Smashbox | Photo Finish Primer Water & Primer Oil

Smashbox Primer Water & Primer Oil opener

Back in 2000, when Smashbox founders & photographers Davis Factor and his brother Dean (who also happen to be the great-grandsons of beauty legend Max Factor) created their Photo Finish Foundation Primer, it became a massive hit for the brand and went on to spawn countless imitations. In 2015, the brand launched Photo Finish Primer Water, a lightweight version of the successful original – a product that can be used prior to makeup application and reapplied throughout the wearing as well. The newest addition to the line,  Photo Finish Primer Oil, is meant to help you prepare your face before any makeup ever touches your skin – but it’s so much more than that.

Snashbox Primer Water & Primer Oil

Smashbox | Photo Finish Primer Water & Primer Oil

Smashbox Primer Water

Photo Finish Primer Water (CAN $37.00) | Housed in a clear plastic bottle with a spray-pump dispenser, this is a silicone, oil, and alcohol-free transparent spray liquid for use before and/or during makeup application:

  • as primer before foundation (but after moisturizer) to even out the skin
  • as a setting spray after all makeup has been applied
  • as a skin/makeup refresher throughout the day

I’ve been a huge fan of MAC’s Prep & Prime Fix+ spray for years now, but after hearing all the rave reviews for this Primer Water, my curiosity was definitely piqued. Apart from what this spray does, it also happens to be loaded with revitalizing electrolytes (passed through positive energy fields during the production process), which helps it not only become absorbed into the skin easily, but works behind the scenes for a long-lasting hydrated feel.

By far, my absolute favourite way to use this product is to spray it on my beauty sponge before foundation application; this method adds just enough moisture to the sponge to keep the product from sinking in, and goes a long way in helping foundation glide effortlessly along the skin for flawless-looking coverage. Once all makeup has been applied, I also like to go in and lightly mist my face to ‘set’ everything (as well as to tamp down any powdery-ness), alternating the Primer Water with a more mattifying setting spray the occasion when a shine-free finish is preferred.

Smashbox Primer Water macro

Smashbox | Photo Finish Primer Water

Smashbox Primer Water 2

Smashbox | Photo Finish Primer Water


Smashbox Primer Oil

Photo Finish Primer Oil (CAN $49.00) | With the rise in popularity of face oils in skincare routines, it seems only natural that a primer version would follow. Housed in a glass bottle with a dropper dispensing system and created with 15 botanical oils handpicked for their skin benefits, this Primer Oil is primarily meant to be applied on clean skin and allowed to become fully absorbed before makeup, providing skin with a fully moisturized feel as well as a subtle glow. That being said, this product can also be used strategically as a light touch up over makeup as well, which will help give a softly luminous boost to tired-looking skin. But the benefits of this simple-looking oil can also extend even further than that: applied along split ends to help seal them in and add strength, into cuticles and elbows more a shot of moisture, and even along the clavicle (collar-bones) to create a soft dewy sheen.

Having combination skin with an oily T-zone, I’m really loving the effect of this Primer Oil as a pre-curser in my makeup routine. After cleansing and moisturizing, I rub 2 drops into my skin and wait about 10 minutes for it become fully absorbed before applying my makeup. My skin is left feeling supple and thoroughly nourished, without any greasy residue, looking  glowingly smooth and even. It almost seems to add a slight luminosity to my foundation as well, an effect I noticed after a few hours of wear time – giving my skin a healthy looking sheen.

Beauty tip: to effectively minimize and camouflage fine lines around the eyes, mix a tiny (as in supremely teeny) bit of Primer Oil into your concealer and then observe how easily and beautifully everything glides along the skin (and kiss any crepey-ness goodbye).

Smashbox Primer Oil dropper

Smashbox | Photo Finish Primer Oil

Smashbox Primer Oil dropper macro

Smashbox | Photo Finish Primer Oil (applicator detail)

Smashbox Primer Oil 2

Smashbox | Photo Finish Primer Oil

Smashbox Primer Oil ingredients

Smashbox | Photo Finish Primer Oil, ingredients list


This should be your beauty mantra: prepare your ‘canvas’ (face) and your makeup will thank you. Primer has become an indispensable step in my beauty routine, effectively laying the base for whatever is applied on top – while also performing double duty in protecting my skin from any environmental factors. With so many choices to pick from that are available in this field today (hydrating, mattifying, colour-correcting), both the Photo Finish Primer Water and Photo Finish Primer Oil are quick, convenient, simple and best of all, effective. And both are now staples in my beauty routine (Primer Water is quickly approaching Holy Grail status); I expected nothing less from the heirs to this beauty dynasty; Max Factor would be so proud.

Available at: Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix, Murale, and Sephora across Canada. Find more information via

Smashbox Primer Water & Primer Oil closer


Product samples kindly provided for my unbiased consideration

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