What’s Up With Transdermal Wellness Products & Should You Try 'Em?

Expert Advice

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From self-care to gummy vitamins to mental health practices, the wellness category is definitely enjoying a moment right now – one that we hope is here to stay. This popularity has given way to new product types, and transdermal wellness patches are something that’ve caught our attention. These sticky patches are loaded with certain ingredients – like CBD, melatonin, B12, and caffeine – and applied directly to your skin like a sticker where the ingredients are absorbed directly into your bloodstream.

1-The-Good-Patch-All-the-PlantSource: The Good Patch

For example, The Good Patch, $108, sells 38 patch variations, each meant to cure a different woe. There’s Desire, $12, to help “set the mood,” Dream, $12, for improved sleep, and Period, $16, which is meant to help soothe cramps.

2-Fleur-Marché-Focus-&-VICI-WellnessSource: Fleur Marché and VICI Wellness

Another brand, VICI Wellness, sells a Nervous Wreck Topical Patch, $27, that says it eases anxious feelings so you can better avoid those negative thought spirals, and OnMi’s Hangover Patch, $39, applied before you drink alcohol, is intended to help prevent hangovers. Fleur Marché also makes a few patches, including Focus, Plz., $26, which is made with “brain-hacking” nootropics such as lion’s mane, L-Theanine, and caffeine to help rev up your mind, memory, and attention span.

So just how effective are these transdermal patches, how do they even work, and are they actually safe for everyone to use? We’re answering those questions and more.

What Does Transdermal Mean?

Transdermal simply means to “pass through the skin.” This method of delivering ingredients to the body has been around for quite a while, with perhaps the most familiar version being smoker’s patches that deliver small doses of nicotine to the wearer’s bloodstream to help kick their smoking habit. There are also patches that can help prevent contraception and a variety of medical-related patches. All the above have received blessings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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In terms of transdermal wellness patches, the goal is for the ingredients – which include vitamins, CBD, caffeine, and more – to enhance your mental or physical state. In the past few years, we have seen a surge in the popularity of patches that enhance our wellness or provide skincare benefits,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman. “I think they are appealing to people because they are quick and easy to use. You simply stick on a patch, forget about it, and enjoy the benefits.

Do Transdermal Patches Work?

We know from the above FDA-approved examples that transdermal patches do work, and some argue that they may be more effective than oral supplements. However, the verdict is still out regarding hard numbers, mostly because there’s simply not a ton of scientific data on the topic.

Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery and advisor of BioRepublic Skincare, says, “There is very little clinical evidence and data to prove the health claims of transdermal wellness patches. The efficacy of the products relies heavily on social media testimony, anecdotal evidence, and peer-to-peer [recommendations].”

Dr. Engelman adds that efficacy can also vary depending on the product itself, with factors like ingredient quality and formulation coming into play. However, when a high-quality patch is used as directed, she says they can be a very effective and efficient way to enjoy certain ingredients and wellness benefits.

How Long Does It Take to Notice the Effects?

Many patches on the market right now feature a time-release” technology, which means that they slowly deliver ingredients into your bloodstream over a period of time. You may start feeling the effects as soon as 15 to 20 minutes, and they should last for several to 12 hours,” notes Dr. Engelman.

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Are Transdermal Patches Safe?

As long as the patch contains safe ingredients in approved doses, they’re perfectly safe to use. As with any product that you’re putting on or in your body, read the ingredient list first, then test the patch to make sure that you won’t have an adverse reaction,” Dr. Engelman advises. You should be more cautious if:

You’re pregnant or breastfeeding: Double-check that the ingredients are OK to use. For example, CBD is not approved for use while carrying or breastfeeding.
You’re taking medications: Ask your doctor if transdermal patches are safe for you to use and read the ingredient list carefully to make sure that there will not be any negative interactions.
You have sensitive skin: Like any topical product, certain ingredients can cause reactions. Keep an eye on the area you apply to make sure your skin approves.

Also remember that any supplement, including transdermal wellness patches, is exactly that: supplemental to your wellness. They aren’t a cure-all or a quick fix. A holistic approach to your well-being is always the best way to go.

Feeling frazzled? We rounded up 10 products that can help you tackle anxiety and stress for a much-needed moment of Zen.

Disclaimer: Every product we review has been independently selected and tested without bias by our editorial team. Although some brands allow affiliate links, we never take payment to review products, so we may earn a commission if you purchase a product by clicking on one of our links.