Hero Cosmetics has been on a long-standing mission to create accessible solutions to pimples and acne since it launched in 2017 on Amazon. With a no-frills approach to skincare, the brand kicked off a category that would soon boom in the Western beauty industry: pimple patches.
"Back then, the competition was far fewer," Hero Cosmetics founder, Ju Rhyu, shared with NYLON over a Zoom call. And she's right — when the brand launched its Mighty Patch, a clear, nighttime acne patch made of the purest medical hydrocolloid, there were few products on the market pushing the same concept, and certainly nothing that would yield the same results.
Today, while many brands new and old have since followed suit, Hero Cosmetics has remained a leader in the category. There are currently six versions of the Hero Mighty Patch each ranging in concern focus and technology, including a micropoint solution for early-stage blemishes and dark spots, and jumbo-size hydrocolloid strips to soothe and flatten larger breakout clusters within hours. On Amazon, the original Mighty Patch sku has over 24k five-star reviews, and that trend of positive community response to its products remains consistent throughout the brand's offerings. So what is it that makes Hero Cosmetics rise above the rest? According to Rhyu, the difference is making no concessions on quality or manufacturing.
"We sort of own the whole manufacturing process, if you will. That's a big differentiator, which we actually don't talk about a lot, but it's what makes our product so much higher in quality."
It's with this advantage that the brand confidently expanded its line at the start of 2021 with the launch of the Clear Collective collection, a one-of-a-kind three-step blemish prevention system that works to target the root causes of acne and blemishes. Staying true to its accessible product line, the collection of three products is available for $35, while each individual product is available for $12.99.
The line includes core staples that challenge the notion that you need 10 or more products to get clear, even, a glowing skin, including just the Exfoliating Jelly Cleanser, a foaming daily cleanser that relies on a combination of AHA, BHA, PHA, fruit enzymes, and knojac jellies to gently exfoliate; the Balancing Capsule Toner, formulated with green tea water and eight types of hyaluronic acid; and the Clarifying Prebiotic Moisturizer, a probiotic-rich formula for all day hydration.
"We want to make products for the entire life cycle of the pimple. Clear Collective is basically our foray into the 'prevent' category," Rhyu says, noting that the patches fall into the brand's "treat" category, while the Rescue Balm and Lighting Wand fall into the "repair and restore" bucket.
"We did a lot of research around acne and what causes the acne and how to prevent acne," she continues. What we realized is acne is caused by three things. One is lack of exploitation, like the skin buildup on your face. The other one is overproduction of sebum. And then the third is an imbalance in your microflora, the good and bad bacteria on your microbiome. And so the idea was, 'Oh, what if we make a line that addresses all those three things?' And so that's what we're doing with Clear Collective."
You can shop the Clear Collective individually, but it's recommended all three products are used together to really see the best results from the system. It's a suggestion brands make often, and while it can feel like marketing fodder, my personal experience with the Clear Collective — having used it as a system and also using certain products in conjunction with non-Hero Cosmetics products — was with the brands suggestion: I used all three together, and a significant improvement in my skin's texture, dark spots, and weekly stress-pimples were made in less than two weeks.
"It's meant to be used as a system and as a set, because again, we want to tackle that sort of one, two, three of exfoliation, sebum control, and the bacteria balance," Rhyu explains. At the end of the day, Hero Cosmetics relies on tried-and-true science — understanding the importance of getting to the root causes of skin concerns, as well as the ingredients and quality of what's used to treat them. Understanding acne-focused consumers are looking for results, Rhyu and the team center education and results-driven content on all consumer channels.
"We try to show the before and afters often, because again, I think people want to see with acne products that they actually work."
Following the launch of Clear Collective, the brand began its 2021 expansion into Target, along with recent partnerships with CVS, Ulta, and Morphe. With no product over $20, Hero Cosmetics is a safe bet worth taking for anyone dealing with acne-related skin concerns. The products — and their results — speak for themselves.