If you don’t know the name Rachell Hofstetter, chances are you’ve heard her alias Valkyrae. Dubbed the “Queen of YouTube” by the 2020 Game Awards, Hofstetter is the most-watched female streamer. To say she has a massive fan base in the gaming world would be an understatement. In addition to gaming, her fans expect merch and cool clothes from the budding entrepreneur, especially since she’s the co-owner of the 100 Thieves apparel line. What they didn’t expect? Her first foray into beauty! Valkyrae is officially launching RFLCT skincare at Ulta Beauty, out October 24.
This isn’t just your everyday skincare brand, though. The gaming superstar is a creative collaborator for RFLCT and worked with the brand for more than two years to create products that help prevent damage to the skin from blue light pollution. Considering she spends thousands of hours in front of a screen, this is a project especially important to her. But even if you’re not a streamer, chances are you’re in front of your laptop, iPhone and/or TV pretty often. And there can be some nasty side-effects to all that screen time.
Studies have shown that small amounts of blue light can help prevent skin diseases but “longer exposure to high-energy blue light can increase the amount of DNA damage, cell and tissue death, and injury, eye damage, skin barrier damage and photoaging.” That can mean more hyperpigmentation, more wrinkles and overall dull skin. Eek!
I chatted with Hofstetter, or Rae as friends call her, over Zoom to find out why she wanted to get into beauty now and what it’s like being the biggest female streamer in the game.
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What Inspired Her Skincare Journey
Hours in a chair in front of screens led Hofstetter to realize she just wasn’t taking the best care of herself. “I was starting to lose feeling in my legs,” she says. “I had acne, acne scars. I started to realize, man, I’m really unhealthy. How am I supposed to do this for a living if I don’t feel good?” She used to even cancel streams and avoid webcams because of breakouts. “I think it all correlated to how unhealthy I was and the lack of sleep,” she says. “That’s why I made health a priority and skin health is one of those priorities.”
“We’re really the first generation to have lifestyles like this, where we’re in front of screens all the time,” she continues. “We don’t realize how things are affecting us in the long run.” Now Hofstetter focuses on getting shut-eye and eating a healthy diet. “If I’m not getting good sleep, I can’t stream and entertain people to my best ability,” she says. “I need to be able to have a good schedule. I walk my dog twice a day. I try to be active, go to the gym, eat better and I can work better. It all ties together.”
Why RFLCT Is for Everyone
Hofstetter didn’t help create a skincare line for female gamers. She wants everyone, any person of any gender who is in front of screens a little too often, to use RFLCT. “The gaming industry is male-dominated so I wanted it to be really unisex and I wanted people to not be afraid to try it, men not to be afraid to use it but it still is eye-catching to girls,” she says. Hofstetter tested products, played around with textures and smells until they landed on something she’s seriously proud of.
But of course, products still have a distinct nod toward the gaming community. That’s deliberate. “The name ‘reflect’ is kind of like a spell that’s in World of Warcraft and other games as well,” she explains. Each of the five product names features terminology used in gaming. “This is such a great bridge in skincare and gaming so I wanted to tie in a little more with the naming,” she says.
Her Go-To Beauty Looks
Hofstetter admits she likes to be cozy when she’s gaming. “For the past six years, my brand has been like…sweaters,” she says. “I have a sweater collection because I like being comfortable when I game. But I want to be stylish!” She recently dyed her hair black and is slowly experimenting with new looks. Still, her go-to makeup consists of black eyeliner and nude-pink lipstick — with RFLCT skincare as the base, of course. Because it doesn’t matter what your makeup looks like if your skin isn’t healthy.
How She’s Created a Safe Space in Gaming
It’s huge that Hofstetter is the most-watched female streamer on YouTube. But the fact that she has 45 percent female viewers is something she’s especially proud of. “Over time that number has grown,” she says. “I didn’t expect that but I realized I’ve been gaming my whole life so there have to be women like me who have been gaming their whole lives as well. I think they’re coming out of their shell more because they see other women in the industry becoming successful in gaming. It feels a bit safer.”
She knows people are drawn to her because she’s been open about her own experiences and shares stories about her family struggles and bullying in high school. “I think people love that reliability,” she says. “I hope they don’t look at me as some superstar but like a friend. These things happen to people like me too! I really like that I make women feel a bit safer.”
Bullying is common in gaming and I ask Hofstetter how she deals with hate and what she’d tell others who want to do what she does. “You’re going to get hate for anything you do in life,” she says. “So you might as well get hate for something you love doing. Gaming is just entertainment. I don’t know why it’s so gatekept. If you enjoy it, do it. It’s supposed to be fun!”
What’s Next for RFLCT
Hofstetter doesn’t want to stop at just these products but says they’re a good start. “I want more products, more protection, to keep refining and make it even better,” she says. Color cosmetics are even a possibility somewhere down the line. “Makeup is something down the line I’d be interested in but I’m new to the space so I’m happy to be here.”