When you get a blemish on your face, you typically have a few treatment options. You can reach for an acne spot treatment, spend 10 to 15 minutes masking, or stay the course with your skin-care routine and let your skin do its thing. But another option that has quickly become a favorite among us here at ishonest is using pimple patches.
Pimple patches are adhesives that are filled with different acne-fighting ingredients, like salicylic acid or tea tree oil, that you place on top of blemishes. "These acne patches offer an air-tight seal from the environment and its contaminants, while drawing out impurities from the skin and suspending it in the gel-like matrix of the patch," says California-based and board-certified dermatologist Melanie Palm. "Some of the patches offer the power-packed punch of active ingredients such as anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, or anti-acne ingredients to soothe and treat acne blemishes."
They are pretty simple to use and you can just follow the instructions listed on the packaging. Palm says the "stealthiest" way to apply an acne patch is overnight; it will work to treat spots for seven to eight hours while your skin is in its restoration period. But you can also wear them during the day to help prevent you from picking. She says regardless of which acne patch you decide to use, always apply it to dry and freshly-cleansed skin.
Most people are able to use acne patches, though Marisa Garshick, a board- certified dermatologist based in New York City, warns those with sensitive skin to be cautious when choosing which to use; having too much exposure to an ingredient such as salicylic acid can be irritating and drying. Garshick also says deep breakouts may not respond at all to these. She'd normally recommend visiting a dermatologist for a cortisone shot. But until we are no longer under quarantine, your safest and best option for this type of acne is to turn to teledermatology and virtually consult with a dermatologist.
Cystic Acne: ZitSticka Killa Kit
"Cystic acne is red and angry and powerful," says Palm. "Anti-inflammatory ingredients are key to corralling it." She says to look for ingredients that simultaneously penetrate the pore where inflammatory acne starts, while calming down red, inflamed skin.
She explains that salicylic acid is a good choice for really digging deep inside the pore to unclog it and green tea, vitamin E, or niacinamide are key to helping fade redness. Her pick is the Zitsticka Killa Kit because it contains all of these ingredients and has a microdart delivery system, which involves dissolvable microneedles that penetrate the blemish and effectively deliver active ingredients to the skin.
Cystic Acne: CosRx Acne Pimple Master Patch
Garshick picks the CosRx Acne Pimple Master Patch because it's an easy-to- use hydrocolloid sticker that acts as a protective barrier and helps to draw out excess oil to help reduce breakouts and blemishes. "Think of these [cystic blemishes] almost like a wound that needs to heal," she says. "By reducing the inflammation and fluid, you can help to improve the appearance."
Hormonal Acne: Avarelle Acne Cover Patch
According to Palm, the best treatment for hormonal acne is systemic therapy that involves the use of antibiotics or birth control recommended by a board- certified dermatologist. "The gold standard of therapy, just demonstrated to be as effective as oral antibiotics for hormonal acne, is an anti-androgen, called spironolactone," she says.
But if you're not interested in taking medication (or if you're on it and still getting breakouts and want to try these patches), Palm says to look for something soothing, for a gentle hydrocolloid dressing with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories to tame cystic lesions with ingredients like tea tree oil or calendula oil, like the Avarelle Acne Cover Patch.
Hormonal Acne: Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Original
Garshick's pick is the Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Original. "This hydrocolloid option helps to draw out excess fluid and keep you from picking at your pimples, which is particularly important for the deeper, hormonal breakouts," she says.
Hormonal Acne: Rael Microneedle Technology Acne Healing Patch
According to New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, deep pimples require patches that will "enhance penetration" of acne-fighting ingredients into the skin. Our pick is the Rael Microneedle Technology Acne Healing Patch, not only for that type of protection from our dirty fingers, but also because it contains ingredients like salicylic acid and tea tree oil, which are delivered through dissolvable microneedles that penetrate deep-rooted acne.
Whiteheads: Peter Thomas Roth Acne Clear Invisible Dots
Palm says a whitehead is often categorized as noninflammatory but can have inflammation at a microscopic level that requires control. Because of that, she recommends Peter Thomas Roth's Acne Clear Invisible Dots. She explains that beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) in the active ingredients (like salicylic acid) will deeply penetrate down to the hair follicle and treat it.
She also says ingredients like tea tree oil work well on whiteheads. "Tea tree oil boosts the anti-microbial power of the patch and thwarts it from becoming a full-fledged inflammatory pimple," Palm says.
Blackheads: Peace Out Acne Healing Dots
Palm explains that blackheads are a mix of sebum and dead skin cells compressed in a pore, so dissolving and lifting out the trapped blackhead is key to a successful patch. She suggests looking for a patch with vitamin A, which regulates excessive oil production and promotes cell turnover so that dead skin cells don't clog pores and cause breakouts.
She says salicylic acid is another key ingredient to look for because it will be able to penetrate the hair follicle and oil gland, and can help to treat and dissolve a blackhead. Her pick is the 2019 Best of Beauty winner Peace Out Acne Healing Dots, which although not technically a blackhead treatment contains both of those ingredients, plus aloe vera, to soothe skin as it treats.
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