Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer

I picked up Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer(0.5oz, $16) when I was initially building up my makeup collection. Now this primer gets rave reviews-  Winner of Best of Sephora Award for Best Primer, one of Marie Claire’s “25 Products That Will Change Your Life,” and an InStyle Best Beauty Buy. Since its pretty expensive  at $36 for a 1 oz bottle, I went ahead and ordered the travel size tube of 0.5oz for $16 from Smashbox’s website.
Smashbox photo finish foundation primer
The product’s  promotion on Smashbox’s website:

“Create a perfect canvas for foundation application with this silky, lightweight blend of vitamins A and E, grape seed extract and green tea. Worn alone or under foundation to increase longevity, our best-selling primer helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and pores for flawless skin with a velvety-smooth finish.
Apply a dime-size amount of photo finish foundation primer to clean or moisturized skin, using fingertips, for complexion perfection. Follow with your favorite foundation.”


Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Trisiloxane, Silica, Dimethicone/ Vinyldimethicone Crosspolymer, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Extract, Propylene Glycol, Water (Aqua, Eau), Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Cola Acuminata Seed Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract.

My first reaction on receiving the product was its tiny size. I knew it was small, but the actual size of the tube in comparison of the $16 + taxes I spent, it was really mini. Well at that price, it better make me look breathtakingly beautiful!

Smashbox photo finish foundation primer

Out of the tube its a clear, slightly opaque gel like looking substance.

Smashbox photo finish foundation primer

First impression on taking out a bit on your arms-Its really velvety smooth and makes the area it touches really silky!

Anyways I tried it on.
I moisturized my skin (I have dry combination skin with oily T-zone).
I put on a layer of primer, a tiny dime sized amount .
I concentrated on areas that are lined or slightly wrinkled- my under eyes and laugh lines.
I let set for one minute, then applied foundation as usual. It can, however, be worn alone or underneath foundation.

Now instead of the usual Pros and cons, I am making a list of things it claims to do, and things that actually worked for me. I think that would give a fair review of the product.

What it claims to do for everyone:

-Reduce the appearance of fine lines and pores.
-Gives flawless skin with a velvety-smooth finish.
-Makes your makeup last.
-Foundation glides smoothly.
-Amount of foundation used is reduced.
-Reduces oiliness.

What it did for me:

-Well after applying it, unfortunately it didn’t make me look breathtakingly beautiful (I know it wouldn’t, I still had hope; hope runs the beauty industry, doesn’t it?)

But my face definitely felt really smooth and silky to touch. It had instantly mattified my skin.

-The foundation did apply more smoothly, and it did use lesser than usual(I tried it on the other half of my face without the primer to really know the difference.) I did feel a slight reduction on the fine lines under the eyes, but maybe it was just me trying to find some change. Absolutely no change in the appearance of laugh lines.

-After a 5 hour test, there was however no oiliness on my T-zone.

-I did find a little bit of redness around my nose, which I think might be cause of the silica in the contents. The redness wore off after a couple of hours of washing my face.

-The foundation definitely lasted longer than it usually does.

The verdict:

I’m on the fence about this much-acclaimed product. I think it does have its merits, but I think it depends on your skin type and the type of primer you use. Smashbox makes many different varieties of this primer including a lightweight oil free version and many other colour correcting primers in green, purple and beige colour. I think you need to figure out which one would suit you best. In my case it didn’t help me much with fine lines and pores, but it very apparently made my skin matte, smooth and helped a lot with the foundation application and longevity. I think its the silica that gave me the slight redness therefore I would want to try their lighter  silica free version.

Overall I would recommend people to give it a shot but first, try to get a sample from somewhere( I know Sephora has them) or try a bit from someone who already owns it. Might not work for people with acne-prone or sensitive skin.

Smashbox photo finish foundation primer

I know many people who swear by it and are on their 6th bottle, so its all about trying it out before buying the larger expensive quantity. It might do great for a wedding or special occasion day. I have heard L’Oreal Studio Secrets Face Primer is a cheaper dupe for it but have not got my hands on it yet.

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer is currently available at Amazon

Also Read:

Smashbox Wish For the Perfect Pout Review
Make Up For Ever HD Foundation Review
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion Review


49 thoughts on “Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer

  1. I wish we got samples like this here too…not just all the other brands too. I can never figure out if I will get break outs or not with just the one-time use at the counter 😐 😐

    1. Rads, i was looking at your gravatar pic of the green goblin/ogre.. u know what… it’s actually pretty cute!!!! It has the cutest expression ever!!!! :whistle: :whistle: :whistle: :whistle: :whistle: :whistle:

        1. grinch, you need to go to a good salon for trimming or removal of extra hair.. :tongue: :tongue: :tongue: :tongue: :tongue: :tongue: :tongue: :tongue: :tongue: err.. thats what ur pic suggests :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo:

                1. :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo:

                  :secret2: i didnt undertand the joke , why amrish puri, of all ?? :secret2:

                    1. ohhh … i thot maybe there must some weird jomol-esque reason .. this one looked quite simple for jomol’s sooper brain .. :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo: :yelo:

  2. Lovely review Nikki!! :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: ..I wish we could get the samples here too…of all skin care and face makeup products, so that we can know what suits us and what not!!…

  3. @calicoaster: Thanks!
    I wish we could get samples for everything…I have spent money on stuff that I regretted buying afterward. Some companies in US sell the samples of their products,
    for example, $6 gets you 3 samples of their foundations- great deal to try out the product and the colour that suits you best.

  4. This so badly reminds me of Inglot primer- infact Inglot one also claims to do what this one does.

    Thanks for the review, Nikki. This indeed was helpful. :))

      1. @Rati – Well the shagun definitely worked I guess.:) The coin trick is used while photographing electronic components especially the tiny circuit board ones, to
        give an estimation of size. I am an amateur photographer hoping to learn the ropes of professional photography. 🙂

  5. I have heard great reviews about this primer…..but my only problem is availability….can’t rely on internet shopping…wish we had Smashbox in India
    for now I am happy with my Clinique pore minimizer instant perfector :))

    1. Estee Lauder bought Smashbox last year. They might hopefully come to India now that they already have a distribution network setup.

        1. ohh thats good news…. 🙂

          really? dint know they hv Smashbox at airport…. ?:)
          now I hv given up on Indian railways….so next time it wud be by flight and therefore airport shopping :jiggy1:

  6. Yeahhh I have heard about this product sooo much…
    but bcoz I have an acne prone skin m scared…
    btw- enlighten me: Why exactly do we need a face primeR???

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