September 9, 2011

Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Foundation Review

I wanna say that Smashbox is one of the first primers I ever really took note of on the makeup market, it’s also probably one of my first remembered primer experiences.

And it also turned me off to primers for a really long time. Personally I’m kinda sorta amazed how many people love it as I’ve only ever experience itchy joy from it after application plus it’s always had a knack for pilling…just an overall awful product in my opinion.

And I know I’m not alone here as many of you have felt the same way and all I can say is it’s about damn time that Smashbox created a hydrating primer!


A hydrating foundation primer.

This is amazing stuff particularly if you have dry skin. Dry skin has a petulance for aging very quickly which is why you want to keep it as hydrated as possible plus makeup in general looks cleaner, fresher, and more beautiful with proper hydration.

I, sadly, have super dry skin and need as much help as I can get in the moisturizer department.

I don’t have larger pores so I really don’t need a silicone based primer and I tend to favor more hydrating ones thus Smashbox Photo Finishing Hydrating Primer was the ticket for me. Although I already own hundreds of hydrating primers I felt like it was a mission to check this one out after knowing, trying, and understanding the drama that comes along with the regular Photo Finish Primer.

This comes in a 1 oz squeeze tube and is a crystal clear sky blue shade but applies clear. I’m happy Smashbox is tubin’ it lately as the pump packaging just isn’t my deal and I find a squeeze tube easier and alot less hassle (excuse my swatches as my arm is a bit pink…ha was swatching blush prior to doing this review and my arm is still looking all kinds of strange).

The formula is exactly what you’d expect from a hydrating primer. It’s cool, refreshing, and incredibly lightweight. It’s not SUPER moisturizing but it’s not supposed to be. It offers a lightweight way to quench dry skin with an oil-free formula. They dub it as a great way to fill fine lines and pores….I wouldn’t personally go so far as to say that a texture like this will fill pores but it’s likely you probably don’t have larger pores if you have dry skin.

The key feature of the product is the fact it seals moisture in. I find it leaves my skin pleasantly hydrated and ever so slightly dewy throughout the day. This is important to me as the drier the skin my gets, the duller it becomes so having a primer that keeps my skin hydrated throughout the day is definitely a good thing.

There are a few quirks…

I do not like the near $42 price tag. Regular Photo Finish Primers are $38 why the price up on the hydrating version? For 1 oz, near $50 is a little bit too much to pay however, for some odd reason, $38 sounds a bit more reasonable.

It doesn’t actually keep my foundation long wearing but it does keep my foundation fresher which is just as important as wear time.

  • Anyone seeking a hydrating primer versus a silicone.
  • Those with smaller pores.
  • Those seeking a primer to keep their drier skin moist.
  • Those with dull skin in need of a primer to keep their skin hydrated to ease a lackluster complexion.

  • Those wanting a primer to keep their foundation long wearing.
  • Those wanting a primer to mask larger pores or fine lines.
  • Those who aren’t willing to go for $42 for a mere 1 oz primer.

Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Primer has one major quirk, the price tag…but outside of that it proves a very good primer. It won’t make your foundation last all day and it won’t blur finer lines or pores but it will keep dry skin pleasantly hydrated through the day and keep foundation fresh looking and flawless. I thought it was an ickle costly but I have to say, that this one, needs a Muse Approval particularly for the dry skin chicas out there.

I’m liking it and I see myself indulging again when this one runs out!

Available now from and

Have you tried it?

Love it?

Do share!

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


  • Josh :D

    Definitely a winner here! I’m not a big fan of the original silicone based formula, but this and the Light version are both amazing! 😀

  • Cj

    Loves it! Works amazing with the studio skin foundation, and together my makeup lasts through out the mid 90 degree day!

  • Cait

    i hate Smashbox primers in general, but this one is great. My forehead is so dry that my foundation ALWAYS flakes and balls up when I try to apply it there, but if I put some of this stuff on and then immediately apply my foundation on and kind of blend them together, it actually works pretty decently. I nearly cried forking over the $42 though….WAY too much.

    • the Muse

      yay cait glad to hear it….me too…really was an ickle disappointed about the price ;(

  • Mallory

    Why is it so expensive?! I’ve seen so many good reviews on it and I would love to test it out myself but the price tag always makes me look the other way? =(

  • Joan

    I do like this primer, although I was also taken aback at the $42 price. I’m not crazy about the smell, but it goes away after it’s on. I am upset with Smashbox for discontinuing their “oil free” Color Correcting Primers. Originally they contained oil, then about a year or so ago, they came out with an “oil free” formula, which made me very happy. When they came out with the new tube in all their primers, they again contained oil. I cannot find the “oil free” formula in the bottles anywhere. I have one bottle I’m using and one extra and that’s it. I’m hoping they come out with the “oil free” again. The color correcting primer I really like is the one called Blend. I was bummed out to find out it now contains oil. What’s up with that Smashbox?

  • Lulee

    i really recommend laura mercier hydrating primer if you are interested. that stuff is lifechanging!

  • Sara

    Yeah uh…it’s still chock full of silicones so….skippage for me.

    My skin is crazy dry, and you know what really moisturizes it and makes it feel good? Oils and butters. Yeah, they’re in all my skincare and aside from inherited roseacea(spelling? jesus that’s an epic fail tonight) (came with the inherited dry skin), my skin is clear outside of a couple “hormonal” days out of the month. Gimme oils and skip the silicones, please. :p

  • anne

    I have a sample of this that I just found, I used it on someone else when I did their makeup but not on myself. I have combo skin so idk if this would work, maybe I should save it for the winter when I need a lil boost. It is definitely pricey, right now Im using 0-MUFE primer and its the same size for $34. More than my BE primer I was using for a while, but I really learned that I don’t like the way the silicone based ones feel lol. Maybe the lightweight version would be better, is that a lotion texture?