I was trying to figure out the other day when I first encountered Benefit, the quirky skincare and makeup brand that has now spawned a host of imitators (that to my mind, never quite capture the kitschy ‘50’s essence that Benefit does). The first piece of Benefit I ever bought was back when the brand had first arrived in England, when it used to be sold at Space NK in Covent Garden (and what a frantic makeup lurker I was there! I could always be found, rummaging through the Shu Uemura displays and discovering all the hot new boutique brands like Stila, NARS and Laura Mercier when they first launched in Europe. Ah, those heady days of mud brown lipstick).
I bought a white eyeliner, the nub of which I still have somewhere in the Vault, a testament to my first but not my last piece of Benefit fabulousness.
These days the brand has grown tremendously from when twin sisters, Jean and Jane Ford, (this is a true story) were running a small makeup shop in San Francisco and were asked by a local “exotic dancer” to create a special stain to make her nipples look more flushed. They concocted a special product out of strained rose petals, which became the still ubiquitous and best-selling Benetint. You’d have to have been living under a rock to have missed out on that one, it’s a classic and for most of the 90’s that and a slick of Vaseline was pretty much all the makeup you needed.
Over the years I’ve tried many of their products, some which have stayed in my handbag, some in my kit and a few (but not many), that didn’t make it into either. Here’s a run-down on the must-haves from Benefit.
Benefit Posey Tint – I actually prefer this to the original, redder version – it’s a perfect pretty pink flush and great for when you don’t have lots of time to fiddle with your makeup, and it stays all day. Destined to be a new classic.
BadGal mascara – I’ll be honest and say this one took me awhile to get into. I tried it a few times and wasn’t dazzled, then I tried it again and I was hooked. Perfect for big, sexy lashes when you’re doing a smoky eye. It’s not a natural mascara and it’s not so good for precision lashes, but when you’re going for all out sex appeal, this is the one I keep in my kit.
Blush powders in Hoola, Georgia, Dandelion and my personal favourite, Sugarbomb, which I’ve posted about before. I do wish they would call them blushers instead of face powders however, as I think it’s confusing since face powders are typically either translucent or skin coloured, which these are patently not – but they are lovely, sheer blushers in flattering shades. They are quite a light product and not superpigmented, but this is what gives them their lovely, weightless flush on the skin. They weigh a ton though, and I found out why – there is a weight in the box to make them feel heavier and I guess, more luxurious. Good on your dressing table, less so when you’re lugging 40 kilograms of makeup around.
Sheer cream blusher in Oooh and Sssh! These have quite a dry texture but I love the colours, plus you get tons of product since a little bit goes a long way.
Creaseless Crème Eyeshadows – I have posted about these before and I think they are all pretty gorgeous, lovely on their own or as a base for a smoky eye.
That Gal brightener – a luminous pink highlighter that I would only use on the high points of the face, not all over. This is a welcome change from similar products of their ilk, like MAC Strobe cream (which I’m really, really bored with now). Great for the fair complected. In fact, my only quibble with Benefit is that their shade range is not as comprehensive as I would like, not going deep enough into darker skins and not enough colour selections even in the Caucasian family. However all brands have good and bad points, and they do many other products you can’t find anywhere else (like yellow concealer).
You’re Bluffing – Redness concealing wand
I don’t use this on everyone, but I find it handy to have in my kit as certain people have a lot of red in their skin and can benefit (get it? ha ha! Oooh, I’m hilarious today) from a bit of this applied either sheered out with moisturizer or mixed in with other concealers.
Ultra Shine lipglosses – Zone Out, Foxy Lady and Dancing Queen
Just yummy, pure gloss for those moments that demand a shiny lip.
All in all there are few makeup counters that give you the brand experience of Benefit, a real sense that you have stepped into a different world. What’s your favourite Benefit?