The latest sticker wars have nothing to do with skate or surf culture. Instead, acne patches are emerging as the must-have skin stickers that even women who aren’t into beauty can get on board with.
Stateside the trend is positively exploding with new startups including Starface getting a serious amount of social media hype while original patches like COSRX are now cult buys.
All of this is hardly surprising considering the acne treatment market is growing exponentially and is expected to reach 7.35 billion dollars by 2025.
But acne patches have two things going for them that a cream simply doesn’t. For one, a lot of the patches are see-through, so you can see the drama unfold as it turns white while absorbing pus.
Two, they are part of the ‘pimple positivity’ movement. Acne patches not only de-stigmatise breakouts, they change how we feel about them. Which is to say they turn something confidence crushing into a fashion statement and fun for the Gram.
As if to prove the point, ZitSticka sells through upmarket website Net-A-Porter. Meanwhile, model Charli Howard‘s brand Squish Beauty brings together her advocacy for anti-body shaming with flower power acne patches.
And Starface appeals to the TikTok generation. Two of its most popular influencers, Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae, have been seen wearing the distinctive yellow star-shaped patches in their dance videos.
Here’s everything you need to know about stopping breakouts in their tracks…
What are acne patches?
Remember those plasters your dad would pop on his chin when he nicked himself shaving? Acne patches are not dissimilar to those. Just perhaps a more glamorous K-Beauty equivalent.
You whack the small, circular sticker on a spot after cleansing; leave it to work its magic overnight then simply peel it off the next morning to reveal flattened, redness-free skin where your spot once was.
Do acne patches work?
Yes, acne patches do work – and fast.
The majority are made of hydrocolloid, which is used in topical wound treatments, to draw out pus.
Icky-sounding, we know, but it makes sense when you think about it, says facialist Sarah Chapman. ‘Hydrocolloid patches are hygienic – they stick to your skin and create a shield from other irritants like daily dirt and pollution. Used on spots, they also calm redness and irritation, encouraging the skin to heal.’
Many patches also contain salicylic acid, which is known to be a formidable enemy for acne, explains skincare expert Teresa Tarmey: ‘Salicylic acid is lipophilic, meaning it can penetrate oily skin and works inside the pore to unclog it and regulate sebum secretion.’
Another bonus: you stop picking or popping your spots so there’s less chance of inflammation or scarring.
When should I remove my acne patches?
There’s a limit to how long you should wear them before they start to hurt the skin. Whether it’s overnight or during the day, you should always remove the patches before you hit the 12 hour mark.
Here’s our pick of the best acne patches for whenever your skin freaks out…
If your breakouts are hormonal, Starface offers a once monthly subscription. Or if they’re the result of seasonal changes, try having your acne patches delivered every three months.
Not only do these gem-studded flowers look cute, they tackle your spots without leaving the surrounding skin crispy and irritated.
Woke up with a deep, cystic shiner lurking under your skin? Each semi-transparent patch features 24 teeny darts that dispense ingredients beneath the skin’s surface. Think: moisture-magnet hyaluronic acid, exfoliating salicylic acid and antimicrobial oligopeptide-76 while also being a barrier against bacteria.
The perfect no-touch healing environment that stops scabs and scars from forming.
Perfect when you need an emergency skin fix. The stickers go on clear so remain completely invisible if you need to pop one on during the day and come in a handy mirrored wallet for on-the-go application. As soon as they hit your skin, salicylic acid and soy oils unclog pores while nutrient-rich grape seed encourages speedy healing.
Got every type of pimple going on? This three-piece kit caters for all its shapes and forms. Choose The Pimple Shrinking Salicylic Acid + Tea Tree Dots for regular pesky spots to nix redness and puffiness. The Whitehead-Absorbing Hydrocolloid Dots help extract impurities while The Blackhead-Eliminating Nose Strips contain a potent blend of charcoal and Moroccan lava clay to decongest pores.
Purse-friendly and effective? Win win. These K-beauty hydrocolloid circles come in three different sizes, depending on what kind of coverage you need, and work to extract the bacteria and other unspeakable gunk from your blackheads and spots. You can see them working, too, as they turn white while absorbing your blemish.
Fuss-free, minimalist and vegan-friendly cover-ups for when a chin squatter makes an unwelcome appearance.
Note: these acne patches aren’t made with hydrocolloid technology. Instead overnight transparent gel stickers cover a spot to allow a continuous flow of antibacterial blemish-fighters like tea tree oil and salicylic acid to calm inflammation while you get your ZZZs.