As a beauty writer, new brands, launches, and treatments come across my desk every day. While I’m constantly adding to my arsenal of products, there’s one brand I constantly go back to for tried-and-true makeup: Benefit Cosmetics.
Even before I started my career in beauty, I raved about Benefit to practically everyone and anyone who would listen. Truthfully, the brand’s products have remained in my rotation for as long as I can remember. And honestly, as the years have gone by, I’ve never ceased to be amazed by the new launches—each is thoughtfully formulated with precision to truly provide exactly what you’d ask of it. Trust me: Once you try Benefit, you’ll never go back.
FOUNDED: Sisters Jean and Jane Ford in 1976
BASED IN: San Francisco
BEST KNOWN FOR: Brow products and the cult-favorite Hoola Bronzer
MOST POPULAR PRODUCTS: Hoola, Gimme Brow, and Roller Lash Curling Mascara
FUN FACT: When the Ford sisters moved to San Francisco, they flipped a coin to determine the type of business they would start. One side was a makeup store, and the other a casserole cafe.
OTHER BRANDS YOU’LL LOVE: Glossier, Urban Decay Cosmetics
Behind every brand is a story, and Benefit’s does not disappoint. “Before Benefit was born, its two founders, Jean and Jane Ford, both successful models and makeup artists at the time, took a leap of faith and moved to San Francisco to bring a new approach to beauty,” say Maggie Ford Danielson and Anne Ford Danielson, chief beauty ambassadors at Benefit Cosmetics. It was in 1976, in San Francisco’s Mission District, that the journey began with the opening of a tiny makeup shop called The Face Place.
At this point, the Danielsons explain, the business plan was to make $33 a day to break even. But things changed in 1977 when an exotic dancer walked into the store and ordered a nipple stain. “It was here that the first bottle of Benefit’s Rose Tint was born—years later, we call it Benetint.” In 1990 The House of Benefit was born when The Face Place was renamed Benefit Cosmetics. “Its first official counter opened that same year at Henri Bendel in New York City, and things began to change a bit later when LVMH (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuttion) acquired the once humble little makeup shop,” say the Danielsons.
If anything, it proves to us all that all it takes is an idea and a whole lot of passion to create something incredible. “We’re not only in the makeup business … we’re in the feel-good business,” say the Danielsons. “Because when we are laughing and having fun, that’s when we are our most beautiful selves.”
Ahead, discover the best products that Benefit Cosmetics has to offer.
If you haven’t already seen this bronzer in a friend’s makeup bag, know that it’s Benefit’s most popular product—and for good reason. Just one swipe of this smooth, bronzy powder, and your skin will appear instantly sunkissed like you just got back from a tropical vacation.
The product was launched more than 20 years ago and remains a staple for the brand. Hoola’s formula was unique at the time for offering a shimmer-free neutral matte bronzer for a natural-looking glow. “We spent quite a lot of time to find a perfect blend of white, brown, red, purple, and yellow pigments that give you the most believable, natural bronze that wasn’t too orange or ashy (something consumers complained about at the time),” say the Danielsons.
Gimme Brow Tinted Volumizing Eyebrow Gel
Just one swipe of this tinted gel will transform your brows, which is why it’s one of Benefit’s bestselling products (and a favorite of mine). It leaves brows looking fuller and thicker, with color and hold that lasts all day. Read our review here.
Roller Lash Curling & Lifting Mascara
If there was a guide for creating a mascara, this one would be the prototype. Inspired by hair rollers, this mascara grabs, separates, lifts, and curls each individual lash. The brand uses a formula that conditions the lashes and that lasts for 12 hours. Available in two shades—original ink black and brown—it’s everything you could ever want in a mascara and more. For best application, the brand recommends gently wiggling the wand from the base of your lashes to the tip.
Boi-ing Cakeless Concealer
If you want to conceal dark circles and blemishes, a hardworking concealer is a helpful addition to your beauty repertoire. Without feeling heavy on the skin, this full-coverage concealer doesn’t cake, crack, or settle into fine lines (a common problem among concealers). Formulated with algae-derived ingredients and specially coated pigments, it’ll smooth skin and leave a natural finish—sans creasing or flakiness.
The Porefessional Pore Minimizing Primer
Say goodbye to pores and fine lines, thanks to this magical primer. Silky and lightweight, the balm-feeling formula quickly evaporates, leaving you with smoother-than-smooth skin. Containing vitamin E derivatives, it also protects skin from free radicals (pollution in the air that can cause premature aging). Customers have attested in more than 7,500 reviews that the primer makes skin look like it’s Photoshopped when it’s worn. Wear it alone, under, or over makeup on freshly moisturized skin.
Originally created as a nipple stain for an exotic dancer, this lip, cheek, and eye tint can last through practically anything—it is truly smudge-, kiss-, and waterproof. The rose-tinted stain delivers a subtle, sheer hint of color without being too overpowering. According to the brand, this classic product is loved by celebrities, makeup artists, and consumers all around the world.
24-HR Brow Setter Clear Eyebrow Gel
A personal favorite of many (myself included), this invisible gel holds brows in place all day—and, if you prefer, into the night too. Built with a dual-sided wand, it coats hairs from root to tip to securely lock your brow makeup and hairs into place. The best part? Unlike other clear brow gels, the formula is completely flake-free, quick to dry, and easy to apply.
Precisely, My Brow Pencil Waterproof Eyebrow Definer
While this may look like an ordinary brow pencil, it’s something entirely unique. Since it’s created with an ultra-fine tip, drawing natural-looking, hair-like strokes is an uncomplicated process. Rich and waterproof, it’ll seamlessly fill in over-tweezed or sparse areas while holding in place for up to 12 hours without smudging whatsoever. Seriously, just a few light pencil strokes will completely transform brows. Plus, it’s available in 12 versatile shades, so finding your perfect match is simple.
They’re Real! Magnet Extreme Lengthening Mascara
According to Byrdie associate editor Olivia Hancock, this magnetic mascara lives up to its hype by adding tons of length and volume. Using a magnetically charged core, the formula pulls lashes out and up for an extremely powerful lift with each usage. “As someone whose natural lashes seemingly disappear on camera, this mascara is now my new go-to,” Hancock said in her review. The brand also claims that it’ll fan out, separate, and define lashes for up to 36 hours of wear.
This golden-pearl highlighter gives a gorgeous glow with just one swipe. Made with a silky-fine formula, it adds a subtle shimmer without stealing the show. Plus, the compact comes with a built-in mirror and a custom rounded brush for seamless application on the go or at home.