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December 20, 2019 2 min read

What is hydrocolloid and how does this ingredient work wonders on your skin?

Although hydrocolloid has only recently begun to gain popularity in the US, eastern countries have been using hydrocolloid to heal blemishes for more than a decade. Over the last 10 years, hydrocolloid has become a favorited ingredient in skincare products, specifically a staple in Korean beauty products, found in bandages and patches used to treat acne across Asia. 

The History of Hydrocolloid

Dating back to ancient eras, people have been using damp materials to treat wounds. Ancient Egyptians were known to use honey or sugar to moisten gauze when wrapping wounds. 

(Ancient Egyptian era cloth. Photo: Metropolitan Museum)

There were similar practices in ancient Greece, with Hippocrates, the Greek physician associated with the Hippocratic Oath, commonly using wine covered with fig leaves to heal ulcers. 

(Achilles bandaging Patroclus, c500BC. Photo: Public Domain/WikiCommons)

In the 1980s and 1990s, the medical community decided to put these common practices to the test, conducting a series of clinical studies to determine whether damp substances were actually more effective in treating wounds than dry substances. Researchers came to the conclusion that the ancient civilizations had been correct all along: moist environments are better for healing wounds. 

(Gel-like substance)

Around this same time period, during the 1980s, hydrocolloid was first invented as a damp ingredient that could help treat wounds. Hydrocolloid uses gelling agents such as pectin or gelatin to create moisture, draining fluids from injuries and suspending the pus on the bandage. 

Acne isn’t that different from wounds!

Within the last 15 years, people have begun to recognize the similarities between acne and wounds, realizing that ingredients that help heal wounds, like hydrocolloid, can also be applied to breakouts. In the same way that hydrocolloid’s gel-like consistency draws fluids from wounds, it can suck pus out from pimples.

Does hydrocolloid really work?

A  study was conducted in 2006 to test whether hydrocolloid was effective in healing acne. In a randomized double-blind trial, 20 patients with mild to moderate acne applied bandages (half containing hydrocolloid) to their skin every 2 days for up to 1 week. The study found that the redness, oiliness, dark pigmentation, and sebum levels of acne were significantly decreased in patients whose treatment included hydrocolloid.

Dermatologists also stand behind the potency of hydrocolloid. Michele Farber, from the Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York, recognizes the power of hydrocolloid, reaffirming that this ingredient works  “by drawing excess oil out of skin to help acne resolve more quickly.”

Try it yourself!

It is no surprise that the US is quickly realizing the benefits of hydrocolloid as a secret ingredient to combat acne. Are you interested in testing out hydrocolloid for yourself? Paradox’s new Lucky Star Blemish Patches use hydrocolloid as a core ingredient to fight breakouts, sucking pus from pimples, forming a soft white gel, while also reducing redness. Let us know what you think in the comments and follow us on Instagram @paradox for more content like this!


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