What's Hydrocolloid & Why Does It Work So Well?

What's Hydrocolloid & Why Does It Work So Well?

Author: AJ Addae Photography: Multi ArchivesDate:

In my humble opinion (and according to the opinion of leading beauty experts), the “pimple patch” was one of the best skincare innovations of the last decade. From Starface to Zitsticka (and very soon MULTI), many brands have caught onto the versatile applications of the almighty hydrocolloid material. However, the recent success of hydrocolloid begs the question from many satisfied consumers - what is hydrocolloid, and why does it work so dang good? 

What the heck is hydrocolloid?

A hydrocolloid dressing is a medical grade material that’s often used in hospitals to retain moisture or dress wounds. First and foremost, hydrocolloid dressings are wonderful because they’re transparent, breathable, and biodegradable - we love that. However, hydrocolloid dressings have caught our eye in particular because of their versatility. Due to the occlusive nature of hydrocolloid, the material has gained immense popularity for its ability to protect wounds, quickly flatten breakouts, and retain moisture. 

What is hydrocolloid used for?

It’s no secret that hydrocolloid patches have gained some great PR over the last decade, especially as its usage grows in parallel to the rise of the acne positivity movement. In fact, this entanglement between hydrocolloid and acne is so evident that the material is often referred to as a “pimple patch.” We can likely trace this association back to Korean beauty trends popularizing the idea of harnessing this material’s capabilities to conceal and quickly absorb the contents of a blemish - therefore lessening the appearance of facial blemishes in just a matter of hours.

However, the capabilities and originations of hydrocolloid actually span beyond acne. In fact, a 1995 randomized clinical study* even shows the success of hydrocolloid’s capability to reduce external ulcer wounds, which are painful, inflammatory wounds that result from blood flow issues. 

How can I use hydrocolloid in my day to day?

Given the capabilities of hydrocolloid, we can assume that it’s a very multifaceted material that can perform strongly within many uses beyond acne. The clinicals say it, the people say it, and your skin loves it. Thankfully, it’s also a pretty accessible material to obtain. So next time you come across a bug bite, wound, blemish, or even inflammatory skin behavior - slap on a hydrocolloid patch or dressing and watch it work its magic.

*Wound care: fact and fiction about hydrocolloid dressings (PMID: 8509607 DOI: 10.3928/0098-9134-19930601-08)

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