Starface flips the script on acne care

What was once a source of embarrassment can perhaps now be a form of style points. D2C startup Starface is offering a new way to think about mild acne: Instead of hiding in shame, embrace your “uniqueness” by “owning” your acne, while helping it heal.

With star-shaped medicated stickers that users place over pimples, Starface helps acne heal while making a bold fashion and beauty statement. With the power of social media to shape perceptions of “cool” and “beautiful”, this reframe of acne could turn an embarrassment into empowerment.

Starface’s branding is very … Gen Z, post-postmodern, self-conscious retro-loving remix culture with all of human history as your source material. (Their “About Me” section parodies the opening text from Star Wars). And rightly so. This isn’t your older sister’s acne care. This is a new world.

Why it’s hot:

Another example of the ongoing and unprecedented revolution in social values, fueled by social media. The meaning of luxury, wealth, success, attractiveness, etc. is being scrutinized, tweaked, torn down, and reconstructed. Brands that have relied on the old standbys would be wise to re-calibrate their message and offerings to attract consumers in this new reality.

Source: Fast Company

Try On a New Lipstick… On YouTube

For those of us who go down YouTube Makeup tutorial rabbit holes, like myself. It’s easy to get discouraged that you don’t have the color to look for yourself… that’s half the point of watching the video.

Well, YouTube has a solve for that (and for makeup brands who want to sell product). Try on while you watch!

“The feature is currently in the very early stages of development — alpha testing — and is being offered to YouTube creators through Google’s  in-house branded content program, FameBit. Through this program, brands are connected with YouTube influencers who market their products through paid sponsorships.”

YouTube has already found that 30% of viewers chose to try the experience when it was available on the iOS app. And those who tried spent an average of more than 80s engaging with the tool.

YouTube’s new AR Beauty Try-On lets viewers virtually try on makeup while watching video reviews

Why it’s hot?

A mix of VR and ecom! This beauty try-on gets over a big makeup hurdle. However this is not totally new. This is something sephora has done on their website, but it’s a much harder UI, this new way with YouTube should score google some extra referral cash, and users entering buy pages would be much more primed.

Birchbox and Walgreens Partner to Transform 11 Retail Locations

Today, the two companies announce that they’re joining forces. Birchbox will be taking over a big chunk of the floor space at 11 Walgreens locations over the next few months. In December, the first six stores will open in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis, and then in early 2019, five more stores will open in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Miami.

These new retail spaces–which range from 400 to 1,000 square feet–will look like mini Birchbox stores. Birchbox will curate full-sized skincare, makeup, and hair products from more than 40 brands. These are brands that Birchbox has incorporated into its subscription boxes in the past and has identified as customer favorites. The Birchbox-branded parts of the store will be beautifully designed with warm lighting, pops of color thanks to interesting wall paper, framed Birchboxes as artwork, and powder-room-inspired makeup stations.

Since 2016, the drugstore company has been investing more heavily in beauty, by bringing in new brands like NYX and No7, introducing a beauty loyalty program, and introducing 3500 beauty consultants into select stores. “We’ve been working on elevating and differentiating our beauty experience,” Lauren Brindley, group vice president of beauty and personal care at Walgreens. “We’re trying to give our customers a reason to shop beauty more often.”

While Birchbox is continuing to focus on its subscription box business, it will also be translating its core premise–making beauty discovery fun–into a physical store experience with this Walgreens partnership. There will be Birchbox-trained beauty consultants on hand to help guide the customer through the space and introduce them to new products. And there will even be a Birchbox-specific cash register, so the entire experience will feel separate from just going for a drugstore run.

“I think a big part of our realization at Birchbox–and this really resonated with the Walgreens team–was that there is a huge opportunity to serve the masses by allowing them to stay passive, but give them the same kind of pleasurable experience of someone who is beauty-obsessed,” Beauchamp says.

In keeping with Birchbox’s expertise in sampling, customers will also be able to build their own Birchboxes by selecting from jars of product samples. There will be feature tables where customers can check out new brands and products.”We continue to find over and over again that the little beauty sample is just really delightful,” she says. “The price point is so acceptable to everybody, and the samples kind of look like candy when they’re all sitting next to each other.”

Why it’s hot: This is a great example of a strategic partnership that benefits both brands — expanding Birchbox into new clientele and retail locations, and elevating Walgreens beauty offerings.

Source: FastCo

A Customized Skincare Regimen From… AI Cleansing Device?

A skincare brand created a cleansing device that doubles as a beauty advisor, using artificial intelligence to assess customers’ skin and create a tailored skin regimen.

Swedish beauty-tech brand FOREO recently released the world’s smallest artificially intelligent beauty coach. Known as the LUNA fofo, the AI-powered facial cleansing device assists customers of all skin types with their daily routine thanks to an algorithm that progressively learns the user’s skin type and needs after several uses.

The LUNA fofo combines advanced skin sensor technology with a silicone cleansing brush and T-Sonic pulsations for deep cleaning. “Simultaneously, the LUNA fofo can gather 700 years worth of intelligence within a two-month period of use.” The device pairs the information it gleans with data from a skincare quiz users can take on the FOREO For You app, which takes all of the information to then design a cleansing routine tailored for the individual user’s skin type and needs.

The product’s beta version launched in July through a partnership with the FabFitFun beauty subscription service. Future features for the product include air quality detection, which will then adjust the treatment needed for the user’s skin.

Why it’s hot: While the article didn’t expand into how this actually comes to life, personalized skin care and self-care (for example CareOf Vitamins) are becoming increasingly popular as younger generations continue to prioritize their health. I am curious how these cleansers work, and how advanced they are to learn about your skin type.

Source: PSFK

Revlon pivots from me to us and owns LOVE

Revlon has had it’s ups-and-downs over the decades — in fact its stock had dropped precipitously over the last decade. Like many in the beauty industry, they used the same cliché beauty/make-up advertising. The focus always was: me. Even Maybelline’s new campaign — ‘No maybe’s” which celebrates a woman’s individual beauty, still uses all the cliché beauty ‘cues’ we are used to seeing.

Revlon deploys a new focal point: us. With the “REVLON Love Test” (  they have re-positioned beauty in terms of your relationship, not just yourself. They went from “me” to “us”. A brilliant, simple and genuinely charming strategy. Their YouTube channel has a core campaign video of several couples (below), and works hard at being genuine. Then Revlon goes a level deeper into each individual couple experience. The video below has over 7 million views in one month.

Why is this hot? Not only is it a smart creative strategy pivot from a self-centered view of beauty to something bigger than self, but they coordinate multi-channel campaign with real finesse: a highly engaging Web site (, they offer several ways to draw you in and keep you engaged with the brand: a photo share that may be shown in times Square, a sweepstakes, a love test, and more.

Revlon loveison 2

Revlon love test sweeps 12.4

They just donated $1 million to a charity.

Revlon 1 $$ for lovie is on

They treat this seriously with a nice splash of silly. Very human — meaning genuine, authentic and emotional — and very smart marketing.

Augmented Mirror Lets You Test Drive Makeup


Modiface’s Mirror combines augmented reality and facial recognition so shoppers can see what they’ll look like with different shades of makeup before making a purchase decision.

The Mirror combines a 3D live-video feed with a Photoshop-style sampler of more than 2,000 existing products and that maps the shades and textures to a movable, rotatable image of the user’s face.

Mirror’s core format is a sales kiosk, a robust and stand-alone version that automatically grabs a browser’s image and attracts their attention with recommended shades and brands. Once interested, the shopper can experiment with various products until the shopper becomes a buyer.

The concept is also available as a less robust, but considerably less expensive, app that uses a smart phone’s camera to capture the image. The apps are available for iPhones, Android and most tablets.

Mirror also includes an anti-aging mirror that shows the long-term benefits of using various moisturizing and age-reversing products. The featurette shows these effects as a slow progression, demonstrating the gradual effects.


ModiFace began in 1999 with initial research into facial analysis at Stanford University. The work continued through 2006 when ModiFace, Inc was born. Modiface technology has gone on to hold the leading patent portfolio on skin and facial analysis, powering over 150 web and mobile apps with a total of over 50 million downloads as of March 2015.


Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot

I’ve been paying close attention to retail trends that (1) enable creative sampling in a digital world and (2) connect the digital & physical in useful ways that can encourage purchase. This technology is a great example of both of these trends, and could open the door for even more impactful usage — think pre-surgical previews, impacts of UV exposure and more.

Golden Globes are L’Oreal’s Super Bowl

This Sunday, the Golden Globes will air on TV featuring A-list celebrities and the who’s who in the movie, fashion and music industries. To capitalize on the event, beauty brand L’Oreal is setting up a real-time social media war room to create branded gifs throughout the night of hot trends and ideas.

To execute the “shoppable social commerce center,” the brand and its agency partners will be working with a handful of style influencers and models to create social content during the event. The new twist to the real-time war room is that each piece of content will include ecommerce links to shop the featured looks from the evening.


Read more here.

Why It’s Hot

This article piqued my interest because of my past work in the beauty industry, but moreover because it exemplifies a strategic approach to a milestone event for the brand. Combining real-time social media efforts with a direct tie to conversion, plus integrated paid media support, along with 3 new TV ads that will air during the program.

According to the AdWeek article, “while social media war rooms have become standard fare during live events like the Super Bowl, L’Oreal’s social play is an interesting twist for fashion and beauty-minded advertisers.” It will be interesting to see how their social media audience receives this approach – whether its with open arms and a cheer or a shrug and swipe of a finger down their newsfeed.

Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ Hits a Rough Patch

The brand’s latest “Campaign for Real Beauty” video, in which women are tricked into believing they’re wearing pharmaceutical patches that will make them feel more beautiful, is raising the ire of commentators in social and conventional media. Critics expressed outrage — saying that the study was much more about Dove branding than women’s self-esteem. Unilever, however, sees big viewership numbers and overwhelmingly positive social-media sentiment.

With 4.5 million views on YouTube alone over two days and 15 million globally via all channels by Unilever’s count — the “Patches” video from Ogilvy & Mather Brasil, Sao Paulo, is off to one of the strongest starts ever in the 10-year-old “Campaign for Real Beauty.”

Even beyond the outrage machine of social media, those critiques may have left an unsightly mark. “We see an initial down-trending with women for Dove on their buzz score,” said a spokesman for YouGov, which tracks brand sentiment in online surveys of 4,500 panelists daily. “It’s not dramatic at this point,” he added. “But so far, it’s definitely distinct.”  Yet social-media monitoring service Infegy, in an analysis done for Advertising Age, found the broader social-media sentiment toward “Patches” 91% favorable and only 9% negative among the 49% of 2,181 Twitter and Facebook posts that expressed sentiment during the first two days of the campaign. That’s similar to the 92%-positive sentiment Unilever found in its social-media tracking globally from more than 20,000 comments tracked by Radian6/Salesforce Marketing Cloud, said a spokeswoman from Dove’s PR firm, Edelman.

In the “Patches” video, women are portrayed as going from seeing no difference to feeling more confident about their looks, then laughing or crying as they discover the patch had no real ingredients. None are shown getting angry. “All the women who participated in the social experiment feel that it was an extremely positive experience that has empowered them to be far more confident about their beauty, inside and out,” said Steve Miles, Unilever’s senior VP-Dove, in a statement.

He said Dove created the “Patches” video “to intentionally provoke a debate about women’s relationship with beauty” given that 80% of women feel anxious about how they look and only 4% consider themselves beautiful

Why it’s hot:

Is this thinly-veiled capitalism from Dove or more evidence that women are easily tricked especially in the subject of beauty without consequences?  Or is this a lesson of true beauty from within and that inner confidence radiates outward?  No matter which side you’re on, this heated debate continues today (even after 10 years).

Dove Launches Fake ‘Beauty Patch’ in Latest Play for Viral Glory


Unilever’s Dove introduced a 4-minute video following women who are given fake pharmaceutical “beauty patches” to test. They invited women to participate in a research project testing a revolutionary product called RB-X, a beauty patch developed to enhance the way women perceive beauty. Over the course of the two-week study, the women begin to notice themselves looking better, accepting compliments from others, and all attribute it to the effects of the patch.

Why It’s Hot

This video was launched in 65 countries and to think that so many women globally share the same feelings of insecurity when it comes to their looks. The women who participated in the mock study actually felt better about themselves, felt more comfortable in their skin, more social, and smiled more over the course of the two weeks, attributing those feelings to the patch. The women were shocked to learn that the secret patch had no active ingredient, other than their own increased confidence. As the Dove campaign reveals, “They discovered how the right state of mind can unlock a powerful feeling of beauty that lives inside all women. Become part of the journey that will empower women around the world with the message that beauty is a state of mind.”

Essie Creates First Virtual Nailpolish Wall

Super popular nailpolish brand, Essie, has the first ever virtual nailpolish wall on their website. The wall replicates the nailpolish wall at salons, recreating the fun process of comparing and choosing a color for their web experience. Each bottle on the “wall” links to a product detail page [layered over the wall] that includes links to purchase, other compatible colors, and links to share on several social networks.


Why It’s Hot 

Essie not only recreated for the web the fun of taking a trip to the salon; they have taken nailpolish beyond an in-person experience. Now it is easy for consumers to share favorite colors and looks online, making Essie one of the highest shared beauty products across social networks (such as tumblr and Pinterest), and ultimately one of the most popular nailpolish brands across the market.

Other brands like CoverGirl and OPI are following in Essie’s footsteps making their products socially shareable in hopes of broadening their reach, but Essie is clearly ahead of the game in using creative ways to enhance and broaden customer experience, create loyalty, and drive customer engagement.