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Put a patch on it: 3 types of stickers that might meet your skin's needs

From pimples to wrinkles, these appliqués are here for you.

From pimples to wrinkles, these appliqués are here for you

Feel a massive zit coming on? Notice a fine line on your forehead that wasn't there before? Spent too much time in the sun? Previously, you would have been met with the following advice for your skincare woes: salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide treatments to deal with pesky pimples, overnight serums and creams to target lines and plump up skin, and sunscreen for, well, every single day. 

The very 2019 answer to the above concerns? Throw a sticker on them! Beauty brands are revolutionizing the way we approach solution-oriented skincare by offering the ingredients and results we're looking for in the form of convenient stickers and patches. 

Cute, right? But we know that cute doesn't always mean effective, so we spoke to two Canadian dermatologists to learn if the stickers and patches trend is really worth our time and money. 

The wrinkle-fillers

First up are the wrinkle-fillers, patches that contain tiny "microneedles" made of hyaluronic acid that dissolve into your skin. Brands claim that they'll plump up fine lines and wrinkles, essentially mimicking the effects of injectable hyaluronic acid (a popular type of dermal filler). "Hyaluronic acid is a large molecule," explains Dr. Sam Hanna, medical director at Dermatology On Bloor in Toronto. "So skin penetration with topically applied hyaluronic acid is limited." Many of us know the feeling of applying hyaluronic acid serum, watching with delight as our skin plumps up to look instantly hydrated and supple … then seeing it shrivel back to its pre-serum self mere minutes later. Could these patches be the end of that emotional rollercoaster? 

Sort of. You'll definitely notice some visible plumping after using these hyaluronic acid patches, but according to Dr. Hanna, it's a temporary benefit that will probably only last a few hours. "Reapplication is likely necessary for a maintained response," he says. "Also, these patches may help soften the appearance of very fine surface lines, like those related more to superficial sun damage and aging, but won't touch deeper, muscle motion–related expression lines." (That's still a job for mighty injectables.) The bottom line? Hyaluronic acid patches will certainly give you a longer-lasting plumping effect than simply applying a hyaluronic acid serum, making them a great option before a big event. But don't expect any long-term miracles. 

NeoStrata Hyaluronic Acid Micro Infusion Patches, $25, Shoppers Drug Mart 

Dr. Jart+ Focuspot Micro Tip Patches, $24, Sephora 

The pimple patches

Another major trend in the skincare world? Hydrocolloid patches that are placed directly over pimples, which claim to speed up the healing process of a blemish by gently drawing out excess fluid (like pus and oil) and prevent you from picking at your zits. Popular in Korean beauty, clear (or clear-ish) pimple patches have been around for some time, often promising to be so inconspicuous that you can wear them out in public. But the latest batch are meant to be seen, taking the form of cute, brightly coloured stars and flowers. The point isn't that you can wear them out in public — it's that you'll want to. 

The route you go is up to you, since these more decorative pimple patches work in the same way as their clear counterparts: by relying on good ol' hydrocolloids, "a set of materials that doctors have been using for years as a wound dressing," explains Dr. Hanna. "They essentially draw and absorb moisture from the skin while protecting the skin underneath. Spots of acne aren't quite like a wound or ulcer —unless they've been picked! — but the concept of using hydrocolloid dressings is interesting." While Dr. Hanna considers pimple patches more of a "Band-Aid for acne," he says, "I'd rather have patients putting something like this on than picking or popping their pimples, which risks infection and greater likelihood of scarring." 

Dr. Hanna says that these patches are more suitable for those with occasional zits or very mild acne. Anyone suffering from cystic acne or more frequent blemishes should see a dermatologist to get to the root of the issue. 

COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch, $13.99, Walmart 

Peach Slices Acne Spot Dots, approx. $5.95, Peach & Lily 

Hydro-Stars, approx. $29.15, Starface 

Flower Power Acne Patches, approx. $18.55, Squish 

The sun exposure stickers

Last but not least are the stickers that are trying to make sunburns a thing of the past, changing colour to alert you when you've been out in the sun for too long. 

La Roche-Posay has released its My UV Patch every summer since 2016 (along with a corresponding app of the same name), a super-stretchy, ultra-thin sticker that can be placed anywhere on your body that's exposed to the sun. In the middle of the patch, you'll notice a tiny heart made of little blue squares, which change colour depending on sun exposure. The app takes into account your skin tone, your location (and its UV index) and details like whether or not you're wearing sunscreen — information that you enter manually before you go about your day. Along with getting a full report on your phone, you'll notice the squares on your patch changing colour when you've gotten a lot of sun, signalling that it's time to head indoors or apply more sunscreen. 

On the hunt for something a little less noticeable? Enter Suncayr's SpotMyUV Detection Stickers. Developed by three engineers at the University of Waterloo, the round patches feature skin-mimicking technology and require a coat of sunscreen on top in order to activate. Once you've allowed the sunscreen to absorb, the patches will interact with it just like your skin does. The stickers are clear when you're adequately protected from the sun and turn purple when it's time to reapply your SPF. 

"The goal of these products is to show to users the extent of UV exposure on their skin, and educate them on the importance of consistent sun protection, including sun avoidance/shade seeking and sunscreen use," explains Dr. Monica Li, clinical instructor in the department of dermatology and skin science at the University of British Columbia. "The patches show the user, in real-time, how their skin can be at risk of UV damage but also show them how their skin can be protected." 

They work well as reminders to reapply sunscreen, but Dr. Li reminds us that shade-seeking and consistent sunscreen use are the main goals, as always. 

My UV Patch, available each summer with the purchase of any La Roche-Posay Anthelios product

SpotMyUV Detection Stickers - 12 count, $11.99, SpotMyUV


Souzan Michael is a Toronto-based writer and editor with a deep, undying love of astrology, watermelon and golden retrievers. Follow her on Instagram @suziemichael_.

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