How Do Pimple Patches Work? 

11 Jun 2024

Stars, hearts, butterflies, and transparent rounds… No, you’re not in 3rd Grade choosing stickers for your math notebook—these are pimple patches, and they’re taking the beauty world by storm! 

Offering the best of both worlds, they promise to soothe nasty zits overnight and serve as a quirky accessory, helping remove the stigma from acne. Hailey Bieber and Millie Bobby Brown would probably nod in approval! Still, flowers and stars are all cute and stuff, but do these patches really make your pimple disappear? If they do, what’s the magic behind that? Do they work for all types of zits? Let’s dive in and find out.

What Are Pimple Patches Made With (and For)?

Whether it’s a flower or just a round, pimple patches are made with hydrocolloid, a dressing that retains moisture and is initially designed to heal wounds. You stick one directly on a zit, and the material turns into the most caring mama bear!

  • It keeps your zit protected from external pollutants and creates a clean environment around the inflammation, boosting its healing.
  • It also absorbs the sebum or pus from your pimple. As a result, it may look better in just a few hours, pacifying your This-zit-is-huge-I-can’t-go-like-this! panic.
  • And for all our fellow zit-pickers? Pimple patches prevent you from directly touching the blemish with your fingers.

Another perk of these patches is that they often come medicated, meaning they’re super-charged with antibacterial and oil-controlling ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic, hyaluronic acid, tea tree oil, or tea tree extract. A heads-up for those on the sensitive side—patches with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid may leave redness on the skin where the patch was, but this irritation usually doesn’t take long to calm down.

FYI: Even beneficial ingredients may rub your skin the wrong way. If you’re curious about the effects of specific cosmetic components on your skin or whether a product might clog your pores, install a skincare scanner. With OnSkin, for instance, you scan a product and 1) see a detailed breakdown of its ingredients and their purposes and 2) check if it’s suitable for your skin. You’ll be investing in what truly works for you, rather than in products you’ll toss after the first try or that leave you with no results even after finishing the bottle.

So Are Pimple Patches Effective? Yes, but…

Most pimple patches work well with zits that say “It’s me, hi! I’m the problem, it’s me” and already have some gunk visible. As for blackheads, whiteheads, or cystic acne, pimple patches may not be the most powerful tools. But if you’re a serial zit-picker or just an absent-minded toucher, it’s still a great call to cover these types of acne with a patch—this will let the skin chill and heal in peace.

In case you’re dealing with “blind” zits, which are red bumps without a visible head, and you’re eager to nip the problem in the bud, you may choose to use microneedling patches. Wait, needles? Don’t worry, these tiny spikes will help the active ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin, with no discomfort included.

Speaking of discomfort—here comes a truth bomb that might hurt. Sorry, but the job of pimple patches is to help your zit look less swollen and smaller and speed up its healing, not to make it miraculously vanish (like that t-shirt you remember having yet one day just couldn’t find in your closet). In fact, a zit just can’t be gone overnight—inflammation takes time to subside, no matter what you use. 

Just a Myth Debunked

You’ve probably seen those TikToks featuring pimple patches with captions like “Omg, look how much gross stuff was in my zit.” What they’re seeing is primarily the hydrocolloid that turned into white gel after absorbing moisture. So next time you see this substance on your patch, don’t think it’s all puss and oil.

The Final Patchdown

So do pimple patches work? They are an amazing way to calm down an angry zit in just a few hours and protect it from bacteria (including those on your restless hands). Plus, let’s not forget how fun and chic wearing them can be! Still, let us be as boring as hell. Pimple patches are just sidekicks in dealing with acne. Consistent skincare habits and patience are key to effectively managing it. But if you’re reading this, it already shows your skin has the most caring guardian angel.

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