I armed myself, I cemented my resolve, I shored up my willpower. I internalized my mantra and made it my own: I will only purchase my Benefit face powder, I will buy it and leave, I will not be forced on to the white leather stool, I will not look at extra products with cute names and equally cute boxes, I will leave with the same face I arrived with. I had a game plan and I was Going. To. Win.
I marched up to the pink and black Benefit counter with its army of blushes, bronzers, concealers, mattifiers, puff-reducers, light-deflectors, line-erasers all designed to give one a healthy, dewy glow. The products aimed to distract me from my mission; I recognized Ooh La Lift as a decoy. I saw the booby-trap of Stay, Don’t Stray. I averted the moves of Bad Gal and the equally dangerous Coralista. I zeroed my sight on my target Hello, Flawless! I was primed for attack. I’d take no prisoners. I’d…
“Hi! What can I get for you today?” I tore my eyes away from the products to meet their leader. I studied her skin with its shield of foundation and powder, her eyes wielded multiple colors, her lids carefully delineated, her lashes thick with mascara, her blush camouflaged into her cheeks, her lipstick as orderly as a bed made in the barracks. Here was woman who knew her products and knew how to use them.
I smiled smugly, “I’m here to purchase Hello, Flawless.” I reached for my credit card. I would be gone in five minutes.
“I LOVE Hello, Flawless! Now, what shade are you? Are you Honey, Petal, or Champagne?”
Crummy-buttons! I failed in my reconnaissance work! I thought they had two colors: Light and Dark. On the counter You Rebel winked at me as if to say, “No, sweetie. That’s me. I’m available in Lite and Dark.”
I coolly admitted that I didn’t know, but if I could look at the shades I could determine which one I needed. She pounced with her counter-attack: “No, no, no. In order for us to determine the right shade for you, we’re going to have to do some application.” She patted a white stool. “Now why don’t you have a seat while I go get the shades. I bet you’re a Petal.” With lightening quickness she returned. As she guided me to the stool, I reestablished my position, “I only want the powder.” She paused, looking at my face, “You’ll want to do something about the redness in your skin.” Ouch! I wasn’t prepared for that blast. “I recommend using a product with a yellow base. Have your ever tried Pore-fessional?” She grabbed a cool moist towelette that I’m sure was meant to be the balm for my redness and bruised ego, but I knew it was my white flag of surrender, the symbol of my defeat. She proceeded to clean off all of the Benefit products I applied that morning.
She had her battalion of moisturizing toners, That Gal, Pore-fessional, You Rebel and Hello, Flawless! at attention as she began to squirt out products onto the back of her hand and mix them with a beauty brush. “Do you use a beauty brush when you apply make-up at home?” she interrogated. “No,” I responded sullenly. “Well, we’re not finger painting or sponge painting your face on. You need to paint it on with a brush.” She continued to grill me:
“Do you use an exfoliator?”
“OH NO, No, no, no, no,” she chided, “Do not use it everyday. This is probably causing your issues with your skin, plus you’ll dry it out. No, only use it maybe twice a week.”
“You’ve got great brows. Have you ever had them done?”
“Ever thought about having them done?
“Would you like to have them done? I can do them for you today.”
I smiled at her. She silently finished painting the canvas of my face and dusted it with the face powder. She handed me the pink princess mirror so I could admire her work. My reflection, a double-agent, revealed minimal fine lines, pores that had gone into hiding, and no red complexion, but before I could say anything, she cheered, “See, you are a Petal!”.
She looked at my face, studying her handiwork, “You know, you have great skin.”
I nodded in agreement, “It must be the exfoliation.”
I left the Benefit counter with my Hello, Flawless! in “Never Settle Petal”. And a tube of Pore-fessional. And That Gal. I left behind some of my self-respect and a lot of my money. Ms. Benefit may have won this battle, but I would yet win the war.