12.02.2014
9
864
Photo Finish More Than Primer Blemish Control Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment
Rating
1 fl. oz. for $42
Category:Makeup > Sensitive Skin Products > Foundation Primer
Last Updated:12.02.2014
Jar Packaging:No
pH:>4.00
Tested on animals:No
Review Overview

True to its 100% accurate name, this foundation primer is "more than primer". A large part of the "more than" is the inclusion of anti-acne ingredient salicylic acid. Present in a 2% concentration formulated at pH to ensure exfoliation occurs, this is a great way to get the benefits of BHA (salicylic acid) while prepping skin for makeup.

The lightweight, silky lotion doesn't have the familiar serum-like texture many other primers, including Smashbox's, do. It sets to a soft matte finish and, thanks to its mix of silicones, forms a nice base on which to apply foundation. In short, this fragrance-free primer is ideal for oily or combination skin prone to breakouts.

Beyond the 2% salicylic acid, this also contains antioxidant vitamin E and a couple of soothing agents. The cinnamon extract (listed by its Latin name of Cinnamomum zelanicum) is slight cause for concern due to cinnamon's irritant potential when applied to skin, but the amount is likely too low to be problematic. All told, despite the higher price, this is a nice twist on primers—and the exfoliation plus blemish-busting from the salicylic acid is a nice bonus!

Pros:
  • Preps skin for makeup as it fights breakouts and blackheads.
  • Smooth matte finish won't make oily skin feel greasy or slick.
  • Boosts skin with antioxidant vitamin E and soothing agents.
  • Fragrance-free.
Cons:
  • If you're already using a good serum and BHA exfoliant each morning, you don't need this product, too.
Claims
A perfecting primer that treats breakouts, provides oil-free hydration, and keeps skin clearer over time. Photo Finish Primer contains two percent salicylic acid to combat even the toughest blemishes and keep skin looking camera-ready. The breathable formula can be layered under foundation without the worry of breakouts.
Ingredients
Active: Salicylic Acid 2% Other Ingredients: Water, Squalane, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Silica, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polyacrylamide, Tocopheryl, Acetate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Cinnamomum Zelanicum Bark Extract, Honey Extract/Mel/Extrait De Miel, Panthenol, Sarcosine, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Coco-Glucoside, Capryloyl Glycine, Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Laureth-7, Allyl Methacrylates Crosspolymer, Butylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol
Brand Overview

Smashbox At-A-Glance

Strengths: A unique Anti-Shine product that is a must-try if you have very oily skin; mostly good foundations with a neutral range of shades; improved powder eyeshadows; the great Photo Finish Lipstick; a lash primer that really makes a difference; well-constructed makeup brushes that cost less than the department-store competition.

Weaknesses: A small, mostly boring assortment of products priced higher than they should be; a couple of products contain irritants that have no benefit for skin; several lackluster makeup categories, including concealer, blush, eye pencils, and brow shaders; the Cream Eyeliner is a mistake if you expect any amount of longevity; several specialty products that should offer more for the money (and the one with sunscreen leaves skin vulnerable to UVA damage).

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about Smashbox is that its name refers to the early, accordion-style cameras and that Smashbox is first and foremost a Hollywood-based photography studio. The company's creators, Dean and Davis Factor, have their heritage in makeup—their great-grandfather was the legendary makeup artist Max Factor. However, this seems to be a case where the proverbial apple didn't fall all that close to the tree. It is apparent that Dean and Davis are better at their respective careers as CEO and photographer, respectively, than at creating a cosmetics line. The makeup, which debuted in 1996, began as a collection of trendy and fashion-forward colors coupled with a pleasingly neutral palette of foundations, concealers, and powders. Nowadays, many of the colors are too sheer to register on medium to dark skin tones, shiny products abound, and several of the complexion-enhancing products just don't look as natural on skin as they should. In fact, the foundations and concealers could use some updating; they haven't kept pace with what other makeup artistry lines are launching, and don't demonstrate much longevity under normal conditions, as in day-to-day casual makeup.

Realizing that celebrities sell products better than the product claims themselves, Smashbox steadily capitalizes on its ties to Hollywood and often mentions several famous faces who wear their products. Their counter brochures follow suit, tempting women to sit down with a Smashbox artist to get the star treatment. It's easy to get caught up in the hype, but as a comprehensive line Smashbox doesn't have what it takes to create A-list glamour, at least not if you're looking for cutting-edge textures and finishes.

For more information about Smashbox, now owned by Estee Lauder, call (888) 763-1361 or visit www.smashbox.com.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula Begoun herself.

Member Comments
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02.21.2015
Confused

Considering this is an exfoliant and a primer, in what order would you apply this in the morning? Before or after serum and sunscreen.

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Reviewed by
Sonia R
03.02.2015
Paula's Choice Research Team Response

Hi there!  You will want to rely on this more as a primer than an exfoliant, so use it when you normally would use primer (before your foundation) and then you will probably still want to use a good AHA or BHA where you normally would, after cleansing/toning.  Hope this helps!

—Admin
02.04.2015
Doesn't live up to the hype

I've been using this primer for almost two months. Nothing. I am finally seeing some results, but I cannot attribute them to this product. I have been using Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid for a little over three weeks. THAT is the product which has turned my skin around. This stuff didn't help at all. Definitely will not repurchase.

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Reviewed by
Em J.
11.09.2014
Contains acnegenic ingredient

This product contains the acnegenic ingredient Cetearyl Alcohol fairly high up on the list and did not help my acne breakouts. Very expensive lesson to learn. Read the ingredient lists.

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Reviewed by
GAIL R.
11.10.2014
Paula's Choice Research Team Response

Thanks for your comments! We absolutely do read the ingredient list and are aware of cetearyl alcohol's presence on some lists of acnegenic (acne-causing) ingredients. Sadly, those lists aren't helpful. We explain why here.

—Admin
10.19.2014
Worth the price tag!

I bought the small size of this product for $10 and I don't use it all over my face as a primer I use it as a sort of spot treatment for breakouts. I've had a breakout under my mouth for about a week now and put this product on my face over night and the breakout was about half the size and much less red than before, I was quite impressed. I feel like the $10 travel size is an excellent value, try it out!

Value
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Recommend
Reviewed by
Alicia W
10.19.2014
Worth the price tag!

I bought the small size of this product for $10 and I don't use it all over my face as a primer I use it as a sort of spot treatment for breakouts. I've had a breakout under my mouth for about a week now and put this product on my face over night and the breakout was about half the size and much less red than before, I was quite impressed. I feel like the $10 travel size is an excellent value, try it out!

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Value
Reviewed by
Alicia W
08.22.2014
Nothing!

This product may look good in the lab, but I found it did nothing for my 44 year old acne prone skin. A total waste of money.

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Recommend
Reviewed by
Anonymous
07.29.2014
Just what I was looking for

I was looking for an effective salicylic acid product that I could leave on my skin all day (rather than wash off like a cleanser) because benzoyl peroxide doesn't seem to suit. It wasn't my first choice but couldn't find other recommended products locally. I skipped moisturiser as I have somewhat oily skin. This stuff cleared up a nasty series of chin spots that had been hanging around for about a month in a DAY. I just wish it wasn't so expensive. I think I'll just use when I have a breakout.

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Reviewed by
Hannah A
05.02.2014
Thumbs down

Didn't do anything for my skin apart from make it worse. You really have to warm up the product before applying it to skin. If your like me and can't tolerate silicones, it isn't worth considering. After applying it felt heavy, and I had to put another primer ontop so my foundation didn't "stick" to certain areas. Not worth the money at all. Better off with a good anti acne product and a primer that you know you like. Big thumbs down from me

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Reviewed by
Cassie L
04.12.2014
Balls up

Hum, as much as I love how it smooth the skin, it balls up with my moisturizer seriously (I tested it with PC shine free spf 30 and with Olay Complete SPF30. Horrible results.) It balls up even more with cream-to-powder foundations (I tested it with Tarte Full Coverage SPF15 and with RCMA cream foundation) To be fair, Tarte Full Coverage tends to have minor balls up if I do not apply it carefully, but when it means this primer, they ball up and fall out like nobody's business.

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Recommend
Reviewed by
Wahoonito Z.
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