Pimples are hard to figure out, but we're here to make it a bit easier.
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PSA: If you suffer from acne and haven't added pimple patches to your skincare routine yet, you should. Pimple patches have grown so big in beauty that they've become its own category. But, just like any other category in skincare, there's an excess of product launches, making it hard to pinpoint which ones you need to stick on your face.

Well, we have an analogy to make it a bit easier. Like many things in life, your zit goes through several cycles. Think of it like the moon: It starts off almost microscopic, and can triple in size over a few days until, finally, it wanes away. Enter pimple patches. They're an easy and effective way to muzzle your pimple before it gets a chance to make a statement. Once you're able to recognize what stage your pimple is on, you'll be better equipped to squash it. Below are the different ways to recognize your pimple, and the best patches to slap on them.

Phase 1: Baby pimple
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1 Phase 1: Baby pimple

Alas, your pimple is born. During this stage, you might notice that your skin is tight, irritated, and feels a bit itchy. You could also see some redness there, but a bump hasn't formed yet. Try a medicated microdart patch infused with salicylic acid, like the Zitsticka Killa Patch ($29, amazon.com), to flood the epicenter of your early-stage zit with targeted ingredients.

Phase 2: Blackhead or whitehead
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2 Phase 2: Blackhead or whitehead

When your dead skin cells get mixed with an overproduction of oil, it forms a blockage that appears in the form of a blackhead or whitehead. What you need is something to help open up your pores. Try a hydrocolloid patch, like Starface Hydrocolloid Pimple Patches ($22, starface.world) or Squish Beauty Flower Power Acne Patches ($14; urbanoutfitters.com). Hydrocolloid bandages have long been used in hospitals to suck the blood and pus from open wounds to encourage healing and prevent infection. The smaller pimple version will do the same thing to help pull out all that gunk from your pimple.

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Phase 3: The papule
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3 Phase 3: The papule

This is the pimple's middle stages. At this point, the pimple has become a very pronounced bump, so you'll be tempted to pop it. Resist! Doing so can lead to permanent scarring and pigmentation that becomes an even bigger headache for you to deal with. Instead, pop on a medicated patch with ingredients like tea tree oil, a natural astringent that helps clarify and refresh skin, like the Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots ($32, amazon.com). This helps prevent the spread of blemish-causing bacteria (and prevent you from picking at it!).

Phase 4: The pustule or cyst
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4 Phase 4: The pustule or cyst

Congratulations, your pimple has finally come to a head (literally). A pustule or cyst forms when an oil gland balloon forms under the skin, and can often be very painful. Try a heavy-duty microneedling patch, like the Acropass Trouble Cure ($19, amazon.com) or Rael Microneedle Acne Healing Patch ($12, amazon.com). A futuristic patch designed to target cystic acne at its source, it has rows of tiny, thin microneedles and a concentrated serum, including ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, to soothe inflammation.

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