Why Hero Cosmetics Founder Ju Rhyu Wants You to Wear Pimple Patches During the Day

"We're on board with people not feeling embarrassed about wearing pimple patches, and we want people to feel more comfortable about having breakouts."

BEAUTY BOSS: Hero Cosmetics Ju Rhyu
Photo: Courtesy/InStyle

If you're one of the 50 million Americans who experience acne, chances are you've stained a pillowcase (or two) with the spot treatment you dabbed on your zits before bed. You've also probably experienced the dryness and flakiness that come with these products, too.

That's the beauty of the pimple patch, a Korean skincare innovation that's mess-free, helps suck the gunk out of your clogged pore, and keeps you from picking and popping your zit, which in turn will help prevent post-breakout hyperpigmentation.

Thanks to maskne, pimple patches are having a moment, but they weren't always on the main menu of at-home acne treatments. That's what led Ju Rhyu to start Hero Cosmetics, a full-spectrum acne care brand made famous by its Might Patch collection, an assortment of pimple patches in various sides.

Rhyu first discovered just how effective pimple patches can be while working in South Korea, which led her to start her brand stateside. After its patches gained a cult following, the brand expanded into prevention and aftercare. In January 2021, Hero debuted its cleanser, toner, and moisturizer, and the trio of products are already best-sellers.

Here, Rhyu chats with InStyle about how she started Hero without any outside funding, must-know tips for using pimple patches, and more.

What personal experiences inspired you to start Hero Cosmetics?

It all started when I moved to Seoul, South Korea for an expat assignment. I started breaking out a lot and suffered from adult acne, whether it was due to the lifestyle change, the environment, or stress. I was desperate for a solution, and noticed a lot of people walking around with patches on their faces. I asked someone about them and they told me they were for pimples. So I tried one, and I was just blown away by how well it worked. I had never heard of pimple patches before, and I wondered why they weren't available in the U.S. That was really the impetus of what is now Hero Cosmetics.

How do you think your background in marketing helped you make the transition to beauty brand founder?

There are a lot of tangible things I learned while working at big companies that I still use as a founder of a beauty brand. When I was at Kraft Foods, which was a traditional brand management type of experience, it was always about the consumer and really rooted in research, and that's an aspect I still bring with me — just really listening to what our audience and community wants or needs in their acne routines. I think the whole idea of creating a brand that has an emotional connection to it is also something I learned when I was at Kraft. At American Express, I learned tactics on how to directly communicate with consumers via email, digital, paid media, and copy. These skills are really helpful, especially when Hero first launched, because the question was figuring out how to get people to know about us and buy our products.

The acne positivity movement in North America has helped shift people's perceptions of acne, but pimple patches are still largely just worn while at home. How do you hope Hero changes people's view on patches?

I started wearing them during the day in public. Recently, I had a breakout, so I slapped a patch on and I went into the office and did Zoom calls while wearing it. I think it partially starts with us at the company and the people in our community exhibiting the behaviors. Then, people will realize it's ok to wear them whenever they want because other people are doing it. In our brand education, we oftentimes show people with the patch on and we have one with thin, invisible edges that's perfect for daytime because because it's more discreet. We also give tips on how to apply concealer and foundation over the patch to make it less noticeable, if that's what you wish. We're on board with people not feeling embarrassed about wearing pimple patches, and we want people to feel more comfortable about having breakouts.

Pimple patches have been trending throughout COVID-19, thanks to maskne. What are some essential tips for using them?

Pimple patches should be the first thing you apply after you cleanse your face. If you have applied skincare products like a facial oil or moisturizer, you should take a tissue and rub any residue off your skin and then apply the patch. These products create slip and the patch won't stick as well. It also has to be used on the right type of pimple, basically one of those juicy ones. When you see puss and the whitehead, that's when you know it's ready for a Mighty Patch because it will extract out all of that gunk.

VIDEO: Salicylic Acid vs Benzoyl Peroxide: Which Should I Use To Treat My Acne?

Hero launched skincare products earlier this year. Why was 2021 the right time to expand?

We want to be the new Clearasil or Proactiv. In order to become a go-to acne brand, we need to offer products outside of our Mighty Patch products. We want to offer solutions for every type of pimple, as well as prevention, repair, and restore. The patches fall under treatment, while Rescue Balm helps speed up recovery from redness caused by popped pimples, and Lightning Wand helps with dark spots after breakouts. We launched prevention products in January 2021, including cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. The three-piece set is doing quite well, and it's once of our top three sellers on our website.

Hero didn't receive any outside funding in its first few years. What tips do you have for fellow entrepreneurs trying to get their self-funded businesses off the ground?

For us, we launched on Amazon, which helped a lot because it kept our costs low in terms of acquiring new customers. We got paid out very quickly, and it's what really helped us bootstrap for the first few years. My advice would be to focus on distribution channels where you think you can not only generate revenue but be profitable as soon as you can. That's really going to carry you for the first however many years. Having traction ended up helping us raise money and put the company in the best place, versus raising money when we didn't have any data points or revenue. That would have been much harder.

Shop Hero Cosmetics Products

The Mighty Patch Original

Best Acne Products

Most pimple patches (including Hero's The Original) are made from hydrocolloid bandage, which absorbs the fluid from the blemish. You'll know it's working when the patch turns white and expands. When you take it off, the pimple will be flatter and less red.

To shop: $13/36; amazon.com

Rescue Balm

Best Acne Products

It's understandably hard to resist the urge to pick and pop pimples. That's why Hero created Rescue Balm. Inspired by first aid ointments, the lotion is infused with soothing, hydrating ingredients like panthenol, vitamin E, and oligopeptides to minimize redness and prevent post-breakout hyperpigmentation. Rescue Balm can also be used on just-patched blemishes for the same benefits.

To shop: $13; amazon.com

Mighty Patch Invisible+

Best Acne Products

This clear, uber-thin pimple patch is ideal for wearing under makeup or subtle enough on its own for daytime.

To shop: $18/39; amazon.com

Mighty Patch Micropoint for Blemishes

Best Acne Products

For deep, below-the-surface, early-stage blemishes, try a patch that's infused with an acne-fighting ingredient. These patches have teeny-tiny microneedles that ensure the salicylic acid gets into the pore to unclog it.

To shop: $13/6; amazon.com

Clear Collective Trio

Best Acne Products

Consider this best-selling set your acne skincare routine starter pack. The cleanser, toner, and moisturizer are designed to target the concerns of blemish-prone skin such as exfoliation to prevent breakouts and brighten dark spots, oil control, and hydration.

To shop: $35; herocosmetics.us

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Beauty Boss profiles the brains behind the brands making waves in the beauty industry. From the ideas that first inspire brands to how best-selling hair, makeup, and skincare products are made, find out how these leaders get it done.

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