When it comes to brows, you could argue that Benefit Cosmetics owns the market. The brand has figured out how to create everything you could possibly need to perfect your double arches, from nailing the best brow gel to making the most goof-proof of brow pencils. But foundation? That's not typically something you would turn to Benefit to, until now. On Thursday, Benefit Cosmetics launched Hello Happy, a light-to-medium coverage soft blur foundation that is going to be your go-to for the warmer days ahead. It is available to snag now for $29 at all Benefit retailers, including Sephora and Ulta.
Hello Happy is a watery, liquid formula that claims to even out skin tone and blur away your imperfections while also being flashback-free. It's very lightweight, but buildable — perfect for those who want their skin to look like skin, only better. Another reason it's great for those summer barbecues and beach days? Hello Happy has broad spectrum SPF 15 PA +++ sunscreen built in, so you don't have to worry about applying one before you put it on.
The new foundation comes in 12 shades, all of which have neutral undertones, according to the brand, so it can stretch across different skin tones. While fans have criticized the brand via social media for only offering a limited amount of shades (Elle reported that "Fenty 40" is the new magic foundation shade number), Benefit Cosmetics strongly believes that there is a shade that will work for every skin tone, whether you're super porcelain-skinned or typically reach for the deepest foundation shade. It's all in the technology.
"In order to make this flex, and mean that with integrity, [we took] the undertones and [made] them slightly more neutral," Jose Rivera, Benefit Makeup Master explains. "So instead of making them light or cool, there are five that are fully neutral, an equal blend of pink and yellow. And then there are some that are neutral to cool and neutral to warm. So this is what is allowing us to truly flex the product to reach an extensive amount of shades. We tested over 1,000 human people to get this right. It was no easy feat to match so many skin tones with only 12 shades but the win is that you can navigate 12 shades with ease."
Danessa Myricks, makeup artist and Benefit consultant (she helped with the creation of both Benefit's beloved brow products and the Hello Happy formula), tells Bustle it was all about creating a formula that was easy to use, but could be used by everyone.
"With this formula, 12 is all we needed. We did extensive testing — it was really designed to be simple, easy, easy-to-navigate, you know where you fit in, so instead of trying to make it complicated with a lot of shades to fit everybody in the universe, we worked on our innovation and made sure the formula was one that was super flexible. Literally, this is the broadest range possible to reach, but in 12 shades. There are multiple shades I can use. I use the end of the range. I use 12, if I want to brighten up a little bit, then I come with a bit of 11 too," says Myricks.
I can attest that this flexible shade-matching is true — I have tan skin with yellow undertones, but I can use shades 5, 6, and 7. I find that the formula blends seamlessly into my skin the way a BB cream or CC cream would — at first it might appear a smidge too light or dark, but then, because of the soft blur and flex technology (read: sorcery) that Rivera and Myricks spoke about earlier, the foundation adjusts to match my exact skin tone. What's more, it's got that flashback-free effect when photos are being taken.
"Oftentimes when we talk about blurring — the ingredients that are involved in that sometimes in some formulas [have flashback.] If it's a powder that's not micronized enough, you get that flashback. If the silicone is not balanced enough, you get that flashback. We considered all of that. So, this [foundation] looks beautiful to the eye, but you look even better on camera," Myricks tells me.
When I ask her how that works, especially with the sunscreen, she again talks about the technology in the formula. "It's just a balance in the ingredients. There's a lot of ways you can provide protection. We know that sometimes, sunscreens on certain skin tones can look ashy, it can look gray, you see a white cast. So this is SPF 15 PA+++, and that was chosen because the protection is there, but the number is just right so we maintain the integrity of the actual tone of the foundation and how it looks on the skin."
(Left: Wearing the foundation in daylight; Right: Wearing foundation with flash photography)
I typically reach for lighter, hydrating foundation formulas, which is why I love Hello Happy. But just because it is watery and light does not mean it's going to leave your skin looking too shiny or that there isn't enough pigment. The foundation provides just enough coverage with a soft matte finish while also making sure your face looks photo-ready from all angles (thanks to that soft blur technology). I also found that it lasted all day. I was only a little shiny in the T-zone after about six hours of wear, but otherwise, it held up great on a warm and sunny Los Angeles day.
Last, but certainly not least, Hello Happy's packaging is insanely adorable. It comes in a compact bottle (easy to throw into your purse) with an emoji-inspired heart-eyed, smiley face on the front and a metallic pink cap that twists to lock (so you won't have to worry about it spilling all over). You can't help but want to smile when you look at it — or photograph it for your daily #shelfie — it's that cute.
If you are looking for a full-coverage foundation, Benefit's Hello Happy might not be for you. But if you are on the hunt for something that looks and feels like the best version of your skin, has built-in sunscreen, and will look incredible in photos, consider adding one (or a few shades) to your foundation collection.