In the interests of my readership (aren’t I good to you?), I recently tested Smashbox’s Photo Finish foundation primer.
I had never worn a primer before and for those of you who haven’t either, they’re silicone-based gels that are meant to prime your skin like a canvas to create a smooth base for your foundation. They’re also meant to prevent oiliness and shine breaking through (so you don’t have to keep reapplying powder all day), and they should also fill in open pores and fine lines. You put them on after your moisturiser and before any other makeup.
A lot of women over 40 find their skin is more open-pored (another one of those things they don’t tell you…) because if you’ve always had oily skin, after a time the skin around those pores stops shrinking back and you’re stuck with them – this is a problem I have around my nose/chin/forehead, while my cheeks are now as dry as the desert. This makes it difficult to wear foundation, because it just sinks into the holes like so many mini-craters. From a distance, it’s not noticeable, but close-up it bothers me, so I tend only to wear foundation in the evening.
I tested the primer by using it on one half of my face, which seemed the fairest way to do it, and I wore it for three days, alternating sides. Then I wore it all over my face for two days.
What it did
What it did do, and very well, was to stop oiliness breaking out throughout the day, and there it made quite a noticeable difference. My makeup, including eye makeup, stayed totally put with no breakthrough shine (and no dryness or flaking either).
It also made my makeup glide on like a dream – the stuff itself is a clear odourless gel and feels like angel’s fingers on your face, and once applied, you can put your normal slap on top without any dragging or pulling. This is especially important around your eye area, where the skin is thinnest. Using the primer you get completely even coverage and blending – important once you hit 40 as now it’s all about subtlety. The smoothness was the same no matter what kind of makeup I was using – I tried creams, liquids and powders, all with equally good results.
If you want to wear it alone it’s very nice also and makes your face look kind of ‘finished’ without the need for foundation or powder – a natural look I prefer for daytime. At this time of year I switch from my normal day cream to an SPF 50 sunblocker, which are always a bit greasy, so it was very nice to be able to matt this down with the primer.
What it didn’t do
Sadly, it didn’t fill in my open pores to allow foundation to sit on top. My foundation looked exactly the same – like lots of little dots. I did get slightly better results using the Smashbox foundation sample sachet they sent me than with my normal Dior Airflash foundation, so it’s possible that the two products are designed to work together.
Smashbox skin primer contains vitamins A & E for nourishment and grape seed extract and green tea to calm your face down. It costs $36 a pop from www.smashbox.com – but at one pump a day, it should last quite a long time.