In recent months, the seemingly disparate worlds of beauty and gaming have overlapped more than ever. See: E.l.f’s partnership with Loserfruit or MAC’s recent promotion of Halloween looks inspired by Xbox games. The latest news in the space is perhaps the biggest statement on the future: Gamer Valkyrae, whose real name is Rachell Hoffstetter.
Hoffstetter made the influencer-to-entrepreneur move earlier this year, when she became a co-owner in eSports company 100 Thieves, which led to her own New York Times profile. She has 3.6 million followers on Instagram and 3.5 million followers on YouTube. RFLCT launched on Tuesday on its own DTC site and will launch at Ulta Beauty on October 24 in stores and online.
Hoffstetter first took an increased interest in her own skin care a few years ago, when she noticed that years of streaming were starting to catch up with her on a physical level. She reached a point where she had to pay attention to the “way that it has affected my health and my body in my face, [due to] the working conditions of being in front of a computer all the time and sitting down all the time.”
So when mutual friends connected Claudia Poccia (CEO and co-founder of Ideavation Labs) and Hoffstetter, the idea for RFLCT came together organically, the pair said. “Two years ago, Claudia approached me and she asked me, ‘What kind of products are you interested in?’ ‘Would you like to create hair products, makeup?’ And I asked her, ‘Is there anything out there that can help protect skin from screens, from the blue light?’ Because I’ve been using my blue light glasses for my eyes. But what about the effects of it on my skin?” Hoffstetter said.
Though the brand ideation process began before the pandemic, the work-from-home lifestyle has only increased many people’s screen time, and so the timing was right, Poccia noted.
The brand is launching with five products: a cleanser, a lip balm, an eye serum, eye masks and a moisturizer. Prices range from $12-$24, though travel-size options start at $9. The Aura Reset Facial Gel Cleanser, which is $18, features glycolic and lactic acid for chemical exfoliation and niacinamide to reduce the appearance of pores and strengthen the skin barrier. The Screen Shield Defense Moisturizer, for $24, features glycerin and sodium hyaluronate to hydrate skin. There’s also the Eye Revive Gel Treatment, $20, which has a cooling metal applicator and a formula that uses vitamin-rich prickly pear extract. And the Resurrection Eye Mask, which is $24 for six sets, has caffeine and seawater. Finally, the Lip Guard Moisture Balm, $12, is rich in shea butter. All five products feature the brand’s Blue Light Prevention Factor, or BLPF, which is a Japanese plant extract (Artemisia Capillaris) that helps defend, soothe and heal skin, according to the brand. It is rich in vitamins A and C, and works to combat cell damage caused by the presence of free radicals. The products’ ‘RE3’ component is a blend of three rice actives that also helps combat free radical damage.
“I was focusing on things that I personally would like for myself, being in front of the screen all the time as a creator,” Hoffsteter said.
“Valkyrae has reimagined the gaming space, and RFLCT has set out to do the same in the skin-care category,” said Monica Arnaudo, chief merchandising officer at Ulta Beauty, “As screen time continues to increase for so many across the country, blue light protection has never been more essential for our skin health and wellbeing. We’re excited for guests to level up their skin-care routine with RFLCT.”
Though the brand’s Instagram calls the brand “inspired by @valkyrae,” Hoffstetter is in fact a co-founder and was involved in everything from product development to packaging. “Her DNA is all over this brand,” Poccia said. “She worked with our product development team, our design team, manufacturing… This really this was created from her personal experience and her personal desires.”
“Pretty much every single thing about the collection has gone through me and gotten my approval, which boggles my mind because I would never expect to have that type of power with something like this,” Hoffstetter said. “It’s so insane to me.”
Among Hoffstetter’s musts for the brand were that she wanted it to be “incredibly unisex,” she said.
“The gaming industry, it’s very male-dominated, and I want everyone to not be afraid to use it. When we think of beauty and skin care, some men might be afraid to try it or it might come off as too feminine. So even down to our lip balm, I wanted it to have a matte finish, so that it doesn’t come off as glossy on anyone’s face. And I wanted there to be no scent, so it doesn’t smell like perfume,” Hoffstetter said.
“That’s not to say Hoffstetter wasn’t also thinking about women in gaming, a segment that she said has always existed, though it’s becoming more public-facing. “When it comes down to it, gaming is literally entertainment, and everyone just likes to be entertained. There actually are a lot of women out there that do game — they’ve been kind of hidden, but they’re coming out of their shell now.”