Our Facial Constellations
From the moment our T-zones turn oily, we are overwhelmed with acne horror stories and trite skin care tips. Between friends lauding their favorite cleansers and Vogue breaking down the best concealers, young adults are conditioned to shamefully hide their blemishes.
We have continually battled our blemishes behind closed doors, but now, a new skin care trend is shifting perspectives and helping acne-prone individuals feel comfortable in their own skin.
It’s not uncommon to see people rocking colorful stars on their faces, whether standing in line at Starbucks or reading in the Common. Described as star-shaped, hydrocolloid pimple protectors, skincare brand Starface sells their Hydro-Stars worldwide. Ranging from neon yellow to electric blue, the stars add a vivid pop to any look. The product has quickly become a staple of both skin care regimens and style choices, encouraging every skin type to express their individuality.
For Stella De Tergo ‘25, Hydro-Stars have evolved from just an acne patch to an accessory complementing her daily looks.
“I'm a big fan of stars and glitter in my makeup, so I have always felt like they [Hydro-Stars] go nicely with the aesthetic I'm aiming for,” De Tergo said. “I recently bought a pack that comes with pink, purple, green, and blue, and I have been loving the ability to coordinate with them.”
Aisling McDermott ‘24 started using Hydro-Stars this past summer and also incorporates the patches into their kidcore fashion choices. When wearing masks started to become less common, McDermott was initially hesitant to show their skin.
“I was anxious about my flare ups being stared at again,” McDermott said. “These [Hydro-stars] are a nice way to express myself. Because it's commonly known that they are for acne, I don't feel as though I am hiding that part of myself.”
Indeed, beyond the cutesy aesthetic of the star-shaped patches, wearing Hydro-Stars in public spaces acknowledges acne, relating to anyone struggling with skin conditions.
“It really embraces the fact that people deal with blemishes on the daily,” Erin Norton ‘25 said. “It's a normal thing that should be welcomed—and why not do exactly that in the most adorable and colorful way possible! Even though the star itself does hide the acne, I think it highlights the fact that it's there in general, but it's being almost accentuated.”
This is exactly what the founders of Starface intended when creating their brand. In a 2020 interview with fashion blog HYPEBAE, founders Julie Schott and Brian Bordainick discussed how Starface seeks to reframe the narrative surrounding acne.
“For us it was just really important to approach acne with kindness and acceptance, and also give it some visibility,” Schott said. “I think we are so used to covering it up… [and] the first way to feel better is to be open and to stop hiding.”
Schott also acknowledged that acne-prone individuals are constantly being told what they’re doing wrong with their skincare regimens, further invalidating those who have tried anything and everything to improve their skin.
“What I ended up finding is that 95% of people experience [acne]. It’s not your fault, so what if we just rethought our attitude towards this experience?” Scott said. “With Starface, it really just came from this idea of what if instead of putting on makeup, which I always found really irritated my breakouts, what if I could put on a treatment that looked cute and got the job done, all while making me feel better.”
McDermott echoes these sentiments.
“I think, perhaps, it does shift the societal image [of acne] because it catches the eye in the same way acne does,” McDermott said. “But when you look, you go, ‘Oh! A star!’”
In a 2018 study for the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, researchers identified that 85% of adolescents and nearly two-thirds of people over 18 struggle with acne. They also noted a correlation between acne and lower rates of self-esteem, particularly among female-identifying individuals.
Societal perceptions and opinions surrounding skin conditions undoubtedly contribute to acne-prone individuals feeling like they have to hide their imperfections. However, with the increased popularity of colorful, geometric acne solutions like Hydro-Stars, we can all take a collective step toward acceptance.
Whether worn solely as an accessory, a blemish solution, or both, Hydro-Stars are turning faces nationwide into colorful constellations of recognition and compassion.
Photograph by Liz Farias
Story originally published in the December 2022 issue of Your Magazine.