The No1 seller on a top Australian department store's cosmetic floor last year was a brow-shaping service. The Benefit brow bar treatment beat sales of any one cosmetic item at Myer nationally, including favourite products from big-name brands.
Now the Benefit brow bar is coming to Smith & Caughey's central Auckland store, where the signature seven-minute brow arch wax is expected to create a similar buzz.
Quick-fix beauty solutions are what have propelled Benefit Cosmetics' global growth, and if the lunchtime queues in Sydney and Melbourne are anything to go by, women are still more than willing to spend money on appearance maintenance paired with convenience.
The American brand has enhanced this winning formula by adding a dash of fun at its counters and Smith & Caughey's managing director, Andrew Caughey, says this mix is what first attracted his team to Benefit, which it had been eyeing up for several years. "The brand is fun, and has attitude and a real point of difference, particularly with the brow bar. There's nothing quite like it on the market."
The company is ever on the lookout for good new brands, and works continuously with its existing brand partners to deliver the best services and the latest counters and products to ensure customers enjoy new experiences at each visit. "Our online launch in late June is also an exciting development for us, and will make many of our beauty brands accessible to customers New Zealand wide," says Caughey.
The store's cosmetics buyer, Lynda Grant, said a second Benefit counter would open in September in Newmarket, to coincide with a wider cosmetics department refurbishment.
Benefit's "Brow King" Justin Fullerton, who led the Sydney team to a Guinness World Record for brow waxing, is now the company's Australasian general manager and has been in Auckland twice in the past fortnight, for the opening of the first Benefit counter at Auckland International Airport and to ensure tomorrow's launch at Smith & Caughey's goes off in high style. He told Viva that brows made up around a third of Benefit's business in Australia, with 150,000 services performed each year at Myer stores alone.
A typical week in the Sydney CBD store sees 1400 brows tended to.
Fullerton says his favourite celebrity brows belong to Keira Knightley, but adds that brows should match an individual's face rather than copy a particular style. Here he shares Benefit's "brow mapping" technique, which you can try at home – although he'd rather you turned yourself over to the Benebabes.
Brows are obviously a record-setting deal at Benefit – what's behind the brand's focus on brows?
Benefit is obsessed with brow grooming and has been raising eyebrows since 1976, in our first Benefit boutique in San Francisco. Your brows are the frame to your face, and you wouldn't put a pretty picture in an ugly frame! Benefit boutiques are a one-stop shop for all your beauty dilemmas and brows come high up on the list.
Benefit Myer Sydney City holds the Guinness World Record for performing the most eyebrow waxes in an eight-hour period, with 385 services. The proceeds went to the cancer charity Look Good Feel Better.
What should first-timers expect?
We will provide the full range of Benefit make-up, skincare, fragrance and brow services at all our locations in Auckland. The style of our counters represents the fun, playful spirit of the brand. We always have music playing, a party atmosphere where everybody is welcome to sit down, play with the products and have make-up demonstrations. In a few minutes we'll take you from now to wow.
What does the ideal brow look like?
Well-defined, full, natural-looking brows frame your face, lift your brow arch and open up the eyes, making you look fresher and younger, and when you look good you feel good too. Older women's brows thin out, so we tint the brows – usually one shade darker than your natural hair colour – and keep them as full as possible to present a more youthful appearance.
All Benefit brow experts are qualified beauty aestheticians who must then complete an intensive brow-school programme and graduate from our "Browbar University." They perform a signature Benefit brow service using our brow-mapping technique, which gives the best brow shape for your face, rather than following brow trends or using brow stencils, which could give the wrong shape. It's like an instant facelift, without the surgery.
What should we look for in a good brow service?
A qualified brow expert who listens to your concerns with a proper consultation, has excellent technical skills and exceptional hygienic standards. At Benefit we provide affordable, salon-quality services with the convenience of your local department store.
Do you cater for men?
Absolutely. Men of all ages too: young men with a mono-brow to older men with crazy curly brows – the nesty ones! When their brows get wild, thick and super-curly, a brow wax and trim takes years off their appearance. Often they're brought in for the first time by their wife or girlfriend, then they just drop in on their own at lunchtime, and send their mates in to see us too.
What are your tips for women wanting to develop or maintain terrific brows?
Stop tweezing now! Hand over your tweezers to a brow expert for safe keeping. And don't thread your brows unless you want a generic thin pencil brow, which makes you look older. Have an expert take care of your brow-shaping and grooming every three weeks.
We don't always wax a customer when they first drop in to see us. If they've over-tweezed or misshaped their brows, we put them into "brow rehab" and ask them to come back in a few weeks. We then tint their brows to create fuller and longer brows to shape and create that signature brow arch. In between services, we recommend using Brow Zings, our wax and powder brow-shaping kit ($57); or Speed Brow ($34), our tinted brow gel, to brush and hold brows for a quick fix on the go.
Justin Fullerton's brow-mapping technique
1. First, we take a pencil and line it up with the corner of your nose and the inner corner of your eye. Then, we make a mark there using Brow Zings or any other brow pencil. This tells you where your eyebrow should start.
2. Next, we hold the pencil horizontally from the corner of your nose to the outerpart of your pupil and make another mark – this is where your arch should be.
3. Finally, we line up the corner of your nose with the outer corner of your eye to make the final mark - this is where your eyebrow should end. Now, we can carefully fill in with Brow Zings from mark to mark to create your new-and-improved brow.
A Benefit Brow Arch Wax at Smith & Caughey's is $29. The Benefit counter opens today at the Queen St store, with walk-in customers welcome and bookings also taken on (09) 377 4770.