Acne stickers aka acne dots aka pimple patches aka hydrocolloid bandages are one of the acne community's little best kept secrets that you didn't know you needed- until now. You can spot treat a pimple all day without anyone knowing, have your skin look completely flawless, and still wear makeup during the treatment processes. They're ideal for big pimples, pustules, and especially hard under the skin bumps like cystic acne. That’s right, they work for cystic acne and we all know how stubborn those spots can be.
Hydrocolloid bandages are pretty much the bomb.com, and my go to for when a pesky pimple decides to rear its big ugly head during an important event where I NEED to look flawless (like my best friend's wedding for example). So, what makes them so magical and special? Aren't they just little Band-Aids? Not so fast my friend, hydrocolloid bandages work much, much differently than Band-Aids. And, not to mention, most pimple patches these days have added ingredients to unclog the pore like tea tree oil, salicylic acid, and aloe Vera.
what are hydrocolloid bandages?
Have you ever worn heels? If so you may be one of the many many women who have suffered from blisters and to treat these blisters you probably used a weird, thick, absorbent bandage. These, my friends, are hydrocolloid bandages.
Specifically speaking, hydrocolloid bandages have a surface that is treated with a gel-forming substance. They are opaque and adhere seamlessly to the skin, which is what makes it absolutely great for days where you want to wear makeup and also spot treat a pimple. When they come in contact with wounds, like opened pimples or cystic acne for example, they absorb the fluid and swell. They literally suck out all the gunk from the pimple, you can physically see it once the bandage has been removed and sometimes even when it's still intact. Pretty disgustingly cool (and addicting) stuff.
Hydrocolloid bandages are nontoxic and do not contain any irritating chemicals. However, be sure to check the ingredient label as some brands have added acne fighting additives that may be too harsh for sensitive skin.
benefits of pimple patches (hydrocolloid bandages)
- Prevents picking: With a bandage you've created a bacteria proof barrier between your hands and your pimple. You'll be unable to introduce new bacteria to the blemish and with a hands-off approach the pimple will heal much faster than if you were picking it every time a new scab formed.
- Sucks out all the "gunk": Yessssss, the most satisfying part. These bandages suck it alllll up. I'm talking puss, bacteria, oil, whatever is clogging your pore these bandages are going to literally pull the infection out of your skin. And the hands down best part? You can see it on the surface of the bandage in a nice little puss filled pocket!
- Minimal Disruption to healing: Because the bandage blocks bacteria and can be left on for a longer amount of time than a normal bandage (3-7 days) it creates the perfect environment for the fastest healing possible with little to no disruption. However, with an acne spot dot you may be tempted to change it out every night or every couple of nights to track your progress or clean the wound area (which is totally fine).
- Airtight against bacteria: The bandages are air tight against water, bacteria, and other elements that may disrupt the healing process or cause a deeper infection.
- Easy to apply: Simple as peeling one patch off of a sheet and sticking it to clean, dry skin. No fuss, no mixing, no messy application. And, when you're done you can just throw the sticker in the recycling bin.
my first acne patch
Back in 2015 before these acne dots were all the rage, I used to stick huge hydrocolloid bandages right smack dab in the middle of my face, so really, these little dots that blend into the rest of my makeup are a godsend. There are several different brands on amazon (of which I'm thinking about doing a comparison review) but for now the acne absorbing covers that I decided to test out are from the tried and true bandage brand Nexcare.
nexcare acne patch review
My first thought was that there wasn't very many in the box. They were $6.77 for a sheet of 36 stickers. For the price, I wish it came with a few sheets, maybe even 60 stickers? Considering you can get a whole box of hydrocolloid bandages for pretty cheap, I wasn't thrilled when I pulled out a single sheet of small dots. But hey, you're paying for the convenience of them being cut into perfectly sized circles I guess? I've only ever used the huge bandages on my face that typically leave red marks after you use them, so I can't complain!
I had a massive cystic spot pop up on my cheek right around that time of the month and I was dying to get some relief. I have been trying to avoid using chemicals on my face and thought this would be a good alternative to help it heal fast and work to prevent scarring. Luckily, I was right! After only one day the inflammation drastically reduced, after two it was completely flat. And, the best part is that I wore them all day and didn't even remember I had them on- that is until I went to go touch my pimple.
I didn't realize how much I did this until I started wearing the bandages, subconsciously touching it to make sure it was still there. The patch worked to keep out any new bacteria that was introduced from my hands and absorbed all of the infection beneath the surface simultaneously. Even with acne spot treatments I can be guilty of touching or picking at times so I couldn't really ask for a better duo.
The color is a little dark for my fair skin, it doesn't blend in seamlessly but it is barely noticeable and looks more "aesthetically pleasing" than a red inflamed pounding pus filled monster on your face. I ran errands all day; going to the grocery, post office, and even out to eat and no one said a thing about it or looked at me funny. Also, I personally felt like it looked good so it gave me more confidence. Because it doesn't leave your skin overly dry, protects it from outside irritants, and you can actually wear the patch in public without being side eyed- it's definitely got to be one of my new favorite spot treatments.
Now I'm addicted. I can't wait to try a few other brands and see how they hold up against the Nexcare Patch. If you have a favorite acne patch let me know in the comments below!