I use a primer on a daily basis to prolong the wear of makeup on my combination skin although I've been known to substitute traditional primer for a quick spritz of setting spray underneath my foundation at times when I've been in a hurry. As such, I wasn't wowed when I heard that Smashbox were introducing a Primer Water. I felt that it was a gimmicky product which wouldn't be any different to using a setting spray under makeup (which I can apply as a 2-in-1 product, "sandwiching" my foundation). However, I was sent a sample to review and I have to say, I'm impressed.
On first impressions, the packaging looks high-end despite being a plastic spray bottle. It's presented in a box and has a fairly minimalist design. The spray is inherently quick & easy to use, particularly as it doesn't need to be massaged into skin. I appreciated that the bottle is transparent, allowing me to tell how much product remained. The only downside is that I did notice some slight leakage when I took it away for a weekend and seeing as I wouldn't want to waste a drop, I wouldn't recommend it for travel (besides, the 116ml bottle isn't travel friendly- although I believe that a smaller "try me" size is offered in the USA).
Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water has become my go-to method of priming my skin. I love that the formula is alcohol and oil free and I haven't experienced any breakouts on my acne-prone skin as a result of using this. Furthermore, the silicone free formula means that it's a good choice for those who, like me, find such primers to feel "suffocating" on the skin. Instead, it adds a shot of hydration and feels refreshing, making it ideal for use in the mornings or hot climates. I wasn't able to notice any discernible scent.
As you'd expect, Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water works well under makeup, helping to prolong the longevity. I've used it under a variety of foundations from different brands and it has worked well under them all, without interfering with the formulas or causing oxidisation. Enlarged pores aren't a concern of mine so I can't comment on its pore-minimising benefits (although the company makes no such claims).
It's worth noting that Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water can also be used to set makeup or as a refresher throughout the day, although I personally haven't used it in this way.
At £20 for 116ml, Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water is at the pricier end of the scale, however, I've been impressed at how long the bottle lasts and for convenience, it's hard to beat. Those on a budget may prefer to wait for wallet friendly brands to bring out their versions (I wouldn't be in the least surprised if this is a product which is heavily copied), however, I've been very impressed and would repurchase.