It looks like I’m going to talk about beauty in this post, so I feel like I must start with a disclaimer: I know a lot about beauty brands, product and trends, and I have learned many tips & tricks from working with makeup artists, but I wouldn’t call myself a ‘beauty junkie’. I don’t own a million cases full of makeup products in every possible shade, and I’m not going to rush to buy the latest must-haves. I like makeup as a creative activity and form of self-expression: I enjoy doing my makeup as and when I choose to – but I also like choosing not to and remembering that a bare face is fine and nothing to be ashamed of.
I do like to try new products, but I have trained myself to not impulse-buy: I do some research, read the ingredients, try to choose carefully and remember that cosmetics have expiration dates. (By doing this ideally I’d end up one day with a perfect edit of products I absolutely love – but I’m a messy minimalist, so I’m not 100% sure about that). I have realized that I like knowing about things more than owning all the things: I am quite satisfied just reading about new trends, watching beauty tutorials and going to product launch events – and when you work in fashion and beauty, all of that counts as research, right?
With that, and being a big fan of Stylist Magazine, and I was very excited to join the Stylist Beauty Council when they launched this year. It’s a beauty community where members share opinions on beauty news and trends, test new products, be a part of the magazine and influence the beauty industry. Last month they invited me to a members’ exclusive event on The Good Ship Benefit. If you have been to Benefit’s pop-ups in the past, you know they are great at this stuff: they had a World Cup BenePub in summer 2014 where you could watch the matches and get drinks, beauty treatments and makeovers, a bar called Curl’s Best Friend to celebrate the launch of their Roller Lash mascara, and this time they have taken over a whole ship on the Thames and given it the brand’s 1950s kitsch look.
As I said, I don’t buy cosmetics often, but I follow several brands and Benefit is one of my favorites in terms of visual identity and brand experience. From the beautiful packaging, the illustrations, the staff’s uniforms, to the funny social media posts, the promotional events and the design and style of their boutiques, every element is part of the story. There is an element of escapism in it; it’s a bit like playing dress up: pastel-colored stores that remind you of candy shops, products with playful names – it all seems to say, hey, it’s makeup, and it’s meant to be fun.
It was a hot sunny evening when I arrived on the Embankment ready for a fun and frivolous evening. As I got on board, the smiling and friendly staff greeted me and offered me a welcome drink – champagne served in a coupe (not a flute!): a touch of vintage glamour! Then, I was very lucky to be the first in line for a blowdry by GHD, who were also demonstrating their newest product, the GHD Platinum. Whenever I get a blowdry I always sort of feel sorry for the stylist because blowrdying my long, thick and curly hair takes a very long time, but here I was impressed by how easy it is to style it with the GHD straighteners – and mostly without using a brush!
Getting my hair done on a boat (it doesn’t go anywhere, but you can feel you’re on the water), was unusual and felt quite extravagant – drinking champagne, the blowdry station next to the pink bar, with a (pink, obviously) piano in the room, surrounded by bloggers and beauty enthusiasts, while a brows masterclass was held in the next room. I skipped the masterclasses to make the most of the free treatments available: after saying goodbye to the wonderful hair stylist and taking a few pictures of my new shiny waves, next stop for me was eyebrow wax and shape: my brows were waxed, drawn in with a soft pencil just to fill in the gaps, and set with gel. Benefit have been known for their commitment to ‘wow brows’: they offer brow waxing services in store and have a wide range of eyebrow products – in fact, they have just launched their new Brow Collection, which includes highlighter pencils, primer, eyebrow gel, and everything for your shaping and enhancing needs.
The treatment I didn’t try was the manicure by Nails Inc. : everyone loves a good mani, so there was a long waiting line by the time I was done with my brow wax, and I immediately gave up. I did check out their polish colors though, and they are really beautiful! When we left we were given a goody bag, containing a Benefit They’re Real! push-up liner and a Nails Inc. nail bar discount voucher…so maybe I’ll get to have that mani some other time!
I enjoyed the event very much; I think it was very well planned, with a good range of options to choose from between the masterclasses and the treatments , the Benefit staff was wonderfully welcoming, and altogether this was a great way to promote a brand and create an interesting experience, with great potential for pictures/videos and content to share on social media.
I look forward to more Stylist Beauty Council events and to the next Benefit pop-ups!