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Smashbox Photo Finish SPF15 with Dermaxyl

Is a Solution for:
Sun Protection for Face
August 19, 2011 Reviewed by Marta 9 Comments
I have never really seen the point of primers and tended to regard them as a way for a cosmetic company to sell a product that is essentially superfluous. That is until I bought Smashbox Photo Finish SPF15 ($17) and discovered that it completely transforms the look and behavior of foundation to create a super smooth and long-lasting look. OK, I get it now. But there's a lot more going on with this primer.

Smashbox Photo Finish SPF15 is an anti-aging version of its cult status foundation primer, Photo Finish. In addition to sunscreen ingredients, it boasts something called Dermaxyl, which makes this version of Photo Finish an ‘anti-ager”. Makeup morphing into skincare is a trend that we are going to see more of. In a way, this makes Photo Finish something of a BB cream – these new multitaskers that are all the rage in Asia and are taking off in the US. But do these additional bells and whistle’s really add up to much?

My guess is that Smashbox’s Dermaxyl is one of the collagen-boosting peptides that is known as Matrixyl 3000, palmitoyl oligopeptide, and antioxidant green tea and grape seed extracts. Plus there’s kola seed (which is a source of caffeine) and moisturizing ceramide-2. These are all worthwhile additions and I like the thought that a humble primer is doing my skin some good.

On the other hand, I would prefer Photo Finish SPF15 if Smashbox hadn’t decided to include a sunscreen at all. I can see why it wouldn’t choose chalky (but relatively safe) zinc oxide, but I wish it hadn’t opted for the toxin and estrogen mimicking, octinoxate (although researchers disagree on the concentrations needed before it becomes harmful). The other sunscreen used here is the relatively safe octisalate. There’s also diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate, a UVA absorber, which the EU has pronounced as harmless in concentrations up to 10%.  So, all in all, it could be worse.  There is, though, retinyl palmitate and this is increasingly being regarded as to be avoided if exposure to sun is expected as research has shown it to be carcinogenic.

There’s a ton of silicone here, but then it is a primer after all and that silky layer has to be achieved somehow. Most of the other ingredients, even the solvent methyl perfluroisobutyl ether, seem to be fairly benign.

Before buying this again, I’d prefer that Smashbox made a few formula alterations such as leaving out the retinyl palmitate and finding alternatives to phenoxyethanol and propylene glycol. But until then, Smashbox has given its cult primer a nudge in the right direction for those of us that want makeup to contribute to their anti-aging regimen.

Active Ingredients: 7.5% octinoxate, 5% octisalate. Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone crosspolymer, dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, methyl perfluroisobutyl ether, methyl perfluorobutyl ether, diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate, safflower seed oil, cola acuminata seed extract, green tea, grape seed extract, c12-15 alkyl benzoate, tribehenin, ceramide-2, PEG-10 rapeseed sterol, palmitoyl oligopeptide, tocopheryl acetate, retinyl palmitate, water, ethyl trisiloxane, caprylyl methicone, methicone, silica, silica silyate, hexylene glycol, propylene glycol, triethoxycaprylysilane, caprylyl glycol, ethylhexylglycerin, phenoxyethanol, (+/- iron oxides, titanium dioxide)
  • December 30, 2011

    by Marta

    Hi Mae, I don't think you need Dermaxyl - collagen boosting peptides - at your age. Probably not for another 10 years or so. But I shouldn't think it will do much harm and the SPF is a good idea. Although, in this case the use of octinoxate as the sunscreen is not such a good idea - can be irritating and potentially toxic. So next time, you might be better switching back to regular and getting a safer mineral sunscreen separately.

  • December 30, 2011

    by mae

    Hi, I got smashbox's photo finish with SPF 15 and dermaxyl complex. I was wondering if this is suitable for my age (i'm now 20 years old). I was choosing between photofinish with SPF15 and the regular see through Photo Finish primer. I got the one with dermaxyl thinking it's better to use one with SPF. However, it came to me that maybe dermaxyl is too young for my skin? If it is I plan to have it changed but them I'm confused and can't find enough information online. Can you shed some light about this please? Thank you!

  • August 20, 2011

    by Substitute for Revlon Anti-Aging Makeup?

    [...] which makes this version of Photo Finish an 'anti-ager”. Makeup morphing ... Read more on Truth In Aging Are you currently looking for a way to conceal your aging signs swiftly? Within a pinch anti aging [...]

  • August 19, 2011

    by Marta

    Wanna job? :)

  • August 19, 2011

    by jc

    no problem, i hope you'll forgive that i'm rather anal about INCIs! :)

  • August 19, 2011

    by Marta

    Hi Julie, no its not tinted. It goes on completely transparently. And I should have said that the foundation I tested it with is by Lorac.

  • August 19, 2011

    by Julie Kay

    Is this in itself a tinted product, Marta? ~jk

  • August 19, 2011

    by Marta

    Thank you JC, that is really helpful. I believe I should have said that palmitoyl oligopeptide is one of the petides in Matrixyl 3000 and have corrected the post to say that. But, anyway, thank you for clarifying Dermaxyl.

  • August 19, 2011

    by jc

    dermaxyl is:C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate -
    Tribehenin - Ceramide 2 -
    PEG 10 Rapeseed Sterol -
    Palmitoyl Oligopeptide

    INCI Name for Matrixyl®: Glycerin (And) Water (Aqua) (And) Butylene glycol (And) Carbomer (And) Polysorbate 20 (And) Palmitoyl pentapeptide-4

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