Pimples patches are a K-beauty staple when it comes to spot treating blemishes, but can you really plaster over a bad breakout? We play dot to dot on our face to find out

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Many a zany skincare idea has surfaced from South Korea  in these  glass skin  obsessed times: from ten step skincare routines to sheet masks for your cuticles , there’s no stopping K-beauty’s pursuit of the next in thing in skin, but one craze making its way to the West actually isn’t actually that novel or tech led. The humble pimple patch is essentially a hydrocolloid dressing that you apply to a spot to absorb pus and gunk and form a barrier over a raging blemish to protect it from further bacterial invasion and prevent you from picking at it or squeezing it, which in theory promotes healing. Some come pre-soaked with acne targeting ingredients such as salicylic acid  and benzoyl peroxide, while others are unmedicated, but both have been in use in Asia for over a decade.

Western brands have witnessed their pimple shrinking popularity and jumped on the acne patch bandwagon, but do they work? I put one recent US import that’s just launched in the UK to the test: the simple hydrocolloid Mighty Patch , with no chemical spot treatment added. Here’s what I learned…

Your spot needs to be ‘ripe’

Basically, if you’ve got a whitehead you’d like off the scene pronto, you’re good. The gel-backed bandage (made of hydrocolloid to improve adherence and prevent the skin from drying out) ‘sucks the pus’ (their words not mine) out of your spot, leaving it calmer, flatter and purged after six hours wear or more. You can see the blemish grime left behind, and it’s might satisfying if you’re a gross human like me.

An overnight whitehead eater may sound miraculous, and indeed it could be if you’ve got a big occasion, like, tomorrow,and need your whiteheads to calm it, but if you’ve got an ‘under the skin’ spot, red lesion that hasn’t come to a head, or indeed cystic acne , a hydrocolloid patch likely can’t help you, unless there’s a proven spot targeting ingredient involved. If there’s nothing for the patch to absorb, it’s won’t exterminate your acne, but it could prevent zits from further inflammation by way of forming a protective barrier if you’ve got a tendency to poke and pick.

They suit sensitive skin

If you’re trying to resist squeezing and know that your skin reacts badly to many a spot ointment, a Mighty Patch could be just the thing - it swallows up your spot fluid without risking further irritation, which in turn reduces your likelihood of scarring.

They’re subtle

If you’re envisioning a Mr Blobby situation post patch application, you’ll be pleasantly surprised- the Mighty Patch covers spots neatly and is transparent and low key- so much so that they didn’t show up in photos. As such, you won’t provide laughter fodder for partners, family or housemates, although I’d say that the company suggestion that you can wear them all day long with your patches remaining undetected is possibly going a bit far. A little concealer on top might do it, but you can see the edges a bit. Given the nature of the product, there as discreet as they could possibly be.

They’re handy

One box supplies 36 crutelty-free patches, so you can just whack one on when a whitehead springs up and go about your business/ go straight to bed (cleanse the area first). In that way, they’re quick, easy and won’t dry out your skin further, damage your skin barrier or involve a full facial. They easy to cart around and work overnight if applied to the right kind of blemish situation. Plus, they stay where they're put- I was expecting to see spot patch confetti on my pillow by morning, but they stuck firmly to their allocated pustules.

Before patch (with equally patchy end of day makeup remnants)

They’re not a long term solution

But then, you knew that. I tried them on a crop of spots that wasn’t quite ‘ready’, and while they made my skin feel smoother and less crusty, there wasn’t any reduction in redness or sore lump relief. I didn’t see the blackhead clarifying or breakout limiting effect that I’ve seen with the likes of strategically and regularly applied salicylic acid, but then again these are intended to act as a quick-fix for a particularly troublesome genre of spot, and in that regard, testers confirm that the patch fulfils its promise. One patch doesn’t fix all, but for gentle, night before firefighting, having a box of these in your bathroom could provide facial first aid when the need arises.