Benefit babes, brace yourself for a bodacious treat.
Yesterday Benefit Global Beauty Authority Annie Ford-Danielson took a few minutes to chat with me over the phone about their newest product, Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow Liquid Foundation ($34), which arrives on counters this March.
You may remember Annie and her sister Maggie from last year’s B.Right Skin Care launch. Together, they travel the world, working as global ambassadors for the brand.
This marks Benefit’s latest leap into liquid foundations, and Annie, who also works in product development, gave me an inside look at the development process and what we can expect from Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow when it arrives.
The following is an interview with Benefit Global Beauty Authority Annie Ford-Danielson about the brand’s new Benefit Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow Liquid Foundation.
So why did Benefit decide to do a liquid foundation?
Well, I think that at Benefit, as you know, we have kind of a small number of products. We’re not like the MACs or Make Up For Evers, where we have 1500 SKUs, so we have to choose our launches super carefully.
We kind of realized that we’ve done concealers, we’ve done highlighters, Fake-Its, brows, skin care, so the next step to really becoming a one-stop shop for beauty was to create a new liquid foundation.
Our girls, our customers, were coming to us for all of these beauty dilemmas and needs, and the fact that we didn’t have a full assortment of foundations was sending them off to other brands, and of course we want our girls to stay with us.
Annie Ford-Danielson, Benefit Global Beauty Authority
I think that really sparked our interest in making a new line. In true Benefit fashion, I’m sure as you know, we’re all about just quick, easy, instant beauty solutions, and I think that foundation can be hard for a lot of women. It can be super intimidating; it can be laborious, so we wanted to create a formula that was really easy, hydrating and brightening.
When you say brightening, does that mean shimmer?
There’s no shimmer in the foundation itself. It’s called Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow, and the really kind of “Fake It” quality that we’ve given this foundation is that it has an oxygen hydrating complex.
What does this mean? It means it’s going to help boost your cellular respiration, giving your skin a really nice plumping effect, so it’s going to make those fine lines, those little crevices, kind of plump up, giving you that healthy-looking skin. And it also helps protect against environmental stresses. It has vitamin C and E derivatives, which are known to prevent the signs of aging.
My favorite part about this is that it’s oil free but has an SPF 25 PA+++. So what does that all mean? It’s very technical. First of all, the Oxygen Wow complex is completely exclusive to our brand. We created it for our liquid foundation, and basically, what it means is that this is not your traditional liquid foundation. It goes on and has the consistency of a really nice, kind of lightweight tinted moisturizer, but it has the coverage of a foundation.
Can you describe the coverage a little bit?
It’s interesting that you asked. It really depends on the method in which you apply. For example, I apply — I wear it, and I’ve been wearing this foundation because I have connections here and I get it early (laughs). I’ve been traveling so much this year, and everyone’s like, “What’s your favorite product?” and I’m like, “Well, I can’t tell you…because it’s our liquid foundation and we don’t have it [yet].”
So, honestly, it really depends on what you want the foundation to do. On the weekends, I apply it with my fingers, and I just apply half a pump. It kind of gives me a really nice, evening-out effect, but it’s incredibly build-able.
That was one of the main aspects of the foundation that we as a brand felt was important for our customers, because our customers are always telling us, “We want to be able to customize our look. On Sunday, we don’t want to look as decked out as we do on Friday night.” So we figured that to have a formula that was incredibly build-able was the key, so you can go all the way from light, to medium, to medium-full coverage foundation.
Tell me a little about the shade selection.
It took a long time for us to figure out what kind of shade range we wanted to have. In the past, we’ve always made it super easy by just making two or three shades — for example, Some Kind-A Gorgeous or Erase Paste. We really found that, although it’s good for those products, for a liquid foundation, you need to do more. And we are growing so rapidly and so globally as a brand that we found that to limit this would just not be smart.
So we decided to make nine shades, and they range all the way from a really light, warm eggshell, all the way to a deep, rich nutmeg, and they will be matched not by shade, but by undertone, basically to our Hello Flawless Powders.
We have nine Hello Flawless Powders, and they will have a direct match to every single liquid so that it’s super easy to choose if you want a finishing powder.
How are you envisioning it working with the rest of the products in your line?
Personally for me, I wear it on its own with like a little bit of Hoola and one of our Box-O’s [blushes], but a lot of people, like my sister, for example, she’s a little bit more oily than I am — don’t tell her I told you that! She’ll kill me. She wears the liquid, and then she uses the matching Champagne powder, and she keeps the powder with her throughout the day to touch up. I actually keep the liquid in my bag to touch up throughout the day because it’s so hydrating. And I get so super dry that I can actually layer it throughout the day.
Benefit has become known for this quick, really easy, girl-on-the-go, and to make a formula that was in a glass bottle without a pump was just — it’s not very functional. I don’t know about you, but I need something I can throw in my bag that’s not gonna explode or, you know, crack or anything, so it’s an airless pump. It keeps the formula intact and 100% sanitary. The pump pumps out a really nice amount that’s good for a full layer, and it has this really beautiful finish to it so you can see the shade, but it doesn’t allow the shade to oxidize, when or if you leave it on your bathroom counter, or if it hits the sun.
You’ve been working on this product for a couple of years. What was the most challenging part?
Foundation in general is just really tough. There are so many things that go into it…
When we first started the process, we started with the customer’s needs. In product development, at Benefit at least, we always say, “What beauty dilemmas do our girls still have, and how can we solve them?” So, we were talking — as we like to call it, “freebasing” — at Benefit. We go into a room, we close the door and O.D. on candy and sugar and as much caffeine as physically possible. We just kind of talk about what we all hate about the foundations we use. You know? Like, “It gets dry, it gets cakey, or it oxidizes throughout the day, and I get that awful line around my chin area, and I can’t use it around my eyes because it’s not hydrating enough,” all of these different things. We decided to take every single problem, and then create the solution. And that’s when we really came up with what we wanted in a liquid foundation.
We wanted something super hydrating, with good coverage, but not greasy, that would give you the SPF protection you need. So I think that once you have a strategy, kind of a vision, for what you want it [the product] to be, then what’s really difficult is finding a formula that lives up to your expectations.
It’s interesting, because I had never worn a liquid foundation before I wore this. I always used Play Sticks. But honestly, I always thought — and I think a lot of women think, if they’re not complete beauty mavens, that liquid foundation has a negative connotation. They think heavy, they think thick and cakey, and that they’re going to look really made up and not natural. So, that was one of the key drivers.
It took us two years just to create the formula that we wanted. And it’s really amazing. I can’t wait till you get to try it. It’s unbelievable. I have a coworker who has really, really oily skin; she usually stays away from products that say “super hydrating,” but she wears this every single day, and she’s like, “This is the best foundation I’ve ever used.”
How many versions did you go through before you got to the final one?
I can ballpark for you. Honestly, I think we probably went through, in terms of just base formulas, maybe 40?
I think as a brand, we realize that we can’t just come out with a liquid foundation and not have a really, really great exclusive complex in it, because we’re up against other brands that are very forward in terms of their technology, and this has the complex in it with the SPF that really does allow your skin to breathe and have that wonderful oxygen in it to keep your skin looking healthy and young.
Do you guys have labs in your offices?
We have a section of labs; we also work with other labs in terms of creating exactly what we want. So, you know, if we decide that we want an awesome, awesome new box powder, for example, the best labs to work with are all in Italy. So we’ll go to Italy, we’ll tell them what we want, we’ll create it with them, and then find something amazing.
For this [Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow], because we wanted such a scientific formula, we went to our parent company, LVMH, and we asked them to really push the envelope, and to give us something that only Benefit could have. Something that truly, truly works.
I think what was really interesting about this, too, was that we wanted something that worked as well as a Dior, a Guerlain — all of those really top brands — but we wanted it to be at an approachable price point, because our girls, they want something they can go through and keep buying, and not feel like they can’t go out to dinner that month. So, you know, we kept it at $34 because we felt it was a really good price point for the formula that you’re getting.
The other part that was super hard was the shades. You just have so, so many under tones and basic skin tones and different ethnicities, and we’re such a global brand that to create nine shades that work for such a range of women was challenging.
Swatches from the left: I’m Pure 4 Sure Ivory, I’m Plush & Precious Petal, Cheers to Me Champagne, and I’m So Money Honey
From the left: I’m All the Rage Beige, Warm Me Up Toasted Beige, and I’m So Glamber Amber
From the left: I’m Hopelessly Hot Hazelnut, and Gotta Know Me Nutmeg
And that’s a wrap! I hope you found this as interesting as I did. Stay tuned for a closer look at Benefit Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow Liquid Foundation.
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,