Ask Grace: How Do Spot Patches Work?

Hey Grace,

I’m in my late teens and have sensitive skin and quite bad acne, so pretty much constant breakouts including cystic acne and blind pimples – all of which leave behind scarring. My favourite spot treatment has just been discontinued, but a friend recently recommended I try using spot patches. The only thing is, I don’t really understand how they work, and if they actually work! What is your opinion?


I totally get it, these tiny stickers may look like they don’t have the power to defeat your biggest pimples, but spot patches one of the best ways to get rid of unexpected and untimely breakouts, fast. Best applied to surface level spots or spots that have already come to a head and broken through the skin, they take a multi-pronged approach to breakout-busting. They simultaneously absorb fluid from the spot, creats a safe environment for healing (by keeping bacteria out), and in some cases can even infuse skin with spot-clearing ingredients. 

A gentle alternative to drying spot treatments, patches won’t leave your skin red and flaky (so they’re ideal for sensitive skin) – and most can be worn stealthily during the day or under makeup. They’re essentially tiny plasters made with hydrocolloid, a gel film which absorbs pus from the spot. You’ll see it working when the patch starts to expand and turn white – after a few hours, the skin where the spot was will be flat and unmarked. Some patches contain microdarts which dissolve ingredients like salicylic acid into the skin – these ones can be great on cystic, under-the-skin spots that haven’t come to a head or broken through the skin.

In addition, spot patches have the added benefit of forming a protective barrier which shields skin from external aggressors like bacteria, pollution, or picking fingers (guilty!) – all of which cause inflammation and prevent skin from healing properly (which leads to scarring). I’m acne-prone myself, and spot patches have honestly changed my life – I don’t go anywhere without a backup pack in my bag.

Here are some of my favourite spot patches to clear breakouts quickly. 

Try these...

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