The Benefits of Hydrocolloid Patches A.K.A. Acne Stickers For Acne

These K-Beauty Stickers Are My Secret to Zapping Pimples OVERNIGHT

The Benefits of Hydrocolloid Patches A.K.A. Acne Stickers For Acne

Picture this: a pimple just popped up smack dab in the middle of your forehead a day before your best friend's wedding. (Of course, she's planned a slicked back ponytail for the occasion.) What do you do? Sure, you can pick up some Mario Badesco Drying Lotion.

That pink stuff worked when you were going through puberty, so it will do the trick now. However, as it quickly shrinks your pimple, it might dry your skin out, too. No thank you. The last thing you want right now on top of a red spot is a flaky spot.

If you ask Allure editors how they would solve this predicament, they'd say, “I would use hydrocolloid bandages.”

In the past, you might have stuck hydrocolloid bandages onto blisters after trying to break in some new heels. They're those gel-textured bandages that keep you from popping blisters and help them heal faster. The same goes for the hydrocolloid bandages specifically designed for acne.

Instead of strips, K-beauty brands Peach & Lily and Cosrx have round ones that you can stick right over your problem spots. Then, “the hydrocolloid bandage will absorb fluid from the pimple,” Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City and assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, explains.

After a couple hours, you peel it off to reveal flat, zit-free skin — no dryness included. They are that effective.

Personally, I love hydrocolloid bandages because they keep me from picking at my face, a bad habit that I'm slightly ashamed to admit.

However, Elizabeth Tanzi, the founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and associate clinical professor in department of dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center, backs me up on this.

Compared to standard spot treatments, she tells Allure, “Hydrocolloid bandages have the added benefit of blocking you from picking the pimple…and that’s a good thing.” Why? “Picking a pimple increases the inflammation and can slow the healing process down,” Tanzi adds.

With this in mind, whenever I'm sitting in bed watching RuPaul's Drag Race and feel the urge to touch my face, I slap one of these suckers on. Suckers is the operative word here because they really do suck the puss pimples.

You can see it after a couple hours when the clear, flat bandage turns an off-white color and fattens up a bit. It's simultaneously gross and great.

TBH when it turns completely white, I feel a strange sense of pride and accomplishment.

Because hydrocolloid bandages are clear for a bit, you can wear them during the day. Allure editors have been known to run errands with one or two on their faces.

If you feel self conscious about it, you can apply makeup over them and not disturb the magical healing process. I to wear them at night, though. The bandages are sticky enough to stay in place no matter how much tossing and turning I do.

In the morning, I can walk to the kitchen to fix breakfast, and my roommates have yet to point out anything weird going on on my face.

Convinced you need hydrocolloid bandages on standby now? My favorite ones to use are the Nexcare Acne Absorbing Covers. Sadly, they can about as hard to find as Puma by Rihanna Creepers.

Luckily, Peach & Lily and Cosrx, as mentioned, have $5 ones that you can easily shop at CVS and Forever 21, respectively.

And if you feel splurging, there's the $30 Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots.

More on quick pimple remedies:

Now, watch a comedian review other weird beauty products:

Follow Devon Abelman on and Instagram.


9 Acne Patches to Try Now

The Benefits of Hydrocolloid Patches A.K.A. Acne Stickers For Acne

It’s such an “uh oh!” moment when the night before a big day, your skin starts to slightly itch, tingle, and, finally, produce a raised bump. A new pimple is born.

As you frantically Google a quick and effective overnight treatment, acne patches might be one of the first things you find.

But wait.

Before you jump on the acne-patch wagon, it’s important to understand the different types of acne patches. Each of them are targeted to treat different types of acne. When used correctly, they may help to speed up the recovery process and even prevent scarring.

However, when used incorrectly, you’ll simply be flushing your money and time down the drain.

If you’re trying to figure out which acne patches are suitable for your acne, this article is for you.

There are a number of benefits to using acne patches, from keeping you from picking your acne and preventing further irritation to providing UV protection to aiding in the healing process.

General Tips for Using Acne Patches

  • Make sure to clean your face and hands before you apply them.
  • Pick the size that best fits the whole lesion in the center of the patch.
  • Gently stick them on dry skin as the first step of your routine, especially for hydrocolloid patches.
  • Let them sit for at most 24 hours or until the patches turn into an opaque color. When they’ve turned opaque, you know they’ve sucked out the debris from the pores.

Just there are different types of acne, there are different types of acne patches to treat them. Here’s a brief breakdown of the types of acne patches, when to use them, and some suggested products:

Medicated acne patches are filled with active ingredients that help to kill the acne-causing bacteria and soothe inflammation. The patches enhance the absorption of the active ingredients into the skin.

They help to reduce the bumps, pain, and redness of the acne, and can be effective when treating inflamed acne, papules. They may also help to reduce the size of lesions caused by nodular or cystic acne. The most common active ingredients of these patches are salicylic acid and tea tree oil.

I recommend trying:

  • Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots ($30 for 72 dots) on Amazon
  • A’pieu Nanco Tea Tree Spot Patch Set on Amazon
  • Innisfree Bija Anti-Trouble Spot Patch on Amazon

Pro Tips

  • For this type of acne patch, you’re not restricted to put it on as the first step of your routine. You can put it on over other products, but just keep in mind that you want the active ingredients to absorb into the skin. So, put them on before an occlusive moisturizer, which helps prevents water loss.
  • Look for words or phrases “active ingredients,” “salicylic acid,” or “tea tree oil.”

Non-medicated acne patches are another name for hydrocolloid bandages, which are most commonly used for post-surgical wounds to help speed up the healing process.

Non-medicated acne patches differ slightly in that they’ve been cut mostly in a circle shape to fit the size of pimples. They’re also incredibly thin, which means they’re less noticeable if you decide to wear them out in public.

These patches work by:

  • sucking out the moisture from your pores
  • preventing another infection
  • serving as a moisture barrier that’ll help to speed up recovery and prevent the formation of acne scars

I recommend tying:

Pro Tips

  • It’s best to use these patches when your pimple is showing a white or yellow head.
  • Look for the words “non-medicated” or “hydrocolloid patches” on the packaging.
  • Don’t apply the patches after toner, essences, or serum. This will reduce their effectiveness, and you’ll waste your products.

Though the word “needle” may cause you some concern, worry not. Microneedle acne patches aren’t as scary as they sound, and they can be totally pain-free.

These patches contain dissolving microneedles – very fine, tiny needles – on one side and should be used to help treat cystic or nodular acne. The patches can help penetrate and deliver active ingredients to a deeper layer of the skin where it’s needed.

While their effectiveness may vary depending on the person and the depth of the acne lesion itself, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try.

I recommend trying:

  • Acropass by Soko Glam
  • A’pieu Madecassoside Needle Spot Patch on Amazon
  • boH Derma Shot Micro Solution on Amazon

Pro Tips

  • Just non-medicated acne patches, make sure to use these patches as the first step in your routine.
  • Make sure not to touch the microneedle side while applying the patches. You don’t want more bacteria to get inside your skin.

Although it sounds a promising and potentially no-pain, risk-free acne treatment, acne patches may not work on all different types of acne. For example, acne patches may not work as effectively on blackheads.

Hydrocolloid patches aren’t comparable to regular pore strips and may not be strong enough to remove the blackheads.

Acne patches also won’t help solve the root cause of the acne itself.

While acne patches can come in handy, it’s so important to use them on the appropriate lifespan of acne. I to use acne patches when I need to quickly reduce the appearance of acne on a special event or big day.

I hope this article helps you decide which acne patches are most suitable for you.

Claudia is a skin care and skin health enthusiast, educator, and writer. She’s currently pursuing her PhD in dermatology in South Korea and runs a skin care-focused blog so she can share her skin care knowledge with the world. Her hope is for more people to be conscious about what they put on their skin. You can also check out her Instagram for more skin-related articles and ideas.


K-beauty Pimple Patches – Guide to Simple Acne Treatment

The Benefits of Hydrocolloid Patches A.K.A. Acne Stickers For Acne

To us, pimple patches are a modern miracle. If you haven’t tried one yet, you’re seriously missing out. A pimple patch is a small, usually clear sticker that helps treat acne in a gentle and effective way. It can be worn anywhere on your face and works to protect a pimple a wound, keeping it away from dirt, bacteria, and even your own fingers.

Pimple patches are typically infused with acne-fighting ingredients to help draw the sebum and impurities from your pores for over six-plus hours of wear (you can wear them during the day or at night while you’re asleep).

How Do You Actually Stop Picking at Your Pimples

There’s truly nothing more satisfying than peeling one off of your face and seeing all of the gunk that was extracted from your zit onto the back of the sticker.

Here’s when to use one: When an inflammatory pimple is at or coming to a head and you want all that pus to come to the surface, when you’re trying to get an open pimple wound to completely drain, when you’ve just popped a pimple and want it to heal without spreading the infection or whenever you need to stop yourself from picking at your skin.

While these stickers couldn’t be simpler to use, you may need some help choosing the best one for your acne concerns. Below, we’ve detailed four of our favorite pimple patches, how to use them, and what they are best for.

Even if you’re new to the world of pimple patches, you probably know about the COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch. These are the OG K-beauty pimple patch, and they’re totally worth the hype. These patches are made from hydrocolloid (think of the hydrocolloid dressing used in hospitals to encourage healing and prevent infection) and come in three different sizes that are essentially large, medium, and small. For $5.00, you get 24 of them, which, depending on how often you break out, is pretty reasonable.Because they help draw all the gunk to the surface, we recommend using them on inflammatory breakouts pustules or papules to speed up the entire process and flatten the zit faster or to disinfect and reduce the inflammation if you’ve already popped the sucker on your own.

Overall, they’re slightly thicker (and thus more conspicuous) than some of the other patches on this list, however we love that you get three different size patches in one pack for pimples big 12mm), medium (10mm), and small (7mm). Plus, for $5.00, you get 24 of them, which, depending on how often you break out, is pretty reasonable

These patches are similar to the brand’s original treatment patches mentioned above and can be used on the same type of acne, but there are two key differences that will help you decide between the two.

First, their thin, transparent design makes them wearable throughout the day and even underneath makeup! Second, the patches are slightly raised in the middle to help ensure that the patch will stay gripped to your skin all day long.

Because the hydrocolloid used here is thinner, we recommend using the originals for a more intensive treatment.

Each pack contains 18 medium-sized patches (10mm) for $5.00.

K-Beauty Powerhouse Neogen has also entered the pimple patch arena with their own rendition of adhesive hydrocolloid stickers.

the COSRX Clear Fit Master Patches, these are relatively thin and have an elevated center to better latch onto the skin’s surface and ensure that the formula is concentrated on the affected area.

Better yet, the patches’ waterproof surface cultivates a moist environment for the affected area, which will prevent the development of those unwanted post-acne scars and scabs.

Again, these are great for inflammatory forms of acne pustules and papules.

A pack contains 24 patches in two sizes – medium (10mm) and large (12mm) – for $5.99.

Yet another offering from COSRX, these patches work similarly to the options already mentioned, but come in a larger, oval shape that can cover multiple spots at once or large breakouts. These are also great for curved areas of the face that regular pimple patches won’t adhere to, the jawline.

Another major point of difference is that the patches are infused with centella asiatica extract to help effectively reduce inflammation and redness.

Welcome to the future of skin care. Pimple patches are already revolutionary because they don’t attack and dry out the skin most other acne treatments, but the Acropass Trouble Cure takes the concept to the next level by healing acne beneath the skin.These patches are dotted with tiny dissolving microneedles (similar to a derma roller) made from a crystallized serum (ingredients include hyaluronic acid to hydrate and niacinamide to treat and clear) shaped into a needle- structure. These needles are super tiny (1/3 the thickness of hair) so you don’t have to worry about any pain from incision, yet mighty. The serum  dissolves into your skin and is sent directly to where it’s needed the most.

The patches come with cleansing swabs meant to prep the skin before application. The cleanser is packed with great acne-fighting ingredients tea tree oil and salicylic acid.

And here’s the real draw: Not only does the system help heal regular acne quickly and reduce scarring, it also works on hormonal and cystic acne!

If you’re looking for subtlety then this will not be your top choice. The stickers are definitely larger than the COSRX ones and because you can see the texture from the needles, they look more a bandage. However, they’re perfect for nighttime wear.

Each box contains six swabs and six patches for $18. We recommend saving these for hard-to-treat pimples under the surface of the skin, a.k.a. cysts, and using one of the options above for your other breakouts.


Everything You Need To Know About Pimple Patches – Do They Really Keep Spots At Bay?

The Benefits of Hydrocolloid Patches A.K.A. Acne Stickers For Acne

While we can’t deny that pimple popping is extremely satisfying, even to watch – as Dr Pimple Popper (aka Dr Sandra Lee) has proven with her 5.7 million subscribers, it might not be the best solution for our spots. The alternative? Enter beauty’s latest skincare obsession: pimple patches.

Cropping up everywhere, little stickers packed with actives have been designed to help keep spots at bay, without any painful squeezing required. Take Charli Howard’s recently launched skincare line, Squish, whose offering includes cute flower-shaped spot stickers. There's also the single-product brand ZitSticka, which launched a two-step spot treatment last year.

But, do they actually really work? We’ve spoken to the brand founders and industry experts to found out…

Dr Sophie Shotter, skincare expert, explains: 'There are two main types of pimple patches that have emerged.

The first is what we call a hydrocolloid – these patches will absorb fluid from the spot, making it flatter and red.

The second type of patch will contain zit-busting ingredients salicylic acid and tea-tree oil, and some even have micro channels to help the ingredients penetrate better.’

Falling into camp one, Charli Howard’s Squish patches contain hydrocolloid, 'It’s a biodegradable substance that helps withdraw fluid from whiteheads and lets spots breathe in a warm, dry environment,’ explains Howard.

'They work best on spots with a whitehead as they bring them to the surface – just pop one on overnight and peel off in the morning!’ They also happen to be super adorable in colorful star-shapes adorned with rhinestones – bougie blemishes, you might say.

Over in the second camp is Zitsticka. 'We created a sticker that contains 24 self-dissolving microdarts which prick the affected area and penetrate active product beyond the epidermal layer, straight into the Zit’s nucleus. In just two hours, acne-causing bacteria is killed and the size/redness of the zit is noticeably reduced,’ explains founders Robbie Miller and Daniel Kaplan.

So, we say camp one for when the spot has emerged and a white head is visible and camp two for when you first notice the signs of a blemish brewing.

'When you start feeling a bump, a bit of a pain, you can feel a spot even if you can’t see anything and if you press the area, you can feel a pore with something in there – and it is that moment that you should apply the ZitSticka KILLA patch,’ advises Miller and Kaplan.

‘Absolutely, it’s better to use a pimple patch,’ assures Shotter. 'Patches are a relatively gentle way of treating spots, whereas popping them (while satisfying) is very traumatic to the skin.

’ Popping spots can actually drive infected material deeper into the skin, which could cause cysts to form or other spots to appear.

This level of damage can be painful and can also increase risk of scarring.

Founders of Zitsticka second this.

'When you squeeze a spot, you are causing the pore to be forced open, and while pus/debris is being extracted from it, you can still push infected material deeper into the dermis.

Ultimately, popping your spots can worsen your acne and a hands-off policy needs to be put in place.’ Wow. (On a separate spot treatment note – can toothpaste really get rid of spots?).

Katie Jane Hughes, makeup maverick and the artist behind Howard's Squish campaign, loves spot stickers, ‘Squish patches are so fun.

If you’re going to have a pimple why not celebrate it? Who gives a shit?!’ Which is exactly the right motto behind the patch, as Howard explains: 'Acne still has such negative connotations – people assume you don't take care of your skin, that you sleep in make-up or have a bad diet, which just isn't true 95% of the time – and I felt a lot of the acne products I saw were very clinical looking. You go into a pharmacy and the products are in white packaging with plain fonts. I use hydrocolloid patches myself and I felt we could make something that people assume a 'flaw' into something cute – something you're not ashamed of wearing.’

And whether you have a spot or not, you can still decorate your makeup with a few flower patches (à la Rixo S/S20). ‘We created a gorgeous look with them, I matched her eyeshadow to some of the colours in the flower design,’ says Hughes, ‘If you want that look, sticking a flower patch on is much easier than attempting to draw one’.

On ZitSticka, Hughes admits she’s a big fan. 'They’re amazing, the before and after pictures are incredible. They’re Compede for your face, so you can pop one on to work on your spot, and conceal with foundation over the top.’

Lots of stickers are designed for discretion, but the trend for celebrating your pimple patch is catching on with US brand Star Face recently launching bright yellow stars that celebrate pimples rather than hide them, making a spot into a must have accessory.


Custom skincare delivered to your door

The Benefits of Hydrocolloid Patches A.K.A. Acne Stickers For Acne

Tempting as it is, popping a pimple is almost always a bad idea. Un a can of tasty potato chips, once you pop, the fun does stop.

It may feel satisfying for a second, but the aftermath isn’t worth it! A popped pimple often turns into a red spot, which can last months, or worse: it might leave an acne scar behind.

This guide will teach you how to calm your pimples down without popping them — and, as a last resort: how to pop a big, juicy pimple a professional.

A pimple is an oil well: full of gunk that can spill and contaminate the area around it if it isn’t handled carefully.

There’s a lot going on below the surface of that juicy whitehead that you can’t see.

When you pop a zit, you run the risk of driving debris and bacteria even deeper into your skin — resulting in more swelling and inflammation, dark post-acne spots, or even permanent scarring.

There’s an easy and painless trick for healing pimples quickly using a product you can buy for a few dollars at the store: use an acne patch, or a hydrocolloid bandage.

These small adhesive bandages can reduce a sore pimple overnight, pulling out all the white gunk from inside the pimple so it sticks to the bandage and lets your skin heal underneath.

Sound magic? It’s actually pretty simple: the acne patch, or hydrocolloid bandage, absorbs pus and oil from the inflamed spot and promotes faster healing by maintaining moisture.

Skin cells can’t easily migrate across the Sahara Desert of a scab — they need a hydrated surface in order to live and work on closing the wound. Acne patches or hydrocolloid bandages also help reduce inflammation, protect the area from contamination by microorganisms, minimize scar formation, and — importantly — prevent you from picking or popping!

  1. Cleanse the area with a mild cleanser ( the cleanser by Curology!)
  2. Gently pat the area dry with a clean towel or a tissue
  3. Apply a hydrocolloid bandage over the pimple
  4. Leave it on overnight or for as long as possible, even up to 24–48 hours. You can even shower wearing it!

Easy DIY trick to shrink a swollen pimple: use a green tea bag as a compress! If you want to cool that pimple down, just put a used green tea bag in the freezer for a little while to transform it into a cold compress. With its anti-inflammatory properties and caffeine content, applying a chilled green tea bag to a pimple can calm it down and reduce swelling.

Step 1. Steep your tea bag in hot water.

Step 2. Take out the tea bag and let it cool down while you enjoy your cup of tea.

Step 3. Once the bag has cooled down, squeeze some of the excess water out.

Step 4. Let it chill in the freezer for 10 minutes or longer. You don’t want it to be completely frozen — cold enough but still comfortable against your skin.

Step 5. Gently hold the bag on the blemish for about 20 seconds.

Step 6. Rest, then repeat for about 5 minutes total.

So you’ve gotten this far, but you still can’t resist? If you must pop it, pop it a pro.

How do you know if a pimple is ready to be popped? This isn’t exactly a medical term, but nothing describes it better than “juicy”! Generally, when a pimple has a “head” (white/yellow appearance), this is the pus right under the skin that will readily drain when popped. If it hurts to squeeze, or nothing comes out, it should be left alone. And if you start to see any bleeding from the popped spot, consider that a big red STOP sign!

The most important thing is to NOT use your fingers, and especially not your fingernails. If you’ve just got to squeeze that zit, use cotton swabs (aka Q-Tips) instead of your fingers to squeeze the pus a pimple — your fingernails harbor bacteria.

You can also use a clean, small needle, or a sterile lancet (you can buy these at most drugstores) and prick the very tip of the pimple, with the needle parallel to the surface of the skin.

Gently using these tools can prevent the pimple from accidentally exploding beneath the surface of the skin, which can lead to scarring and more unpleasant aftermath for your skin.

  1. Wait until your pimple is firm and looks ready to burst.
  2. Wash your hands well with soap and warm water.
  3. Use a sterile lancet. Alternatively, sterilize a fine sewing needle or a straight pin with a match or a lighter and allow it to cool.
  4. Wipe the zit and your fingers with rubbing alcohol.
  5. Hold the pin, or the needle, parallel to the surface of your skin and gently pierce the tip of the pimple’s white center.
  6. Using a cotton swab, softly press around the pimple. Be gentle — if the contents don’t come out easily, don’t force it.
  7. Apply a hydrocolloid bandage. If none is available, apply a dab of plain Vaseline (white petrolatum), Aquaphor or Vaniply. Either way will help protect the spot while it heals, and help to reduce post-acne scarring.
  8. Reapply the ointment after swimming, showering, or washing your face. If using hydrocolloid bandages, no need to reapply — they usually last up to 2–3 days!

Are you morbidly curious about the scientific term for that thing on your face? (No judgment here.) There are several different kinds of pimples, and identifying what you’re up against can help you handle it the right way.

The basic gist: acne is an inflammatory process through and through, from tiny clogged pores to larger painful cysts. The process begins on a cellular level when excess oil, or sebum, mixes with dead skin cells and bacteria and clogs your pores. Even if you have just a few little blackheads, that counts as “acne”.

Whitehead: A small clogged pore, aka closed comedone. Sebum (oil) and dead skin cells trapped in the pore underneath the skin’s surface form a small bump.

Blackhead: A small clogged pore, aka open comedone. These look black because the trapped oil and skin cells are exposed to the air.

Papule: A tender bump with redness and swelling caused by inflammation; less than 5mm across.

Pustule: A “squeezable” inflamed lesion with a visible central core of pus; a raised bump 1–5 mm in size.

Nodule: A large, firm, reddish lump. Deeper than a papule, and often painful (ouch).

Cyst: A highly inflamed and/or draining acne nodule; resembles an inflamed epidermal cyst.

There are certain kinds of pimples you never ever want to pop: deep, painful lesions (nodules). Attempting to pop these will hurt a LOT and won’t get you anywhere. They’re too deep under the skin’s surface to be popped.

If you’ve got a cystic pimple or an “invisible pimple” — aka “blind pimple,” one that feels big but doesn’t have a whitehead on the surface — an effective option is to see an in-person dermatologist for a cortisone injection.

It may sound extreme, but it helps reduce scarring, and scarring is more common with those big, bad, deep-down pimples.

Ever heard of so-called home remedies for pimples such as toothpaste or baking soda? Don’t try this at home! These can cause a lot of irritation. Also, some toothpastes contain pore-clogging ingredients, which will only make things worse.

Honey and lemon juice are often touted as natural remedies, but we can’t vouch for either. Although pure manuka honey does have antimicrobial properties, it’s not ly to help acne much, if at all.

Non-medical grade honey can actually contain bacterial spores , which is not good for your skin.

Lemon juice can cause significant dryness, redness and irritation, so take those lemons and make lemonade (or, preferably, the good-for-you option: lemon water).

We know pimples are a touchy topic (pun intended): it’s tough to be patient while they heal, which can lead people to take desperate measures — even though those almost always backfire.

Just remember that you’re not alone! If you’re a Curology member, you can reach out to your derm provider for help if big zits are bringing you down.

Sign up for a free trial of Curology and you’ll have a quick online questionnaire, get matched with a dermatology provider one-on-one, and receive your very own custom acne treatment to prevent those big pimples from popping up in the first place.


Custom formula with a powerful combination punch

Clog-free cleanser and moisturizer

Personal chats with a provider who sticks by you

Ultra-easy 2-minute routine, shipped to your door

Starting at$1995 /month

30-day trial. Just cover $4.95 in shipping + handling