Monday, November 23, 2015

Review: CosRx Acne Pimple Master Patch

Warning: because this post is about acne-oriented hydrocolloid bandages, the subject matter is a bit gross. I don't have any of my own photos of the before and after of using these, but I link a few photos and it is a little icky to look at.

As I've mentioned before, I don't have great skin. My main problem is acne, mostly the large under-the-skin type that can hang out for weeks at a time. The problem is mostly under control, largely thanks to the Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid, which I previously reviewed, but something about the transition to full-time office work was making my skin act up. (By the way, I now recommend purchasing Paula's Choice products at Dermstore because there are often discount codes floating around the web, sometimes for up to 15% off or a little more.)

I first heard about using hydrocolloid bandages (aka blister bandages) as an acne-healing tool while reading r/SkincareAddiction (some icky photos linked in comments there). I had actually seen Nexcare ones designed for acne on the shelves at Taiwanese and Hong Kong drugstores, but I assumed they were just little stickers designed to spot-treat acne with, say, tea tree oil or other topical ingredients that I could just apply directly instead. I've tried a few products from the latter category, including both the A'pieu product I linked and one from The Face Shop. Neither was any good. Hydrocolloid bandages are great though, provided you use them correctly, and the CosRx Acne Pimple Master Patch is a particularly effective one. Read on, but be forewarned that even the basic description of how to use it might be a bit gross.

Hydrocolloids are designed to suck moisture from wounds. The clear yellow material turns white as it works (icky photo alert) in a way that suggests pus, but any kind of moisture, even blood, would have the same effect. Because they work solely by sucking moisture out of pimples, they only work on ones that have "come to a head" (the icky stuff inside starts to show) AND is open in some way, i.e. is punctured gently with a sterilized needle (recommended by many at SkincareAddiction), has popped, or is otherwise seeping. Thus, using one often requires ignoring medical advice to leave acne alone for fear of scarring and infection. I must therefore give a huge disclaimer before encouraging the use of hydrocolloids: only you know what works best for your skin, whether you're prone to scarring or hyper-pigmented spots, and whether hydrocolloids even make sense for your skin condition.

In my case, those larger under-the-skin type blemishes take an absurdly long time to heal (think a month and a half or longer), but I've found that encouraging them to come to a head, open, and then getting the nasty stuff out with hydrocolloids is one way to ensure a quicker healing process (closer to two and a half weeks). That does have the downside of leaving a hyper-pigmented spot once the blemish heals, which takes around two months to fade noticeably with my current routine. I've found that I get more or less the same dark spots if I let my blemishes heal on their own, and I've never had other types of scarring from acne, even when I er, pop or pick at them, so the hydrocolloids suit me.

I've heard many good things about the Korean brand CosRx, but this was my first time trying any of their products. I'd previously been using the Nexcare Acne Absorbing Cover. They're both about equally effective at absorbing gunk, but the CosRx Acne Pimple Master Patch has one major advantage: the adhesive is stronger, and it stays put on the skin much better. Both products have trouble sticking to skin if your moisturizer or other skincare products haven't fully absorbed such that it might be best to go easy on products near your pimple, but the problem is much more pronounced with the Nexcare patch.

The prices for both tend to fluctuate slightly on Amazon, but the CosRx one is typically around $5 (for 24 patches) while the Nexcare is closer to $7 (for 36 patches). The CosRx one is slightly more expensive per patch, but the cost difference is ultimately fairly negligible for me as I don't end up needing to use them too often, and I think the quality difference makes the CosRx ones worth it regardless. It might be even more cost-effective to buy regular blister bandages and cut them down to size, but I remember seeing mixed reviews for various brands of other blister bandages and can't vouch for which ones would be useful. 

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