I have one friend who pops up in my life once a month — usually around the same time — and demands my attention (and the attention of anyone else around me). She usually sticks around for a few days, wreaks havoc — and then disappears for a few weeks.
Why do I put up with this, you ask? Because I have no choice. This “friend” isn’t actually a friend at all, but a painful pimple that pops up on the side of my chin right before my period starts. It’s not even a good pimple with a whitehead that can be popped and drained, but one that sits painfully under the skin, taunting me with its presence.
I’m not alone: According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 50 percent of women between 20 and 29 years old deal with some form of acne. That number fades as women age, but 25 percent of women between 40 and 49 still have to deal with breakouts on at least an occasional basis. The reasons why these women suffer from acne differ, but — like me — many of the cases come from fluctuating hormones.
And that’s just annoying.
While I wouldn’t say that acne has a dramatic impact on my life, it is something I’d rather avoid. That’s why all the Facebook ads I’ve seen recently for the ZitSticka caught my eye. Could it really help get rid of my monthly breakouts? I had to put it to the test.
What is a ZitSticka?
First, a little primer on ZitSticka. The brand launched with a lofty promise to help heal pimples before they pop and ooze pus everywhere. How? Via a pimple patch — called a Killa — that you put on a blemish as soon as you notice it.
The tiny Killa patches are loaded with 24 microdarts filled with acne-healing meds like salicylic acid (an exfoliant), niacinamide (for calming) and oligopeptide-76 (like benzoyl peroxide, but less irritating).
These medicated microdarts push through the top two layers of your skin — the stratum corneum and epidermis — to eliminate the spot at the source, while added hyaluronic acid acts as a carrier that brings “the active ingredients into the heart of a pimple to help them absorb,” says Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist and founder of Entiere Dermatology.
How Is ZitSticka Different From Other Pimple Patches?
ZitSticka isn’t the first pimple patch on the market, but it is the first to specifically target pimples before they get to the skin’s surface.
Each Kit comes with 16 individually wrapped packets in the box: eight pre-treat wipes and eight pimple patches.
“ZitSticka patches are different in that they contain 24 microdarts with ingredients including salicylic acid, a peptide that quells the bacteria responsible for inflammatory acne, and niacinamide, a B vitamin which reduces redness and soothes the skin,” says Dr. Levin.
Other pimple patches — like Cosrx and NexCare — are hydrocolloid bandages that only work after the pimple has already popped. Sure, they absorb the fluid and other junk left behind to help it heal, but they won’t prevent jack.
That said, the ZitSticka is like other pimple patches because it’s a “spot treatment rather than a product for more significant acne,” says Dr. Levin.
In other words, while a Zitsticka might help you get rid of one or two pimples, it’s not a good (or economically feasible) way to deal with larger breakouts.
Zitsticka Review: Does Zitsticka Actually Work?
My ZitSticka Killa Kit arrived just in time to help me deal with my “friend.”
Though Dr. Levin told me each Zitsticka is designed to work within two hours, I decided to put the first one on before bed to really give it time to work. I simply cleansed my skin as usual, then used one of the Cleana pre-treat wipes (infused with salicylic acid, vitamin E, tea tree oil, and alcohol) to make my skin as clean as possible.
Once that dried, I placed the ZitSticka over the red bump and that was that.
Though some people say they feel a prickly sensation from the microdarts, I didn’t feel anything. That concerned me, to be honest, because I wanted — no, needed — it to work.
To my surprise, the ZitSticka stayed put all night. Here’s what my pimple looked like the next morning:
Though I hoped it would be completely gone, the information booklet that came with the kit said it might take more than one try to work.
But there was a bit of good news: Though visually it didn’t look a lot different, I could feel a difference, like the gunk inside was closer to the surface.
That feeling continued throughout the day and I could see the telltale pimple whitehead forming throughout the day, though it never quite made it to the surface. So, I repeated the process the next night — and that’s when the real magic happened.
I’d say that my red blemish was 90 percent healed within 48 hours, and that was partially thanks to the ZitSticka.
So yes, the ZitSticka worked for me. The pimple patches are pricey, so I won’t use them for everyday pimples. But that nasty friend that visits me every month? You best believe the ZitSticka will be the way I kick her to the curb.
Meagan Morris is the editor in chief of Celebribody. She's veteran health and wellness editor with over 15 years of experience. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, Yahoo Health, Cosmopolitan, SELF, and Women's Health, among others. She spends most of her time writing, but her favorite part of the day is spent under a barbell doing squats.