For 47 years, Benefit Cosmetics has believed that laughter is the best cosmetic. This ethos shines through in everything from punny product names to its whimsical packaging. In addition to its ’50s-inspired retro illustrations and use of bold colours, witty product names, such as Watts Up and Precisely, My Brow (for the cream highlighter and eyebrow pencil, respectively) never fail to make you chuckle.
However, my trip to LVMH’s Hélios centre in France’s Cosmetic Valley revealed that for Benefit Cosmetics, research and development is no laughing matter. Behind every tongue-in-cheek product is a brand that’s serious about delivering efficacious formulas based on meticulous measurements and rigorous testing. As I explored the innovative labs and technology-led facility, brand representatives showcased every step that takes place in the development of the line, from skin tests to product formulation, to help me understand the significance. The reason for being here? To discover Benefit Cosmetics’ new Pore Care line from its Porefessional collection.
Pores and all
Do pores even matter in this era of skin positivity and greater acceptance of textured, ‘unfiltered’ skin? Ultimately, refined skin will always be a dream that many continue to chase and achieving what we deem to be ‘flawless’ skin begins with the right pore care. Benefit Cosmetics manages to deliver that and more with its iconic Porefessional products, which first reached the market as primers. In fact, Maggie Ford Danielson, one of Benefit Cosmetics’ two chief beauty ambassadors, shares that the line of Porefessional Primers is one of its bestselling cult favourites.
“As it is, customers already associate the subject of pores with our brand,”she says. The effervescent blonde is the perfect embodiment of the fun and lively beauty brand—and it makes sense, given that Benefit is in her DNA (she is the daughter of the brand’s founder, Jean Ford). Danielson reminisces about the launch of the first Porefessional Primer in 2010, when it became a viral hit. The formulas hook the beauty world as being the go-to product for anyone who sought a“poreless”, blurred and even complexion in seconds, and continues to be a cult favourite today.
Porefessional help: from primers to skincare
There were no shortcuts in the creation of the Porefessional collection. Jared Bailey, the brand’s global brow and beauty authority, shares that the line was four years in the making. The research and development team at the LVMH labs spent that time to properly research and curate the ingredients to deliver the best results for every skin type.
“We’re not leading this line with this one unique ingredient that blooms at midnight under the full moon or something like that. Everything here is based on clinically proven, high-performance active ingredients and has been dermatologically tested,”Bailey explains. “And this collection is a response to our customer’s demands while still being cohesive with the brand as a whole.”
Meet the experts in pore care
The collection, which not only tackles skin concerns but environmental ones too, consists of one multitasking tool and six scientifically backed products packaged in 100 percent recyclable aluminium.
For starters, there is the Get Unblocked Pore-clearing Make-up Removing Cleansing Oil and the Good Cleanup Pore-purifying Foaming Cleanser to breakdown and clean up pore-clogging dirt and grime. Then there’s the Tight ‘N Toned Pore-refining AHA+PHA Toning Foam to help keep the complexion clear with its combination of exfoliating acids.
Two clay-based masks were produced to address texture and blemishes at different intensities; one may be used daily and the other serves as a weekly deep-cleansing treatment.
To keep the skin clean and hydrated, there is the Smooth Sip Lightweight Smoothing Moisturiser For Pores. The All-In-One Mask Wand Face Mask Applicator And Cleansing Tool features two textured sides to improve the pore cleansing experience. Among these products, the foaming toner is the standout as it is the first foaming toner in the market.
Kate Helfrich, senior vice president of global product and service innovation, points out that the pumping action controls the amount of product dispensed, which helps to reduce product wastage.
Interestingly, she shares that the foam format was a eureka moment that happened in her kitchen while she was having a discussion with the brand’s R&D director. “This package wasn’t even supposed to be for this product,” she notes excitedly. “We had a discussion about the toner’s development at my house, and we realised that there hasn’t been a toner that was dispensed as a foam before. And we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could get it to foam?’ We also learnt that this format reduced product wastage, and because it didn’t require the use of cotton pads, there will be no wastage in that aspect too.”
Julie Bourlet, Benefit Cosmetics’ skincare formulation manager, adds that when it comes to pore care, it is common for brands to employ harsh ingredients such as exfoliating acids, deep-cleansing clay powders and astringent botanical extracts. “For this category we focused on cementing the right amount of the right active ingredients in order to address specific concerns,” Bourlet shares. “We’re using potent ingredients, but we also want it to be suitable for daily use and without it being too harsh. So it is key for me to ensure that the formulas are efficient.”
Bourlet now takes pride in how she has successfully formulated the products with nourishing, hydrating and restorative ingredients. This step ensures that the skin is protected while the pores are being deeply cleansed.
“We’re not claiming to be the first in the business to invent products for pores,”says Helfrich. “But we have gathered information from our National Beauty and Brow Authorities all over the world, and there has been a collective demand for a solution to pore problems for quite a while now. Every brand needs to grow. And as one that truly values our customers, this seemed like the right direction to move into.”
Tried and test
Below, Vogue’s three favourites from Benefit Cosmetics’ Pore Care from the Porefessional.