Last July, I compared five different Korean anti-blemish patches. My main goal was to find something that could cheaply cover pimples overnight. At that point I wrote:
I think patches are the best thing you can possibly use to treat existing acne–at certain stages. I find that there are four stages at which patches help: when you have a blemish that’s 75% of the way to forming a whitehead; when you have a blemish that’s a whitehead but it’s not open; when you’re coaxing an open blemish of any kind to drain entirely; and when a blemish is essentially an open wound that has yet to heal. They seem to help with whitehead formation without causing skin trauma, encouraging whiteheads to open without irritating the surrounding skin, helping blemishes to stay open and drain themselves of all pus and other stuff that’s in there, and then keep the skin moist and protected as it heals. Aside from this, patches will likely do very little to help your skin unless you have a problem with picking and need a physical barrier to keep your paws and claws off your blemish.
The technology behind these patches comes from medical wound care. When patients have open wounds in hospitals and at home they sometimes have a skin-like hydrocolloid bandage applied that gently encourages their skin to heal while protecting the open flesh from additional trauma and bacteria n’ stuff. That’s basically what these patches are: they’re wound care in circular form. I think that a philosophical shift to thinking of open acne blemishes as general skin wounds rather than face-specific phenomena can make a big difference in how one treats it. If you wouldn’t pick at a gash on your leg while it’s healing or put alcohol on it why would you do that to your healing face skin?
Since publishing that review, I’ve had a lot of people ask about higher end patches–something more like Nexcare’s hydrocolloid patches. I tried Nexcare patches, but I didn’t like them as much as my new favorite, Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch.
The difference between the grades of blemish patches? A whole damn lot. A higher-end sheet of patches may cost something like 10 times as much as the A’pieu patches that took the crown in my comparison, but good ones also have the ability to suck a whole lot of stuff out of blemishes and in some cases flatten them overnight. Think of money as sucking power–invest it correctly and you’re going to harvest a lot of nasty zit fluid.
In February I ordered a set of ten Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch sheets after being favorably impressed with a sample I received with a previous Wishtrend order. In a state of panic due to my dwindling supplies (I was forced to write this review because I’m down to my last sheet!) I just placed an order for ten more sheets. That’s how good these patches are: even at about ten times the cost of the cheaper patches sitting in my supplies already, I’ll race to make sure that I have these on hand. I literally just spent $25.30 plus shipping on acne patches. I think that’s worth it because they’re the difference between bumpy, irritated skin and smooth, healing skin in some cases.
That’s not to say that I don’t have issues with the patches. The nine large patches are great for helping to coax open and flatten even cystic blemishes if one gets lucky (sometimes cystic acne just refuses to do anything). The five medium patches are very good for average zits. The ten small discs are virtually worthless if you have seriously troubled skin like mine. Now that I’m purging and dealing with some smaller blemishes (dragged to the surface before they get nasty) the smaller patches are not as much of a waste, but I find that they like to unstick themselves and end up in my sheets, hair, etc. Not cool, man.
The packaging of the patches is serious. The outer envelope has a ziplock-style seal to keep the patches protected. Then there’s the inner protection: a clear sheet of plastic over the patches with the whole thing wrapped in a sealed–well, you get the idea, let’s not feed the packaging fetish monster–it’s a lot of protection. On one hand, I’m not really down with packaging for the sake of packaging and I haven’t seen a loss of performance when I inevitably stored my patches outside of their cozy nest. On the other hand, perhaps due to the packaging, perhaps due to the freshness, and perhaps due to Wishtrend’s management of their storage facilities (meaning good climate control–that really matters when it comes to skincare, honestly) these patches were really high quality. They avoided the issue I had with the Nexcare patches, which was the adhesive bleeding out to the edges, making them too sticky in the wrong areas and attracting a lot of fuzz from my pillow. That may not sound like a horrible thing, but when you’re trying to pamper your precious, wounded skin, scrubbing off rings of black fuzz in the morning (my sheets are black) isn’t a happy thing.
This is a macro shot of a used patch. The patch has picked up some of the random fuzz, but there’s no ring of black fuzz that would indicate that the adhesive has been sloppily applied or has sort of melted and reformed after production.
The adhesive in general is perfect–it offers the right amount of stick for the medium and large patches so that they don’t escape in the night while still allowing me to remove the patches without pain and pulling.
The slightly whiter bump in the center of the patch is literally stuff from my blemish, trapped by the patch material. Gross. Also, awesome. When a patch doesn’t do anything to a blemish it continues to look uniform in color and thickness; when it is flooded with the inner gross stuff from a blemish the whole patch can turn white and swell with liquid. Ideally, the size and severity of one’s blemish will align with the right-size patch to create a nice, neat bump like this.
If I had to offer a suggestion for improvement of this product it would be to sell two different packages of patches: one that’s all the small patches that I don’t need and one that’s a mix of large and medium patches. People with skin like mine will rarely be able to use the small patches while people with only the occasional, small blemish really don’t need the monster patches. Right now, the assortment isn’t disastrous, but it does mean that I’m only using a portion of the patches effectively. Better yet, make fewer small patches, but make them a bit larger so they don’t sneak off as easily. Bigger patches = more space for the adhesive to stick on one’s skin without being unstuck by zit fluids.
Despite that suggestion, I’m of the opinion that if you 1) have skin and 2) get blemishes even occasionally you should give these a try. They’re the blemish whisperer one needs in times of skin trouble.
Where to buy
A miracle has happened: KoreaDepart now sells these patches (and other Cosrx products). Before KoreaDepart listed these patches last week, the best place to pick them up was on Wishtrend in a pack of 10, but I always struggle to hit Wishtrend’s free shipping minimum. eBay also has them for sale, but the prices are prohibitive since they often include the cost of shipping a single sheet. I find Amazon‘s prices for these to be something of a joke.
A quick thing to note: when a sale listing says “24ea” that means 24 patches–24 little discs, not 24 sheets.
I grabbed my latest patches along with a bunch of other things from KoreaDepart, but Wishtrend clearly has good prices on these (especially since they’re having a Cosrx sale at the moment). If you’re new to Wishtrend you can get $5 off a future order (after the first one, I believe) by using my referral link (enter code 013009409 when registering if the link isn’t working right). You can use code WISHMAY2015 to take 10% off an order of $55 or more plus you can also use code WISHGIFTMAY2015 to get a free Berrisom animal face sheet mask. If you’re reading this review in June or later I recommend just updating the codes to see if they work–it’s not like Wishtrend gets super creative with the new codes each month. ahaha
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