Our Rating: 4 stars

Since my untimely breakouts earlier this year, I’ve felt the need to start wearing some makeup again in order to temporarily cover up the acne scars I still had. I didn’t have much makeup at home as I never wore foundation, but I did find a wonderful BB cream by 3Lab that not only provides excellent coverage, but also incorporates elements of skincare into the ingredients. However, I’m a bit out of practice when it comes to applying makeup after all these years, and attempting to strategically camouflage particular problem areas proved to be a challenge. I’m always reading about the transformational properties of primer in fashion and beauty magazines. While I still use M.A.D Skincare’s Youth Transformation Serum ($54 in the shop) which has a primer-like finish to it, it’s not actually a primer. I decided I needed a real primer in order to properly apply makeup to hide the unsightly acne scars. After reading Kristen’s recommendation in The truth about makeup primers, I decided to check out jane iredale’s Smooth Affair Facial Primer & Brightener ($48). Moreover, Smooth Affair Primer & Brightener incorporates several anti-aging ingredients into the formulation. Skincare and primer in one – how wonderful!

I’m aware that silicones are generally a necessity in primers as they assist in helping the product to spread evenly and smoothly. Silicones provide the “slip” necessary to apply another product – such as foundation – on top and also spread smoothly and evenly. Primers also provide the foundation for long-lasting makeup wear. Smooth Affair is not a silicone-free primer and contains many of the same silicones in Jane Iredale’s Glow Time BB Cream, which earned a B+ from Marta. However, as Marta pointed out, the silicones used are supposed to be green alternatives to traditional silicones, as they are derived from coconut alkanes.

Once you get past the silicones in the formulation, there are several much-loved ingredients, including an array of fruit and herbal extracts. There is apple extract from pyrus malus, which not only has cell-protecting and antioxidant effects, but also tones and exfoliates thanks to its malic and alpha hydroxy acids. Malus domestica fruit cell culture extract has, according to one study, increased the longevity of skin cells and decreased the signs of aging. Grapefruit extract, a natural antioxidant, helps to reduce melanin in skin (I suspect this is the “Brightener” part of Smooth Affair) along with grapefruit peel extract are the likely source of the product’s overt grapefruit fragrance. There is also bitter orange extract that some internet research shows is a skin conditioner and skin toner, though it may increase the chance of sunburn (good thing my BB cream is SPF 40/PA+++). A multitude of other skin beneficial ingredients include the antioxidants white and green tea leaf extracts along with vitamin C derivative ascorbyl glucoside (also a brightener), palmitoyl tripeptide-1 to stimulate skin matrix replenishment, algae extract and aloe juice.

Unlike most primers I’ve tried, which are thick and sit on top of the skin, Smooth Affair is lightweight and feels more like a serum; indeed it acts like one. The instructions indicate to spread the primer evenly until it has been fully absorbed into skin. It doesn’t leave your face feeling like it’s being suffocated by silicones and leaves a very slight matte glow. I have worn this alone under Hydropeptide’s sunscreen ($35) and really love the luminous effect of the two products used together. You do need to wait a few minutes for this to dry before applying any other products; otherwise, it will pill. However once absorbed, it does help my full coverage BB cream, which also has broad spectrum sun protection, to apply more evenly. I also use the BB cream as a concealer on certain spots and the primer makes it easier to layer the cream as a concealer.

Smooth Affair provides subtle moisture without causing further breakouts – something I feared would occur after noting some of the essential oils in the ingredients. My overall skin type is generally prone to dryness and I do use the primer after applying antioxidant skincare products, which also provide hydration. I’m uncertain of how this primer would react on very oily skin types. The primer also helps the BB cream to last longer than when applied on its own; however, I wouldn’t say it lasts all day into the evening. Perhaps that’s attributable to the texture of the primer, which absorbs into skin rather than forming a barrier on top. I also tried applying powder on top of the primer (I use Visiora PC 005 to reduce shine in the summer) and found it worked well with the pressed powder. However, as far as brightening, I don’t think the ingredients in the formulation are strong or concentrated enough to really reduce hyperpigmentation – but it doesn’t hurt to have them included in the primer.

Overall, I really like Smooth Affair (although I could live without the scent) and am thrilled to have found something that serves as both primer and skincare product in one.

Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Coconut Alkanes (and) Polysilicone 11, Dimethicone/Vinyl, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Dimethicone/PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Pectin, Chlorella Vulgaris/Lupinus Albus Protein Ferment, Maltodextrin, Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Fruit Extract, Malus Domestica Fruit Cell Culture Extract, Raphanus Sativus (Radish) Root Extract, Lecithin, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Zinc PCA, Sodium Ascorbate, Royal Jelly, Tocopherol, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract (and) Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Xanthan Gum