Back in the early aughts, when I was still a bright, young thing trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, my career plans were chaotic. In high school, I listed my future plans as a comedy writer for SNL, then came a stint in sports journalism, followed by a sideways jog into selling vintage clothes on eBay (girl bossin’ before Girl Boss was even a thing). After being asked to do my friend’s makeup for prom, I decided that my true calling was to be a makeup artist.
With zero formal training, I created a makeup portfolio using my friends as models. I printed it out on glossy paper at Kinko’s, and arranged it neatly in a laminated binder with sections detailing the look and the products used. I thought it was the height of a professional portfolio. Looking back on it now, it’s laughably bad. My eyeshadow application was entirely unblended, appearing like bold stripes across the lids. “Contour” was a word I had only ever heard in geometry class before, so the planes of my model’s faces were flat and matte. Still, my enthusiasm for the craft went unfazed, and I marched to a very famous brand’s makeup counter at the mall, handed that portfolio over, and applied for a job as a makeup artist. To my great delight, they hired me, and taught me the finer points of winged liquid eyeliner, subtle contouring, and blending techniques.
I’ve come a long way from those days, and while I hung up my apron and packed away my brush kit a long time ago, my passion for makeup is even more intense than ever before. As a Beauty Director, I not only am privileged to try on all kinds of state-of-the-art products, but I also help produce amazing beauty shoots, and get to chat with many professionals in the field who are keen to spill their secrets. I’ve learned a lot, but there is one tool that was missing in my arsenal for far too long.
It took moving to Dubai and being assaulted by its horrifically humid and boiling hot summers to realize that I needed to find a solution to the dreaded makeup melt. Even a quick trot from my apartment building to a cab would have the makeup sliding down my face in seconds. That’s when setting sprays became one of my favorite products. I saw a trick on YouTube that really helped, where the vlogger recommended putting on primer as a first layer and then using the setting spray on the primer before applying the rest of the face. It worked a charm, but it didn’t have the hold power necessary for keeping my makeup fresh for the entire day.
Then the pandemic brought masks into our lives, making it even more difficult to keep our faces in place. What’s the point of going through all of these beauty steps if it’s just going to rub right off? To answer the call Benefit launched a new setting spray that promised to be the answer to all our smudgey woes. Benefit’s ‘POREfessional Super Setting’ spray is alcohol-free, waterproof, smudge-proof, and fade-proof, and instantly mattifying. It’s available exclusively at Sephora in the Middle East, and is already raking in rave reviews. Time to test it out.
I have three different setting sprays that I love for different reasons, but the common denominator between them is the mist doesn’t come out evenly, leaving some areas of the face wetter than others. A brilliant trick I learned from a makeup artist on an editorial beauty shoot was to dry the spray quickly with a tiny little hand fan (I got mine for a few dirhams on Amazon) to cut down on application time, and it works a treat. What I instantly loved about Benefit’s ‘POREfessional Super Setting’ spray is the ultra microfine mist it puts out, which assures beautifully even coverage.
Here’s the truth about makeup: no matter how expertly applied or how expensive, there is no such thing as a truly flawless finish. We have been tricked by a generation of vloggers who enhance their videos in post, who work in front of beauty filters, and who have perfected the art of strategic lighting. Up close, makeup looks like makeup because it is something that sits on top of your skin. I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all, but reality can be frustrating when you are promised perfection and it comes out looking, well, imperfect.
Benefit’s setting spray keeps things in place. Although I have yet to test it against the extreme heat of a Dubai summer, it prevents my makeup from excessively rubbing off on my mask. It also has a “blurring” effect, which can create a more flawless looking finish. However, as there is no such thing as true flawlessness (unless you’re Beyoncé), I was happy to see that my skin still looked natural. I don’t want my makeup to look fake and caked on, I want to see my skin come through! With Benefit’s setting spray, I got the best of both worlds with its natural blurring effect and increased longevity of makeup wear.
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Benefit ‘POREfessional Super Setting’ Spray