The XX Factor

With a Crayola-Clinique Collaboration, Infantilization Has Never Looked So Appealing

An ad for the Clinique/Crayola collaboration.


When you’re a little kid, all you want to do is play with makeup, and it turns out this premise also works in reverse: When you’re a grownup, all you want to do is play with crayons. As proof of concept, I present to you Clinique’s new limited-edition collaboration with Crayola, a line that I and every other woman you know are currently furiously adding to carts and pinning on Pinterest. It’s kind of impossible to look at them and not burst into an emoji-laden reaction of pure glee. Makeup! That is also crayons! Why has no one ever done this before? I’m only half-joking when I say I think this combination deserves a Nobel Prize.

The lip colors look a lot like the Chubby Sticks that Clinique has been selling for years, except now they say Crayola on the side and have the brand’s trademark squiggly lines going round the tubes. Yes, those same squiggles that accompanied your childhood scribbling. While the line features Crayola signature color names like Razzmatazz and Tickle Me Pink, it doesn’t stray into more adventurous shades of the Crayola family like Macaroni and Cheese or Purple Mountain’s Majesty, sadly. For further nostalgia, if you buy the full set, the lip colors come in a cardboard box that borrows heavily from the classic yellow-and-green Crayola container.

It feels a little silly to be this excited about some lipsticks. But this is a diabolical masterstroke in packaging: Glossier, consider the ante upped. If the adult coloring craze of the past few years proved anything, it’s that adults enjoy products that take them back to childhood. It’s very kidult, the makeup equivalent of a twenty- or thirtysomething getting a Game Boy case for her iPhone. And few kids’ brands are as recognizable, beloved, and untarnished as Crayola. That’s all this really is, one canny brand making a strategic alliance with another brand in order to make money, like the capitalist enterprises they are. But that doesn’t mean it also isn’t really cute. There’s a reason nail-polish namer and crayon-color namer always get thrown around when we talk about pie-in-the-sky dream jobs. Playing with color is just fun, a simple pleasure that a lot of adults take for granted. And right about now we could all use a little Razzmatazz in our lives.