top flight:

THE  two-second
acne eraser 

Patchology’s Breakout Box offers an ultra-discreet, ultra-effective stick-on solution for healing whiteheads, pimples, and blackheads in record time.


Photography ByGUY AROCH

About three months ago, my five-year-old nephew ran over with a box of crayons and announced that he was drawing my portrait. “This is your yellow hair, this is your mouth, these are your eyes,” he narrated. Cute, right? But then, he fished out a red crayon and, as I watched with horror, began applying small, distinct dots to the picture. “What are those?” I asked. A sickening caesura ensued. “Those are your preckles,” he replied, and gestured toward a super-sized cystic zit on my chin. Until that moment, I hadn’t realized my adult acne was perceptible to toddlers. Instead of correcting his pronunciation of “freckles” or explaining that they weren’t actually freckles at all, I just smiled patiently and said “Santa Claus isn’t real.” Because if you make me confront an uncomfortable reality, I’m going to retaliate in kind (even if you’re in preschool). 

Some days later, I was recounting this charming tale to my colleague Jayme Cyk—VIOLET GREY’s Beauty Director—who responded by sliding Patchology’s Breakout Box across my desk (and also by telling me to look into meditation for my anger issues). I fully ignored the latter, but looked with interest at the former. For the most part, my skin is neither good or bad—it’s just sort of fine and unremarkable. But I’m also fair-complected, super-sensitive, and an inveterate zit-picker. So when I do break out, the effect is comparable to spilling a glass of red wine on a white carpet: ugly, unsightly, and impossible to ignore. The Breakout Box promised targeted solutions for three types of blemishes: gunky whiteheads, grimy blackheads, and threat-level-red cystic pimples.


Typically, when experimenting with new products, I wait until I’m in the privacy of my own home (or at least the office bathroom) to get started on a trial run. Not so with the Breakout Box. You see, the genius of Patchology’s pimple and whitehead treatments is in their mode of delivery: the active ingredients are administered via tiny, translucent stickers. Which means that if you can handle putting on a Band-Aid—albeit a clear, doll-sized Band-Aid—you’re golden. I popped one of the whitehead dots directly over a forehead zit, and then promptly forgot it was there. And I’m pretty sure none of my coworkers noticed it either. Since the stickers are virtually invisible, you have to be thisclose to someone to see it on their skin. 



The next morning, I peeled off the sticker—those little guys don’t move until you force them—and assessed the progress. My zit wasn’t gone exactly, but it was markedly improved. Like, it relaxed from a graphic Lichtenstein Benday dot into fuzzy-edged Seurat Pointillism. But fast-forward one sticker and one day later, and—poof! My whitehead was gone in less than half the time it would have taken to heal naturally. More importantly, there was no evidence that a blemish had once dwelled there (a very welcome side effect of covering your zit with a sticker is that you can’t incessantly pick at it). It was a true lightbulb moment, like the first time you use an electric toothbrush: the analog toothbrushes you’ve used your whole life suddenly feel pointless and inadequate. That’s what Patchology’s Breakout Box is to acne: an easier, better, more efficient way to deal with breakouts. Since then, I have used those little magic dots all the time. My husband uses them all the time. Everyone should use them all the time—they downgrade acne from a major trauma into a minor nuisance. 


In case you’re curious about the science, here’s the CliffsNotes version. The aforementioned whitehead stickers are powered by hydrocolloid, which acts like a little vacuum to suck out impurities from the skin and protect open pores from bacteria. For those big, under-the-skin monster zits, use the pimple-shrinking varietal. Those rely on salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and volcanic ash to penetrate sub-surface congestion. And for blackheads, there are charcoal and clay nose strips that dislodge oxidized comedones. Full disclosure: the blackhead patches look more like a piece of athletic tape, and consequently don’t boast the same wear-in-public abandon as their kit counterparts. But whatever. They work, and I love that they all conveniently come in one box.  

And finally—one last thing to note. If you, like me, have ever lashed out at a pre-schooler out of vanity, Patchology can help repair those emotional wounds. Kids love stickers! I’m sure that when my nephew stops crying at the sight of me, we can really bond over my super-cool, preckle-erasing stickers.