“Oh no!” a pimple is about to pop the night before a big day. To save you from any bumpy, reinfection or hyperpigmentation on your big day, get yourself hydrocolloid pimple patches! These pimple patches will help absorb the pus from your pimple and help your skin to recover. But wait, a lot of people has been using the product in the wrong way! Let us break down what it is, how it works and how to make the best out of your pimple patches.
What are acne patches?
Image Source: COSRX
Acne patches are made of hydrocolloid materials. These hydrocolloid bandages are commonly used in the medical field to help heal post-surgical wounds by speeding up the healing process. Coming from this idea, the beauty industry created small-sized patches made from the same hydrocolloid materials to help speed up acne healing process.
How does a Pimple Patch work?
Image Source: COSRX
Hydrocolloids have water-absorbing properties which can absorb the excess gunk or pus out of your pimple. At the same time, it also prevents further infection and creates a moisture barrier which is favorable for the healing process. It will leave you with less chance of post-inflammation hyperpigmentation as well.
Three basic function of hydrocolloid patches:
- Absorb excess moisture from your pimple
- Prevent infection
- Serve as moisture barrier to speed up recover and prevent formation of acne scars
At which stage of pimple should you use your hydrocolloid pimple patches?
Hydrocolloid acne pimple patches are created for the end-stage of your inflammatory pimple where you can observe the yellow pus (pustules) at the end of your pimple. This means that the inflammatory process has subsided and it only leaves you with the remaining debris and pus. Sooner or later, the top layer of your skin will eventually break and people usually refer to this as a pimple “pop”. However, when your pimple pops, it means that your pores are prone to re-infection. Reinfection causes more inflammation and indirectly increases the chance of scarring / hyperpigmentation. That’s why a pimple patch will help you cover it up, absorb the excess pus and protect them from the invasion of other acne-causing bacteria.
You can also put your hydrocolloid pimple patches on your whiteheads. It will help absorb excess sebum that are trapped under a pile of dead skin cells, although it is not an effective way to get rid of them since whiteheads most often comes in clusters in larger areas that can’t be covered by acne patches.
However, there is no point of applying hydrocolloid patches on a still inflamed, papule since it hasn’t come to the surface of your skin and there is nothing to be readily absorbed.
When to use it in your skincare routine?
This is where it gets a little tricky. A lot of people has been doing it wrong thus they haven’t seen much benefit from their acne patches. Pimple patches made with hydrocolloid materials are meant to be applied early on in your skincare routine. Make sure you apply them on cleansed and dry skin. Excess oil can actually reduce the adhesiveness of the pimple patches. Refrain from using your pimple patches on top or after layers of toner, essences or serum since it will make them less effective. Instead of absorbing the excess pus and debris from your pores, it will absorb the moisture from your product instead. Not only will you waste your pimple patches, but you will also most likely waste the product that you have put on your skin as well.
Librarian Tip: Use tweezers to take your pimple patches off from the packaging. This will prevent transferring the oils from your fingers to the pimple patches that will affect the adherence of it.
How long should you leave them on?
Image source: COSRX
It is best to leave your pimple patch overnight or around 8 – 12 hours for each patch. However, when your pimple patches have raised and turned cloudy, it means that it is time to replace them for a new one when you still observe remaining pus / water oozing out of your pimple. You can keep on reapplying your pimple patch until the wound is completely covered and a scab is formed. The scab will eventually fall off and your skin will completely heal soon.
Librarian Tip: Don’t leave your pimple patch on for too long (until it is wet and damp) since the adhesive materials will stick strongly to your skin resulting in a wound when you try to peel them off.
At Skin Library we have curated several types of pimple patches from COSRX which is the best-selling and one of the pioneers of pimple patches.
How to prevent the formation of acne in the first place and fade hyperpigmentation?
It is better to prevent than to treat. That’s why we will give you some tips and tricks on how to prevent acne in the first place:
Make sure you cleanse your face properly
Especially when you wear makeup regularly, make sure that you have removed everything off of your face every single night. When you don’t wash your face properly and leave makeup or dirt residue, it will form clogged pores (whiteheads).
Look for these actives
This will help remove the top layer of dead skin cells thus reduce the chance of comedone formation.
Or also called salicylic acid. It has an anti-bacterial, exfoliating and sebum controlling properties. It is one of the best ingredients for acne-prone skin to help prevent formation of whiteheads, blackheads as well as controlling acne.
Vitamin A or the royal in skincare is the perfect actives for acne prone skin for their tremendous benefits. It makes a great comedolytic due to its antibacterial and sebum controlling properties, it even fades hyperpigmentation.
Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
Sometimes, even with a pimple patch, hyperpigmentation may still be inevitable. If it happens, look for these ingredients that can help fade hyperpigmentation:
- AHA / BHA / PHA
- Licorice root extract
- Alpha arbutin
- Kojic acid
- Vitamin C / ascorbic acid
Takeaway: We know how hard it is to resist the urge to pop the pimples yourself, but with these pimple patches it can not only prevent reinfection, it can also help speed up the recovery process. Have you figured out which pimple patch best fits you? If you need any help with your acne skincare journey, don't fret #justaskthelibrarian.
- By Claudia Christin (@funskincare)
Seoul based Dermatology Post Graduate Student