An OG makeup brand, Benefit Cosmetics has been a cult-favourite since 1976. Founded in San Francisco, it is part of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) conglomerate and is sold at more than 2,000 counters in over 30 countries. It’sone of our favourite cheap makeup brands and, as a result, it’s the latest to feature in our Brand Spotlight series.
Over the coming weeks and months, we’re shining a light on brands that represent and align with what we stand for at mamabella – brands that offer great products at low prices; brands which champion inclusivity and diversity; clean, sustainable and ethical beauty brands, and brands that are challenging the beauty industry hierarchy.
We’ve previously taken a look at The Ordinary and Carbon Theory, both affordable but science-led skincare brands offering fantastic products. Elsewhere, we’ve taken a look at makeup brands Revolution,NYX, and Sleek MakeUP.
Benefit is currently running a site-wide sale (at the time of writing) offering up to 50% off some of its favourites.
Formed by twins, Jean and Jane Ford, the pair’s initial business plan was to “make $33 per day to break even” and they set up the Face Place, a tiny original makeup shop in San Francisco’s Mission District. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the face place was renamed Benefit Cosmetics and the brand opened its first Benefit counter at Henri Bendel in New York, followed by one at Harrods in London.
Just two years later, Benefit Cosmetics was bought by LVMH – the world’s leading luxury products group headquartered in Paris and expanded to 2,000 counters in 30 countries.
Such is Benefit’s brow legacy, the brand is in the Guinness World Record Books for the most eyebrow waxes in eight hours by a team, achieved in 2012. There has been some confusion and controversy around whether Benefit is cruelty-free or not and we’ve explained more at the bottom of this article.
Benefit’s prices put it at the top end of what we would deem to be cheap makeup, but it warrants inclusion for a number of reasons.
Benefit led the eyebrow game before anyone else started playing. It’s now renowned for its multiple brow bars in various department stores and boutiques, specialising in shaping customers’ brows and giving them the signature Benefit treatment, and it has helped us learn more about how to do eyebrows and which products to use.
Beyond its brow products, it’s known for its fantastic bronzing and mascara products, we remember it being the first ‘serious’ makeup brand we fully got into. Years down the line there are still products in the range that we still can’t live without.
FURTHER READING: We put every Benefit mascara to the test to discover which is best
£22.50 | Buy now from Benefit
Why we love it: As we’ve explained, Benefit has become a leader in brows and this eyebrow gel explains why. It’s the easy, on-the-go solution to fixing your brows; giving them the right amount of pigment and volume. The brow gel is tinted and is perfect for both slicking those brows back and giving them texture and definition. We would recommend you have one of these in your bag at all times – it will always come in handy, we promise you.
£22.50 | Buy now from Benefit
Why we love it: We recently spent a month putting every Benefit mascara to the test to finally determine which is the best and there was a hands-down winner – Roller Lash. As our writer Laura said in her Benefit mascara review: “Having tried everything from lash extensions to lash lifts, falsies and curlers, plus well over 100 mascaras in our time, this is hands-down the best mascara we’ve used. Not just the best Benefit mascara, but the best mascara. Period.” Roller Lash features a plastic curved wand that is easy to get right down to the roots and you only really need one coat, which also makes it a huge time-saver.
£22.50 | Buy now from Benefit
Why we love it: Yes, yes, we know. Another brow product. But if we’re listing two brow products, then surely this confirms Benefit’s position as a brow connoisseur? This pencil offers a precise and natural-looking effect to add to your brows, creating hair-like strokes. Smudge-proof for up to 12 hours and with a twist-up pencil so no sharpening is required. This is the perfect product for anyone wanting to create that blendable colour – start with a few fine strokes and then build up to thicker, bold ones.
FURTHER READING: How to get thicker eyebrows
£27 | Buy now from Benefit
Why we love it: The award-winning bronzer from Benefit, this box of goodness was included in top bronzer lists in Vogue, InStyle and Nylon magazines. It now comes in a variety of shades too – Lite, Caramel and Toasted are additions to the original product and all share the same soft and blendable formula. Offering a matte finish, are you beginning to understand why this is also the number one selling Prestige bronzer in the UK? Sweep a spot of sunshine and colour onto your cheeks, creating warmth and definition all in one.
£19.50 | Buy now from Benefit
Why we love it: A seriously underrated product, in our humble opinion. While there are so many cosmetics brands killing it in the concealer department right now, we don’t think we should forget that Benefit is among them. This full-coverage concealer is music to my ears as it successfully hides the dark circles under my eyes – as well as covering any blemishes that have decided to make an appearance. Our favourite of the ‘Boi-ing’ concealer range, this one delivers a smooth and seamless coverage for up to 24 hours and is waterproof too.
We’re big believers in championing vegan and cruelty-free makeup and skincare but it would be remiss for us not to address the somewhat controversy linked to Benefit products.
It’s proud to not test its products on animals, and the brand is committed to eliminating the testing of cosmetics products on animals and is outspoken about how misleading cruelty-free certifications are. However, Benefit has come under scrutiny because it sells products in China. While LVMH products themselves are not tested on animals and haven’t been since 1989, once these products are imported to China, the Chinese authorities do test them on animals.
This is why Benefit refuses to claim to be cruelty-free, because it would not be “transparent or honest”, but its takes protecting animals seriously and supports the Fund for Alternatives to Animal Testing in the United States. It’s also an active participant in validation studies of new alternative tests in the framework of the European cosmetics association, Cosmetics Europe. It’s also one of the few companies to have its own internal department to test raw materials and ingredients to ensure the quality of its products.
Of course, it could just stop selling in China and be done with the whole thing but until it does that, we’re satisfied they’re doing everything else to live up to cruelty-free standards.
Amira Arasteh is a freelance journalist and content creator. Find her making sense of beauty trends, tips and topics – when she’s not stuffing her face with the best food in London or travelling the globe