Dark Spot Patches: How The Stickers Work, Ingredients & Recommendations
By now, you've likely seen pimple patches. Rather, if you're a beauty fan or are acne-prone you've likely seen them. The K-beauty staple made its way stateside over the last several years, and now there are a plethora of options on the market that target blemishes with small rounds of hydrocolloid. (A small dossier: Hydrocolloid is a medical-grade dressing that helps absorb moisture and gunk.) The more sophisticated options contain actives such as willow bark, salicylic acid, and tea tree oil to help expedite the exfoliating and healing process.
And while these do wonders to help tend to your breakouts in the moment, even the most attentive among us may wind up with a dark spot from post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. When this happens, we can turn to ingredients that help brighten skin, improve cell turnover, and soothe residual inflammation. Enter the new wave of patches: dark spot patches.
The best dark spot patches to help clear up marks.
Ingredients to target dark spots are a mainstay in beauty. Nothing new to report here: We've long talked about dark spot correctors, serums, and treatments that wield actives to help brighten and even tone. A few of the ingredients you likely even recognize, be it niacinamide, vitamin C, hydroxy acids, and various antioxidants like green tea.
The delivery method of patches, however, does make them quite novel. Popping these stickies on the residue of an inflamed blemish helps impart a high, target dose of brighteners right to the source of the issue. And while you'd probably get more mileage with an all-over serum if your discoloration concerns are more robust—for those with just a one-off red or brown speck of skin, this can give you the results you want in the exact area you want.
For example, I have a dark spot on my cheek that doesn't seem to want to go away. However, I've moved away from using exfoliators or potent actives all over (I've been experiencing more sensitive skin lately). But this helps me treat the stain without having to treat my whole face with ingredients that could potentially cause a flare-up. Sounds good, no?
Well, there aren't too many on the market at the moment, but in the meantime, we've rounded up our favorites.
Each little sticker is layered with 24 microdarts. Microdarts are often used in patches—be it for acne or under-eye circles—as a way to deliver effective ingredients to the skin in a time-released manner. Essentially: Put these dots on your dark spot, and over the next two hours, it'll deliver a dose of niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, kojic acid, arbutin, and vitamin C. Read: Basically every ingredient praised for their efficacy at brightening skin.
Hyperfade, ZitSticka ($34)
Peace Out Dark Spots Brightening Dots
If used as directed—twice daily for two weeks—these can help fade marks pretty dramatically. The actives are delivered through 172 microdarts, each containing niacinamide, licorice root, and tranexamic acid, a popular amino acid derivative often used to even tone.
Dark Spots Brightening Dots, Peace Out ($28)
Dr. Jart Focuspot Dark Spot Micro Tip Patch
This option stars hyaluronic acid and vitamin C. The hyaluronic acid can keep the area soothed, hydrated, and plump—while the vitamin C can get to work. The antioxidant not only neutralizes inflammation and brightens skin, but also has a vital role in the collagen production process. These patches use ascorbyl glucoside, a more stable form of vitamin C that is converted into L-ascorbic acid on the skin.
Focuspot Dark Spot Micro Tip Patch, Dr. Jart ($18)
Peach & Lily Dark Spot Microdarts
This brand is a K-Beauty staple stateside and thus always delivers on products that originate there. The patches, here, contain the popular niacinamide and licorice root extract. However, these also contain centella asiatica extract (sometimes called cica), which does wonders for inflammation as well as redness, if your dark spots come with a pinky hue.
Dark Spot Microdarts, Peach & Lily ($8.99)
Hero Mighty Patch Micropoint for Dark Spots
A few days after your pimple has subsided, apply these two to three times a day to see the best results. There's a cocktail of four solid ingredients that help smooth skin, even texture, and improve tone: vitamin C, niacinamide, tranexamic acid, and sodium hyaluronate.
Micropoint for Dark Spots, Hero Mighty Patch ($12.99)
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.