Popping a pimple may be satisfying (trust us, we get it)—but it’s a huge no-no. Picking at and pressing on whiteheads, cysts, or pus-filled breakouts is just one big ol' recipe for infection and scarring. So, exercise that willpower and pop on one of the best acne patches. These little stickers work like magic to absorb all the gunk from your pimple and promote a *much* faster healing process—they're the best spot treatment for acne.
The biggest pimple patch pro? They can be worn around the clock. Some of our go-tos (cough cough COSRX) are not only invisible but can also be layered underneath makeup. Others, like Starface, are so cute you’ll want to wear them out and about. Regardless of which pimple patch you decide to go with, just remember it needs to be placed on clean, dry skin. “Do not apply [acne patches] over makeup, serums, or moisturizer, as some skin textures cannot successfully absorb the active ingredients or keep the acne dots fully applied to the face with a layer of product under them,” explains Peace Out Skincare founder Enrico Frezza (opens in new tab).
So, without further ado, keep scrolling to shop the best acne patches out there, from hydrocolloid options to dots that fade post-inflammatory pigmentation.
What to Look for in an Acne Patch
When picking the best acne patch for your skin, there are two things to consider: The ingredient list and the stage of your pimple.
“There are different patches to help at different stages of the life cycle of a pimple, from its earliest stage to post-pimple marks,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Caroline Robinson. She recommends looking for hydrocolloid patches with ingredients like tea tree oil, salicylic acid, or niacinamide if your pimple is starting to form or has already reached a head. There are also special microneedling acne patches to help fade dark marks left behind from your breakout.
How Long Does It Take for a Pimple Patch to Work?
While a pimple patch will likely shorten the lifespan of your pimple, the time it takes for your pimple to disappear is going to vary. “Sometimes it takes one acne dot, and other times it has taken two to three acne dots to achieve this,” says Frezza. “It depends on your acne, the depth of your pimple, and the amount of gunk your pimple is producing.”
The Best Acne Patches
- The Best Acne Patch for New Zits: ZitSticka KILLA Kit (opens in new tab)
- The Best Acne Patch for Whiteheads: Peach Slices Deep Blemish Microdarts (opens in new tab)
- The Best Invisible Acne Patch: Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots Blemish Treatment (opens in new tab)
- The Best Acne Patch for Sensitive Skin: Peace Out Acne Dots (opens in new tab)
- The Best Acne Patch for Fading Dark Spots: Mighty Patch Mighty Patch Micropoint for Dark Spots (opens in new tab)
The Best Acne Patch for Fading Dark Spots
If you've ever had a pimple (hi, yes, everyone), then you're familiar with the dark marks and hyperpigmentation that get left behind. While a traditional pimple patch can take care of inflammation and pus, these should be used in the recovery process to help fade discoloration at a quicker rate. “Not only do they have an innovative blend of pigment fighting ingredients such as niacinamide, tranexamic acid, and vitamin C, but they also have 173 dissolving micro points to help deliver the ingredients exactly where they’re needed," explains Dr. Robinson.
Pros: Dermatologist-approved; Contains micro-darts
Cons: Need multiple patches to notice a difference
The Best Acne Patch for Dry Skin
When I want to get the job done, I reach for one of these patches. After an all-day/night-wearing session, I am amazed at how much has been absorbed. The best part? There's nothing toxic on the ingredient least. "We are the only clean, FDA-approved, over-the-counter (OTC) acne dot on the market. This allows us to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the acne dots on the market as we are the only brand with that FDA-approved claim," says Frezza. "We are also clean! We reformulated hydrocolloid to create the first and only clean, acne hydrocolloid patch. "
Pros: Hydrating; Doesn't slip or budge
The Best Hydrocolloid Acne Patch
One word: Powerful. Another word: Sticky. If you’re prone to oily skin and can’t seem to keep your patch on, Cosrx is about to be your go-to—it doesn't budge. The waterproof design will stand up through workouts, errands, and even a restless night's sleep. The hydrocolloid patches come on one large sheet that conveniently features multiple size dots, so you'll have the perfect match for every kind of blemish. Let it do its anti-inflammatory thing overnight, and you'll wake up with a less angry, less red, and, god willing, much less inflamed blemish.
Pros: Stay on; Hydrocolloid dressing
Cons: Doesn't do anything for unpopped pimples, blackheads, or cysts
The Best Acne Patch for Body Acne
While a salicylic acid body wash or spray is going to be your primary line of defense against body breakouts, a body acne patch is a great supplement to your routine. A typical acne patch might be a bit too small, but these Rael options are super sized. And, since back or chest breakouts are typically clustered, one sticker will treat a large portion of your breakout in one shot. It flattens out bumps, soaks up oil, and extracts pus like nothing else.
Pros: Big enough for body; Hydrocolloid
Cons: Pricy; Don't always reduce size of acne
The Best Acne Patch for New Zits
By and large, pimple patches are going to work best on whiteheads or juicy pustules that have already been popped. That said, these babies can swoop in and save the day way before pus starts to ooze. Because they're designed with itty-bitty microneedles, they're able to puncture the surface of the skin and get acne-fighting ingredients directly into the pimple before it surfaces. The little darts will dissolve within two hours, and effectively infuse your budding acne with a dose of salicylic acid, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid.
Pros: Contains microdarts; Infuses salicylic acid
The Best Acne Patch for Daytime Wear
You’ve probably seen these patches on your favorite influencers or celebs on Instagram and TikTok, and it’s not just because they make for a great Instagrammable moment. You can feel the pimples meeting their match, one star at a time. They come in a travel-friendly, refillable container that also has a mirror in case you need to swap out patches throughout the day. Another call out? The unique shape of the star design. Sure, it's a play on the brand's name, but the corners of the star also ensure your patches adhere to hard-to-reach areas like the corners of the lips or around the nostrils.
Pros: Cute; Hydrocolloid; Refillable case
Cons: Not infused with any treatment ingredients
The Best Acne Patch for Whiteheads
Fair warning: You'll feel a little prick when you press these microdarts onto the skin. But once your patch is on, it's game over for your pimple. Salicylic acid penetrates the skin to attack the blemish, while niacinamide keeps skin from becoming inflamed and protects the barrier of skin. Because that can dry out the skin, the brand also added two calming, soothing, and anti-inflammatory ingredients into the mix: Tea tree oil and centella asiatica.
Pros: Microdarts; Infuses salicylic acid
Cons: Pricy; Doesn't stick
The Best Acne Patch for Pimple Clusters
While pimple patches come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes you just need to do a little DIY to craft the perfect acne fighting patch. Enter HANHOO. They give you a massive rectangular patch that you can cut to your liking and stick to your chin, cheek, or forehead. It does soak up pus and reduce inflammation, but you might be tempted to reapply more frequently than you like—they can be a little slippery.
Pros: Customizable; Hydrocolloid
Cons: Not infused with any ingredients; Not very sticky
The Best Invisible Acne Patches
If you're a regular acne patch user, you've likely experienced the somewhat inevitable downside of them. On occasion, you're left with dry, irritated skin where you placed the patch. The chemists behind this 72-pack however made the genius decision to counteract the drying effects of salicylic acid with soothing, hydrating hyaluronic acid. While these little guys are invisible on the skin, they're best saved for a nighttime treatment as they can't be layered under makeup or skincare.
Pros: Contain salicylic acid; Hydrating
Cons: Can't be worn under makeup
The Best Acne Patch for Inflammation
We don't recommend popping your pimple (it can lead to scarring), but we also know it happens. And when it does, apply this drugstore patch, ASAP. The hydrocolloid sticker is going to provide the ideal healing environment, flatten your blemish in the quickest possible manner, and most importantly, prevent you from picking. I'm a fan of popping these on before bed—it's oddly satisfying to see how much fluid is absorbed by the time morning rolls around.
Pros: Hydrocolloid; Invisible; Thin
Cons: Not medicated
The Best Acne Patch Kit
If you want the whole kit and caboodle, add this set to your cart. It comes with salicylic acid patches great for bringing pimples to a head, hydrocolloid dots that will soak up existing pus, and nose strips to help get rid of blackheads. The latter is going to be a 10 minute treatment, but feel free to leave the dots on for hours. They're invisible too, so you can wear them to work.
Pros: Variety; Contains salicylic acid; Invisible
The Best Acne Patches for Every Stage
Whether you're trying to prevent breakouts, calm existing pimples, or reduce the redness left behind by acne, Dr. Jart has you covered. Unlike other patches, these stickers are designed with little microdarts that infuse both hyaluronic acid and vitamin B3 right into the problem area. The prickly dots will melt onto the skin as soon as they're pressed down, and you should see some form of results within two hours. Just be aware: Your pimple isn't going to magically vanish—it takes time to fully heal.
Pros: Microdarts; Infused with healing ingredients; Invisible
The Best Soothing Acne Patch
If you typically find acne patches to be too intense, we challenge you to try these babies. They contain acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid and tea tree oil, but are still gentle enough for dry skin types. An added bonus? Jason Wu included a little bit of grape seed oil, which is an ingredient that can help prevent scarring and hyperpigmentation. The patches are also certified clean by Target, are cruelty free, and don't contain sulfates, parabens, or phthalates.
Pros: Contains salicylic acid; Invisible
Cons: Don't stick well on oily skin
Meet the Experts
Enrico Frezza is the Founder and CEO of Peace Out Skincare, which he was inspired to start after suffering from severe acne in his teens.
After three years and fourteen prototypes, Peace Out Acne was born in 2017, the first-ever hydrocolloid acne dot to be infused with active ingredients that target and treats the root cause of a breakout, not just the symptoms. Enrico’s passion disrupted the acne skincare industry and Peace Out Acne dots will forever remain the industry’s leading go-to acne healing dot. Since then Enrico has launched six more first to market best-selling skin-tech patch products.
Dr. Caroline Robinson is a board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist in Chicago and the founder and CEO of Tone Dermatology, an innovative and inclusive dermatologic practice on Chicago’s near south side. Her recent awards include: ULTA Beauty 2021 MUSE 100, 2020 National Minority Quality Forum 40 Under 40 Leaders in Minority Health Award, Refinery29 2020 Most Innovative Skin Expert.