Illustration of people with their hands up and Starface logo [Cover Image]
Brand MarketingAugust 26, 2022

Why Brands Like Starface Are Leading the Way With Gen Z

August 26, 2022
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Cory Schröder
Senior Content Marketing Manager

Acne — the bane of every teen’s existence. For years, we tried to cover it up with concealer or heavy foundation (which, in the long run, only made it worse), while the media led us to believe that ance is embarrassing and distasteful — a sign of uncleanliness to be discreetly concealed.

The shame associated with acne can be debilitating and most people's instinct to try and hide it is a direct product of society’s treatment of it. But up-and-coming skincare brand Starface disagrees. It thinks there’s a better way to help treat and heal acne — and it doesn’t mean hiding your blemishes away, but giving them center stage.

Most well-known for its bright yellow, star-shaped pimple patches, Starface is a brand that’s breaking boundaries with its skin-positive movement — and it's quickly become a Gen Z favorite. Traditionally, acne has been kept on the down-low, but Starface’s pimple patches are hard to miss — and their goal is to allow consumers the ability to be confident no matter the state of their skin.

So why does Gen Z love Starface so much? And what can other brands learn from its approach to product creation and marketing? Let’s see.

What is Starface?

Launched in 2019 by Julie Schott, a former beauty director, and entrepreneur Brian Bordainick, Starface is a boundary-breaking D2C skincare brand that “aims to change the conversation around skin and acne today by rejecting negative perceptions.”

The brand’s first (and most famous) product is its yellow, star-shaped Hydro-Stars — “colorful and bright, like the stickers you may have received as a reward on your homework in elementary school.” Of course, they’re meant to help heal acne, with each patch providing a dose of hydrocolloid spot treatment to consumers’ skin. But, they’re also supposed to look cute and draw the eye — the complete opposite of how acne patches of the past positioned themselves.

In an interview with L’OFFICIEL, Schott shared:

“Before we started, certain retailers or investors didn't necessarily believe in the concept and they said 'Nobody's going to want to wear these loud patches and draw attention to their acne!' And we really believed the opposite to be true.

“If you read the reviews or feedback from customers, they always say, 'I feel so much cuter, this made me feel happy!' or 'I'm looking forward to having a breakout!'”

Just over three years old, Starface is already a hit with consumers — and the brand has been working to continually improve and update its products for its “growing and diverse audience.”

For example, when the brand received feedback that the original “jelly yellow” color wasn’t showing up the same on all complexions, it went back to the drawing board. Soon after, Starface released an updated version of the Hydro-Star patches, but this time with a truly opaque finish that complemented all skin tones.

Schott explains, “It was just important to have a uniform finish for every complexion so that nobody's having a contrasting experience.” And this attention to detail and the brand experience is what makes a company like Starface so successful. Customers feel heard and as if their voices matter — something which really resonates with Gen Z.

Over the past few years, Starface has expanded its product range — which now offers a line of “clean, vegan, and cruelty-free skincare products including a face wash, moisturizer, exfoliating toner, and pore strips.”

And the brand’s mission since the beginning has been to challenge the existing stereotypes around acne and change peoples’ perceptions of it. Schott told L’OFFICIEL that it all “starts from the language” they use — and Starface prefers to use honest, clinical terms like “acne” or “pimple” rather than “imperfection” or “blemish”. Instead of beating around the bush, Starface gets right to the point — thereby removing the unnecessary niceties and spotlighting authenticity.

Schott explained that “language and visibility are really important and they contribute to normalizing a thing that should totally be normal anyway, because 95 percent of people experience it. Making it fun, making it uplifting, making it optimistic is always the goal.”

Why Does Gen Z Love Starface So Much?

Source: Starface Website Testimonials

There are myriad reasons why Gen Z — and other young consumers — love Starface. But below, we’ll list some of the most important reasons.

Let’s dig in.

1. It’s Fun & Eco-Friendly

For Gen Z, sustainability matters. According to our own research, 37% of Gen Zers and 36% of Millennials reported that they find it “very important” to improve their environmental impact in 2022.

So, it makes sense why a sustainably-focused brand like Starface would resonate with them — the brand’s refillable, eye-catching cases are not only eco-friendly, they’re “collectible yellow pods” are whimsical and playful.

Described in an article for Vogue by Arden Fanning Andrews as “a mirrored compact that looks like a mix between an AirPod case and a Polly Pocket toy”, Starface’s “thoughtfully designed” packaging ticks all the boxes for fun-loving Gen Z.

Add in the fact that the brand’s additional packaging is all recyclable (except for the patches themselves, as seen in the screenshot below), and it becomes even clearer why Starface has hit a home run with this up-and-coming economic powerhouse.

Source: Starface Website

The Takeaway: By blending quirky brand packaging with true eco-consciousness, Starface has won the brand loyalty of countless consumers. Remember, sustainability doesn’t necessarily need to look serious or boring — it can be fun, colorful, and eye-catching.

2. It’s Bold & Authentic

If Gen Z loves one attribute the most, it’s probably authenticity. They aren’t drawn in by traditional marketing ploys or corporate lingo. They want brands that prioritize authenticity, and transparency — and aren’t afraid to take bold stances.

Putting a bright yellow star-shaped sticker on your acne spot is not what anyone could call demure or inconspicuous. It demands to be seen — whether that makes other people comfortable or not.

Andrews goes on to explain that:

“for the new generation of consumers looking to skincare (rather than concealer) to treat, not disguise, complexions, Starface offers a portable solution that can still fit into the tiniest microbag.

“Adorable peel-and-stick star patches create a new opportunity to claim, decorate, and celebrate real, unfiltered faces.”

This can easily be seen in Starface’s social media profiles — which often feature real people who use the Hydro-Stars in their everyday lives.

Clearly, they’re not meant to be discreet, but to draw attention to and normalize caring for your skin openly.

The Takeaway: Gen Z connects emotionally to brands that celebrate acceptance and embrace authenticity. If your brand is looking to win over this target audience, then don’t be afraid to be bold, authentic, and have a little fun.

3. It’s Inclusive & Uplifting

When it comes to how Gen Z feels about social, and ethical issues such as LGBTQIA+ rights or the anti-racism movement, we can turn to Latana’s own data.

According to research conducted in May 2022, 53% of Gen Z respondents would either be “likely” or “very likely” to purchase from a brand that actively supports LGBTQIA+ rights. Additionally, 42% of Gen Z respondents stated that they would be “likely” or “very likely” to avoid buying from brands that don’t take an active stance against racism.

While it’s not 100%, these topics are more important to Gen Z and Millennial consumers than they are to their older counterparts. So, it makes total sense that younger consumers connect with Starface’s inclusive, uplifting vibes.

A short look through the brand’s website reveals its “Your Impact” page, which explains all the ways that the company is working to make the world a safe, more inclusive place.

Source: Starface "Your Impact" Page

According to the brand’s website, 100% of the net proceed from the Rainbow Star pimple patches will be donated forever to the following organizations:

  • The Hetrick-Martin Institute for LGBTQ+ Youth (HMI): This organization works with teachers, school administrators, guidance counselors, mental health providers, and local government agencies to “educate and inform policies that better support LGBTQ youth ages 13 - 24 and their families.”

  • Black-Led Movement Fund (BLMF): This donor collaborative at Borealis Philanthropy works to strengthen the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) to “better shape policy agenda for black communities, create viable alternatives to institutions that have been harmful to Black people, and build local Black community power.”

  • Black Thrive: This UK-based organization works to improve the mental health and overall wellbeing of Black communities — while also striving to reduce health inequalities.

  • Alliance for Youth Actions: This is a non-partisan network of organizations that work to build the progressive power of young people across the US — creating political homes for young people with both physical and online communities.

  • Black Women In Motion (BWIM): This is a Toronto-based organization that works to “empower, advocate for, uplift and support Black women and non-binary folx” through its “anti-racist, intersectionally feminist, trauma-informed and survivor-centred” framework.

Starface has already donated $240,000 to the above-mentioned charities and organizations — which proves to Gen Z consumers that the brand puts its money where its mouth is.

The Takeaway: Many Gen Z and Millennial consumers are looking to give their business to brands whose values coincide with their own. And inclusivity, equality, and an uplifting community are all very attractive attributes to these generations.

So, if your brand wants to connect with younger consumers, then you’d be smart to consider the ways in which it can uplift and support its community.

Final Thoughts

By working to normalize acne — something that’s incredibly common yet so often hidden away from view — Starface has won the attention (and brand loyalty) of thousands of consumers.

The brand’s bold, whimsical approach to branding and marketing has made it a smash hit — particularly with Gen Z. Furthermore, its inclusive mission and uplifting brand voice have allowed the brand to foster a strong community, therefore enhancing its brand experience.

By understanding what its target audience wanted and delivering it to them in spades, Starface has grown into a fully-fledged powerhouse in just under three years. So, if you want access to reliable data that allows you to better understand your target audience’s thoughts, needs, and opinions, we recommend giving brand monitoring software a try — you won’t regret it.

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