This Viral Trend Has People Using Band-Aids On Breakouts & It’s Working

This Viral Trend Has People Using Band-Aids On Breakouts & It's Working

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December 16, 2020 — 23:07 PM

Another day, another TikTok beauty trend. Only this one has legs, unlike some of the more questionable videos glossed over my feed. (Looking at you, “sunscreen contouring.Shudder.

This time, users have been placing bandages on their pimples overnight and waking up to calm, clearer skin. Take this video from user May Sanders (it’s garnered 11.6 million views and counting): She secures a few band-aids over her face, cutting a couple in half to fit smaller areas, and leaves them on overnight. In the morning, she peels them off, et voilà—her blemishes have sufficiently shrunk in size. 

Seems too good to be true, no? We spoke with a derm to suss out the science: 

Do band-aids really work?

OK, you can’t fasten just any bandage on your skin and expect it to magically erase your blemish. Rather, these users swear by Hydro Seal bandages (or their household moniker, “blister band-aids”). These area actually no different from the acne stickers and patches you may find peppering the market—they are made of hydrocolloid, which absorbs excess fluid, like oil and pus, without drying out the skin. 

It’s this material that makes these bandages so blister-friendly in the first place—secure them on those painful bubbles, and they’ll suck out all the gunk without ripping the skin (which can lead to scars). According to board-certified dermatologist Ava Shamban, M.D., founder of SKINFIVE, it “heals and acts like a vacuum for your skin.”  

So, what’s the difference between these bandages and pimple patches?

Marketing, really. Hydrocolloid bandages as basically nothing but giant zit patches (since they’re made to cover a larger surface area, like blistered heels, toes, and hands). And even if one is meant to deal with a wound and the other a blemish, the function is the same: Says Shamban, they both absorb excess fluid, speed up healing time, and protect the face from finicky fingers (which is half the battle when it comes to clearing zits, she notes). That’s why the spot tends to turn white underneath the covering—it’s from all the pus and gunk accumulating under the bandage without any air.

The bottom line? You can snag a box of these hydrocolloid bandages at your local drugstore and call it a night. Although, most proper pimple patches typically come loaded with an additional cocktail of acne-fighting ingredients, while these bandages typically only contain the hydrocolloid dressing.

That doesn’t make them any less effective—as TikTok will lead you to believe, sometimes a bit of hydrocolloid is all you need to shrink those spots—but those looking for additional skin-supporting actives may want to use stickers, too. “Pimple [patch] versions are more focused on active combinations of drying ingredients,” says Shamban. Think salicylic acid or tea tree oil mixed with other hydrating buffers. 

Hydro Seal bandages are essentially the same thing as pimple patches—both are made with hydrocolloid, which can soak up all the gunk without tearing or drying out the skin. Although, pimple patches still earn their praise, especially if you’re looking for additional ingredients to zap the spot.

“While either form can help to absorb toxins, bacteria, debris and keep contamination away, best to opt for patches with the best acne-fighting ingredients covering the blemish surface to get the job done,” says Shamban. At the very least, though, both keep you from picking at your face—so consider it a TikTok trend we can get behind.

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