Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer - review


I had a bunch of urgent work to do this morning, which is why I'm only sitting down to write a post now. 

This little primer has been on my list of products to review for ages, it's just that I kept hoping I would suddenly start to like it - given it's so well-loved in the beauty community and has been for years. But I don't. More on why below.

The good news, however, is that this 7.1ml deluxe sample arrived in one of my Mecca Beauty Loop boxes - handy, since I'd been considering buying the travel-sized version myself. 

Reason being, I've been in the market for a really good, pore-plugging primer that smooths my skin without drying me out or feeling too heavy. While I normally prefer hydrating and/or illluminating primers for my dry skin, the older I get, the more texture I have (I'm sure others can relate) so I've been looking for something to target the issue.

Easier said than done, in my experience!

Smashbox claims/product details:
  • An award-winning primer that delivers a silky finish, creates a smooth base and extends the wear of your foundation
  • Creates the perfect canvas for flawless-looking makeup application 
  • Infused with a silky, lightweight blend of vitamins and antioxidants, this best-selling primer works to inhibit the destruction of collagen and reduce the appearance of fine lines and pores
  • Unique, oil-free formula that soothes and hydrates the skin 
  • An essential must-have for a velvet smooth finish
  • RRP $71 AUD for 50ml; $52 AUD for 30ml; or $23 AUD for 14ml


I don't like this. I don't hate it either, but it's currently on my Project Pan list and I can't wait to get through it.

Mind you, it's taking me ages to finish because even this 7.1ml sample has lasted me months of frequent use. What's good about this, of course, is that a little goes such a long way that the product is great value if it works for you. Even better, the shelf-life is a healthy 24 months - so you could safely buy a larger size and get through it before it starts to go rancid. Tick.

It's a clear product with no scent and it absolutely gives your skin a silky smooth, velvety finish and feel - so I agree with those claims.

I also agree that it's lightweight, and it doesn't feel super heavy on the skin like some silicone-y primers can. Plus it doesn't dry me out (another gripe I have with pore-plugging primers), nor does it ball up underneath my base. This was one of the issues I had with Benefit's The POREfessional (reviewed here), so ticks there too.

It's also not too greasy or slippery, which is one of the problems I had with Maybelline's Baby Skin (reviewed here). Another box ticked.

So what, then, is my issue with this product? 

I'm so glad you asked ; )

My issue is this: it does bugger all. I put it on, my skin looks and feels a bit smoother (so far, so good), but as soon as I go in with my base, any beneficial effect completely vanishes. My pores are still as visible as ever and so are my fine lines, and my makeup feels a bit more slippery than it should - as though this primer is lifting and mixing with my base, rather than staying where it should.

Plus it doesn't make my makeup last longer. If anything, the reverse is true. No idea why, but when I wear this primer, everything fades an hour or so earlier than it does with other products. I also don't find it soothing or hydrating in the slightest, so I don't agree with those claims either.

So in sum, this isn't an awful product but it doesn't work for me. Having said this, it does work wonders for many so I'm sure it's better-suited to particular skin types. In any event, I would absolutely grab a sample of this before purchase because I've seen plenty of others say they don't like it either.

If you're after a good smoothing primer, so far the best one I've found is Clarins' Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch (reviewed here). I mentioned in my review that I would eventually buy myself a full-size, which I've now done and I've recently started using it again. It's fantastic. I'll definitely have to update that review, now that I've realised how much better it is than the many primers I've tried after using it two years ago.

Do let me know in the comments what your favourite smoothing primer is. I'd love to hear x

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