Anyone who has ever had a pimple – and that would be all of us – knows that walking around with one can feel like you’re wearing a billboard on your face that bears any of the following self-loathing proclamations: “I am unsightly.” “I am unclean.” “I am 13.” The spot treatments that aim to heal blemishes often render them redder, flakier and crustier and do little to diminish the shame. Trying to hide them with makeup rarely works – the offending bump is still a bump; it’s just caked in concealer. But a few years ago, the acne positivity movement came along, encouraging everyone to flip the script around zits by posting photos of their breakouts in an act of acceptance. Even Rihanna is putting her pimples on a pedestal; her first selfie of 2020 showed a visibly inflamed spot near her jawline. (When a follower offered to pop it, RiRi replied, “Let her have her shine, PLEASE.”)

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This shift in thinking has resulted in products that align with the movement and are shaking up the category of clinical-looking solutions. Squish Beauty’s and Starface’s hydrocolloid bandages – adhesives that hurry along the healing of a whitehead by drawing out fluid while shielding it from bacteria – are made in the shapes of flowers and stars rather than the usual circles. These decorative stickers take the premise of seal-and-conceal patches, popular in the K-beauty world, and jettison all sense of discretion.

Squish Flower Power Acne Patches


ZitSticka Killa Kit


Starface Hydro-Stars

Then there’s ZitSticka’s patches, which target bumps while they’re still lurking below the surface by using microdarts loaded with pimple-killing ingredients. The tiny spikes dissolve within two hours of being applied to a gestating zit, which “should stop it in its tracks,” says co-founder Daniel Kaplan. Semi-sheer, they’re suitable for those who don’t wish to call attention to their clogged pore. But it’s with its packaging that ZitSticka encourages flaunting. Kaplan and co-founder Robbie Miller sensed that in the age of the shelfie, no one would want to display a medicinal-looking item in their cabinet. “We wanted to make acne treatment more shareable and easier to talk about and put on social,” says Kaplan. They elevated theirs by housing it in a white cube with slick typography, drawing in retailers like and Violet Grey. And in doing so, they’ve moved zit zappers out of the dark bottom drawer and onto the prominent top shelf.

This story originally appeared in the March issue of ELLE Canada. Subscribe here.


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