The Bottom Line
- Glides on easily
- Leaves skin smooth all day
- Makes lines and rough skin less visible
- Eases makeup application
- At $22, still pricey
- Does not contain antioxidants or sun protection
- Only one formula and color available
- Clear lightweight gel formula
- Designed to “prime” skin for makeup application
- Matte finish hides pores and prevents shine
- Use after moisturizer or on bare skin for best results
Guide Review - Sephora Brand Smoothing Primer
For those who have jumped whole-heartedly on the makeup primer bandwagon, finding wallet-friendly product options is a challenge. The gold standard in this category is Smashbox’s Photo Finish, an Allure Magazine “Best of Beauty” award winner in 2008. Though a fan of this $36 cult favorite, I was eager to see if a cheaper primer could possibly compare.
How, then, did the Sephora Brand Makeup Primer fare?
The Sephora primer is a clear gel formula that, though not as thick as the Smashbox version, isn't runny or drippy. A little bit from the easy-to-dispense bottle goes a long way, so one purchase may last longer than you anticipate.
The primer does as it claims, and creates a smooth, silky surface for makeup application. I noticed that my pores were less visible, and that patches of dry skin looked and felt smoother. The light scent was barely noticeable, and the formula did not irritate my overly sensitive skin. Additionally, as advertised, my skin stayed shine-free all day. Other users of the Sephora Brand Makeup Primer seem equally satisfied, with more than 80% of testers on MakeupAlley.com noting that they would buy the product again.
Unlike the Smashbox offering, the Sephora brand primer does not contain any antioxidants, nor are versions available in different tints or with sun protection. That said, most daily moisturizers contain vitamins and sunscreen, so you may be paying for features you don’t need with the Smashbox primers.
Before You Buy:
One important detail that the Sephora website curiously omits is that their $22 primer is packaged in a .5 oz. container. I’m no math genius, but that makes Photo Finish (at $36 for a .93 oz. bottle) the better buy over time.
That said, if you could use the extra $14 right now, then the smaller bottle of the comparable Sephora primer is a great alternative or starter primer purchase.