Like a lot of people, my gateway to pimple patches was CosRX's Acne Pimple Master Patch, a set of hydrocolloid stickers that extract the nasty stuff (they call them "impurities") from blemishes. It felt like a miracle product. I had always picked at my face, and here was a patch that not only saved me from myself, but also healed even my worst blemishes practically overnight. That said, as more patches came onto the market, I questioned whether my old faithful was truly the best option. A quick Google search didn't help me much, so I decided to break out on my own and test the most popular brands I found recommended online and by friends, and I found that there's actually a lot of variety!
At their most basic, acne patches are a fancy, repackaged version of the same breathable material used on wounds, but there are also those with Salicylic Acid, "microdarts," aloe, and even stars. For the past two months, I've been testing each of the patches below, effectively turning my bathroom counter (and face) into a testing ground for pimple patches—but it was worth it! While I expected to find a favorite one, I learned that there are different patches for different blemishes. Here are my favorites:
I didn't realize how bulky some pimple patches can be until comparing them side-by-side to Peter Thomas Roth's Acne-Clear Invisible Dots. While Jess is confident enough to wear her Peace Out Acne dots in public, I found them to be too thick and cloudy for outside-the-house, but would happily wear the Peter Thomas Roth dots anywhere. They are practically invisible and they work, thanks to the Salicylic Acid and Hyaluronic Acid in them.
Price per patch: $0.44
While Clearasil is probably the easiest option to find (it was the only acne patch I could find at Target) and totally works in a pinch, it's intense. The stickiness was far too strong for my face and actually tore my skin a bit when I removed it from my cheek after one evening. However, I did find them perfect for body acne, which I occasionally get on my back from working out. I've been placing them on back blemishes and changing them out as needed!
Price per patch: $ 0.50
While most pimple patches are best used on whiteheads and pimples just below the surface, Zitsticka and Dr.Jart's patches are formulated to target more stubborn, deeper acne. Luckily (?), I had a few hormonal cysts on my chin that were perfect for testing these on. Each patch has "microtips" which don't hurt, but deliver acne-fighting Hyaluronic Acid and vitamin B3, among other ingredients that vary from patch to patch, into the blemish.
These patches are significantly more expensive than other patches, and use so much more packaging (one Zitsticka patch uses two aluminum foil pouches, a swab, and a patch encased in even more plastic). As a result, I try to use them very sparingly, though they're good to have on hand for desperate moments.
While I like that Zitsticka's patches are part of a two-part system, with a Salicylic Acid and Tea Tree Oil wipe, followed by the patch, I found that it irritated my skin more than Dr.Jart's did, leaving it red.
Price per patch, Dr. Jart's: $3
Price per patch, Zitsticka: $3.66
CosRX's Acne Pimple Master Patch ($6 for 24 / $0.25 per patch): These are a great all-around patch and some of the most affordable of the options I tested, but they're also as basic as it gets (literally just hydrocolloid dressing!).
Peace Out Acne ($20 for 20 / $1 per patch): Some people swear by these patches, but I'm not sold on them. Like the Peter Thomas Roth patches, they include Salicylic Acid and aloe (though it's the last ingredient), but they're the thickest/most obvious of the patches I tested (if you care about that) and were the most expensive non-microdot patch I tested, which I definitely care about.
Alba Botanica Acnedote Pimple Patches ($8 for 40 / $.20 per patch): I love the idea of these. They use hydrocolloid dressing but also have tea tree oil, witch hazel, and other vegetable-derived ingredients. They're also latex-free and come in sliiightly more environmentally friendly packaging than the other options on this list (but let's be real—none of these are great for Mother Earth so please use them sparingly), but they left a sticky circle on my face that stuck around all day even after I washed my face.
Starface Pimple Patches ($22 for 32 / $0.68 per patch): These patches win for "most adorable," but they are, like CosRX, simply hydrocolloid patches. I do like that they have refills for the super-cute pack your first purchase comes with, but you're really just paying for the branding with these.
If you buy just one... Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots ($36 for 72 patches)