In my heart of hearts, I know that it is all style over substance. Yet I have always felt drawn towards Benefit, a cheeky cosmetic company that doesn't take itself too seriously. Take Benetint, the product that arguably moved Benefit into the mainstream, it comes with one of the daftest but more amusing origination myths: it was originally designed (30 years ago) for an exotic dancer who wanted something to make her nipples pretty and pink. Perhaps this factoid, locked somewhere in my memory, was the subconscious trigger the other day for me to buy my very first Benefit product, a blush and lip color called Posie Tint ($28).

I wasn't expecting to find anything for serious skincare in this lighthearted brand, but I thought I should check to make sure there was nothing in Posie Tint that I should be seriously worried about. Benefit isn't going to win any green and chemical-free awards, but it isn't sheer poison either.

The presence of phenoxyethanol would make me reluctant to give this blush double duty as a lip rouge. There are several animal studies that demonstrate that it is toxic – with effects on the brain and the nervous system – at moderate concentrations. On the other hand, studies suggest that another preservative in Posie, tetrasodium edta, is probably more harmful as an ecotoxin than to me. Ethylhexyl stearate is a mild irritant and, although disodium edta is not, it does encourage other ingredients to penetrate the skin.

On balance, as it seemed that there was no need to don a hazard suit, I decided to give Benefit Posie Tint a whirl. I was surprised to open the packaging and find that it comes in a bottle with a brush that is just like a nail polish. The consistency is like that of nail polish too and the neon pink color quite alarming. I'm supposed to paint my face with this? In fact, the three strips I painted on the apple of my cheeks, blended in perfectly with the tip of my finger leaving my skin with a fairly natural looking rosy blush. And, I am pleased to say, no irritation.

Ingredients

Water, ethylhexyl stearate, butylene glycol, hydroxyethyl acrylate sodium acryloylmethyl taurate copolymer, pentylene glycol, phenoxyethanol, squalane, polysorbate 60, titanium dioxide, disodium edta, tetrasodium edta, iron oxides, red 27.