Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer Review, Swatches & Pictures

Smashbox Eyeshadow PrimerThey say that you never forget your first. But I did until now! It was only after I was reorganizing my makeup stash that I came across this neglected little tube of Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer.

This was the first eye-shadow primer I ever tried. And my motivation for buying it was plain and simple – it didn’t contain Bismuth Oxychloride. That’s a known allergen, and I’m allergic to it.

I discovered this eye primer before Urban Decay Primer Potion in Eden sashayed into my life and landed Holy Grail status. (In my Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer review, I compare it with the Urban Decay equivalent.)

The Smashbox eyeshadow primer does a good job at preventing creasing and for concealing discoloration on the eyelids, but find out why I’ll never buy this again.

Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer Swatches & Pictures

Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer

Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer Wand

Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer Swatches

Swatched on NC20 skin with flash

Smashbox Primer vs Urban Decay Primer


    Diminishes the appearance of discoloration
    Ensures longer wear from eye shadows
    X Smoothes lids & moisturizes skin (with plant-based hyaluronic acid)
    ? Diminishes the appearance of fine lines

Key Notes

  • Name: Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer
  • Amount: 2.5 mL
  • What I Paid: $22 CAD
  • Smashbox Eye Shadow Primers Available: Photo Finish Lid Primer & Naked Beauty Photo Finish Lid Primer
  • Where to Buy: Sephora stores, Sephora website & Smashbox website

Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer Review

The original Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer is an orange-beige and behaves just like a concealer. It covers up any discoloration issues you may have on your lids, whether it’s general darkness or noticeable veins. My eyes appear brighter and more alert with this.

The drawback about the color is that it’s not universally flattering. It’s not bad with my skin tone (NC20), but for those who have porcelain skin, darker skin, or who don’t have yellow undertones, this color won’t really work well. (It’s very comparable to the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Eden.)

Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer has a thicker consistency than Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (Eden). And Smashbox has a darker orange tint, whereas Urban Decay is lighter and more yellow.

You just need a small amount dotted. Then, just blend it with a clean finger or a synthetic-bristle brush (so it won’t absorb the product). Make sure you work fast because this matte formula dries fast.

The Smashbox eyeshadow primer makes colors really pop and appear vibrant all day long. And although my eyelids tend to get oily throughout the day, I didn’t get any creasing when I used this stuff.

The Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer is supposed to smooth out and moisturize your eyelid. It didn’t do any of this for me. And supposedly it can fill in fine lines. I don’t have any of those on my eyelid yet, so it’s hard to say whether or not it’s true.

And I noticed that with this, it was slightly harder to blend my eye shadow, however, it wasn’t unmanageable.

While this product works well for me, I wouldn’t buy it again simply because you get such little product for a high price. To put it in perspective:

  • Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer – 2.5 mL for $22 CAD
  • Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (Eden) – 10 mL for $22 CAD

Smashbox’s packaging is much better than Urban Decay’s though. I’m sure you’ve all seen the cute Urban Decay genie bottle packaging – looks nice, but it can be tough or impossible to get every little bit out. Smashbox has a simple lip-gloss type of tube with a standard doe-foot applicator wand. This is a less wasteful design.

They have a new formula (Smashbox Naked Beauty Photo Finish Lid Primer) that appears to be similar to Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Sin. It’s a shimmery nude color that I may have to try even though the price for the amount you get is robbery. Why would I still try it? Because unlike UDPP Sin, Smashbox Naked Beauty doesn’t contain the allergen, Bismuth Oxychloride.


  • Makes your eye shadow last a long time without creasing
  • Color acts as a concealer to hide eyelid discoloration
  • Color also makes shadow appear more vivid

  • Expensive for the little product you get
  • Color isn’t nude for those with darker skin

Final Verdict: 8/10

This Smashbox eyeshadow primer works well and gets a high score because it delivers on its most important claims. But I can’t justify buying this when I can get 4 times the amount of product for the same price with the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion.

What’s your favorite eye-shadow primer and why? Can you recommend any primers free of Bismuth Oxychloride for me to try?


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