Bold is Beautiful: Benefit’s Maggie Ford Danielson on what constitutes a good brow and what it means to be bold in 2019

Bold is Beautiful: Benefit’s Maggie Ford Danielson on what constitutes a good brow and what it means to be bold in 2019

Charity beyond the home

Text: Emily Heng

Image: Instagram | @benefitcosmetics

Brow-maintenance is hard work. Whether your routine constitutes shaping, filling and or simply brushing 'em out (lucky you), a fair amount of effort is often required to attain on-fleek arches. And while some might disregard them in favour of other beauty pursuits, it is not a practice Benefit's first daughter (her parents founded the company in 1976) and Chief Beauty Ambassador, Maggie Ford Danielson, can abide by.

"I think of brows more in terms of grooming, rather than traditional makeup. Brows are a necessity. They create more structure to the face, they bring life to the face," she explains, with the quirk of her (exquisite, obvi) brow. "It's just one of those things where as long as you do them right, you don't have to wear makeup and you'll still look good."


With this philosophy in mind, it comes to no surprise that brows remain the focus of Benefit's Bold is Beautiful campaign. Birthed in 2015, the project donates 100% of Benefit's brow wax proceeds from the month of May to charities (specifically, Aidha and Star Shelter in Singapore); it has raised USD16.5 million globally since its inception. To raise the bar in 2019, Benefit is also donating 100% of its proceeds of sales from 3D BrowTones Magenta, a limited edition eyebrow enhancer, all year round. 

The goal: to raise USD6 million in 21 countries across the globe — something of which Ford Danielson is confident Benefit is able to achieve. We sit down with the lady leading the charge to find out more; from the brand's various philanthropic efforts to what she thinks constitutes a good brow (spoiler alert: it ain't a skinny one).

Bold is Beautiful — what is the meaning behind this slogan?
It is about empowerment. My sister Annie and I started this project in 2015, where we wanted to take this idea of sisterhood and reach it beyond the counter to touch a larger community of women and girls. We wanted something that would help women feel fearless, empowered and supported, and that was how Bold is Beautiful was born.

How did the idea of Bold is Beautiful campaign come about?
From the very beginning, we knew the brow wax proceeds was how we were going to raise the funds, because it is something that is unique to us, and where we can have a connection with our customers. It's not just grabbing your makeup and going, it is about having this interpersonal moment, creating this sisterhood. We also decided to give a 100% of the funds because we wanted to be super transparent, so we maintained that in all the countries where Bold is Beautiful is activated.


The 3D BrowTones Magenta is included in your charity efforts this year. Why?
Because there are eleven other months in the year where we don't talk about Bold is Beautiful! [Laughs] And it just got us thinking, what if we had more of a year-round option to potentially raise more money? So we decided to take the 3D BrowTones, and create it in Magenta for the campaign. Starting 1 May, all year-round, 100% of the proceeds from that will go to Bold is Beautiful. So not only is that helping raise additional funds, it is about creating additional awareness outside the month of May.

How did you guys decide on which charities to partner with?
We — the global team — have a set criteria required from us when Bold is Beautiful is being activated in other countries. So, there are three main ones, which are a) access to wellness; b) education and mentorship; and c) economic self-sufficiency. So, with these three factors in mind, the local team was then able to figure out which charities are the best ones to approach. Star Shelter was just an obvious choice. 

What's the biggest mistake women (and men!) make with our brows?
[Laughs] A mistake people often make is when they assume that when they do their brows, it has to be very bold and dark and heavy — and it just scares them off trying it entirely! People also sometimes fill their brows in too thin. Always go a bit fuller rather than thinner, it makes you look younger.


So, no to skinny brows, ever?
Oh God! I feel like at some point they're going to come back, but it's just a trend, you know? Like coloured brows. And brows should never be just trendy. Everyone's brows should be built to customise their face because everyone has different bone structures, different face shapes. Once you find your perfect brow shape — which Benefit can help you with — you should just stick with that. You can do trendy lip colours and all, but don't go crazy with your brows.

How do you groom your brows on a daily basis?
I use just one product, the Benefit Precisely My Brow Pencil in the shade #4. I use small-little strokes, brush it through, until I get to the desired thickness I want. My brows are naturally thin, so I don't have to shape them much, but I definitely had to use a little bit more pencil then I did five to 10 years ago.


Any beauty myths or stereotypes that really irk you?
There is a stereotype out there only Western women wear bronzer, for one. Or basically, just this idea that certain makeup is only meant for certain women! It really perpetuates stereotypes that need to be broken. Beauty is universal, and it is what makes Benefit so unique. We don't launch certain collections for different parts of the world, we launch one product and we launch it everywhere.

Considering your parents are the founder of Benefit, did you have a bad beauty year, ever?
Oh, my eye makeup was definitely way too harsh when I was younger. I used to line my water line copiously, and it just did me no favours.

Lastly: what is the biggest beauty lesson you've learnt so far?
Less is more when it comes to makeup. Choose the right products, and don't wear too much at one time. Basically, accentuate one aspect of your face because you don't want to look overdone. What's appropriate for a picture is not necessarily what is appropriate for everyday life.