Spiffingly Spectacular Smashbox Cosmetics

The xojane rundown on a premo-ballerino make-up range that’s returned to our shores from across the Pond. We tried it out for you! You’re welcome.
Publish date:
September 28, 2012
makeup, smashbox cosmetics

Chances are you’ve not heard of Smashbox. Yet. Let me give you a super quick history lesson on this innovative range.

Mr Max Factor’s grandsons, Dean and Davis were fashion snappers. In 1996 they created a collection of cosmetics that solved the same problems for us girls at home, as they had in the studios when shooting models and celebs. Now if only he could create something to fix my massive bum. I digress.

The range is created to go hand in hand with fashion, following the trends, and with the introduction of high-def cameras, Smashbox developed a range that could stand up to intense photographic scrutiny of close ups, and million megapixel shots.

Now, Smashbox originally made its way across the pond to us in 1998, but some bad press, which you can read about here forced the brand to retreat. The incredible power-house that is Estée Lauder took the brand over two years ago, which can only be a good thing, seeing as they own the likes of Bobbi Brown, MAC, Clinique, Tom Ford, I think it’s safe to say that the dodgy history is just that, history.

So, that’s the history. Here’s a selection of their hero products I’ve tested for you.

Photofinish PrimerSmashbox have, count ‘em, 13 primers. I know – THIRTEEN primers!!! So there’s something to fix whatever your ailment may be. Using this primer was like smoothing on velvet skin. If you crushed a million petals, and blended them with babies' skin, this is what I’d imagine it would end up like. At £25 it’s not cheap, but by jove I will never use another primer again. It literally melts in to your skin and minimizes pores. If there’s one thing you buy from Smashbox, this is it.

Waterproof Shadow LinerThis is a super soft chubby liner you can use along your upper lashline, or whack it all over your lid as an eyeshadow, and use the other end of the pencil which is a smudger to blend it all out – perfect for smoky eyes. Now I used this as a liner for my inner lower lids. No idea if you’re supposed to, but it glides on beautifully and it gets full marks for that purpose. I tried it out on my upper lids as shadow, but as a rule I don’t do eyeshadow because I always end up looking more Coco the Clown then cool. I didn’t put any primer on my upper lids, so didn’t have great joy blending it, but as just a liner (either on lower inside of your eye, or upper lashes), it’s smashing. Massive points for the fantastic metallic blue shade too – I do love a bit of blue. £17

Brow Tech to GoThe ‘Scouse Brow’ is hugely trendy right now – if you don’t know what that is, see Kate Middleton’s upper eye arches – filled in, defined and very prominent brows. So here’s a little bit of genius. I have never used an eyebrow pencil before as I always have a fringe, and I’ve got super dark brows so I’ve never seen the need for it (clear mascara on the brows and I’m done). But this waxy waterproof crayon, especially angled to make it simple to use goes on easy-peasy, and with the rub of a finger, blends really well. At the other end of the Brow Tech is a mini clear mascara gel wand to fix your brows into place. My only quibble with Brow Tech is that the darkest brown shade they do is still too light for my brows. I need a super dark brown one. £19

Halo Hydrating Perfecting PowderI love a bit of powder, and this stuff’s pretty damn revolutionary. At £39, it's freaking expensive, but it’s awesome (check out their online reviews – I’m not alone in loving this stuff). First of all, the packaging: I’ve never seen anything like it. As it’s a loose powder, you don’t have to fuss getting the right amount out; you ‘shave’ it with a twist of the pot. It’s just genius. I was sent the light/medium shade which when I opened it, looked like crushed bricks – scary! But once brushed over to finish my face, it’s so soft and light. It’s not non-cakey or drying, more like a thin veil of fairy dust. There’s a bucket load of science behind this stuff too: it’s anti-aging, 48 minerals, 11 amino acids, oil and talc-free… the list goes on. And as I’m normally of the shiny persuasion, this stuff kept the greasy T-zone at bay considerably longer than usual, something that’s unheard of for me.

Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35I love nothing more than a BB cream – I already have six different branded ones, as I’m always on the search for perfection. Again, I was sent the light/medium shade and it’s much darker than you would expect. But as with the Halo Powder, once applied, the colour somehow magically adapts to your skin tone. Plus, I didn’t feel any need for foundation afterwards as it gives really good coverage. Also, it packs some serious SPF, which I think contributes to the slightly heavy formulation of the cream. I found I couldn’t use this BB without some primer or moisturiser first as it didn’t smooth on easily enough, but it did work wonders for my oily face, and kept my skin looking great all day. £27.

Soft Effects Powder EyelinerSmashbox describe this stuff as ‘mimicking the effects of a soft focus lens on a camera’, and they pretty much hit the nail on the head with that description. If you don’t like the look of harsh liquid liner, or want something a little more daytimey and soft looking, this is perfect for you. It has a long thin spongey applicator that’s surprisingly easy to apply. A word of warning though; before applying, give the applicator a really good tap as the liner powder will fall onto your cheek or under your eye, or worse in your bloody eye, which is a real pain in the tits. Scores extra points for coming in the shade Aubergine, which is a great plum. £16.

Other items I tried, but probably wouldn’t buy include the Limitless Waterproof Liner Pen: essentially a black liquid liner. It has incredible staying power, and I mean this stuff is indelible, but it wasn’t inky enough for me as I had to draw on one line and then go over it to get the intense black I like. Saying that, I’ve been using it ever since. I wasn’t overly enamoured with the Photo Finish Hydrating Primer. It simply didn’t hydrate me enough, and why use that when you have their Photofinish Primer which is simply marvellous?

So, that’s Smashbox. Seek it out, consume their samples, devour their online video tutorials: they’ve got some remarkable products for all cosmetic junkies far and wide. Love, love, love.