Hydrocolloid Bandages, a.k.a. Acne Stickers, Are My Secret to Zapping Zits Overnight

Picture this: a pimple just popped up smack dab in the middle of your forehead a day before your best friend’s wedding. (Of course, she’s planned a slicked back ponytail for the occasion.) What do you do? Sure, you can pick up some Mario Badesco Drying Lotion. That pink stuff worked when you were going through puberty, so it will do the trick now. However, as it quickly shrinks your pimple, it might dry your skin out, too. No thank you. The last thing you want right now on top of a red spot is a flaky spot. If you ask Allure editors how they would solve this predicament, they’d say, “I would use hydrocolloid bandages.”

In the past, you might have stuck hydrocolloid bandages onto blisters after trying to break in some new heels. They’re those gel-textured bandages that keep you from popping blisters and help them heal faster. The same goes for the hydrocolloid bandages specifically designed for acne. Instead of strips, K-beauty brands like Peach & Lily and Cosrx have round ones that you can stick right over your problem spots. Then, “the hydrocolloid bandage will absorb fluid from the pimple,” Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City and assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, explains. After a couple hours, you peel it off to reveal flat, zit-free skin — no dryness included. They are that effective.


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Personally, I love hydrocolloid bandages because they keep me from picking at my face, a bad habit that I’m slightly ashamed to admit. However, Elizabeth Tanzi, the founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and associate clinical professor in department of dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center, backs me up on this. Compared to standard spot treatments, she tells Allure, “Hydrocolloid bandages have the added benefit of blocking you from picking the pimple…and that’s a good thing.” Why? “Picking a pimple increases the inflammation and can slow the healing process down,” Tanzi adds.

With this in mind, whenever I’m sitting in bed watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and feel the urge to touch my face, I slap one of these suckers on. Suckers is the operative word here because they really do suck the puss out of pimples. You can see it after a couple hours when the clear, flat bandage turns an off-white color and fattens up a bit. It’s simultaneously gross and great. TBH when it turns completely white, I feel a strange sense of pride and accomplishment.


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Because hydrocolloid bandages are clear for a bit, you can wear them during the day. Allure editors have been known to run errands with one or two on their faces. If you feel self conscious about it, you can apply makeup over them and not disturb the magical healing process. I like to wear them at night, though. The bandages are sticky enough to stay in place no matter how much tossing and turning I do. In the morning, I can walk to the kitchen to fix breakfast, and my roommates have yet to point out anything weird going on on my face.

Convinced you need hydrocolloid bandages on standby now? My favorite ones to use are the Nexcare Acne Absorbing Covers. Sadly, they can about as hard to find as Puma by Rihanna Creepers. Luckily, Peach & Lily and Cosrx, as mentioned, have $5 ones that you can easily shop at CVS and Forever 21, respectively. And if you feel like splurging, there’s the $30 Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots.

More on quick pimple remedies:

  1. This Drugstore Moisturizer May Be the Secret to Clearing Cystic Acne — But There’s a Catch
  2. This Is an Actual Dermatologist’s Opinion on Semen as an Acne Treatment
  3. Reddit Users Claim a Very Surprising Drink Got Rid of Their Acne

Now, watch a comedian review other weird beauty products:

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