Tested on animals:Yes
Make Up For Ever's Step 1 Skin Equalizer Smoothing Primer starts out impressively by making good on its promises to blur imperfections and minimize pores, wrinkles, and fine lines. But where this formula falters (hence its not-quite-perfect rating) is in regards to the potentially irritating fragrance it contains. Whether or not that's a deal breaker is up to you, but there's no denying that this product delivers instant smoothing gratification!
Housed in a plastic squeeze tube, Step 1 Skin Equalizer Smoothing Primer has a lightweight, soufflé-smooth texture and peachy-beige tint that sheers out to a nearly imperceptible finish on skin. The mix of silicones and film-forming agents create a soft, almost powder-like effect that contribute to the smoothing and filling in of pores/lines that you see on skin. Moreover, this creates the kind of surface that allows makeup to glide right over it for unbelievably easy blending.
Although Make Up For Ever doesn't make a big deal about it, Step 1 Skin Equalizer Smoothing Primer also helps temporarily mattify an oily shine. The matte finish looks natural, not flat—though we'd steer those with very dry skin away (it's best suited for combination to oily skin).
As for additional beneficial ingredients, there isn't much to brag about, but we do have to point out that the included fragrant ingredients (both synthetic and natural) pose a potential risk of irritation. Between the dissipating scent and minimal concentration we aren't overly concerned, but the formula would have been a safer bet for all skin types (especially sensitive) without them. (See More Info to learn how fragrance can impair skin.)
That aside, Step 1 Skin Equalizer Smoothing Primer impressed us with its blurring/smoothing/filling capabilities + the ideal canvas it creates for makeup application. In the end, it's up to you whether the fragrance factor is a significant deterrent.
- Tinted, silicone-rich formula blurs imperfections, pores, wrinkles, and fine lines as promised.
- Matte finish looks natural, not flat—ideal for combination to oily skin types.
- Creates an ultra-smooth canvas for makeup.
- Contains irritants that pose a potential risk of impairing skin.
Inflammation in skin is usually related to external factors such as irritation that damages the skin's barrier in numerous ways, whether you can see the reaction or not. When irritation on the surface of skin happens it activates specific chemicals called neuropeptides in the brain (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 2007). Those substances are specifically the kind that regulates the hormonal system of the body.
When this happens, it leads to the formation of inflammatory chemicals directly in the oil gland. These inflammatory chemicals trigger an increase in oil production, which can increase the size of the pore, and the likelihood of acne—the more inflammation that occurs, the worse the risk (European Journal of Dermatology, 2002 & Dermatology, 2003).
Bottom line: Inflammation and its resulting irritation, whether internal or external (for this discussion externally it would be due to the use of irritating ingredients, hot water, overusing scrubs, etc.), is practically a guarantee you will see excess production of oil, larger pores and more acne breakouts (Experimental Dermatology, 2009 & Dermato-Endocrinology, 2011).
That's reason enough to avoid products with irritating ingredients, which often come in the form of fragrance including the misnamed "essential" oils.