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Special Project

Special Project
From the 15th Annual Shorty Awards

Big Yellow and the Starface Universe

Finalist in Beauty, Brand Identity


Acne is the most common skin condition in America and 95% of people experience it at some point in their lives. Despite the near universality of this experience, acne is consistently positioned—by society and the beauty industry in particular—as something that should be met with shame and isolation.


Since launching in 2019, Starface has changed the conversation around acne forever. In the last 3.5+ years, Starface has revolutionized the skincare industry, flipping the acne experience on its head with first-of-its-kind decorative pimple patches and innovative skincare essentials that transform breakouts into moments of confidence, self-expression, and connection. In tandem with exciting product launches, Starface incorporates an on-the-pulse, authentic, and humorous approach to social media. The brand continues to innovate through inventive marketing strategies, viral brand collaborations, and community-first initiatives, all in effort to further their mission of making growing up and being yourself more fun.

Starface’s novel approach has quickly attracted a loyal customer base and inspired an entirely new set of consumer behaviors—for the first time, people are eager to collect and covet acne care products and proudly wear them out in the world. To date, Starface has sold over 77M of their classic yellow Hydro-Stars, a testament to the cultural shift the brand has pioneered in embracing acne as an opportunity for personal style.

Strategy and Execution

Year after year, Starface continues to connect with their customers, especially Gen Z, by helping bring positivity and humor into the acne experience. During the early inception of the brand, the team decided to build a unique universe around the brand, centered around an uplifting mascot, Big Yellow, who serves as the voice of Starface. In addition to bringing fun and fantasy to Starface’s brand identity, Big Yellow represents a deliberate departure from traditional acne marketing, which has historically been focused on human faces and before-and-after results. 


All of Starface’s social media accounts are from Big Yellow’s first-person perspective, allowing the brand to interact with their community in a lighthearted way, just as best friends would. Building that authentic connection means meeting customers where they are, so as Starface’s community members find their way to new social media spaces, so does Big Yellow. Starface continually prioritizes being first to experiment with emerging platforms before they’re proven—they were one of the earliest brand adopters of TikTok and has since amassed a loyal following of 1.8M, surpassing household beauty brands. 


Big Yellow has also informed several viral and nostalgic collaborations with iconic characters like Hello Kitty, Sesame Street, and SpongeBob SquarePants—all of which have been met with notable excitement from customers eager to add limited-edition items to their Starface “wardrobes.” To build excitement and anticipation around these limited-edition moments, Starface has looked to the streetwear and sneaker world for inspiration, becoming one of the first and only skincare brands to bring “drop culture” to the skincare category. These collections routinely sell out within just a few days of launching and create large waitlists before customers even know what the collection or product is.  


Following thousands of customer requests and comments, Starface launched the third iteration of their bestselling collaboration with Hello Kitty in 2022. In an effort to create fun and engaging opportunities for the Starface community to experience the highly anticipated drop, Starface released a word puzzle on Instagram that customers could solve to unlock early access. Shortly after the puzzle went live, Big Yellow posted across their social media accounts directing followers to BeReal, where Big Yellow “leaked” the password for those that followed the new account.


Given that BeReal champions authenticity, uncurated content, and showing up unfiltered, it was a natural place for Starface and Big Yellow to engage. While there are the challenges of unchartered territory and a lack of precedence when entering any new platform, Starface has continued to embrace the unknown, reinventing the way consumers engage with skincare by showing up exactly where their customers are. BeReal specifically calls for unique spontaneity and agility, and required Starface’s social team to be inventive and prepared to create resonant content at any moment. 


Starface’s approach to social is directly influenced by their brand mission and values. As a result, they’ve been able to set themselves apart from other skincare brands by addressing customer demands and interacting with the world in a fun and innovative way. Authentic and personable content continues to be a driving force for the brand, spearheaded by the uniqueness of their character Big Yellow. 


The success of Starface’s dynamic and creative approach to social media and collaborations is clear—it’s difficult to scroll through TikTok and Instagram without coming across someone wearing Starface. The brand has quickly created a culture where both celebrities and day-to-day customers are excited to embrace their skin, decorate their pimples with expressive patches, and become a part of a community rooted in optimism, confidence, and self-expression. 


Even with leveraging a new platform for the first time, Starface saw incredible results from their entry into BeReal, as well as the launch of their third collaboration with Hello Kitty.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Derris, Starface


Entry Credits