Smashbox’s Photo Finish Blemish Control Primer has been very swiftly promoted to my “hall of fame” level – or “holy grail” status, as I think the proper term might be these days. It’s outstanding, this primer, in that it addresses a concern that deeply affects many women but it does this without going in for any overblown marketing spiel or farfetched claims. It’s a skincare product (more than just a primer, as it modestly states on the tube) that helps to fight blemishes and blackheads and keep acne-prone skin under control as well as creating a beautifully smooth base for makeup application. The salicylic acid in the formula exfoliates the skin and keeps it clear, working away beneath whatever you decide to put on over the top, so you don’t have to go through that worrisome process of wondering which of your foundations might break you out. The rest of the ingredients help to hydrate (without adding oil) and prep the skin for foundation.
When I used to get my random blemish outbreaks, I would be absolutely petrified to put any makeup on. I went through whole phases of blaming certain products for my spots appearing, or at least convincing myself that they were making the situation worse when I applied them. And if you use lots of different things (as I did, and do) it’s really hard to know which makeup items – if any – are exacerbating the situation. How fabulous to find a makeup “first step” that is actually an effective BHA exfoliant as well as a great primer – it’s like a bit of skin insurance that makes you feel far more confident about getting on with the rest of your makeup routine. Spots and blackheads taken care of, box ticked, on with the rest of the day.
I’ve tested this primer underneath makeup and as a standalone skincare product; it excels in both respects, though it has that silicone-slip that admittedly, for me at least, makes it far more suited to being a primer than a leave-on treatment. It leaves a really silky-smooth finish that’s matte enough to be a boon for oily skins, yet it doesn’t feel drying on the skin or at all tight. I’ve taken to using it every day during the dratted PMT/PMS week and can’t really find anything bad to say about it whatsoever.
Lots and lots of people write in asking for BHA exfoliant recommendations (BHAs are the types of acids that really do a deep-down job on the pores, so perfect for preventing and treating blackheads and spots) but I find good ones to be a little thin on the ground. I do love Effaclar Duo+ and it works amazingly on my skin at night or on makeup-free days, but this More Than Primer: Blemish Control is a top, top choice for daytime. I apply it straight after serum (though some might prefer a moisturiser in between) and before my foundation or tinted moisturiser.
Blemish Control Primer from Smashbox is £28 from Boots.com. When I reviewed this on Youtube, there were plenty of people with “better” primers that they urged me to take a look at; NONE of them had any ingredients that would fight blemishes and certainly no ass-kicking salicylic acid! I’d say that this is a pretty sturdy choice.