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Remember the days of pasty, white liquid spot treatments? Or perhaps more importantly (or traumatically, depending on your outlook), forgoing a glance in the mirror only to hurriedly enter Starbucks with a dried-up and flaking smear of white across your face? Exact or similar scenarios have happened to us more times than we can count, and even after clear gel formulations began to make their way into our acne emergency kits, we still had issues. Not only do liquid and gel spot formulas have difficulty penetrating a frustrating pimple infestation (since they solely sit lightly atop a blemish), but they're also quick to slide off our faces—be it on our pillowcase or during a late-night yoga class.
Luckily for us and our impromptu date-night pimples, however, the skincare industry has come up with a brilliant antidote over the past few years: pint-size patches that dutifully adhere to our skin, simultaneously pushing acne-busting ingredients into an angry and infected pore while protecting said pore against outside exacerbators (like bacteria or a stray finger fighting that inevitable temptation to pick or pop). As with all skincare products though, some acne patches are better than others, so we readied our pimples, rolled up our sleeves, and did the dirty work for you to find the best of the best.
Keep scrolling for the best acne patches your favorite retailers have to offer.
Best Overall: COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch
A must-have from the K-beauty world, these affordable acne patches from CosRx are some of the best when it comes to a super-stubborn bump. Each pack comes equipped with three different-size patches and infection-fighting ingredients that tackle whiteheads, blackheads, and open cysts in one fell swoop. Plus, they're designed to stay put—even in the shower if you so choose!
Best for Scarring: Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Original
An A+ solution for all skin types, these classic patches pack a lot of punch when it comes to battling breakouts. They're the perfect pre-bedtime pimple antidote, skillfully extracting pores of impurities and expediting healing time to help prevent future breakouts and scarring.
Best Drugstore: Peach Slices Acne Spot Dots
Not only do these handy patches come in multiple sizes (a necessity when it comes to random breakouts), but they're also thin and translucent enough to be worn with makeup. They're incredibly fast-acting, too—so a zit won't stand a chance whether it's already settled in or is simply on the cusp.
Best With Salicylic Acid: Peace Out Skincare Peace Out Acne Healing Dots
These handy dots are one of the best patchy acne treatments for multiple reasons. They're strategically infused with salicylic acid in addition to vitamin A and aloe vera, which together help soothe, treat, and prevent acne simultaneously. Plus, hydrocolloid technology extracts infection while protecting the surface layer of a blemish from outside bacteria and acne-causing perpetrators—picking included!
Runner-Up, Best With Salicylic Acid: Skyn Iceland Blemish Dots with Salicylic Acid
Specifically designed to shrink and banish blemishes while soothing any irritation, these handy acne patches from Skyn Iceland are one of the best for absorbing oil and ensuring the bacteria in a breakout doesn't spread to other areas of the face. They're translucent and enriched with pimple-busting ingredients like salicylic acid and tea tree oil.
Best for Stubborn Breakouts: ZitSticka KILLA Kit
Not all pimples are created equal, nor are all the pimples patches. These patches use ZitSticka's signature microdart technology to target deep blemishes in their early stages. The self-dissolving darts release clearing ingredients that prevent spots from getting any larger.
Best Budget: Miss Spa Clear Blemish Patches
For just a few bucks, oil- and bacteria-absorbing volcanic ash, inflammation-fighting tea tree oil, and infection-fighting salicylic acid will stop breakouts in a flash. You'll get two strips with 12 dots each.
Volcanic ash is rich in minerals and has antiseptic, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. It prevents signs of aging, removes dead skin cells, and restores elasticity.
Best Splurge: Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots
Ample moisture—despite what many may think—is essential for maintaining healthy skin even if your complexion has fallen victim to a frustrating nesting of bumps. These patches boast hyaluronic acid to make sure the skin stays hydrated while nixing acne.
Most Popular: Starface Hydro-Stars
You've probably seen these little stars all over Instagram. Not only are these hydrocolloid pimple-protectors super cute, but they're also great at absorbing fluid and protecting your spots from bacteria. Keep your skin protected and prevent yourself from picking with these little starts.
Best Overnight: Clearasil Ultra Overnight Spot Patches
Straight from the most iconic acne-fighting brand in the realm of skincare, these overnight acne patches create an un-ideal environment for acne to flourish. All you have to do is pop one on before hitting the sheets at night, and you'll wake up significantly less inflamed. Plus, these won't dry out your skin.
Best Value: Nexcare Acne Absorbing Cover
These lesser-known acne patches just might be the best money can buy. They're gentle yet mighty and help to absorb bacteria, oil, and other sneaky blemish-inducers. You can wear them at night, but since they're transparent, they're also remarkably suitable for daytime wear as well.
Most Fun: Squish. Flower Power Acne Patches
Most of the time, we talk about acne in a negative way; these patches, however, make the entire process of getting a pimple much more fun. Pop one of these flower-shaped hydrocolloid patches on a breakout and let it protect your skin and help your blemish heal.