Beauty Battle: Smashbox vs. Rimmel Primer

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When summer comes, I shed more and more cosmetics with each rise with the thermometer. Nothing is worse than wiping sweat off your brow and looking like The Joker in The Dark Night. my summer routine is usually a primer to hide pores and minimize sweat, Laura Mercier Secret Camoflague to minimize dark circles and redness around the nostrils and lips, a subtle bronzer as a bit of color and as powder, mascara, lipcolor and maybe a bit of waterproof liquid liner.

My go-to primer is Smashbox Photo Finish Original (clear); I like how it has a powdery finish, is clear, a little goes a long way, and I really think it helps my skin looks smooth, minimize brow sweat a bit, and keep my concealer from sliding off. However, I was reading a recent blog (so sorry can’t find which one it is – let me know if it’s you and I will link!) and this blogger said that Rimmel Fix & Protect primer rivaled Smashbox. I then went to Makeup Alley and saw that Rimmel got about the same score as Smashbox (3/5, lots of raves, lots of mehs).


Face Primer by Smashbox at ShopStyle

Smashbox Original Photo Finish Primer – $36.00

Face Primer by Rimmel at ShopStyle


Rimmel Fix & Protect Foundation Primer – $6.89

For that price, I could try it out and not have too much heartburn if it didn’t live up to these claims.

Well I have been using it for a bit over a week, to the beach, in the humidity, under foundation and on its own. Here’s how it compares to Smashbox:


Smashbox: I use the clear version, so no color
Rimmel: It’s a weird orangey-beige color in the tube, if I rub it in well it becomes invisible, but if I am in a rush or miss a spot I get the cheapy drugstore foundation orange streak. However, come summer I am a bit orangey-beige in color so I just may be “lucky” with this. I think someone with a very fair or darker complexion may find it a poor choice.


Smashbox: It is a gel that leaves a powder finish on the skin, dries pretty quickly.
Rimmel: Consistency of a foundation, creamy and a bit sticky. Dries to a smooth finish that is the slightest bit tacky.

Pore-hiding Capabilities

Smashbox: I’d give it 2/5 stars for this. I really don’t think anything on this planet minimizes my pores without looking as though I am wearing a coat of paint.
Rimmel: 1/5 stars. It is a thinner consistency, so it sort of falls into the pores. Put it on too thick, and you look as though you’re trying to fill in your pores.

Shine Reduction

Smashbox: 4/5 stars. It won’t stop future sweat and oil, but it does make my skin look smooth and soft and dry enough to be able to go without foundation or tinted moisturizer if I have a bit of a tan.
Rimmel: 3/5 stars. Not bad, but I look more as though I have tinted moisturizer on and still need a puff of powder on my nose. Evens the skin more, but still leaves my chin and nose looking greasy.

Ability to Make Makeup Last

Smashbox: 3/5 stars. It does a better job than going at it alone, but it’s not Holy Grail. I have actually used far better primers for this job (such as Philosophy), but Smashbox is better in other categories for me.
Rimmel: 4/5 This is where the tacky feel works. It really seems to act like glue to hold my foundation and concealer in place. When I sweat and mop my face, less product ends up on my tissue, when I wipe my brow I don’t look as though my face is melting off.


Smashbox: 3/5 stars. Not bad, but not awesome.
Rimmel: 4/5 stars. Again, the tackiness helps out.

Kindness to Skin

Smashbox: 5/5 stars. This never makes me break out, it never clogs my pores, I never get redness or irritation from using it. I never put it near my eyes, but even with rubbing, it has never gotten my contacts-wearing peepers unhappy.
Rimmel: 2/5 stars. Not the worst, but since using it I got a weird little whitehead near my right nostril and two blackheads on either side of my jawline. This could be pure coincidence, but I haven’t had whiteheads past my actual chin (those where you puff out your chin you can see but otherwise they are pretty hideen) or blackheads past the tip of my nose since maternity leave. I also have gotten the red itchy feeling around my nostrils that I get with Bare Escentuals.

Final verdict?

Rimmel isn’t bad… as long as you are medium complexion, aren’t terribly oily, and don’t have skin sensitivity. For a drugstore product, it’s pretty darn good and I think better than some other primers I have used that cost twice or three times as much.

However, for me, I am sticking to Smashbox. I like the powder finish, I like that it evens me enough to be able to go without powder and foundation, and I like that it is kind to my skin.

Have you used either primer? What do you think? And do you have a favorite I should try out?

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  1. I’m sure many people have done a review of it.  I agree – the orange color doesn’t work for everyone.  Please try out the Monistat gel if you have a chance!

  2. I reviewed the Rimmel primer on my blog a while ago!  Yes, I like it too, but I also like silicone-based primers such as the Smashbox primer.  If you want to try a cheaper alternative, the Monistat Anti-chafing gel is practically the same thing!  I’ve used it as a primer and it works well!

  3. I actually use hard candy primer which is only available at walmart and it’s about $8.00 for a tube. It is comparable to the smashbox stuff (i like it better, actually!) and 1/4 the price! 

  4. Oh yeah, I used Laura’s in the Flawless Face Kit, and I have used Trish.
    Neither impressed me as much as Smashbox. I liked Philosophy but it needs
    at LEAST 5 minutes to dry, and I don’t have that kind of time in the
    morning! 🙂

  5. I liked the Laura Mercier primer that came with her Flawless Face kit, and I’ve also used the Trish McEvoy Even Skin primer, but it was meh. I don’t think Smashbox can be beat.  

  6. I’ve used the Smashbox primer and I like everything about it, except it totally makes me break out. It’s like these weird hard, tiny blobs under my skin. It’s bizarre but I guess it’s from the silicone. I’ve also tried the Monistat Chafing Gel, which supposedly rivals the Smashbox, but it’s nowhere near as good in my opinion. I like MUFE’s HD microperfecting primer. It’s got a different, more slippery feel to it than the Smashbox, but it doesn’t make me break out.

  7. I use Sephora’s anti-shine primer and have been very satisfied with it! My good friend is a makeup artist and took me shopping for all my stuff. We tried out different primers and this one fit the bill.

  8. If you ever want to really minimize your pores, try Tarte Amazonian Clay Powder.  It’s colorless/transluscent and it does do a nice job of minimizing the look of pores.

  9. Thanks for the information! I have been hunting for a good primer, and I have very sensitive skin, so I will for sure keep clear of the Rimmel.

  10. I’ve been using Dr. Brandt Pores No More this summer & I’ve been pretty happy with it.  I have major oily skin in the summer so I don’t think anything will completely mattify/minimize pores when it is 98* & feels like 106* (my current weather) but it definitely helps!  I have used Makeup Forever HD primer in the fall/winter when my skin is not so oily and really like it.  I’d like to try NARS Pro-Prime – have you used it?

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