Skin care companies are perpetually seeking new ways to stand out on today's crowded cosmetics shelf. The best way to do that, it turns out, is to offer a product that really works.

One of the biggest challenges that skin care manufacturers face is how to get ingredients to actually penetrate your skin - no mean task, given that your skin is designed to protect you and keep chemicals (even those helpful anti-aging ones) out. Recently, skin care companies have been turning to skin patches, a treatment method that's been in vogue with the medical community for many years.

These new skin patches are different from Frownies, those "as seen on TV" anti-wrinkle forehead stickers that claim to stretch your skin and help smooth wrinkles. (And which also don't do anything, a 2009 medical study demonstrated.) Rather, the new breed of patches acts as a delivery system rather than a physical wrinkle eradicator, much like nicotine or pain-control patches. But do they work?

"Yes, patch systems are effective delivery systems," Ni'kita Wilson, CEO and director of innovation at Catalyst Cosmetic Development, tells us. "I have seen studies where incorporating a patch increases the penetration of the ingredients." One review article, published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research & Allied Scienceslast year, found that patches create tension in various directions on the skin, thereby increasing its permeability.

This fall, a slew of new products incorporating patch technology hit our desks, to which we submitted to our increasingly (and increasingly worrisome) fine-lined face. We've already mentioned Lancome's posh new eye cream, which includes weekly patches, but these new products - from StriVectin, Sulwhasoo and Biobliss - target other areas, including your forehead and smile lines.

Click through for reviews of each, and please note that I can't discuss the long-term effects of the products, since I only used them for a few weeks.

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