Make up Wake up? Smashbox Photo finish Primer Water Review

Yes, it’s hit Mzansi’s shores (sooner than i thought, you know we’re always 7 months behind).  While reading a local magazine, I came across it in the beauty section and boy did I get on the phone faster than you can pull a rabbit out the hat and called my local Red Square to find out if they had any stock.

They did and I quickly asked Mr Hubby to get it for me. Technically I’m on a no-buy right now so if he buys it, it’s not breaking the no-buy, right? Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it ☺



So what is it?


Smashbox explains on their website: Think priming benefits, hydration and sheer radiance—all in just 1 spritz! Primer water is free of silicone, alcohol and oil, but it’s packed with revitalizing electrolytes to wake up skin and restore moisture—like a supercharged energy drink for your skin. Passed through positive energy fields during the production process, our enriched water instantly absorbs into skin for lasting hydration (and when skin is hydrated, makeup looks better).

Smashbox Photo finish Primer Water claims.
Smashbox Photo finish Primer Water claims.

They claim that it’s the new icon, the former being the Photo finish Foundation Primer that was born 15 years ago. I love that primer and the idea of having that in a liquid form was heaven to me. It is supposed to the lightest, purest, most refreshing form of the iconic primer. Yes, this super fine mist is meant to be magic in a bottle!

These are the claims: Silicone-free. Alcohol-free, Oil-free Creates the sheerest canvas for makeup application Wakes up skin, leaving it vibrant and radiant for hours Restores moisture and hydrates skin for hours—shine free! Refreshes throughout the day Perfect for all skin types

Ooooookkkaaayyy . . . lots to live up to, no?

Basically, this is a 3-I mist that is supposed to prep the skin for foundation, set make up and refresh the skin all day. It comes in a plastic bottle with a pump. The nozzle does indeed spray a fine mist, like fine, really really fine.

The Smashbox Photo finish Primer Water nozzle is one of the reasons I love this guy so much.
The Smashbox Photo finish Primer Water nozzle is one of the reasons I love this guy so much.

Now this is a selling point for me. Often, hydrating mists tend to squirt rather than spray and it can be uneven on the skin, but this sucker sprays an even mist onto the skin and covers the entire face in a few sprits.


The Smashbox Photo finish Primer Water has a nozzle that sprays a fine mist. I know, the photo didn't capture it, but I will try to take an action shot and update this.
The Smashbox Photo finish Primer Water has a nozzle that sprays a fine mist. I know, the photo didn’t capture it, but I will try to take an action shot and update this.

It has diamond powder in it and when you spray on bare skin, you do glow and the tiny reflective particles are visible. It does have a scent, that’s very difficult to explain . . . it’s fresh, it smells like a garden, a mix of floral and freshly-cut grass. However, it’s not annoying and the scent goes away quickly.

So how does it perform as a primer? When applied, it feels tacky at first but dries down to a lightweight, sheer, base. If you’re using a more liquid foundation, it will glide onto the skin. It you’re using a heavier, creamier foundation, you may need to apply some primer. Also, this is not going to fill any pores, potholes, craters on your face, so I would suggest using a pore minimizing primer where you have those pores. If you don’t have Victoria Secret Angels’ skin (I don’t), this would work great as a setting spray. It really pulls together your make and makes it last longer. I think if MAC’s Minerally Charged water (they have the same ingredients, Estee lauder does own both companies) and the UD make up setting spray had a baby, this would be it.

To be fair, at first I thought that this was another hydrating mist. It’s not. It has a hydrating, cooling quality that refreshes the skin but it’s also got a hold (you know, hairspray-for-your-face kind of hold?). Not lock-down hold, but enough to give a significant increase to the longevity of your make up. I have combination skin and tend to get oily on my T-Zone and it hit the 6- hour mark without my make up starting to break and grease up. I wish I could throw this into my bag, but it’s too bulky. I will decant it and but it in a mini bottle with a pump and fine nozzle.

It guy is super cooling on the skin, think throwing a bucket of iced water on your skin and Smashbox does advise putting it in the fridge to get more of a cooling sensation, I won’t be storing this this next to my milk any time soon.

These are the ingredient in the primer water: WaterAquaEau, Butylene Glycol, Caffeine, Magnesium Chloride, Calcium Chloride, Sodium Sulfate, Potassium Nitrate, Potassium Phosphate, Polysorbate 80, Diamond Powder, Fragrance (Parfum), Limonene, Linalool, Citral, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate.

It has caffeine? Hmmmm, Red Bull for my face . . . I’m sold!

The Smashbox Photo finish Primer Water . . . love it!
The Smashbox Photo finish Primer Water . . . love it!

Yes, it is pricey and I wouldn’t say it is a ride or die product, but for me, it doubles up as a primer and setting spray, so to me, it’s worth the money.

Possible Dupe: MAC’s Mineralize Charged Water Revitalising Energy has the same ingredients, not the same nozzle.

I can’t say they give the same results, but the ingredients are much the same. Will do a comparison review soon:

MAC describes this product as : A fusion of Mineralize Charged Water and pure diamond powder. Instantly enlivens, energizes and revitalizes the skin while adding radiance. Keeps skin soft and supple. Refreshing green tea and citrus fragrance.

Price: R300  for R100ml.

Where to buy: MAC FFS and counters nationwide and

PS. My MAC’s Fix+ is not leaving my vanity any time soon but the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water is sitting next to it, in fact, they’re holding hands right now. Smashbox is one of my favourite brands and they come out with the most gimmicky sounding products that turn out to be anything but. This primer water is revolutionary . . . and that’s got the Smashbox stamp on it.

Price: R400 for 116ml

Where to buy: Smashbox counters across the country. I got mine at Red Square in Sandton City

Have you triedthe Smashbox Photo finish Primer Water ? Let me know in the comments section below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Love you guys 🙂 Until next time, stay beautiful!



Beauty Bugle


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