Confessions of a BeneBabe…

Posted by Lipglossiping On March - 18 - 2010

I’ve got a treat for you this afternoon, stop that multi-tasking and give me your full attention, like NAO!

Remember a few weeks ago, I enlisted your help in devising some questions for a lovely Benefit counter manager and MUA who had agreed to be put under the spotlight?

Well, the lovely lady was game and rightly impressed with your levels of scrutiny!

Read on to learn a little bit more about working for one of the world’s most popular cosmetic houses.  Her brutal honesty is quite the eye-opener…

Q: Does Benefit have a specific policy on sampling (i.e. only with purchase etc..) or is it left to the discretion of the counter staff?
A: The rules are that Benebabes are only allowed to sample certain skincare products (Honey Scrub, Dear John, Do It Daily) to purchasing customers who are willing to put their details on file and commit to a further appointment.  It is *very* rare that Benefit sample makeup.

Q: Working on counter, do you develop a radar for sample hunters?  How do you deal with them?
A: If people are after samples, the trick is to get them to sit down and try the product whilst at the counter.  Half the time, they end up buying the full size product anyway.  If people come up asking for samples and wont sit down, then they are told that Benefit doesn’t do sampling.

Q: Can you share your tips on how to get the best from Benefit Eye Bright?
A: Eye Bright is a lovely product, to get the most out of it, use it on the inner corner of the eye in a < shape and smudge slightly.  It works wonders at opening up the eye.  It can be used on the waterline to combat any red-eye, but be sure to apply before mascara or you’ll end up with funny looking lashes!

Q: What’s your favourite Benefit product?
A: Browzings, definitely.  The wax keeps brows in place, and the powder fills in any gaps, giving you a really defined brow without looking ‘drawn on’.

Q: What’s your favourite non-Benefit product?

A: Oh gosh……..there’s hundreds!!  Staples in my makeup bag are; NARS super orgasm blush, Bobbi Brown gel liner in graphite shimmer, Dolce&Gabbana lipstick in Nude and Bare Minerals foundation in medium beige.

Q: Do you agree with the opinion that Benefit’s shade range is a bit limited?  Are there any particular products that work very well on WOC?
A: Theres an inside joke that Benefit only cater to three types of people……Chinese, White and Sunbed Lovers.  They havent quite ‘got’ that darker skinned women wear makeup too.  The foundations (Some Kinda Gorgeous Deep, Playstick and Hello Flawless) all have a slight orange tinge which never ever ever works on black skin.  Yet we’re still expected to put them on during a makeup session…..and they wonder why these customers never return!

Q: Benefit MUAs are notorious for being forthright in their sales tactics.  Is this something that is encouraged during training and do you think it secures more sales?
A: There is something called the Magic Formula, which every Benebabe has to stick to with every customer.  It goes like this;
~ Traffic Stop – This is how we snare customers.
~ Sit n Spritz – Spray customer with a Crescent Row fragrance to create a ‘Benebubble’.
~ Demonstrate – We show 6 products in this stage, doing half the face first, giving product knowledge. during the 2nd half we get product and fragrance feedback.
~ Commit/Continue – Get commitment from the customer that they want to purchase at least one thing, once we have that commitment, we continue with 2 more products……and again and again til they say STOP!
~ Close – Show a body product to the customer, try to force that on them too.
~ Celebrity File – Get customer to put their details on file, create customer loyalty.
~ Sample/Appointment – Book your customer in for 4 weeks time (preferably just after payday) to try out a new ‘look’ and send her on her merry way with a sample of skincare.

Q: In your experience working for Benefit, does a position as counter MUA offer good opportunities for an aspiring MUA or do career progressions and promotions generally head more towards managerial and sales roles within the company?
A: If you are a young girl who loves makeup, Benefit would be a good choice for you.  If you are trained in Makeup Artistry at all, this job/brand is not for you in the slightest.  You will be trained to forget all prior knowledge and do things the Benefit Way.  If you dare to do freelance makeup outside of work, you will be crucified…… I have been on several occasions.  Trust me, its not pretty.  As for promotions……they’re incredibly rare unless you continually hit all sales targets and even then, you can only really progress to a trainer.  Look out for them in store from time to time, they have the general manner of an ADHD kid who’s been given orange smarties.

Q: What do you think is Benefit’s most universally flattering product? (and you’re not allowed to answer eyeshadows apparently!)
A: Moon Beam.  A pinky-gold liquid highlighter which can be used neat or mixed with foundation to give a dewy look to the skin.

Q: What’s the thing you love most about your job, and the thing you like the least?
A: The free makeup, obviously!!  And i love the excited girls who come in for prom makeup, its a chance to step away from the traditional formula and do things my way.  The thing I like the least?  Traffic Stopping.  If people want, they will come….and if they come, I can work my magic and make them want even more.  They do not need to be harassed whilst looking for bedlinen/underwear/handbags.

Q: What’s next for you?
A: I wish I knew…….


Well there you go!  What do you think?

I think that the next time I’m accosted by a BeneBabe I’m gonna sit myself down, enjoy the BeneBubble and hide my purse in my knickers.


If you enjoyed the frankness and good humour, please leave my lovely secret BeneBabe a comment of thanks for taking the time out of her busy day to answer our questions.

36 Responses to “Confessions of a BeneBabe…”

  1. Big fashionista says:

    Loved that post, found it really informative and interesting x x

    thanks guys

    • Mrs. Artist says:

      Wow pretty big complaint. I have been a makeup artist and licensed beauty operator for 10 years and I am really surprised no one has heard of traffic stopping. The beauty industry is for ever changing and very competitive. If you arent going to sell it to them someone else will. How many times do you get a new pair of shoes or a dress and cant wait to have someone comment on it? Do you keep it a secret and not share where you got it? No, you post it on facebook, twitter, myspace, here about the fantastic deal you just got on the best dress etc. Same thing if you love the product you work with why wouldnt you share it! I understand it was hard when I first started and I did start at a makeup counter and that was diffficult but if you love and believe in your product why wouldnt you share it. We are just being naive if we said it isnt about the sale. It is all about the sale if it wasnt then there would be no need for makeup artist! I think it was a very well put together post and am glad that she has moved on to something that will make her happy, but may it be Benefit, Estee, Nars, Clinique, or even the photo shoots in LA I have always known it is all about the sale and putting yourself out there.

  2. Grace London says:

    I am completely impressed with the frankness and honesty of these answers.

    Benefit has some good products, but I think the formulaic selling regime doesn’t help the MAs at all.

  3. BeautyBitch says:

    Fantastic post Ms Lipgossiping and thanks to your undercover Benebabe too. I worked as an on-counter MUA at Bobbi Brown for 5 years myself so this post brought back lots of memories for me. There are lots of great Benefit products that I love but I agree that as a foundation brand it fails for a huge number of the population. I would have loved to get her opinion on Dr. Feelgood and Ooh La Lift, two Benefit products I was once suckered into buying that to this day mystify me.

  4. Amanda says:

    wow what an excellent post! However, it has made me seriously question Benefit’s ethics towards customers; it has totally undermined the customer loving, good time brand that it likes to promotes. I hate to think the girls on my local counter simply see me as a walking $$ rather than the loyal customer I have come to be. Might make me think twice about buying instore from now on and stick to ordering my favourite products on-line.

  5. Amanda says:

    Oh yes, and thanks to the Benebabe who displayed admirable frankness!

  6. sarah smith says:

    That actually made me feel sorry for her! I hope she gets a nicer job where they appreciate her more. I like Benefit a bit less now to be honest, their staff seem set up for failure with that ridiculous traffic light rubbish. No wonder they all seem a bit sheepish when you go to the counter, cos they know that the interrogation is about to begin. I feel bad for the people without the confidence to say ‘no I don’t want to purchase that’ as they probably get bullied into buying more than they can afford. :(

  7. Karleigh says:

    fab post, really interesting. I’ld love to see all the big cosmetic houses take a grilling!

    Like Amanda, I do feel like Benefit just wanna take our money and don’t really give a damn about us as customers… and also if they know their foundation shades SUCK ASS why don’t they change them?!!!!!!!!!!

    big thanks to the Benebabe!!!!!!!!!! I hope you dont get sacked for this LOL!


  8. Gemma says:

    This was fun to read, mainly because I am a former BeneBabe myself and I completely agree with everything said here! Benefit can be a difficult company to work for. x

  9. Kat says:

    I worked on counters for 2 well known cosmetic houses a few years ago. I HATED traffic stopping. I got made to do it, we would have targets of “bums on seats”, and how much we could sell to them, so I do sympathise with this lady.

    I have never bought a benefit product, this is down to the fact that every time I approach the counter, I feel really harrassed by the counter staff. I want to look at the products, if I need help I will ask someone. Same as when I am browsing in another department of the store, and I get approached by a benefit person, I will always say no, because I know they are VERY hard sell.

    Thanks for the very informative interview.

  10. Laura says:

    Very interesting, thanks!

  11. Janie says:

    I have to admit that I only tend to go near the Benefit counter when I have tonnes of Advantage Points so that if they do persuade me to purchase things I decide I didn’t want when I get home, or can’t apply myself, it is only points gone, not pounds!

    I swear by the Lemon Aid and Lip Plump.

    Great post thanks :-)

  12. Emily says:

    Great post and great insight! Although I have to say, I think it makes me want to never buy anything from Benefit again. Never a fan of places that use 6 point systems and the like for ensuring a sale – it suggests that they don’t think the products themselves can really hold their weight. (Well it does to me anyway!) Thank you secret Benebade 😀

  13. Nicole says:

    Very interesting and fun to read :) For the ladies a little turned off by Benefit now, keep in mind that this is typical sales “training” in any industry. The purpose of any business is to make money so no matter how much your MUA may genuinely want to help you out they are also expected to generate sales. I guess we just have to take the opportunity to enjoy the pitch and hold tight to our purses!

  14. Duvessa says:

    I’ve never been to a Benefit counter but would be nice to try. All jobs have their own sales speaks and ways to do things so it was nice to know how it’s done in Benefit :)

  15. Rebecca says:

    An interesting read and liked her frankness and openness. It has to be said though, I am not in a hurry to go to a Benefit counter. I have generally had good experiences the few times I’ve been to one but I very much dislike their attitude and will probably steer clear now!

  16. Laura says:

    Wow, love her honesty. I’ve got to be honest, there are many Benefit products that I love using, but for the most part I hate going to the counter (particularly in Cardiff) because the counter girls are so damn rude and pushy. I’ve got pretty good at saying no lol – It definitely puts me off trying new things from Benefit though. I tend to just buy my favourites online.

    Love this post xx

  17. Nina says:

    Thank you both for this brilliant post! It was great to hear the other side of the story for once. As for me, although there are plenty of Benefit products I like (and especially the creaseless cream eye shadows) I only ever stop to play around with the products at Boots counters when there are no SAs around…that happens a lot during early evenings. Otherwise, if I’m honest, I really can’t be bothered with the ridiculous sales tactics.
    Thanks again for taking the time to do this…

  18. Ally says:

    Haha her responses are hilarious..her description of counter staff are perfect. Strikes me that Benefit could really learn to leave people alone and let them browse at their own leisure. I go to benefit when i see its crowded and all the sales staff are busy..i can then have a look without being accosted by their staff. Having said that, there are some benefit staff members that shy away from benefit tactics and hence have always got my money.

    Great read, thanks to benebabe for answering these questions :)

  19. Daisy says:

    Found this interview so interesting- and adore the honesty! Oh if all interviews could be like this! x

  20. RaeRae says:

    Really love the frankness of her answers… No PR speak here. I love the image of Benefit but wow what a difference from how the company works in reality.

    It won’t put me off Benefit or anything, all companies are like this. Recently on a forum somebody said “try the MAC mineralize foundation, all the girls at my local counter/store swear by it” and I was like whaaa? Of course they do, they’re PAID TO. People seem to forget that the people on the counter/in the store are there to sell a prouct, not to be your friend.

  21. Rocaille says:

    Admirable honesty, I have to admit I feel a bit put off the brand, but probably not for long, they do have some great products! Very interesting read.

  22. Sarah says:

    Doesn’t surprise me in the slightest! I got trapped in a Benebubble once and ended up chatting with the girl about her job and she suggested I apply – but warned that it was less about makeup and more about getting customers into the chair. She was made for the job – however I think I’d sink into catatonic depressing after about 2 weeks as a “Benebabe”.

    Gemma and I were in Boots last night and the Benefit counter was unattended. We and lots of other women were taking the rare opportunity to actually test and explore the products. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.

    If you’ve forgive a bit of linkspam, I’d draw your attention to this post I did on pushy counter staff – here it is

    Your source is admirably candid, and thanks to her and you for this enlightening post.

  23. Unicorn says:

    I think Benefit has some great cosmetics – coralista, powderflage are amongst my faves.

    However, I find their hard sell outdated, patronising and think they would sell alot better if it wasn’t for this. That line “have you heard of Benefit” sends chills down me, and not in a good way.

    Great post though :)

  24. I’m not surprised that this is how the counter staff are told to sell but I’ve always found the Benefit girls at the few counters I’ve regularly visited to be among the most helpful and friendly. I won’t name other brands or which Boots I go to coz that seems a bit mean but I dread going to some when they’ve got staff on. Luckily I seem to get my break at the same time they do so I can usually just get left alone.

    I’ve had my make up done at my local Benefit counter quite a few times, and sometimes I buy, sometimes I don’t. Maybe they’re not pushy with me because they know I’ll be back and buying another time?

  25. Fee says:

    Hi Charlotte

    Loved reading this post, so so interesting.
    I have once been ‘snared’ by a umm Benebabe, who ended up telling me I had very plae skin while he pulled his face and I had puffy eyes!
    He also plastered concealer on my spot and made me orange!

    I did however strangely buy a foundation and when I ask for some samples he wasn’t to will but actually gave me two teeny tiny samples.

    Wasn’t all that pleasent for such a fun, quirky brand.

    My philosophy is, if a brand truly has good products ( which Benefit does) there is really no need for the hard sell. Loyal customers comes with good experiences and products that work, not signing them up un- willingly.

    Thanks for the post :)

  26. MizzWorthy says:

    Such a fab post – I’m sure the lovely Benebabe could only be so frank because she was assured of her honesty! I’m not at all surprised by the replies though – I actually feel a bit sorry for the people who work at Benefit and have to use these fierce sales tactics -I personally NEVER look at Benfit if there is a MUA on counter… its impossible to just browse and pick up a product…

  27. mayrei says:

    This is why I prefer to buy cosmetics online. I can’t stand being harrassed by sales girls, although I always have felt a little sorry for them because I know this is what’s expected of them.

  28. Pasiphae says:

    Great post and I appreciate the honesty of the MUA. That’s why I would not consider working in any cosmetic counter. Of course we all have to make a living but I don’t like pushing people to buy things they don’t need or like.
    I like Benefit products and I buy them online so I have no experience of the “harassment”. But I think we all expect that when we go to a counter, don’t we? No matter what the brand is, we know that we are going to be pushed to buy. The level of “harassment” just depends on the character and the dignity of the sales person imo!

  29. caz says:

    Brilliant post!
    Working in retail is the same anywhere, whatever you’re selling I feel. No matter what you personally beleive, the company sees people as a way to make money, and they expect you too to..and lord knows employees aren’t people…grumblegrumblebitterexshopassistant

  30. I LOVE how honest she was, and that she doesn’t agree with the forceful sales tactics and thinks you cant progress within the company XD

  31. thanks so much for giving us the low down….while nothing said is surprising, it does help me feel more forgiving towards the benefit gals who are sometimes alarmingly, yet cheerfully, aggressive. still makes me scared to approach unless i know just what i want…browsing is really hard due to the hard sell.

  32. shonu says:

    As a current Benebabe i love this post coz this is all we do in work and all we complain about also :) glad to know other Benebabes feel the same way! Cant wait for work tomoro now ha ha!

  33. Lucy says:

    My house mate has worked for benefit for a couple of years now, and she says exactly the same as this post! its her own fault if she doesnt do her targets. It dosnt matter if there nobody in the shop she expected to go traffic stop and find her customers! Although saying this she works for John Lewis and the John Lewis managers dont like them being pushy so its a lot better for her than for others in different stores.
    i think is that its really unfair both on customers and the staff. We should be able to go to the counter to try the makeup without being pushed and they should be encouraged just to give you the stuff you actually need,i know id be more loyal if they did this!

  34. Robin says:

    I am in USA. It is sad to hear the horrid way our employees here in the US are treated is leaking to the rest of the world! Here not only are employees treated and forced to treat customers as money bags (ie. Lie to sell…compliment even when it is obviously wrong)or else, but now they have cut hours so the company doesn’t have to provide health insurance and/or other benefits(thankfully not an issue in UK). My niece is just hired at Benefit. She is a kind, thoughful and ethical girl…I hope she is treated better and has a better experience. :-)

  35. Nuts says:

    Traffic stopping is completely off putting. It’s forward, money grabbing. You will only succeed if your customer is not bright enough to see this.

    There are other ways to secure future business like clientelling and making sure you and the business are welcoming, adaptable and yes believe in the product along with being confident and proud of the product. Marketing on your side helps. The majority of shoppers do not want hassled but do want to be attracted by something beautiful, not tacky.

    Traffic stopping is simply cheep.

    Look outside the box.

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