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The Best Patch for Every Kind of Pimple

Rio Viera Newton applying her pimple patch.
The author, applying her Cosrx patch. Photo: Courtesy of Rio Viera Newton.

When it comes to preventing future breakouts, ingredients like tretinoin, benzoyl peroxide, and azelaic acid are your dermatologist-approved best bet. But as far as treating active acne goes, in my humble opinion, there are few products as efficacious and quite frankly satisfying as the glorious pimple patch.

Generally, pimple patches are circular, hydrocolloid, Band-Aid-esque spot treatments that work by absorbing drainage (such as pus and the clear liquid that sometimes oozes out) from your zit while simultaneously covering the area to protect the inflamed skin. When in doubt, slap a pimple patch on the breakout and you’ll most likely wake to a flatter, smaller, and all-around less angry pimple.

When I first got into skin care, there were only a handful of pimple patches on the market. But these days, there are endless options in various sizes and formulas. Below, a list of my favorite pimple patches along with when and where to use them.

For standard whiteheads

If you wake up with a standard whitehead, apply your standard, 100 percent hydrocolloid pimple patch. This simple patch will help draw the pus from the blemish so that by the time you remove it, the area will be much flatter and less noticeable.

For deep, mean cystic pimples

Let’s say you have one of those deep, under-the-skin, painful pimples that simply won’t go away. In this instance, a standard pimple patch likely won’t do much — sure, it might be able to protect the area and prevent you from picking, but with a super-under-the-skin spot, a standard pimple patch isn’t going to penetrate or absorb anything. For these meanies, micro darts are your best bet for effectively delivering treatment in to the blemish and shrinking it down.

These patches from Acropass are a two-step system: First, you wipe the area with a pad drenched in anti-inflammatory and antibacterial salicylic acid and tea-tree oil to help treat the pimple on the surface. Then apply the pimple patch itself. But this is no standard pimple patch: It’s coated in teeny-tiny crystal micro-darts made up of hyaluronic acid and niacinamide that treat the cyst.

This product is quite polarizing: It works wonders for some and doesn’t do much for others. But from my own experience, I can say this has helped me out with my angriest, deepest cystic pimples.

For “I dont know what this bump is” pimples

It happens to the best of us: You look in the mirror and come across a zit, but you don’t exactly know what kind of zit it is. It doesn’t have a whitehead, but it’s not quite big enough to be a full-on cyst (plus, you don’t want to waste one of your precious Acropass patches on it because they’re not cheap!) In these instances, Purito’s All Care Recovery Cica-Aid is an excellent choice. The hydrocolloid patch is infused with centella asiatica, an ultrasoothing ingredient that helps reduce swelling and redness. It won’t irritate the area, and whatever the zit might be, the centella’s calming benefits are bound to help.

For cute coverage of standard pimples

Adorable options are, in my opinion, one of the greatest innovations in the pimple patch space. Beloved by many celebrities — Justin and Hailey Bieber as well as Dua Lipa are just a few that have sported them outside the house — these cute little sticker-esque patches are darling enough to wear all day so you can treat and protect your pimples on the go. These are also particularly great for people who have picking tendencies. With these on all day, you can curb your urge to poke and prod.

For pimple clusters and larger areas

If you’re dealing with multiple pimples in one area — this sometimes happens to me along my chin or jawline — these large hydrocolloid strips are super-handy. They’re flexible, adhere to the skin really well, and allow you to treat the whole area without having to use tons of your standard patches.

For post-pimple scarring

Another micro-dart pimple patch — but it’s specifically formulated for post-acne scarring rather than active spots. These self-dissolving micro-darts are formulated with a powerful brightening cocktail of arbutin, tranexamic acid, kojic acid, vitamin C, and niacinamide, all of which work together to help eradicate darkness left behind by pimples by delivering the formula directly into the affected area. Seeing as these micro darts are the most potent of all the pimple patches, you might get some redness if you’re on the sensitive side and should proceed with caution. However, if you know your skin can tolerate these ingredients, it’s a great way to spot treat stubborn dark marks that just won’t fade on their own.

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The Best Patch for Every Kind of Pimple