The Patchology Breakout Box Really Works — Even On The Most Intense Blemishes

I'm the kind of person who craves structure, as I'm eternally unorganized, but can't keep track of a planner no matter how hard I try. That's why I live and die by my Google Calendar: It's all of the accouterments of a traditional planner, without all of the actual pages. I keep track of everything, including meetings, dinner dates — and even my breakouts. They often happen around my menstrual cycle, or when I eat too much meat. Typically, I'll use a drying lotion like Renée Rouleau's Night Time Spot Lotion or Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, both of which do wonders for me. They're just messy. I also have to schedule a time to wash my sheets after using the treatments, because they sometimes leave behind residue. But the acne-clearing dots in Patchology's Breakout Box 3-in-1 Acne Treatment helped me save time on my schedule — and saved my skin, too.

I'll admit that I've always been a little bit skeptical about those little stickers that supposedly clear blemishes in record-breaking time. I always prefer using treatments with a lot of salicylic acid and sulfur to dry the pesky bumps out. Patchology's box, with its cute little packaging, does have all the ingredients that I like: The pimple-shrinking dots have salicylic acid and tea tree oil, while the whitehead-absorbing dots contain hydrocolloid. The skepticism was mostly about how the dots would stay on throughout the night. I'm somewhat of a wild sleeper, and my skin gets pretty oily after using a variety of serums and creams.

Just for the sake of ~scientific research~, I tried using the dots on my skin right after washing, as instructed (before applying my serums and night cream) and I used them as my last step, too. The first scenario is pretty unlikely: I really like applying hydrating products in the winter, because the air is obviously much colder. Thankfully, the dots go on easily and, more importantly, stay on easily as well. They come in a pack of 24 and in a variety of sizes, but I found myself layering at least two or three bigger ones across the areas that needed the most attention.

Another perk of these dots? No stinging. Another common misconception of acne-fighting products — and one that I was guilty of believing — is that skincare products are supposed to burn. “If you’re feeling a sensation from whatever you just applied to your face, it means you’re disrupting your skin barrier,” Mona Gohara, MD, dermatologist at Yale University, told Marie Claire. "When you use a product that’s too harsh for your skin, the wall becomes hole-y and broken, so all of the water evaporates, and every irritant gets in."


But the best part of using the dots? My blemishes seemingly shrink overnight. It typically takes one or two weeks for a pimple to dry out completely. With the dots, they aren't necessarily healed overnight — but I do notice a difference in size. And on really, really bad days, they're translucent enough for me to wear at work without anyone noticing, so I don't have to purposely schedule nights in, when I'm too embarrassed to show my face.

And if for some reason you're still not convinced, this'll do it: Each pack is $20 each, which means that's less than $1 for a single-use, no mess patch. Sure, it probably comes in a bit more costly than any $10 drugstore tube of spot-treatment you use 30-plus times, but trust: It's worth it.