In Color choice, Foundation, Products I dig

I’ve been wanting to test some of Smashbox‘s products for a long time, and a holiday gift certificate to Sephora provided the perfect opportunity to do so. I purchased the Smashbox Master’s Class Complexion Perfection volume 3 kit in Fair (also available in Light, Medium, and Dark), and have been wearing the products now for several weeks in order to determine whether I would recommend this all-in-one complexion kit to clients. (Vol. 3 must be a relatively new offering because it’s either not yet posted on either Sephora or Smashbox’s websites, or is sold out. I found it in-store.)

My impressions? Overall, this is a fairly good value for people seeking light coverage face makeup. You get a primer, full-sized foundation and concealer, powder duo, brushes, luminizer, and a how-to DVD for $59. Like any kit, though, there are some hits and misses. Let’s take it product by product:

1. HD Foundation: This is a very natural-looking satin-finish foundation that does not provide heavy coverage. (The level of coverage I achieved was on par with a good tinted moisturizer, though this is more buildable. It has less coverage than Makeup Forever HD liquid.) I liked this – I didn’t look heavily made up, which is my preference. It wore well. However, the shade included in the Fair kit (Light L1 – why the eff wouldn’t the Fair kit include one of the Fair shades??) was a touch too dark for me; I looked slightly bronzed, and had to apply to my neck and chest as well. But since it’s pretty sheer, I can definitely get away with it in the summer (I’ll admit it was surprisingly flattering; I don’t usually like a tanned effect on my skin!) If you’re very much on the pale-porcelain end of the spectrum, this probably wouldn’t be an ideal color match. The bottle includes a pump dispenser that worked nicely, but I’ll admit that a squeeze tube is always my favorite way to dispense a liquid. (It’s much easier to get product out of a tube when your supply dwindles!)

2. Hybrid 2-in-1 Luminizing Primer: This is essentially a mix of Smashbox’s popular Photo Finish primer and their Artificial Light luminizer in Flash, which has a pink glow to it. But they aren’t actually mixed, and instead squirt out simultaneously via two separate openings in the tube, and you then mix them. Which would be fine if I could get a better balance of primer vs. luminizer. No matter how I squeezed I ended up with a huge glop of primer, far more than I needed (you do not want to overapply silicon primers or they can ball up on you), and just a touch of the Artificial Light. Trying to get more of the latter just yielded a bigger pile of the former. Irritating. The Artificial Light is nice enough but mixing it with primer doesn’t make intuitive sense to me, because I generally don’t want to be glowy all over (although once you put the foundation and powder on top it takes the glow down considerably). I wish they’d separated these products instead of clumsily packaging them together and requiring me to cover up one half with my finger while dispensing.

3. Camera Ready Full Coverage Concealer: This is very creamy and blends down nicely, but I wouldn’t call it “full coverage.” I like a lightweight finish but I want my concealer to do a better job on blemishes and redness. This was more suited to just adding a touch more coverage in areas where needed, but not enough to effectively cover a zit. The positive trade off is it didn’t get cakey on me – it’s very creamy (which also meant it would crease if not set well). Pressure upon application also causes the stick to wind back down into the tube relatively easily. (Can you tell I’m a stickler about user-friendly packaging? No wonder I have all my kit stuff in tubes and palettes!)

4. Photo Op Under Eye Brightener: Also offers a very subtle effect – luminous, not frosty or overly shimmery. (Smashbox does liquid luminizers well, I’ll give ’em that!) I honestly preferred this under my browbone and on my cheekbones, rather than directly under my eyes (where it was more likely to crease).

5. Pressed Powder/Bronze Lights Duo: This compact is definitely something I’d travel with. The powder felt silky and did an overall nice job setting the foundation without making it look “dusty” or dry. The bronzer (which I used for contouring, because it would be too dark on the high points of my face) ran a bit warm on me but not to the point of being orange.

6. Travel-sized kabuki (“baby buki”) and foundation brush: Nothing to write home about, as kit brushes rarely are. The buki was small enough to make contouring below my cheekbones easy (I used a larger brush to apply the powder), and the small foundation brush did a good job blending out the concealer (less so with the foundation – it’s just too small and stiff), but I prefer the brushes I already have.

7. Instructional DVD: It’s about 4 minutes long and shows the products in use; I think it’s nice that some companies are starting to include instructional media with their makeup. You won’t learn any wild tricks, but it’s useful for a beginner. The funniest part to me was when they showed the initial look (using just the kit products) versus the final look the model sports for the photo shoot at the very end (wearing a crap-ton more products, and not just eye and lip stuff either – she was SUPER glowy).

Overall I think this is a good value for $59, but definitely get color-matched before you buy the kit, get better brushes, be prepared to mix product and tinker with the packaging, and don’t rely on these products for heavy, matte coverage (Chances are, you don’t need as much coverage as you think you do, anyway!)

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