The Benefits of Retro Packaging

Since I first clapped eyes on Benefit High Beam at the tender age of 15 I’ve been hooked on the brand; not only because of its high quality products, but also because of its kitsch packaging. The products themselves are undeniably lovely, but if it weren’t for the retro design I doubt I’d be as inclined as I consistently have been over the past ten years to purchase Benefit products.

Since Benefit Cosmetics first emerged, I think they’ve sparked something of a vintage revival in the beauty industry. Such has been the selling power of Benefit’s trademark packaging that many other brands have followed suit; Soap & Glory being an obvious example, and also MAC Cosmetics’ recent Marilyn Monroe range and NARS’ Andy Warhol collection.

A vintage Maybelline Mascara advert from the 1960s (image: beeskneesdaily.com)

A vintage Maybelline Mascara advert from the 1960s (image: beeskneesdaily.com)

So why are cosmetic companies cashing in on this old-school style, and why do customers lap it up so eagerly? Well, from a personal point of view, I think the type of imagery used by Benefit captures a kind of innocent yet sophisticated glamour which no longer exists; a beauty ideal which dominated the 50s and 60s but which has since been oversexed and adapted to fit in with the TOWIE-tainted days of the 21st century.

I also think Benefit appeals to women because it’s cheery rather than intimidating, and pretty without being depressing. To me, a cartoon of a beautiful flawless female is somehow far less daunting than an image of a stunning airbrushed celebrity. Admittedly both are as unrealistic and unattainable as eachother, but at least with the former you know the image isn’t real – plus it looks far more fun!

Benefit's winning and unique retro style packaging (image: shesaidbeauty.com)

Benefit’s winning and unique retro style packaging (image: shesaidbeauty.com)

Mostly though, Benefit packaging is simply more interesting (and seemingly more positive) than many of its competitors. From the tongue in cheek “punny” slogans to the varying antiquated typeface, everything about the brand’s retro-style transforms makeup into what it should be; namely, good old fashioned fun!

Yesterfacts: Benefit Cosmetics was founded in 1976 by twins Jean and Jane Ford. Benefit was initially founded as a beauty boutique which specialized in quick-fix products for beauty dilemmas. Benefit Cosmetics is now a global brand selling at over 2,000 counters in more than 30 countries. Nice work, Jean and Jane. As the saying goes, two heads are better than one!

To read more about cosmetic advertising, read Yesterface’s article False Eyelashes: False Advertising?

Benefit Advert Yesterface

An old Benefit flyer which I kept purely because of its aesthetic quality (pretty ads do work!) Note how the font and style greatly resemble the old Maybelline ads.

 

 

D.W. Griffith invented false eyelashes for this film in 1916 because he wanted Seena Owen (who plays Attarea, the Princess Beloved, in the film’s Babylonian segment) with lashes luxurious enough to brush her cheeks when she blinked. In collaboration with a wigmaker, who did the actual fabricating, the solution Griffith is credited with involved weaving human hair through a fine strip of gauze, creating false eyelashes.

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