And we are all here for it!
We all remember a key moment in life when it seemed like a zit was well and truly the end of the world. Waking up in the morning to a red, pulsing blemish was enough to make you roll over and hide away in bed for the day. While deep down we knew that spots were nothing out of the ordinary, we always felt ashamed.
Now, the conversation around acne is changing. With social media acting as a platform for celebrities like Lili Reinhart and Kendall Jenner to champion their blemishes, and movements like #freethepimple to encourage others to be honest about their skin struggles, the long-standing taboo surrounding acne is slowly starting to fade. As Justin Bieber says, ‘pimples are in!’
While the conversations are maturing to become more accepting and open, the way we treat acne is also seeing a shift. Skincare brands have always promoted acne as something to shame and have forever told us to “fight our spots” like they are our enemies.
Well, introduce ZitSticka. Founded by Robbie Miller and Daniel Kaplan, ZitSticka was born out of a pure desire to find a product that worked for their own acne troubles, and hence, helping us out in the process. The brother-in-law duo are championing frank and open conversations when talking about acne. Providing a space where people can get real about their experience with acne through their “Zitty Committee”, and promoting open education through their blog “The Spot”. You can truly say ZitSticka are paving the way for the future of pimple talk, and it’s a clear road ahead.
Launching their first product KILLA, the skincare meets tech company was the first brand to pioneer the pimple patch (which has since caught the attention of many other skincare brands). Robbie and Daniel used their backgrounds in biology and pharmaceuticals to create an innovative brand for the modern acne sufferer. Combining skincare and technology to show the world that treating acne is just as accepted as having it.
We spoke to Daniel to share his journey to success, and to enlighten us on how ZitSticka has flourished into the skin-positivity brand it is today.
How was ZitSticka born?
“Well, I wish I could give you a more inspirational story, but quite honestly, I got a huge underground spot on my bum. Almost the size of a plum. It eventually flattened, but a year later I felt another one forming. I went to the pharmacy desperate for a fix, and they told me that I should use Ichthammol, which is extremely black and tarry and so he said to place a plaster on top. After using this messy DIY approach, I literally had my lightbulb moment that whenever I get a spot in my life I am going to put a plaster over it. But, I wanted to create something that actually had effective ingredients within the actual patch (and that wouldn’t stain my pants).”
ZitSticka marries tech and skincare. Was this innovation that you believe was missing from the skincare industry?
“When we were developing KILLA, we couldn’t understand how there was no such thing as an acne patch that wasn’t filled with acne-fighting ingredients on the market. We then began our search for different technologies. There was something called a hydrocolloid sticker, that’s used for a very specific stage of a zit’s life cycle. You use this when your pimple is right at a head and it uses osmosis to draw moisture out of the skin. The issue with these types of patches is that they can only be used at a very distinct stage. So, you have to go through an extended time of suffering, wait for it to surface, and then try your best not to pop it. However, this microdart technology was just being pioneered in Korea and so fortunately we were the first to discover and bring it to the western markets.”
Can you explain your O.G product KILLA and what inspired you to make it?
“KILLA is a penetrative stick-on patch that uses microdart technology to directly deposit acne-fighting ingredients into early-stage spots. The adhesive backing encloses the zit to protect the area and keep it sterile. Each patch contains 24 self-dissolving microdarts which prick the affected area (there’s a satisfying pricking sensation) and penetrates the product straight into the zit’s nucleus. In just two hours acne-causing bacteria is killed and the size and redness of the zit is noticeably reduced.”
Microdart patch for early-stage spots
A microdart patch to fade spot damage
Hydrocolloid patch for late stage spots
Since ZitSticka was founded, there have been a surge of other brands launching zit patches. What sets Zitsticka apart?
“Before we launched the brand, there was essentially no one that was producing a zit patch that used the microdart technology with ingredients baked into the darts. What really sets us apart is not only that we work with dermatologists to create all our products, but effectively combine skincare and technology.” ZitSticka’s O.G. product, KILLA, was the innovative launch that sparked a new craze in the skincare industry. Using microdart technology that pricks the zit, the pimple patch deposits acne-fighting ingredients straight into the nucleus of an early-stage spot. Their exfoliating sheet mask, PRESS REFRESH, is just as visionary. It is infused with graphene, a type of carbon, that penetrates the skin and delivers all of the exfoliating ingredients into the skin’s layers.
“When it comes down to it, it’s really our delivery systems and ingredients in our products that give us our ‘tech-meets-skincare’ name.”
Were there certain ingredients that were paramount to you to be included in the formula?
“The main ingredients that you want to include in acne-oriented products include salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide. Salicylic acid is the best of the best when it comes to acne-fighting ingredients. Acne develops when a pore becomes clogged, and then inflamed. SA works overtime to gently exfoliate any dirt causing those clogged pores. Hyaluronic acid is essential to almost any skincare product. Without hydration, the skin barrier can become compromised, and then react in different ways, such as acne, rosacea, etc. Niacinamide really is a ‘hot’ ingredient for a reason. It does everything, but most importantly it successfully soothes redness and irritation while evening out the skin tone.”
Daily skin supplement
Exfoliating heat activated mask
Korea is very well known for designing innovative and future-forward skincare. How have you found working with them?
“Working with them is pretty mind-blowing in the best way possible. The time and precision they incorporate into making their products is really the reason we decided to work with them in the first place. They know their craft, and you can see that in the efficacy of our products.”
Why did you want to use ZitSticka to break down the stigma around acne?
“Skin positivity was one of the brand values we wanted to prioritize from the birth of the company. From the start, we’ve been on a mission to de-stigmatize the conversation around acne as well as beautify the treatments themselves. Where acne has traditionally been a taboo topic, it is something that affects everyone. We want to promote transparency and a sense of modern normalcy, so people become more comfortable in their own skin.”
We think it’s possible to cultivate a community in which people feel more empowered to treat their acne, while also promoting self-love and self-acceptance.
By making a product that is designed to clear acne, how do you still voice that acne is something to not feel ashamed of, all the while still trying to clear it?
“Just as we wanted to instill the idea of skin positivity, we also wanted to promote vulnerability. In being more vulnerable about our skin, we think it’s possible to cultivate a community in which people feel more empowered to treat their acne, while also promoting self-love and self-acceptance. Our tone of voice is really foundational in this—we’re interested in talking to people like people; the same way they talk to their friends.”
What do you want the future to look like in terms of the conversation around acne?
“I think the more time goes by, the more vulnerable and transparent people will be about their experiences surrounding acne. We’ve already seen this in terms of body positivity and mental health, which has been absolutely fantastic to watch. I believe the conversation around acne has already started to follow in the footsteps of these two conversations.”
And before you go…
What was a ‘pinch me’ moment for you at ZitSticka?
“Being approached by amazing retailers that stock our products (so soon after launch) was definitely the ‘pinch me’ moment. Knowing that we produced a brand and product that resonated not only with our immediate customers but the best beauty/skincare buyers in the world.”
What is one ZitSticka product you can’t live without?
“That’s a tough one, but I’d have to go with our O.G., KILLA.”
If there is one thing about ZitSticka that you want people to know, what is it?
“Our mission is to empower you to prevent and resolve breakouts using our innovative delivery systems and signature technology, while also promoting transparent acne conversations that encourage both vulnerability and self-love.”
Interview with Daniel Kaplan. Photo Credit: Zitsticka