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The newest trend in dietary supplements sounds too good to be true. Slap on a translucent sticker, and start soaking up nutrients like B vitamins, magnesium, and even melatonin through your skin. Vitamin patches are popping up everywhere and are an undeniably convenient way to get your nutrients, but can you actually absorb nutrients through your skin? Are these supplements nothing but hype?
Here’s what you need to know about wearable vitamin patches.
What, exactly, are vitamin patches?
Vitamin patches might be on-trend, but they aren’t new. They’ve actually been around since 1979, though the first patches were used to treat motion sickness, not supplement nutrition or solve wellness woes.
Also known as transdermal patches, these sticky solutions are an easy way to deliver a dose of medication, vitamins, or minerals through the skin. They function like stickers, but when applied to your skin, the blend of nutrients in the patch adhesive is absorbed into the skin and, from there, the bloodstream.
So, what’s in your typical wearable vitamin patch? The patches available cover a whole lot of different nutritional and wellness needs. You’ll find patches that promise to soothe hangovers, stop breakouts, encourage a good night’s sleep, lower your stress, and improve your focus. But you’ll also find patches that feature specific vitamins or minerals you may be lacking, like multivitamin patches and vitamin B12 patches.
How much of any given nutrient are you getting in each patch?
Here’s one thing we know for sure: Vitamin patches aren’t equal to supplement pills. What’s in any given patch can vary wildly, and you can find patches that offer a single nutrient or a cocktail of many different vitamins, minerals, and herbs.
You’ll want to check the label on any patch you’re interested in trying to determine the exact amount you’re getting of any nutrients or additional ingredients included in the adhesive. While some products list every ingredient and the amount of those ingredients, others are vague and leave out key info. Clear, detailed labeling will help you understand exactly what (and how much) you’re taking in.
A great example of the level of detail you want from your vitamin patches? The Patch Brand provides a breakdown of not only the ingredients included in each patch, but also the amount of each. The Sleep patch, for example, contains 4.5 mg of valerian root, 3 mg of melatonin, 1 mg of vitamin B2, 3.5 mg of passionflower, 750 mcg of magnesium citrate, and 500 mcg of hops, all tried-and-true sleep helpers you can easily vet.
Can wearing a vitamin patch actually benefit your nutrition or wellness?
Vitamin patches make a whole lot of promises, but the jury is still out on what, exactly, they can deliver. Many patch brands (and their social media promos) claim that wearing a vitamin-infused patch can help ailments and address wellness concerns. But often, their products fall short of delivering tangible results or benefits.
Other vitamin patches, however, simply aim to give you a vitamin, mineral, or herbal boost. These patches may offer B vitamins, vitamin C, or melatonin alone to deliver a concentrated dose of whatever nutrient you’re seeking.
But when it comes to fulfilling your nutritional needs or helping to improve overall wellness, getting nutrients from a stick-on patch isn’t yet a proven solution. As Elizabeth Shaw, RDN and founder of Shaw Simple Swaps, explains, “At this time, research cannot confirm their legitimacy in effectively and adequately delivering the necessary nutrients individuals need for their health when taken via a patch.”
Additionally, it’s important to note that the FDA does not consider vitamin patches a dietary supplement. Only products meant for ingestion, like pills and gummies, can be labeled and marketed as supplements.
So, when you think about the potential benefits of wearing these patches, it’s better to think about them not as a way to get nutrients you’re missing in your diet, but rather as a complement to your everyday wellness routine.
For more on different ways to get your nutrients through supplementation, keep reading: