Want clear skin? Pimple patches could be your secret weapon

Don’t let their cuteness fool you — pimple patches pack a serious punch. Here’s how to use them to fight back against blemishes.

We’ve all been there. It’s the night before a special event and you can feel a pesky pimple coming on.

Enter pimple patches — those inconspicuous stickers that hold the promise of clearing annoying spots overnight.

Pimple patches are not just another skincare fad; they’re a game changer in the battle against acne.

But what exactly are they, how do they work, and could they be your skin’s new best friend?

Here’s what you need to know about the blemish-banishing dots.

What are pimple patches?

To the untrained eye, pimple patches can just look like decorative stickers.

But below the surface they are actually zapping away at zits with pimple-fighting skincare ingredients.

There are two common types of patches: micro dot (or microdart) and hydrocolloid pimple patches.

As their name suggests, hydrocolloid pimple patches typically consist of a hydrocolloid dressing, a type of gel that absorbs excess moisture and creates a protective barrier over the blemish.

This creates an optimal environment for healing while preventing further infection or inflammation.

Hydrocolloid patches don’t typically contain active ingredients so are ideal for sensitive skin types.

These patches work to treat surface-level pimples.

Microdart patches, on the other hand, contain tiny, dissolvable projections embedded within their adhesive layer that are designed to gently penetrate the skin’s outermost layer, delivering active ingredients directly into the blemish.

This makes them more effective in the treatment of cystic acne.

It’s important to research the strength of your pimple patches of choice and familiarise yourself with the ingredients list before applying them to your face (or that of your teenager, who can be prone to sensitive skin).

One way you can check is to do a skin patch test for a few minutes to see if there is any sign of irritation.

How do pimple patches work?

The magic of pimple patches lies in their ability to target blemishes at the source.

Microdart patches and hydrocolloid patches are both types of acne patches used for treating pimples, but they work in slightly different ways.

Hydrocolloid patches

When applied to a pimple, the hydrocolloid dressing works to draw out impurities, including excess oil, dirt and bacteria, from within the pore.

This helps to reduce inflammation, minimise redness and promote faster healing.

Microdart patches

Microdart patches are designed not only to absorb fluid from the pimple but also to deliver targeted treatment to the affected area.

These patches contain tiny, dissolvable microneedles that penetrate the top layer of the skin.

Once the patch is applied to the skin, the microdarts dissolve, releasing targeted ingredients such as hyaluronic acid or salicylic acid deep into the pimple.

Some patches may contain additional ingredients such as tea tree oil, known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, further enhancing their efficacy.

One of the biggest challenges in managing acne is resisting the urge to pick or pop pimples, which can lead to scarring and further infection.

Pimple patches also act as a physical barrier, preventing you from tampering with your skin and also preventing further contamination of the pimple while promoting a hands-off approach to healing.

How do you use pimple patches?

We live in a time where a seven-step skincare routine isn’t unheard of, but you will want to steer clear of layering products when using pimple patches.

In fact, it’s best to apply them on a clean face to avoid residual products and ingredients interacting with the patches and potentially compromising your skin barrier — or, worse, causing an accidental chemical burn.

Michael Porter, founder of Skin Control and its popular pimple patch range, backs this approach.

“Make sure you apply to clean, cleansed skin, otherwise it may impact the adhesive or stickiness of the patch,” Michael says.

“After you put on the patch, you’re then able to follow with the rest of your regimen.”

Are pimple patches safe to use?

Like most things in life, you can have too much of a good thing, pimple patches included.

While pimple patches are intended for extended wear, never wear them beyond 12 hours and never apply them to a pimple that is irritated or inflamed.

“If you have sensitive skin, we recommend using patches in intervals,” Michael says.

Provided your skin isn’t sensitive or inflamed, you can also enhance the effectiveness of your pimple patches.

“We’ve found that if you exfoliate your skin prior to use, you’re more likely to have greater amounts of ‘gunk’ absorbed on to the patch — gross but satisfying when it comes time to peel off the patch,” Michael says.

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Written by beauty editor Charlotte Brundrett.