Of all of the possible solutions out there for treating acne, pimple patches are by far the easiest and most convenient—no contest. For most whiteheads, blackheads, and blemishes, all you’ve got to do is slap one on before bed and wake up to a clear complexion, without having to worry about any gunky spot treatment getting all over your beautiful silk pillowcases.
And not only are they hassle free, but they can actually even be more effective than your traditional topicals when it comes to healing acne. “Patches can be more effective at treating pimples because the contact time of the medication on the patch and the skin is longer,” says dermatologist Lily Talakoub, MD, of McLean Dermatology and Skincare in McLean, Virginia. “Most medication evaporates about 50 percent off the skin upon application. The duration of contact is thus low. Patches stay on the skin and keep the medication from evaporating, meaning a higher amount of medication is directly absorbed on the skin.” Plus, when your zits are good and covered with a cute little sicker, it’s a whole lot easier to, ya know, not to pick ’em.
Since all pimples are not created equally (just ask the cystic one I can currently feel brewing on my chin), there’s no one-size-fits-all for pimple patches, either. Thankfully, there are plenty of options on the market to treat whatever pimple decides to pop up. Here are some of our faves.
For superficial surface zits: CosRx Acne Pimple Master Patch ($6)
Think of these CosRx patches like mini hydrocolloid sheet masks for your zits. They get rid of inflammation, while adding a dose of hydration. Plus, they’re waterproof, which means you can leave them on all night and straight through your a.m. shower.
For those deep, cystic suckers: ZitSticka Killa Kit ($29)
“ZitStickas”—which I have personally used with great success on a number of occasions—are unlike most others on the market in that they’re capable of treating the deep, cystic pimples that your usual patches are no match for. “Unlike hydrocolloid bandages that draw out fluids in existing pimples, ZitSticka gets to the root of the cause by using microdarts to penetrate your skin’s surface that deliver ingredients to the source where the infection began—so they work to banish pimples even before they come to a head,” says Daniel Kaplan, the brand’s co-founder and product development lead. Because of this, the brand dubs itself as a “cortisone shot in your pocket,” which is something I am deeply obsessed with.
For dark spots: Peace Out Microneedling Dark Spot Brightening Dots ($28)
Pimples aren’t the only blemishes getting the patch treatment these days: Cult-fave brand Peace Out recently launched an oil-free spot treatment that helps lighten any of your old dark spots. It uses microneedling technology (by way of what might the worlds ittiest, bittiest little needles) to deliver niacinimide, licorice extract and tranexamic acid to help brighten discoloration and even out texture.
For patching in public: Truly Organic Blemish Treatment Acne Patches ($10)
While I personally run around New York City with acne patches all over my face like it ain’t no thang (there’s no shame in my pimple-treatment game, fam), I realize that may not be the move for everyone. Enter these truly adorable stickers, which are shaped like hearts to inspire you to “love your imperfections.” They’ve only got one ingredient—hydrocolloid—which draws out pus and extracts impurities from your zit, while also covering and protecting it from any environmental bacterias.
For an overnight solution: Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots ($30)
Fans of PTR’s invisible dots swear that if you put one on a blemish in the morning, you’ll wake up with it gone. The patches are made with 0.5% salicylic acid and tea tree oil to help effectively dry out your zits, but also have hyaluronic acid to keep skin hydrated in the process. They come in two different sizes (because, like I said, all zits are not created equal), so you can properly treat everything from the itty-bitty baby blackhead on your nose to the big, honkin’ whitehead at the bottom of your chin.
Acne patches aren’t the only things getting better and better: So, too, are drugstore beauty products. Plus, here’s why you should never pop your pimples.