As a teenager I had totally clear skin - not a spot in sight - so it seems extra cruel that at 31 years old, I'm plagued by pimples. I've tried all sorts of lotions and potions to banish them and most recently I've been dabbling in pimple patches, which are especially great if you want to isolate a spot under your mask.
I'm not the only one – skincare oracle Caroline Hirons appeared on ITV's This Morning this week and sang the praises of pimple patches. In a segment on skincare for freshers at university, Caroline told presenters Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield that the Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch , £5.95 for 24 patches, are the perfect product for 'big zits that just won’t shift."
"These spot stickers from Cosrx are great," she continued, and just like that, Google searches soared by 140 per cent following her recommendation, so be quick if you want to snap them up.
Image: ITV This Morning
What are pimple patches made of?
These little miracle workers are thin patches made from hydrocolloid that adhere to the skin, sealing the spot to protect it from bacteria and dirt while maintaining the moisture level inside. Hydrocolloid is traditionally a substance used in surgical dressings, but it's also proven to accelerate spot healing time.
How do pimple patches work?
Once the spot is quarantined under the patch, the hydrocolloid material draws out pimple-forming fluids and puss (sorry), blocking outside bacteria entering while working like a scab to retain healing fluids and preventing you from touching your spots (if the coronavirus has taught us anything it's not to touch our faces.)
When do you wear pimple patches?
Pimple patches should be applied on clean skin, directly over your spot. You can wear them day or night - they stay on in the shower and the more discreet designs can even go under makeup, protecting your pores from being clogged with foundation etc.
I started wearing the patches in the office when nobody else was in, but ended up forgetting I had them on and rocked up to my evening gym class in them - nobody noticed (or mentioned) them though, so they really do blend in.
How do you know when to take the patch off?
All of the pimple patches say they should be worn for different time, but the general consensus is when the dot has turned opaque white, rather than translucent it's good to take off.
The best pimple patches
Wearing these makes you feel like you've got a real life Instagram filter on. Granted, they're not as subtle as some of the other spot patches out there, but sometimes you need something to brighten your day when you're plagued with pimples. The brand was co-founded by Julie Schott, former beauty director at Elle.com, so she knows her stuff when it comes to battling problem skin. These jazzy patches coming in a cute yellow box that looks like it would house AirPods.
The original patches are yellow but there are also limited edition rainbow ones , if you can get your hands on them. I almost wished I had more spots so I could wear them all.
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Don't be fooled by these virtually invisible patches, they work hard to decongest and soothe your problem areas with a combination of salicylic acid and Sarah Chapman's P-Refinyl which reduces excess sebum production. Vitamin C is in the mix too to discourage dark marks and grade seed and soy oils to balance moisture levels.
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These patches are the ones with the Caroline Hirons seal of approval. "Coming in a pack of 26, you get three different sizes; small, medium, and as I call it the 'monthly whopper'. To treat the spot simply peel the sticker off the sheet, and put them directly on your skin."
What these patches lack in Instagrammability they more than make up for in value. When they first launched on Beauty Bay they sold out in one day and had to ship over thousands of packs from the South Korean HQ to satisfy the 4,000 strong waiting list.
They break down debris from blackheads, while absorbed the gunk from whiteheads as well as helping to flatten and heal cystic acne. Apply the patch, and after eight to ten hours it'll turn white (because it's absorbed puss and impurities).
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These were the first spot patches I tried - the ones I accidentally wore to the gym, they're that subtle. The founder Sarah had a similar story to me, only getting acne when she hit her thirties. She was in Asia when she noticed people wearing spot patches so she stocked up and created her own acne patches using the same hydrocolloid technology when she got home to the UK. These patches work best for spots that have come to a head and are ready to pop.
Beauty Bay's blemish patches are such great value, it's no surprise they're consistently sold out. While I haven't tried these yet (grrr) I've been consistently impressed by Beauty Bay's own brand skincare (particularly the jelly cleanser ). These dots promise to draw pus from developing blemishes as well as reducing the size of already present spots.
These come in both small and size, and should be left on for a minimum of two hours, ideally over night. These ones aren't suitable for cystic acne.
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Do these remind anyone else of those little metal twists we wore in our hair in the late '90s? They're designed to be worn over whiteheads during the night, but they're a bit too lovely to waste when we're going to bed, don't you think? Squish is known for creating Insta-friendly skincare - we reviewed the cherry cheek and eye patches last year , and these are just as appealing - especially the gem stud. Who doesn't love something a little bit extra?
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These were the first zit stickers that burst onto the scene and have a bit more to them than hydrocolloid - they also have salicylic acid and niacinamide too to calm the spot and hyaluronic to renew the appearance of the skin. (reflected in the price). These are designed for early-stage and newfound spots, they sound the most aggressive of all the patches. Each sticker has tiny micro darts that dissolve and target the ingredient deep into the blemish.
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MORE GLOSS: How to tell if your skin is breaking out or purging