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ICYMI, pimple patches are sooo hot right now.

Thanks to the gorg world of K-beauty (skin care and makeup stuff hailing from South Korea), many brands are pumping out these fierce little patches — and word is they can really help you kiss unexpected/annoying zits goodbye.

We wanted to learn more about acne patches, so we chatted with a couple of dermatologists — Dr. Beth Goldstein, a board certified derm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Dr. Emily Wood, a board certified dermatologist in Austin, Texas — about what kind of acne and which skin types they work best on, which ingredients to look for, and how to use ’em.

Keep reading to get the scoop and check out our list of the most popular pimple stickers.

Here are some important things to consider and some things you may be wondering about when shopping for acne patches.

Determine what type of acne you have

Goldstein tells us acne patches work best for superficial red or pus-filled bumps, including inflammatory papules and open and closed comedones (aka blackheads and whiteheads).

Acne patches might not work well for deep, inflamed cysts since the ingredients are less likely to penetrate that deeply into the skin.

Keep an eye out for these all-star ingredients

A lot of acne patches are 100 percent hydrocolloid, but others are loaded up with other anti-acne or anti-dark-spot ingredients that can give them a serious boost.

Hydrocolloid is best for those pus-filled bumps we mentioned (because they literally suck all the gunk out), but other ingredients can go to work on other types of acne and post-acne woes.

Hydrocolloid gel

When you think “acne patch,” this is prob what you’re thinking of. Wood says almost all acne patches are hydrocolloid gel, which helps speed up wound healing.

The thick protective layer it creates is also ideal for preventing picking and protecting lesions from UV exposure, which can lead to dark spots.

Goldstein also says it can help reduce inflammation. While a lot of acne patches include this ingredient solo, there is some evidence that hydrocolloid on its own isn’t enough to kick zits to the curb.

Salicylic acid

A popular chemical exfoliant, this little “peeling agent” is an evidence-based triple threat: It’s a powerful anti-acne ingredient, helps reduce redness and inflammation associated with acne, and reduces post-acne scarring and hyperpigmentation. Wood says acne patches with salicylic acid can help penetrate your pores to heal a painful red pimple.

Hyaluronic acid

This ingredient has an impressive resume. Research shows that hyaluronic acid is pretty dang good at regenerating skin, stimulating collagen production, and hydrating. All these traits make it an A+ choice for moisturizing and soothing skin that’s going thru it (aka breaking out).

Niacinamide

This one is popular, too, thanks to its solid science-backed benefits. It can reduce acne-related inflammation and give you a hand with uneven skin tone, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. Niacinamide may even prevent overproduction of sebum, which means it can help out folks with oily skin.

Tea tree oil

You’ve probably heard of this one by now. It’s a natural anti-acne fave, known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects as well as for uncloggin’ pores, reducing redness, and promoting the healing of current breakouts. Wood tells us acne patches with tea tree oil are antimicrobial and soothing too.

Witch hazel

This is a botanical anti-inflammatory (it comes from a flowering plant) that can help you fight off pimples. It can (temporarily) tighten up pores, take down puffiness, and help improve skin texture. Wood says witch hazel can help calm red, irritated pimples (nice!).

Tranexamic acid

If you’re constantly dealing with post-acne hyperpigmentation or melasma, this is for you. This guy helps diminish discoloration, brighten up skin, and fade acne scars. Wood says it’s also helpful for preventing and treating dark spots — especially for those with darker skin tones.

Kojic acid

This is a proven skin lightener that can help get rid of things like scars, sun damage, and age spots. This basically means it’s a skin hero for folks concerned about acne and signs of aging. It has antimicrobial properties too.

Even in small concentrations, it may help fend off a slew of typical bacterial strains. In other words, kojic acid can help out with acne from skin bacteria.

Vitamin A

This is considered the granddaddy of them all. You’ve prob heard of retinol or retinoids by now. This powerful ingredient is known for its work on (to name just a few) acne, wrinkles, and sunspots. Wood points out that acne patches with vitamin A encourage faster cell turnover.

Vitamin C

This potent antioxidant is known for neutralizing free radicals (sh*t created by our bods when we expose them to stuff like pollution and UV rays).

Vitamin C has so many benefits to brag about, so we’ll name a couple big ones: It reduces signs of premature skin aging and hyperpigmentation, and OFC, has benefits for acne and acne scarring (it’s an anti-inflammatory that can help out with acne, reduce redness, and improve skin texture).

As we mentioned, most acne patches contain the same key ingredient (hydrocolloid gel), but some include other helpful acne-battling ingredients too — plus, they come in different sizes and styles (from a slew of different brands), and some are thicker or thinner than others.

This is how we picked our patches:

  • We gathered expert advice. We chatted with Wood and Goldstein to understand how acne patches work. Plus, they gave us advice on how and when to use the patches.
  • We looked closely look at ingredients. Using tips from the derms and info from the latest skin care research, we focused on the helpful, blemish-banishing ingredients mentioned above. We avoided options that contain blends of essential oils, since Wood warned that these can cause contact dermatitis (a red, itchy allergic reaction).
  • We got the tea from reviews. We made sure our picks have overall positive reviews and comments from users. But some reviewers do say that patches can fall off or that they didn’t help treat a specific type of acne. This comes with the territory. You can peep our guide to the best acne treatments here.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $10–$20
  • $$$ = over $20

Best overall acne patches

Peace Out Salicylic Acid Acne Healing Dots

  • Price: $$$
  • Count: 40 patches
  • Acne targeted: whiteheads, blackheads, inflammatory blemishes
  • Skin type: normal, combo, and oily
  • Standout ingredients: hydrocolloid, salicylic acid, aloe barbadensis (aloe vera), retinol
  • Pros: large patches
  • Cons: a little pricey

Wood says these are a great option, with salicylic acid to help clear out pore congestion and vitamin A (retinol!) to encourage faster cell turnover. Plus, these have a touch of aloe vera, which is a tried-and-true skin soother *and* wound healer.

These guys are pretty large, BTW. So if you’re looking for a subtle sticker, this is not your best bet.

Reviewers call these dots miracle workers, saying they’re absolutely devoted to ’em. They say these patches reduce pimple timelines by a lot — some even say they totally flatten pimples in just 2 days.

Best-rated acne patches

COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch

  • Price: $
  • Count: 24 patches
  • Acne targeted: whiteheads, blackheads, inflammatory blemishes
  • Skin type: normal, oily
  • Standout ingredients: hydrocolloid, cellulose gum, styrene isoprene styrene block copolymer, polyisobutylene, liquid paraffin (mineral oil)
  • Pros: budget-friendly, highly rated
  • Cons: not individually wrapped

Say hello to the highest-rated pick from K-beauty.

These patches have more than 27K Google reviews and, amazingly, most reviewers rave about how well they take the “gunk” out of zits. These are supposed to be non-drying, and they come in a variety of sizes, which is a biiiig plus.

It’s shocking to find a well-rated product at such a low price point too. And it includes 24 patches per package — no skimping out on you here.

The main all-star here is hydrocolloid dressing, which speeds up healing. These patches also contain mineral oil, a controversial ingredient (but still considered safe) that can help moisturize your skin. The other ingredients are mainly to help them stick to your face.

Bonus: These are fragrance-free and made without:

  • alcohol
  • parabens
  • sulfates
  • phthalates

Best acne patches at Target

Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Original

  • Price: $$
  • Count: 36 patches
  • Acne targeted: whiteheads, blackheads, inflammatory blemishes
  • Skin type: all skin types
  • Standout ingredients: hydrocolloid (that’s it!)
  • Pros: easy to peel, simple ingredients
  • Cons: don’t contain any other anti-acne or hydrating ingredients

This popular patch uses the main acne patch ingredient we’ve pointed out — hydrocolloid — to grab the gunk out of your blemish.

The brand says these are UV sterilized, and they come in easy-to-peel perforated sheets. They’re simple AF (the only ingredient is hydrocolloid) and should work for all skin types. But if you’re looking for an acne patch with a power boost from other ingredients, this ain’t it.

Google reviewers are happy campers — one even says these are better than the COSRX patches. But one reviewer with sensitive skin says they had a reaction, which could be because these patches don’t contain any soothing ingredients.

Best acne patches for dark spots

Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Micropoint for Dark Spots

  • Price: $$
  • Count: 6 patches
  • Acne targeted: post-acne dark spots and hyperpigmentation
  • Skin type: all skin types
  • Standout ingredients: tranexamic acid, niacinamide, vitamin C, glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid
  • Pros: contain powerful anti-acne and anti-dark-spot ingredients
  • Cons: only 6 patches per package

These guys are considered post-blemish patches, which aim to help with the marks acne can leave behind.

These have tiny little microneedles that help the ingredients absorb deeper into your skin (don’t worry, tho — they’re not literally needles, so they don’t hurt). The brand says the needles dissolve as you wear the patch.

Wood likes this pick because it contains tranexamic acid, which, as we mentioned, can be helpful for those who are prone to hyperpigmentation. Wood adds that it’s also beneficial for preventing and treating dark spots — especially in people with darker skin tones.

We love that it also includes extra dark-spot-fighting ingredients like niacinamide, vitamin C, and glycolic acid — an alpha hydroxy acid that helps exfoliate dead skin cells to reveal brighter, smoother skin.

Best acne patches for preventing hyperpigmentation

ZitSticka HYPERFADE Dark Spot Microdart Patch

  • Price: $$$
  • Count: 12 patches
  • Acne targeted: post-acne dark spots and hyperpigmentation
  • Skin type: all skin types
  • Standout ingredients: hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, niacinamide, tranexamic acid, kojic acid
  • Pros: contain powerful anti-acne and anti-dark-spot ingredients
  • Cons: a little pricey

Similar to Mighty Patch’s patches for dark marks, this pick is a patch with dissolving “microdarts,” which are designed to melt within 2 hours of application.

Wood points out that these patches contain a nice blend of tranexamic acid and kojic acid to help prevent hyperpigmentation. You’re supposed to stick one of these on once your zit is 100 percent gone to help prevent dark spots from forming.

We’re jazzed that they also have hyaluronic acid for moisture, niacinamide to soothe and reduce redness, and everyone’s fave, vitamin C, for a blast of brightening and antioxidant benefits.

These are also made without:

  • fragrance
  • gluten
  • animal byproducts
  • sulfates
  • phthalates
  • parabens

Best acne patches for deep blemishes

ZitSticka KILLA Kit Deep Zit Microdart Patch 8-Pack

  • Price: $$$
  • Count: 8 patches
  • Acne targeted: whiteheads, inflammatory blemishes
  • Skin type: normal, combo, and oily
  • Standout ingredients: salicylic acid, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid
  • Pros: come with towelettes to prep skin for application, fragrance-free
  • Cons: a little pricey

Wood is a fan of this blend of ingredients: salicylic acid to clear pore congestion, niacinamide to calm the skin, and hyaluronic acid to help retain moisture. The hyaluronic acid, she adds, is nice to offset the drying effects of salicylic acid.

These are supposed to be deep-divers — microdart patches for targeting those deep, hard-to-reach zits.

Another cool addition: These come with a pack of little towelettes that you use to prep the area for application. They contain more salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and vitamin E. But the towelettes do contain alcohol, which can be drying for some peeps.

As with the other patches on our list by ZitSticka, we appreciate that these are fragrance-free and also free of:

  • animal byproducts
  • gluten
  • phthalates
  • sulfates
  • parabens

Best acne patches for under makeup

Peach & Lily Peach Slices Acne Spot Dots

  • Price: $
  • Count: 30 patches
  • Acne targeted: whiteheads, inflammatory blemishes
  • Skin type: all skin types
  • Standout ingredients: hydrocolloid
  • Pros: 3 patch sizes per package, affordable
  • Cons: don’t contain any other anti-acne or hydrating ingredients

Looking for some patches you can snag at the drugstore and stash under makeup? These should do it!

These patches are on the thin side and should be translucent enough to disguise under your fully done-up face. The low price tag has us pretty shook, too, especially since there are 30 stickers in the package.

More perks: These have no sulfates, fragrances, alcohol, formaldehyde, dyes or colorants, parabens, mineral oils, silicones… the list goes on.

They’re also gluten-free, vegan, and cruelty-free (Leaping Bunny certified!). These contain only hydrocolloid, so if you’re looking for a mix of skin-happy ingredients, this is not your best bet.

Best non-hydrocolloid acne patches

Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots

  • Price: $$$
  • Count: 72 patches
  • Acne targeted: whiteheads, blackheads, inflammatory blemishes
  • Skin type: normal, oily
  • Standout ingredients: salicylic acid, tea tree oil, hyaluronic acid
  • Pros: a lot of patches per package
  • Cons: pricey, contain alcohol

This high end option includes the all-stars we’ve been gushing over: salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and hyaluronic acid.

They are admittedly more expensive than others on this list, but to be fair, the package includes 72 dots, and that’s a lot more than the other guys.

Salicylic acid and tea tree oil go to town on your pimples while hyaluronic acid hydrates and offsets potential irritation from the acne-fighting ingredients.

Two callouts: Hydrocolloid does not make an appearance in these patches, so you might not get that super satisfying gunk spot when you take one off. And they contain alcohol, which can be irritating for sensitive and dry skin types.

Most Google reviewers sing the praises of these patches, but some say they didn’t see results for their blemishes. Also, some report that the patches don’t stay on so well.

Cutest acne patches

Starface Hydro-Stars

  • Price: $$
  • Count: 32 patches
  • Acne targeted: whiteheads, inflammatory blemishes
  • Skin type: all skin types
  • Standout ingredients: hydrocolloid
  • Pros: cute, carrying case included
  • Cons: don’t contain any other anti-acne or hydrating ingredients

These Insta-friendly patches (actual cute little stars!) use just hydrocolloid to help soak up fluid, lower inflammation, and shrink zits overnight.

Most Google reviewers love ’em, but some point out that these don’t work for their skin type or that they’ve tried better stickers.

These patches are vegan and cruelty-free. And they come in a fab little carrying case, which doesn’t hurt.

Best acne patches for sensitive skin

Dr. Jart+ Focuspot Blemish Micro Tip Patch

  • Price: $$
  • Count: 6 patches
  • Acne targeted: whiteheads, inflammatory blemishes
  • Skin type: all skin types — including sensitive
  • Standout ingredients: hyaluronic acid, trehalose, clitoria ternatea flower extract, niacinamide, curcumin
  • Pros: work well for sensitive skin
  • Cons: not many patches per package

These patches are all about that niacinamide to clear up acne, moisturize, and brighten up dark spots. They also have hyaluronic acid for a big dose of hydration and curcumin to calm down inflammation. This combo of ingredients should jibe well with sensitive skin.

They also use 65 percent hyaluronic acid “micro tips” (self-dissolving) that are filled with niacinamide and peptides (hello, collagen perks!).

We admit they could give ya more patches per package, though.

Best drugstore acne patch

Rael Beauty Miracle Patch Microcrystal Spot Cover

  • Price: $$
  • Count: 48 patches
  • Acne targeted: whiteheads, inflammatory blemishes
  • Skin type: all skin types, sensitive
  • Standout ingredients: tea tree leaf oil, succinic acid, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, willow bark extract
  • Pros: a lot of patches per package
  • Cons: limited sizing

If you’re trying to calm your skin TF down, consider these gentle, soothing patches.

The main fighters here are tea tree leaf oil and succinic acid, an anti-inflammatory ingredient that can help reduce acne. The addition of willow bark extract gives these an extra soothing (and pain relieving) boost. Top it off with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin and these are hella ideal for inflamed skin.

Reviewers with painful pimples say these make a huge difference — and quickly too!

The best part? These are available at Walgreens. 🙂

Best waterproof acne patches

Neogen Dermalogy A-Clear Soothing Clear Spot Patch

  • Price: $
  • Count: 24 patches
  • Acne targeted: whiteheads, inflammatory blemishes
  • Skin type: normal
  • Standout ingredients: hydrocolloid
  • Pros: waterproof, fragrance-free
  • Cons: don’t contain any other anti-acne or hydrating ingredients

Here’s another Korean patch pick that’s fragrance-free and waterproof.

Although these don’t have thousands of Google reviews (yet), most are positive. One reviewer calls them discreet and effective.

We appreciate that the package includes two sizes. Plus, the brand says the edges on these patches are designed to be extra-secure.

Guess what else? They’re also free of:

  • artificial fragrance and colors
  • parabens
  • sulfates
  • animal products
  • alcohol
  • mineral oil
  • essential oils
  • silicone

Best almost-invisible acne patches

The Klog Soft Shield Pimple Patch

  • Price: $
  • Count: 42 patches
  • Acne targeted: whiteheads, inflammatory blemishes
  • Skin type: all skin types
  • Standout ingredients: hydrocolloid
  • Pros: nice price, nearly undetectable
  • Cons: don’t contain any other anti-acne or hydrating ingredients

These Korean patches are supposed to be practically invisible.

They’re also vegan, non-drying, and made of hydrocolloid (and only hydrocolloid). They’re created with fancy edges meant to give you a snug feel — these babies aren’t going anywhere.

The affordable price point and number of patches per package are good by us too.

Psst… These are also one of Soko Glam’s bestselling items.

Wood says to think of acne patches as a special bandage to help open wounds heal faster.

“They are also helpful if you find yourself picking at your acne. Picking can lead to scarring, which can be difficult to treat,” she says. “If you are tempted to squeeze your pimples, simply place a patch over the pimple to help remind yourself not to pick.”

We know this is easier said than done, but we have to admit that stickers *do* help us avoid the temptation.

Acne patches also absorb excess fluid around the acne lesions and help decrease UV exposure, which can help prevent pesky post-acne hyperpigmentation.

Wood says acne patches can be helpful for the occasional unwanted pimple — but if your acne is not well controlled, it’s probs best to see a board certified dermatologist to talk about a customized treatment plan for your acne.

You can place acne patches either morning or night. Wood suggests leaving the patch on for 6 to 8 hours. She says, “I recommend applying after the skin is cleansed and is fully dry — acne patches do not stick to wet skin.” Good point.

She says to apply moisturizer to the surrounding skin after the patch is applied, since moisturizers can prevent the patch from sticking.

We also want you to patch test, bb. Before using any new-to-you product, like an acne patch, it’s best to test it for any allergic reactions or irritation that may pop up for your skin type.

So, before you stick one of these guys right in the middle of your forehead, hoping to blast away a zit, test it out on your inner wrist to avoid the possibility of a big ol’ mess later.

Do dermatologists recommend pimples patches?

Both of our derms agree they work. Goldstein explains that they work to speed up healing, and Wood adds that they’re best for open pustules and papules. But if you have consistent breakouts, you should see a derm or go for a more effective routine for your acne type.

Do acne patches work on all types of acne?

According to Wood, they do not work well for lesions that are not open. Goldstein explains that deeper nodules and cystic lesions are unlikely to respond to this more superficial intervention.

When should I not use acne patches?

Wood says patches are pretty harmless overall, but if you have sensitive skin, you might have a reaction to the adhesive on the patch. Goldstein adds that if a lesion is actually an infection and not acne, a patch could make the infection worse.

If you’re unsure if what you’re lookin’ at is actually acne, make an appointment with a derm.

Acne patches are tiny little stickers that help speed up healing and prevent you from picking away at your pimple.

They don’t work for every acne type, though (read: unopened kinds), and they shouldn’t be considered a full-blown treatment plan for consistent acne.

But if you’re dealing with an occasional blemish, it’s pretty harmless (and fun) to patch it up, baby!

Our process and why you should trust us

We consulted with two dermatologists to get tips for choosing the best acne patches for different skin types and concerns. We used those tips to pick the products above.

Before writing about those products, we put them all through a thorough vetting process that checks for unsupported health claims (like “This acne patch gets rid of pimples in 10 minutes!”), shady business practices, and lawsuits concerning a company’s products. We also checked that the main ingredients in each product are evidence-based and actually do what the company says they do.

After wrapping up our recommendations and tips, we sent this entire article to a third medical professional specializing in dermatology (in this case, Clare Wightman MS, PAC) for review.

So basically, you can feel good knowing that we put in WORK to get you these recommendations.