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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 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. The sheet includes multiple sizes—even tiny ones for small spots that need special attention.
The Best Acne Patch for Body Acne
If you're prone to body acne, consider incorporating these patches in addition to a salicylic acid body wash. They're available in various shapes for large coverage on the face, back, or other parts of the body. Acne clusters are real, and one circular patch doesn’t always cut it.
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? My face doesn’t feel dry afterward, and the thick patches stay on without any slippage from tossing and turning.
The Best Acne Patch for New Zits
These work wonders on the pimples you feel coming and need to banish before a big event. Lightly press one onto the below-the-surface pimple and feel the microneedles penetrating deep to repair skin and stop the pimple before it surfaces.
The Best Acne Patch for Fading Dark Spots
Dr. Robinson recommends these for dark spots left behind after pimples. “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.”
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. Their signature yellow stars come in a travel-friendly case that also has a mirror in case you need to swap out patches throughout the day.
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.
The Best Acne Patch for Pimple Clusters
If you have a handful of pimples on your chin, cheek, or forehead, don't bother with individual acne patches. Just get a bigger patch. Hanhoo’s rectangular sheets are palm-sized and can be cut to whatever shape you need.
The Best Invisible Acne Patches
These pimple zappers from Peter Thomas Roth opt for salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and hyaluronic acid to fight pesky acne. Tip: Use these patches after pimples have been picked and prodded to help the healing process.
The Best Acne Patch for Inflammation
While we don't recommend popping your pimple, we also know it happens. And when it does, apply this drugstore patch, ASAP. The hydrocolloid sticker is going to help absorb fluid, flatten your blemish, and most importantly, prevent you from picking.
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.
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 dissolve right into the skin upon application for a targeted delivery of hyaluronic acid and vitamin B3.
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. They also layer flawlessly under foundation.
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.