This is the amazingly scandalous history of Benefit Cosmetics' Benetint lip and cheek stain
Fun fact: One of the products you’ve probably used on your lips and cheeks was actually created for the purpose of tinting nipples back in the day.
In case the title of this didn’t give it away, we’re talking about Benefit’s Benetint, a wildly popular lip and cheek tint that has been around for decades, literally. It was developed back in 1977, and while that’s super interesting (after all, the beauty industry doesn’t have that many enduring classics; there’s so much focus on always rolling out new items), the story behind the product is even more exciting than its age.
Turns out, Benefit actually developed the product as a “nipple shade enhancer.” Yup, you read that right: An exotic dancer requested a product that would tint her nipples, and the brand swiftly delivered. We wonder if they ever predicted this would go on to become a positively iconic facial product.
Jean and Jane Ford are Benefit’s founders, and according to a 2014 article in Vanity Fair, the company began as San Francisco store called Face Place. Benetint was actually their first product, but back in the day, it was simply known as “Rose Tint.”
In 2011, Elle ran an in-depth article featuring the Ford twins, who recounted the experience that inspired this cult classic. In their story, the sisters talk about how they were at the store one day when an exotic dancer walked in and said she needed something that would keep her nipples tinted through her performances — she used to sweat while she performed, and she wanted something that would really last.
Here’s what the twins had to say about that fateful day:
If you haven’t used Benetint yet, know that it really is that good. It has perfect staining power, lasts for a really long time on both your lips and cheeks, and has this really universal rosy shade that can be left super sheer and subtle, or be built up for a natural-yet-bold look.
Pretty fascinating stuff, right? Hearing the story makes us appreciate the product even more (which we didn’t think was possible!) It’s crazy to think about how Benefit’s founders seemingly stumbled on this formula, realized they had struck gold, and essentially built a brand around one crazy good product.