The year is 2001. You’re at the local mall after school, smearing your face with makeup samples from Sephora — sticky, lacquered lip glosses, frosty eye shadows, powdery bronzers and blushes. Though shiny distractions are all around you, you’re there on one mission: to procure Benefit’s iconic Dandelion blush. A blush, yes, but also a status symbol: A baby-pink powder that instantly adds warmth to the skin and doesn’t turn chalky. A staple in the hobo bags of cool-girls everywhere. A marvel of a makeup product. A month from now, you’ll save up enough to buy Dandelion’s tawny cousin, Hoola Bronzer, to add to your collection. Life. is. good.
Since its inception, Benefit’s baby-pink powder blush in the instantly-recognizable sage green box has earned a spot in the makeup MVP hall of fame, alongside cult classics such as Maybelline Great Lash and MAC Lip Glass. Like all cult products, it’s stood the test of time through an even mix of efficacy (the formula is just that good), mixed with a strong emotional connection (using it floods your brain with serotonin and comfort). And now in 2022, as our nostalgia for all things Y2K reaches a fever pitch, Benefit has an announcement your lip-glossed, body-glittered young self would shriek over: a brand-new, streamlined set of 12 blushes called the WANDERful World Blush collection.
“21 years later [after we launched Hoola], we knew that it was time to refresh the collection to be more modern,” Kate Helfrich, Benefit’s SVP of Global Product & Service Innovation, tells Bustle exclusively. “We had three main goals in mind while developing this collection: Create a high-performing, all-new formula; curate a more inclusive shade range; and create an emotional, inclusive, desirable, and wonderful world of blush that you want to live in.” While Benefit’s previous blushes — Dandelion and Dallas, to name two — were created to stand on their own, the new blushes are meant to stand alongside one another under the WANDERful World blush umbrella, each one inspired by natural objects “real and fantastical” and united under one tagline: “For color that takes you places.”
The first thing Benefit focused on with its new WANDERful World Blush collection was the blush formula itself. According to Helfrich, one consistent problem consumers faced with today’s powder blushes was the dull, white cast they would leave behind. All of the blushes in Benefit’s WANDERful World Blush collection were created with a translucent base instead of a white base. “A translucent base allows for truer pigment saturation and richer payoff by allowing the pigments to come through as they are,” explains Helfrich. “With a white base, there is more opacity, which can cloud pigments and result in an undesirable chalky appearance.”
The new blush formulas were created to blend easily and seamlessly, and add a soft-focus, blurring effect to the skin. According to the brand, they’re also smudge-proof, humidity-proof, sweat-proof, and non-comedogenic, thanks to the water-resistant formula.
As the blush world has evolved to include a slew of new sensorial experiences and textures — cheek creams, balms, gelées, paints, even bouncy mousses — you’ll be forgiven if a new collection of powder blushes doesn’t exactly have you leaping from your seat in excitement. That is, until you realize that these aren’t your average powder blushes: Benefit used a special pressing technique for each of the shades in the collection to allow you more choice in terms of color payoff and effect desired. “While all of our blush shades are buildable and blendable, the varying levels of powder-pressing across the collection impact the intensity and immediacy of color payoff,” Helfrich says.
Helfrich explains that harder pressing allows for a sheerer color payoff at first swipe, which offers more room to build and blend. “This is the perfect pressing technique for customers who prefer to apply blush with a lighter, softer hand, and want to build to their desired level of color,” she says. Softer pressing, on the other hand, is better for a more instant and intense color payoff. “This pressing technique is ideal for customers who want to quickly apply a pop of color to complement their complexion,” she explains.
“While our blushes are a true powder format, this formula is more modern and feels weightless and ultra-fine, as opposed to a more traditional powder blush, which can sometimes feel heavy or look dusty and chalky,” says Helfrich.
When reformulating the blushes, Helfrich said that inclusivity was the number-one priority. “We wanted to offer our most wearable and versatile blush shades yet, and ensure that there's a shade for everyone,” she says.
Of the 12 shades, which range from rich berry to bright corals to soft pinks, some will be made with a matte base, which includes a minimal level of pearl and can be fine-tuned to include slightly more pearl for a satin finish, or a pearl base, which includes a higher level of pearl to achieve a true light-reflecting, soft-shimmer finish. Java, PomPom, and Sunny all feature a natural-matte base with no shimmer; Peachin’, Starlaa, Dandelion, Willa and Moone feature a satin finish; and Shellie, Butterfly, Crystah and Terra feature a soft-shimmer effect. (Hoola and Dandelion will remain the same formulation as the original, just in the new, updated packaging.)
The Packaging & Brush
As the beauty industry contributes over 120 billion units of plastic packaging each year, brands are stepping up when it comes to reducing excess waste in their production line. “Sustainability was top of mind when developing this new blush collection,” says Helfrich. All of the packaging in the new WANDERful collection is made out of recycled paperboard, and the brand removed individual brushes, plastic sleeves, and inner plastic trays from each BOP to eliminate excess waste. “We’ve downsized the new boxes to be smaller and sleeker while containing the same amount of product, so that full-size blush boxes are now made with 20% less paper than before,” explains Helfrich.
Given that Benefit’s flat-tipped mini brushes became just as synonymous — if not as often used — as the blush and bronzer it came with, Benefit knew that it had to offer a solution if it was to remove the brush from the packaging. Enter: the Multitasking Cheek Brush, a sleek and retractable brush for use with any Benefit box of powder blush, bronzer, or highlighter priced at $32. “It’s versatile, easy-to-use, compact, and travel-friendly because it’s fully retractable, allowing you to transform the size of your brush and keeping it protected and clean on the go,” says Helfrich. The new brush comes in a circular tube form and slightly rounded tip versus the original flat tip, which allows for easy blending and buffing.
“At Benefit, cheek color is an emotion, it’s a state of mind, it can change how you feel,” says Helfrich. “Blush is back, baby!”
Benefit’s new WANDERful Blush collection is available now at Benefit.com and will be available March 24th Ulta, Sephora, and Macy’s.