb drainage from acne bumps.”
That ability to quickly absorb drainage (or pus, if you want to keep it real 😉) is what makes hydrocolloid patches the ideal spot treatment for whiteheads and “poppable” pimples. They pull out all of the gunk from a pimple (you can actually see the pus on the patch when you remove it), prevent secondary infections and act as a moisture barrier to speed up recovery time.
The key to finding a great acne patch is high-quality hydrocolloid, which will allow the patch to stick more closely to your skin for a longer period of time — so it can do its job of clearing the pus. And we know a thing or two about high-quality hydrocolloid. Know the Amazon’s beauty and personal care bestseller list we mentioned earlier? Mighty Patch Original is consistently a top seller (#8 as of today). It also won Best Acne Patch on Allure’s Best of Beauty 2020 list! 🏆
How to use a hydrocolloid patch
One of the reasons people love hydrocolloid patches is that they are so simple to use! If you have a pimple with a visible “head” or pus, simply cleanse your skin, let it dry, apply a patch and you’re done. How long do you leave an acne patch on? Six or so hours later, remove the patch and cleanse the area again. Voila — your pimple is gone!
Side note: We sometimes get DMs asking “can you put a pimple patch on a popped pimple,” and the answer is yes, you can. If you’ve popped a pimple but didn’t remove all of the pus, just cleanse the area and throw on a patch. It will finish the job and save you from doing any additional damage to your skin.
RELATED READ: What Are Hydrocolloid Acne Patches and How Do They Work?
How do microneedle patches work?
If getting your flu shot this month sent you into a tizzy, you may be thinking, why would I ever want to voluntarily put a patch full of needles on my skin? First off, the needles are super-duper small, as in you can barely feel them when you put on the patch. Second, the microneedles are the key to getting those acne- or hyperpigmentation-fighting actives straight to the source of the issue. 🙌
Most microneedle patches are designed to either fight blind pimples (when you can’t see a visible head) or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (the dark spot left behind after a breakout). “Medicated pimple patches often contain salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide which help to dissolve dead skin cells and skin debris, hydrate the skin and decrease skin inflammation, respectively,” says Allawh. Other effective microneedle patch ingredients include beta-glucan to soothe, tranexamic acid to fade dark spots, and vitamin C to brighten acne scars and sun spots.
When buying a microneedle patch, it’s important to check the number of microneedles per patch. You’ll need quite a few (as in 150+) to deliver blemish-busting ingredients to a deep, under-the-skin pimple or to make sure brighteners get to the heart of a dark spot. The 173 hyaluronic acid microneedles in Micropoint for Blemishes and Micropoint for Dark Spots have a special pyramid design and ultrafine tips so they can unleash a super-dose of effective ingredients exactly where you need them.
How to use a microneedle patch
Again, the process is pretty simple — cleanse and dry your skin, put on the patch and remove it after six hours. The key difference is the need to press down the patch for 15-30 seconds after applying. This will allow the microneedles to penetrate your skin and get the ingredients moving in the right direction.
A patch for every pimple
If you google pimple patch, you’ll get a dizzying number of articles to read, videos to watch and products to choose from. 😵 The good news is that if you’ve got a pimple (or post-pimple skin issues), there’s probably a patch for that. Just keep calm and carry on looking for high-quality hydrocolloid, safe active ingredients designed to treat your skin concerns, and products that people trust (and rave about).
And if you need help figuring out which is the best pimple patch for your situation or what to put on a pimple, check out our Patch Match post.