Review: Sephora Smoothing Primer – a good alternative to Smashbox Photo Finish

This was actually one of the samples I was given in Sephora last month, but I liked it enough to use it up, and wish I’d purchased the full-size bottle, because this is a really nice primer, and while it’s not exactly cheap at $15, it’s still cheaper than what I’ve been paying (about $36) for my usual Smashbox Photo Finish.

For me, comparisons to that Holy Grail of primers are always inevitable, but in this case there are even more similarities: like the Smashbox product, this is a clear gel, and like Smashbox, as soon as it hits your skin, it transforms into a gorgeous, silky finish which makes your skin feel super-smooth and velvety, making an excellent base for makeup, and holding it in place all day without any difficulty.

To continue the comparison, I’d say this isn’t quite as good as the Smashbox product at controlling oiliness: it does have a mattifying effect, but it’s not quite as long-lasting as the other product. It also feels a little greasier/heavier on the skin, and doesn’t absorb quite as easily, although I’ve found that leaving it to sink in for a couple of minutes before applying the rest of my makeup resolves that issue. With that said, the difference in price and similarity in texture and quality will probably make me reach for this next time I’m in Sephora, purely because it seems like better value, and does exactly what I need it to.

Sephora Smoothing Primer, $15