Beauty products and video games may not seem like the most logical match, but when the COVID-19 pandemic kept people around the world inside for months on end, many took solace in digital worlds — so it makes sense that brands might try to get in on that action. Makeup and skincare companies have made forays into sponsoring streamers, creating promotional content in games like Animal Crossing, and yes, even releasing game-themed products. The quality of these collaborations ranges dramatically, from abysmal to actually pretty cool. And so, here are some of the best and worst video game beauty products I’ve seen so far.
Worst: OPI Xbox Nail Polish
Let’s start off with the most recent example on this list. Released earlier this year, the Xbox-inspired Spring 2022 collection from OPI is a pastel-toned set of twelve nail polishes. You might think they’d be named after specific Xbox game references, but you’d be wrong. Most have generic names like “Can’t CTRL Me,” “N00berry,” or the agonizing “Heart and Con-soul.” Alongside Essie, OPI is a reliable drugstore polish brand, and the colors are fine, but the integration of the Xbox branding here is pretty weak. The one neat idea that came out of this collab — Xbox controllers that match the polish shades — was limited to a giveaway, rather than produced for retail.
Best: Animal Crossing Colourpop
I’m a fan of Colourpop, even if I don’t buy from them much lately. Their products are affordable, well-formulated, and come in packaging that’s simple and functional. Last year, they released a line of makeup inspired by and featuring characters from Animal Crossing: New Horizons, from eye shadows to lip tints. The cute style of Animal Crossing fits in well with Colourpop’s existing branding, and the colors were drawn from flowers, items, and characters in the games. Good product, good brand integration, good job.
Worst: MAC Starring The Sims
As pointed out by Natalie Flores in our piece on the Colourpop Animal Crossing release, MAC tried something similar around the same time. Instead of an entire line, they chose to release a single eyeshadow palette based on The Sims 4. Well, that was the idea, anyway. In reality, the product was simply a rebrand of the MAC Solar Glow Times Nine palette. It also featured no Sims branding, apart from the box, and the shades weren’t related to The Sims 4 in any way. As a neutral shadow palette, it was fine, but the reaction to the lackluster collab (and the reuse of the existing palette) was so bad that the product was pulled almost immediately.
Worst: GlamGlow Sonic Blue GravityMud Firming Treatment
Yes, it’s blue, so they got that right. But this is a case where the underlying product tanks the whole endeavor for me. GlamGlow’s GravityMud mask is intended to firm and tighten skin, but makes some ludicrous claims. No skincare product can “lift” skin. It just doesn’t work that way. This stuff is full of alcohol, which yes, will make your skin feel tighter, but can potentially also irritate your skin. The original jar packaging is terrible for keeping beneficial ingredients stable, though the version in tubes, pictured above, does alleviate that issue. GlamGlow is an overpriced, overhyped luxury brand and even the pull of the blue blur himself couldn’t get me to buy their slop.
Best: Pokemon Colorkey
C-Beauty brand Colorkey partnered with Pokemon last year to create a collection of products featuring the iconic little electric monster Pikachu. I’m going to be honest with you here, I’ve never tried any Colorkey stuff, so I’m rating this one entirely on the presentation. And boy, does it nail it. The Pikachu eyeshadow palette even lets you prop it open with his big ears. Some people might say you shouldn’t buy beauty products based on packaging, and I mostly agree — but if a nicer or cuter packaging makes you more likely to use and enjoy the product, then it can be worth it, and this is one case where I’d say it is.
Best: Nyx Professional Makeup Tetris Collection
Nyx products can be found at nearly any drugstore in the US. Tetris can be found on nearly any platform known to humanity. It just makes sense, y’know? Nyx’s now-discontinued Tetris collection featured a range of projects, but most notably a gigantic, 80-shade eyeshadow palette. While the pans aren’t themselves shaped like tetrominos, they’re cleverly arranged in such a way that adjacent sets of four colors make work well together — Nyx even gave the combos cute little names like “Hard Drop” and “T-Spin.”
Best: Shu Uemura x Super Mario
Back in 2017, Japanese beauty brand Shu Uemura released a limited-time holiday set of Mario-themed products. These included an eye and cheek palette with stamped pans displaying classic Mario imagery, a star-shaped stamp liner. As someone who uses my Shu Uemura eyelash curler, though, the one I’m most disappointed to have missed is the Invincible Superstar Premium Curler, a golden version of the tool, complete with a dangling little super star hanging off the end of it.
Did I miss any of your favorites (or least favorites)? What kinds of collabs would you like to see between beauty brands and games? Let me know in the comments. Me, I’d love to see some perfume brands create fragrances that try to capture the olfactory essence of the Mushroom Kingdom, the dank halls of Castlevania, or Ocarina of Time‘s Water Temple.