Review: Benefit Triple Performing Facial Emulsion SPF 15 PA++

By Voxy  

You are not seeing things. I am actually reviewing a Benefit product, in spite of my professed boycott of the brand for overly aggressive guerrilla marketing techniques. (That’s probably redundant, huh? Do there exist guerrilla marketing techniques that are “appropriately aggressive”? I doubt it.)

That I would investigate a Benefit product after ranting about them just shows you how desperate I have been to fill this particular hole in my skincare regime. Desperation will make a girl do strange things.

The story of the hole in my skincare regime is this: several years ago, I had a spray container of an MMPi product by Patricia Wexler. I don’t remember what it was exactly, but it was very light and was like a toning emulsion: slightly thicker than plain water and milky in color. I loved this. It was the perfect thing for putting on post-cleansing to make my skin drink in the moisturizer I was getting ready to put on. After I ran out, I discovered that it had been discontinued (WHYYYYYYYYYY?????????) and I started desperately searching for a replacement.

[Author’s note: This space originally contained a film-noir style dramatization of my desperate search. It was gritty and highly dramatic, and involved a black 1947 Frazer Manhattan. You are better off without it.]

In the end, I picked up this new Benefit product because — and I am so embarrassed by this — the packaging is SO CUTE. Am I so frivolous that fanciful frippery can sway my resolve to not buy any of their products? Apparently, yes I am. This is depressing. I did also test it in-store, though, so I knew it was the kind of product I wanted. But I still yelled at myself all the way home.

Although not watery enough to put in a spray bottle, Benefit Triple Performing Facial Emulsion is a light cream that is just the kind of transition product I wanted. It is not thick or heavy enough to be a stand-alone moisturizer for me, but it works well as a preparatory cream. Why is that a good thing? Two reasons: it enhances whatever other moisturizer you put on top of it, and (more importantly) you will use less of your expensive luxe moisturizer when your skin has been properly prepared underneath. Also, it’s nice that this is SPF 15/PA++ — that’s not a huge amount of sun protection, but it’s a good way to get at least some sunscreen on the bottom layer of everything else you’re going to be putting on your face.

The packaging is, as previously stated, adorable. It’s real glass; very retro-pharmacy. I love it. The “cork” in the bottle top is not really cork, but rather a plastic cap that lifts off to reveal a little pump. How well will this pump work as I get down to the bottom of the container, I wonder? The cream has a light but noticeable fragrance — it smells like “spa.” A little aquatic, a little cucumber-y, a little floral. I want to listen to soothing music and drink a glass of lemon water while I’m applying it.

Do you need this product? That depends on whether you have a hole in your skincare regime that this could fit. Honestly, I don’t think it’s really practical as a stand-alone moisturizer; it’s so light that I don’t think it would cut the mustard on any serious dry skin. For layering under something else, though, I like it a lot. If you’re interested, it’s part of a suite of skincare products Benefit has recently released called “b.right!” that also includes an eye cream (which I have a sample of — meh), a regular moisturizer, and about five other products. Interestingly, there is something specifically called a Moisture Prep Toning Lotion, which you would think would be exactly what I would want. I haven’t come across it in stores yet to check the ingredients, and Benefit doesn’t do consumers the courtesy of listing their ingredients on their website (which is so often a sign that they would prefer you to believe their marketing language rather than their ingredient list) — but they do say that this product can’t be shipped internationally due to hazmat restrictions, which says to me that it must have alcohol in it. Definitely a no-no.

In case you are interested, at the Benefit website you can also download wallpaper of the main ad for the line, which features a woman with a lampshade on her head. I have no comment. Oh, wait, yes I do. I hope that this means that Benefit employees will now be required to wear lampshades on their heads at all times, which will at least make them easier to spot as they rush at you in a department store and try to drag you to the Benefit counter.


Benefit Triple Performing Facial Emulsion SPF 15 PA++: $28 for 1.7 oz.

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (mid-range: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair to good.

Purchase again? Maybe. Something better might come along! If not, then yes, I’ll repurchase. Unless Benefit pisses me off again.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

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  1. avatar pinky
    Posted June 13, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    LOVE the packaging! Where’s the explanation of the Benefit Boycott? I missed it…


    • avatar chaosbydesign
      Posted June 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I suspect Voxy’s issue with Benefit is the same as mine — their sales assistants practically throw products at you in stores, and they don’t even consider whether or not those products will suit you. I had a Benefit sales assistant attempt to put a bright pink glittery blush on me in-store last time I was near a Benefit counter and she did it in such an aggressive way that I almost wanted to run out of the store to get away from her. (Bright pink glittery blush would look *awful* on me.)


      • avatar pinky
        Posted June 13, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Gah! That’s weird and horrible.

        I’ve only ever bought their products at Sephora, where clerks usually ignore me because I look like a makeupless freak.

        I am thankful for that, by the way. ;)


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted June 13, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

      My boycott comes from a tale told on a now-defunct blog (by a former sales associate for several major brands) in which the author detailed how Benefit sales associates were told basically to chase clients down. One woman told a story of being in the shoe department — the SHOE DEPARTMENT! — of Nordstrom’s and having a Benefit SA run over from the cosmetics area and try to drag her to the counter. It was unreal.

      I mentioned it in an early review of a Benefit product, which you can read here:


      • avatar chaosbydesign
        Posted June 13, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Wow. I didn’t realize they were *that* bad — their sales assistants are bad enough when you stop to have a look at their products, never mind chasing people down in stores!


  2. avatar chaosbydesign
    Posted June 12, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Oh, Voxy, you’re so predictable sometimes — when I saw that you were reviewing a Benefit product and looked at the picture, I just knew the fact that you chose this had something to do with the cute packaging.


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