Also known as pimple patches, acne stickers make a travel-friendly replacement for messy spot treatments. “They're a great tool for active breakouts and can help to reduce oil, redness, and pigment changes as acne resolves,” says Kate Roach, regional spa manager for Equinox in New York City.
Stickers made of hydrocolloids (wound dressings that protect the skin as it heals and absorb excess fluid) can help treat pimples on their own, but some brands also include ingredients like salicylic acid to help remove excess oil and dry out breakouts, Zeichner explains.
While most acne stickers are intended to blend seamlessly into your skin (and can even be layered under makeup), Starface’s trendy, colorful, ‘hydro-stars’ are made to stand out. Starface is part of a new wave of acne acceptance that aims to dispel shame around breakouts.
There’s another benefit to using an acne patch: “Acne stickers or patches can help mitigate picking behavior, which usually causes more harm than good,” Zeichner explains. Keep a stash in your gym bag. "Using one while working out can help protect from further infection due to sweat and bacteria,” Roach says. Many pimple patches are designed to stay on even after you wash your face and shower post-workout, so you can continue to reap the acne-fighting benefits for the rest of the day (or night).
These patches use tiny, needle-like micro-darts to penetrate the top layers of the skin (similar to microneedling) and target certain areas with a particular active ingredient, explains Zeichner.
They create micro-channels in order to deliver ingredients that purport to brighten, like niacinamide, licorice extract, and vitamin C. They are designed to reduce dark spots and hyperpigmentation and even out skin tone, without the actual needles or downtime required by microneedling. These are largely recommended for overnight wear, but you can apply them in the locker room following an evening workout.
Anti-aging patches aim to target wrinkles through a combination of silicone and hyaluronic acid. Marketed as a ‘brow lift’ or ‘smile lift,' they provide a protective seal to enhance hydration and plump up the skin, filling in fine lines, explains Zeichner.
Like an under-eye patch, they can be used as a quick, 10-minute locker-room fix for dry or tired-looking skin post-workout. “After heavy sweating from exercise and the shower, the face can become dry and irritated. A patch can help soothe skin and enhance recovery,” Zeichner says.