There's nothing cute about having acne — at least, that's what a lot of beauty products make us believe. As if it weren't stressful enough to wake up with a breakout, the sterile tubes of retinol or fleshy acne patches we use to treat it beg to be hidden away in the darkest recesses of the medicine cabinet. Squish, the new skin-care brand created by model and activist Charli Howard, is here to change that.
Like so many women, Howard knows what it's like to deal with skin-care concerns like under-eye bags, dry skin, and acne. So, she set out to create a line of products that addresses all three, with three hero products — cherry-shaped eye and cheek masks, flower acne dots, and a clear gloss — housed inside packaging you'll actually want to share on Instagram.
When preparing for the official launch, Howard knew that the campaign for the collection had to align with her own values. Back in 2016, she co-founded her own body-diverse e-initiative, the All Woman Project, that celebrates diversity and champions female empowerment. Squish's approach is a natural progression of AWP, featuring models of all skin colours, body shapes, and sizes showing everything from stretch marks to acne to hyperpigmentation. The impossibly glowy women in Glossier ads are gorgeous, but it's hard to relate to someone putting on a spot treatment when their real skin concerns are undetectable.
"Beauty comes in every shape and size," Howard tells Refinery29. "Having things like cellulite or acne shouldn't deter someone from buying a product." That's a message Howard also hid in the brand's name: Squish. When Howard was throwing around potential names for the collection, it was Squish that stuck. "I was thinking about the products, something you're squishing into your skin," she says. "I've been using that word for quite some time, too. I always refer to my [body] as squishy."
The shoot was the antithesis of big-budget beauty campaigns; Howard and her team even instructed the models to arrive in two outfits they already owned. "It was about being real," she explains. "I wanted to make it fun, make girls want to see themselves [in the photos]." Those photos are filtered through a '70s haze, with the kind of lighting you'd only find in a vintage edition of Playboy. Meanwhile, the brand site is covered in retro fonts and neon colour schemes you haven't seen since the Y2K scare was your biggest worry.
Ultimately, the point Howard wants to make is that women can be playful and sexy and cute even while battling the emotional complications of a breakout — or under-eye bags so deep you can swim in them. Ahead, the floral acne dots and cherry face patches you'll want to stock up on while you can, because you know they're too cute not to sell out.
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