Nexcare Acne Patch Review – How it Works, Ingredients, How to Use, and Where to Buy

nexcare acne patches

Nexcare acne patch has recently been receiving rave reviews in online forums and reviews sites, but not all the in-products live to their promise of clear skin. When I first read about this product, I was a little skeptical about it given the fact that they said it contains no medications. It is only later when a reader mentioned in a comment that it helped clear a pimple overnight, that I decided to give it a shot; the results were amazing. Here is my review of Nexcare acne patch.

Nexcare Acne Patch Overview

  • Manufacturer: 3M
  • Official name: Nexcare™ Acne Absorbing Covers
  • Price: $7.59 – $7.99*
  • Rating:9/5*
  • Description: Stick-on circular tapes
  • Purpose: Spot treatment
  • Packaging: 36 covers per package, assorted (in two sizes; 5/16 and 15/32 inches).
  • Active ingredients: Hydrocolloid and ethylene oxide. No acne medication
  • Made in: Taiwan
  • Other names and varieties: Nexcare™ acne dressing, Nexcare™ Acne Care, 3M Pimple patch
  • Related products (competitors): Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch, MEDca Universal Acne Pimple Patch.

* As at the time of this writing. The values may have changed.

Pros and Cons of Nexcare Acne Covers

What a better way to introduce this Nexcare acne patch review than with a summary of pros and cons of the stickers? Here are some of them:


  • Nexcare acne patch promotes healing of acne blemishes.
  • It sticks well to the skin (cleansed, dry skin).
  • Each stick-on patch contains no acne medication, hence is not drying to the skin.
  • Nexcare acne patch prevents infections.
  • It is breathable, yet water-proof.
  • It doesn’t leave behind a sticky residue.
  • It isn’t painful to remove.


  • The patches don’t give overnight results. Your pimple will probably be less red and inflamed after a day or night of use, but not entirely clear.
  • Is not helpful for small, less inflamed whiteheads and blackheads. It is better suited for “pus-sy” lesions.
  • Nexcare patches are not effective for deep cystic acne breakouts.
  • It is not suitable for severe breakouts covering larger parts of the face; medicated acne creams and cleansers make a better choice.
  • The stickers are not entirely invisible on your face; even makeup won’t completely conceal them.

What Are Acne Patches?

Before we continue with this Nexcare Acne Patch review any further, it is perhaps well suited to first of all explain what acne patches really are and what they are meant to do on a general scale.

Acne patches may be a relatively new phenomenon in the US and various parts of the world but not in Asia, particularly Korea, where they have been in use for about a decade or so.

Acne patches come in two forms: medicated and non-medicated. Although both come in the form of thin sticky tapes, the former contain conventional acne medications such as salicylic acid – just as the name suggests – but the latter doesn’t. Both versions require an on-spot application.

The non-medicated patches are made from a flexible material called hydrocolloid. According to Sandra Kopp, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group, NYC and Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai, hydrocolloid dressings help to absorb excess fluid while protecting the zits from trauma – touching with your finger – which effectively allows faster healing. “They also keep the acne from drying out, which can speed up healing time,” says Dr. Kopp.

Nexcare acne patch falls under this category.

Medicated acne patches are, on the other hand, infused with one or more of the standard acne treatment medications. The ingredients vary from one brand to another, but salicylic acid and tea tree oil feature prominently – alongside other ingredients – in most products under this category, including in combination. With salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and hyaluronic acid, Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots is one good example.

Nexcare Acne Patch – What they are and How They Work

nexcare acne patches

Manufactured by 3M, the same company that produces post-it stickers and 3M Tegaderm Hydrocolloid dressing for wound dressing, Nexcare acne patches – more correctly known as Nexcare Acne Absorbing Covers – are water-based, stick-on hydrocolloid dressing tapes (stickers) that adhere firmly to your skin and gradually absorb the gunk (pus and oils) in pimples.

These faint-yellow, circular tapes come stashed between two sterilized plastic films in a sealed, sterilized pouch. You, therefore, don’t have to worry about contamination; unless of course, the seal was broken when you purchased the patches.

It is said that 3M developed Nexcare patches after they discovered that nurses had been using cut pieces of their hydrocolloid dressing to treat acne spots.

How Does Nexcare Acne Patch Work?

Nexcare acne cover works by drying out acne blemishes while at the same time providing a protective barrier against dirt and infections due to squeezing and picking at pimples, a common temptation that not only delays healing but also increase scarring risk. That way, the patch aids in the faster healing of acne blemishes.

As the manufacturer says, the stickers act like a sponge, physically absorbing the gunk (pus, oily secretions, and other debris) in pimples, thus making them “quieter”. The manufacturer thus came up with the slogan, “tell your zit to zip it”, nice one, huh! And since Nexcare acne patches are non-medicated, they have the added benefit of not drying out your skin – a common side effect of standard acne medications e.g. benzoyl peroxide.

You are actually able to tell that the dressing is doing the magic; the sticker will turn white the moment all the oil has been sucked out. After removing the patch, the blemishes will be significantly less-angry and flatter.

If reviews are anything to go by, most people seem to agree with the manufacturer’s claim that they are breathable and comfortable to the skin.

Nexcare Acne Dressing Study

Online reviews, forum comments, and blogs seem to be full of praises for Nexcare covers. I also want to add my voice to this; this acne fighter is quite a thing. It is truly magical when it comes to big pimples!! I used overnight, and the reduction in redness and inflammation was remarkable.

Anecdotal evidence aside, the claims are backed up by a scientific study carried out by researchers at Tri-Service General Hospital, Taiwan and published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science.

Involving 20 participants with mild to moderate inflamed acne, this study compared the effectiveness of 3M Hydrocolloid Acne Dressing against that of skin tapes over a course of 7 days. The study showed a higher reduction in size and redness of acne lesions as well as a reduction in the appearance of oily skin in the acne dressing group.

Does Nexcare Acne Patch Work For Cystic Acne?

From my experience, the patch is not best suited for whiteheads, pimples, and cysts that have just broken out. Instead use it on inflamed zits that have formed the characteristic pus-filled, yellow centers or seems “mature”. The hydrocolloid patch will suck out and get rid of the gunk accumulated inside a cyst or a pimple while at the same time discouraging you from picking and squeezing at the lesions.

Although reviews suggest the effectiveness of Nexcare acne stickers for cystic acne (the most severe form of acne flare-up), Dr. Kopp doesn’t think it would not be so effective for very severe cysts that run deep into the skin. Medicated patches such as Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots may be better suited for these since the medications in them will impart deeper action on the skin.

The video below shows the 3M pimple patch in action

Where to Buy Nexcare Acne Patches

As regards where to get Nexcare acne stickers, that will essentially vary depending on your country of residence. Try checking with the major retail outlets in your country and if that doesn’t help – or you prefer the convenience of shopping from home – then you can buy the patches on online stores.

According to the manufacturer, 3M, Nexcare patches are available in major US online stores including Amazon, Walgreens, and Sears. It is also available on For the residents of Canada, Australia, and the UK, Amazon is also a great bet. If you are in Singapore and Malaysia, Nexcare acne dressings are available at Watsons and Guardian retail outlets.

Buy Nexcare acne patches from Amazon.

In Singapore, 3M Nexcare patches are available in two varieties, one for men and another for ladies. The only difference between the two is the size of the patches, ingredients, and modality of work remain the same.

Retail outlets and online stores aside, you may also find the patches at your local pharmacy.

How to Use Nexcare Acne Patch

  1. Clean your hand, then face with warm water and a gentle cleanser.
  2. Pat it dry with a clean towel.
  3. Peel one Nexcare Acne Cover Absorbing Cover from the plastic film liner and stick it on the acne pimple or cyst.
  4. Pat the edges gently to secure the cover firmly on the skin.
  5. Change the cover daily (preferably at intervals of no more than 8). If it turns white before the end of the day (or night), indicating that oily secretions have been sucked out, change to a new one. Simply peel the patch off gently and discard it away.
  6. If you want, you can finish off by applying your makeup.

The manufacturer recommends keeping any unused patches in the plastic pouch packaging. It is also advisable to take keen note of the expiry date (printed on the packaging in the format YYMMDD) lest you take home stickers that don’t stick that good.

Although the translucent stickers blend right into your skin in such a way that they are not so noticeable, not to mention that you can wear them under your makeup, I would recommend using them at night.

No side effects have been reported for Nexcare patches, but there is always the possibility of a reaction to the hydrocolloid material. If that happens, discontinue use.

Nexcare Acne Patch Before and After Photos

To finish this Nexcare acne patch review, let us list some photos from patients who have tried using this acne busting remedy to treat spots and blemishes. I wish I took pictures when I used it to clear a huge cystic pimple near the temple. It improved dramatically after the first night and then slowly healed away with two more days of treatment with Nexcare stickers.

Pictures will appear as soon as they become available. Please contact us if you would like to share your “before and after” photos with us.