How do you solve a problem like a blemish? Well, if you’re among the 22% of women aged from 26 to 44 who suffer from acne, you’ve probably tried it all. In the era of mask-wearing and its hated sidekick, “maskne”, even those who have never previously suffered from problem skin are now enduring the kind of spots that a good face wash alone won’t tackle. It can be difficult to know where to start, but the acne patch is a good first port of call.
Just as we might swathe a wound in gauze, patch up a cut with a plaster, or soothe inflamed skin with a sheet mask, the job of the acne patch is to accelerate spot healing. As the name suggests, these are adhesive “patches” that use hydrocolloid technology to absorb toxins within the blemish, as well as create a moist environment for enhanced – and speedy – healing. “Hydrocolloid is a substance used in surgical dressings that’s proven to expedite zit healing a few different ways,” says Julie Schott, co-founder of Starface. “It not only protects pimples from outside bacteria, but absorbs fluid and reduces inflammation, which calms zits overnight.”
There is something oddly comforting about cosseting a spot with a patch, particularly when you know it’s working its magic while you sleep, or go about your day. Schott also points out that adorning an angry spot with one also helps mitigate the urge to pick and pop, a habit that can lead to further irritation and scarring.
“More than 95% of people have acne at some point in their lives,” says Schott. “It’s not the personal care failure that old school brands would lead us to believe; it’s often just a part of having skin. My own skin has always been reactive, temperamental and acneic, especially in my early 20s when I first started working as a beauty editor. I spent so much time researching and testing acne treatments because I felt horribly self-conscious about the way my skin looked, as many people with acne do,” Schott says of the series of events that planted the seeds for the Starface brand.
Accepting, and indeed embracing, the inevitability of spots is all part of the brand’s make up. In fact, they become almost welcome as an excuse to adorn your face with one of its Hydro-stars. They come in a smiley, starry-eyed, bright yellow box, and the patches themselves are actually stars. “They don’t only work to treat the pimples themselves, but re-programme the negative connotation around breakouts by giving spots a gold star. Just the simple act of putting on a star always makes me feel a bit better – it’s not about hiding, it’s about acceptance.”
Other brands are acting on this shift towards positivity too, with fun acne patches now officially a “thing”. Squish Beauty’s Flower Power Acne patches are brightly coloured flowers embellished with gem-stones, that treat spots while adding interest to a selfie. Meanwhile the tongue-in-cheek Dots for Spots aims to eradicate the stigma around acne with its easy-to-use, translucent sticker dots.
For stubborn blemishes, look no further than Zitsticka’s Killa patches, which use microdart technology. Tiny (non-painful) spikes which penetrate the spot, they deliver targeted ingredients (like exfoliating salicylic acid, healing niacinamide and hyaluronic acid) to its very core, ensuring the blemish makes its exit pronto. Then there are Sarah Chapman’s SOS Stickers, which harness the power of the best active ingredients – from salicylic acid to vitamin C and sebum-reducing p-Refinyl – to fight flare-ups overnight.