Brands on the Rise is a regular Ad Age feature spotlighting the marketing and business tactics of successful challenger brands. Read previous installments here.
Skincare brand Starface is gaining traction by making pimples fun. The nearly 3-year-old New York-based brand, which started online and now sells in stores, is part of a fragmented pimple patch market that is rising in popularity as more young consumers look for gentler solutions to acne.
Like many of its competitors, Starface wants to destigmatize acne. But the main difference between Starface and its rivals is how its patches look—“cute,” in the words of co-founder Julie Schott.
The company’s first product was a pimple patch called Hydro-Stars, which are small yellow stickers in the shape of a star. Each patch consists only of hydrocolloid, a moisture-retentive dressing used to absorb pus and reduce redness. The brand’s stickers, which come in a refillable yellow box that has been compared to an AirPod case, contrast with the beige and translucent patches produced by most competitors such as Hero Cosmetics’ Mighty Patch and Australian brand Zitsticka.
The feedback that Starface gets most often from consumers is, “I look forward to my next pimple,” said Schott. “When you give yourself a cute decorative sticker, it changes your attitude to (acne) over time.”
Below, more on Starface’s origin story, marketing strategy and what lies ahead.