You've heard of Starface, right? The viral, social media-friendly acne care brand that singlehandedly made pimple patches the ultimate selfie moment. Founded in 2019 by veteran beauty editor Julie Schott and Brian Bordainick (who have also founded other startups, such as Julie, Futurewise, among others), Starface was ahead of its time when it embarked on a mission to make acne products fun, effective, and affordable. Sparking joy (and removing the stigma of having a breakout) one acne patch at a time? Starface proved it's possible.
Unsurprisingly, the brand eventually caught the attention of major retailers like Target, Revolve, and Amazon, with over 77 million yellow Hydro-Stars being sold since its launch. But as Starface's offerings expanded to include everything from cleansers to moisturizers to sunscreen, I was curious to see how other products compared to the OG star patches that put them on the map. Ahead, join me as I try a full routine featuring Starface's best and brightest products.
Naturally, I had to start with Starface's hero product, the Hydro-Stars. I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but if I did? Let's just say that the bar has been set high. The magnetic compact (with a built-in mirror) is total genius (not to mention practical), and the star-shaped patches aren't just adorable but also help adhere to the shape of your zit. Compared to other patches I've tried (and I've tried many), I'd say that these fall somewhere in the middle of the pack. They must be applied on dry, clean skin in order to stay on, and I found that these worked best on breakouts that already were partially extracted (i.e., had an escape hatch to drain the contents of the pimple) rather than ones that had yet to come to a head. However, one of the best things about pimple patches is that they physically prevent the wearer from picking — and the more you can encourage people to wear them (aka, make them cute), the better. For $15, you can get 32 patches plus the refillable case, which I think is pretty well-priced. (Refill packs are $11, so hang onto that compact.)
Starface just welcomed Big Blue to its star-studded (heh) lineup this month, and I already feel like it's going to be a fan fave. They're the same Hydro-Stars you know and love but infused with salicylic acid to delve into deeper breakouts. (Plus, the patches are reimagined in sky blue, which is one of my biggest color crushes — so much so that I own a suit in the color.) Compared to the original Hydro-Stars, Big Blue patches may have sped up healing time but not by a crazy margin. That said, as anyone with acne knows, days turn into weeks into months of not having clear skin — and it adds up. These clock in ever so slightly more expensive than their yellow sistren but are a good option to have on hand for more stubborn breakouts.
IMO, a cleanser only needs to do one thing, and do it well: Get your skin clean without over-stripping. Space Wash was perfect, in this sense: It's a really good, no-frills gel-to-foam formula that left my face feeling fresh and balanced. It's not jam-packed with buzzy active ingredients, and TBH, it doesn't need to be. (I personally recommend investing in serums and moisturizers that stay on your skin for more than 30 seconds.) I have oily skin, and even a tiny amount of cleanser lathered up enough to leave me feeling super clean. And especially for the price? Space Wash is a solid product that feels more expensive than its $11 tag.
I used to swear by toners, but as my routine has pared down a bit, I phased it out and never looked back. However, a recent facialist encouraged me to step things up in the exfoliation department, so back it went. Starface's Exfoliating Night Water was clear with a slight yellow tint and a fun press-top, which was perfect for pressing with a cotton pad or reusable round to absorb the liquid. Despite having a trifecta of AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs, it felt gentler on my face than other liquid exfoliants I've tried — which were ahem, spicy, to say the least. After a few weeks of testing, I do feel like my texture has improved a bit, but more time will tell if this stuff helps my hyperpigmentation and other acne scars. But for the price? The only other thing that rivals it is my other favorite liquid exfoliator, The Ordinary's Glycolic Acid toner.
I live in Miami, so I take sunscreen very seriously. Because I'm very acne-prone, I usually stick to mineral formulas that don't piss off my skin. Starface's Clear As Day is a chemical formula, but it didn't break me out once. True to the name, the formula itself was clear and gel-like, with a silky matte finish that felt like a makeup primer. (I hesitate to call it a "dupe" of another popular clear sunscreen but can also see the similarities.) I loved how this stuff didn't leave any sort of weird cast and toned down shine within seconds of applying. I also love a high SPF, so this will definitely be in my bag for touch-ups this summer.
My fellow oily folks will hear me on this: Nothing works better than a clay mask to sop up grease and impurities on the skin. (And hello, the satisfaction of seeing tiny pinpricks of oil as the mask dries? Bliss.) For starters, I love that Super Sulfur came in a tube. This makes it so much easier to dispense and takes up less room than a bulky jar. It's also light blue (see note above) and has kaolin clay, blueberry extract, and sulfur to naturally decongest pores. There's no tingling or burning sensation, either. (And before you ask, yes, there is a slight smell but nothing too crazy.) During a recent spa night in, my fiancé and I used this while watching Succession and emerged with bright, balanced complexions. (I swear, it even scared away a pimple-in-the-making that was brewing on my chin.) At $19, it's among the pricier products in the Starface lineup, but one I'll be glad to have on hand this summer.
ICYMI, Starface makes body wash, too. For starters, I loved the pouch packaging — so quirky, sustainable, and fun. (If you want, you can decant it into a reusable bottle, but it's totally optional since there's a cap.) Outer Space had a pale green tint and a subtly fresh scent that wasn't too perfumy but also was refreshing in my morning shower. In keeping with Starface's acne-focused M.O., Outer Space does contain ingredients (these include willow bark, cica, and mild AHAs) to help keep body breakouts at bay and soften skin. It feels like a true treat to use, and as someone who has historically neglected the skin below the neck, has seriously leveled up my body care routine.
As I wrap up my Starface journey, I want to end with what emerged as a dark horse in my review: Micro-Cloud. These micropoint patches might be tied for first with Big Blue in terms of my favorite Starface products. As someone who is prone to underground, irritated breakouts, I've found a lot of success with patches that have tiny pinpricks to deliver ingredients deep into the pimple for fast healing. Starface's version is powered by a one-two punch of niacinamide and salicylic acid (two ingredients I love and use in my routine), and sure enough, they stopped a particularly nasty nose pimple right in its tracks. And this is all before we even talk about how adorable the little cloud design is — I was prepared to call B.S. if they didn't work and were just cute, but truly, I have no notes. Short of having a dermatologist on speed dial for an emergency cortisone shot, these patches are a true lifeline before a date, big event, or any other occasion where you don't want your pimple third-wheeling.
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