Pimple Patches: A Skincare Fad Or Skincare Saviour?

They come in all shapes, sizes, and colours, stick to your skin and make quite a statement when worn outside. That’s right, we’re talking about those pimple patches which have been taking the skincare world by storm in recent years. But can they truly make your zit disappear overnight or are they just another skincare fad waiting to fade away? Let’s find out! 

pimple patch

Credit: Healthline

What are Pimple Patches? 

They are exactly what you might guess: stickers that you apply directly onto your pimples to make them go away. You can think of pimple patches as mini dressings for a minor wound on your face. The patches are made of hydrocolloid, which is a squishy, plasticky material used in wound healing bandages in hospitals. 

While many pimple patches are small, circular, and translucent, brands have been creating bold designs such as bright yellow stars and jewel-adorned flower shapes in a bid to destigmatise acne. 

How do pimple patches work? 

They suck the gunk out of your zits 

Since hydrocolloid work by absorbing excess fluid, these pimple patches stick to the skin and work like a vacuum to gently ‘suck out’ excess fluids like oil and dirt present on the surface. The impurities are then converted into a gel-like substance that adheres to the patch. This leaves behind a white patch that is synonymous with pimple patches.  

Here’s a fun fact, the white patch is not actually white because of the gunk in your zit. Instead, it’s just hydrated hydrocolloid. Moisture turns the patch white- so the more moisture it absorbs, the whiter the patch becomes. 

They prevent further inflammation 

If you have a pimple, the one thing any skin expert will tell you to do is not to touch it. Popping and poking at your zits introduces more bacteria and can result in increased inflammation that can leave behind Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation and scars.  

Thus, another useful function of pimple patches is that they act as a barrier to keep bacteria away and prevents you from poking at your zit.  

Active ingredients and microneedles can help fight blemishes 

Besides hydrocolloid, some pimple patches include skincare ingredients that can be effective in managing breakouts. Niacinamide, for example, helps to soothe inflammation and reduce sensitivity, while Salicylic Acid exfoliates dead skin cells and oil build-up – 2 main contributors to acne. Basically, these enhanced patches can be used as a spot-treatment option for mild acne.  

Other than hydrocolloid and other active ingredients, some pimple patches even include microneedles. Microneedling is the process of inserting very fine, short needles into the skin to renew the surface by increasing cell turnover. 

pimple patch

Credit: Lab Muffin 

These patches contain self-dissolving “needles” on one side, which can penetrate and increase the delivery of active ingredients into the skin. While the depth varies from patch to patch, generally these microneedles aren’t quite deep enough to penetrate to the deeper level of the skin, thus rendering them ineffective. That being said, microneedling procedures are best done by a skincare professional with proper equipment. 

Are pimple patches effective for all types of pimples? 

The stickers may be effective on mild breakouts and superficial, pus-filled pimples, such as Whiteheads and pimples with a visible pus head like Pustules. Unfortunately, acne patches are not helpful for blackheads, or deep-set acne with no visible pus head like Papules, Nodules, and some Cysts. 

For them to be effective, these patches are intended to be used when there is a visible pus head on the pimple – an indication that the inflammatory process of your pimple has subsided and that only debris and pus remain. 

It’s less effective to apply these patches on a still inflamed papule because it hasn’t reached the surface of your skin, and there is nothing on the surface to be readily absorbed. Despite this, it acts as a good barrier to prevent further inflammation.  

pimple patch

Credit: Skin Library

Are there any risks to using pimple patches? 

There is very little to no risk unless you’re allergic or sensitive to active ingredients found in the patches. Plus, the adhesive can be a bit irritating, especially if you’re wearing them overnight or back-to-back. 

Pros & Cons of Pimple Patches 

ProsCons
Gently absorbs excess fluid like oil and dirt from the surface of the pimple  Works on removing impurities on the surface without going deep down to the root of the problem 
Pimple is protected from irritants and bacteria that could worsen inflammation and irritation Does not work on blackheads, deep-set acne, and acne types that do not have a visible pus head 
Prevents picking or popping the pimple which can leave scars and Post Inflammatory 
Hyperpigmentation 
Adhesive and active ingredients may cause irritation for sensitive skin  
Speeds up the healing time of the pimple 

Alternatives to pimple patches 

While pimple patches do work to a certain extent, there are other more effective ways to achieve healthy skin in the long run. At Porcelain, we believe that treating the root of your skin issues is the solution, instead of dealing with them symptomatically. So rather than continually playing defence to heal zits as they appear, why not treat your acne at the root and break the cycle of acne altogether? 

pimple patch

Credit: Megan Bagshaw

Generally, acne is formed when a mix of dead skin cells and excess sebum congest the pores. While these are the 2 main contributors, head over here for a more in-depth explanation of the specific causes of various acne. Therefore, target these acne-contributing factors to combat pimples from within. We suggest two ways to do so: 

1. Regular Exfoliation  

To remove the build-up of dead skin cells, regular exfoliation is a must. Plus, exfoliation helps to stimulate skin renewal, leaving skin softer, smoother, and brighter. Look for gentle, non-abrasive exfoliants that contain natural enzymes like the Natural Skin Refiner. 

Alternatively, you can also incorporate chemical exfoliants like AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs into your skincare routine. These acids gently break down the ‘glue’ that bonds dead skin cells, making it easier to remove them. Give the Glycolic Toner a try– a perfectly balanced toner to exfoliate and hydrate the skin. 

pimple patch

2. Balance your skin’s pH 

As pimples are often synonymous with oilier skin types, it’s important to control sebum production to manage oily skin. Your skin’s pH is determined by the balance between the oil and moisture content on your skin. Oily skin’s pH imbalance lies in an over-production of sebum to compensate for insufficient hydration. Thus, the key to rebalancing oily skin’s pH is to hydrate and regulate the skin’s sebum production. Hydrate the skin with ingredients such as Sodium Hyaluronate while regulating sebum production with ingredients like Tea Tree Oil, both of which are key ingredients in our pH Balancing Essence! 

Takeaway 

So, to answer the question: Do pimple patches work? Well, sort of. With so many different types of pimple patches soaked with various ingredients, they may be effective in soothing and speeding up the healing process for the occasional pesky pimple. However, they do not treat the cause of the problem and definitely won’t clear up your acne. For long-term results, perhaps it is not the best solution. 

We get it, these stickers are super cute and handy. So, if you love it, go ahead and stick one (or two) on!