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Empty Product Review: Almay Smart Shade Primer

Hello Coralistas! It's been a while. I was on vacation and then I got lazy. Sorry about that.

But one thing I decided in my time off was that the 5 products thing wasn't working quite as well as I'd hoped. For one thing, there were times when I'd fall in love with a particular blush or mascara, and then found myself disappointed that I'd have to scrap it to move on to the next product. For another, it still made it quite easy to keep buying products while I was supposedly cleaning out my collection.


So instead I'm going to do this: when I finish a product, I'll write a post. It lets me run through the things I love and you get a much more thoughtful review than you would with just a couple of weeks' worth of use. It also (hopefully) encourages me to stick to products I already own. Otherwise it'll be about 2 years before I can tell you about a new blush I bought.

So a few days ago, I ran through the last of my Almay Smart Shade Primer. I bought this after using up all of my Stila One Step Correct Primer (which looks almost identical) because the $38 price tag was pretty steep for a product that I'd have to re-purchase every month or so.

The Almay is certainly cheaper but still not necessarily affordable as it ranges for between $16-18 in Canada, depending on where you shop.


Let's get something out of the way quickly: the two products aren't really comparable. Despite looking the same, Stila's primer is much thicker and, sadly, much more effective. But at more than half the price, it's a bit of an unfair battle for Almay.

So just reviewing Almay on its own, here were my thoughts:

How I Used It

The way I use this product is that I'll apply 2-3 pumps to my open palm, and then one pump of foundation (currently I'm using the Rimmel Wake Me Up). I mix them together in my hands like you would with a face lotion and then apply it all over my face. Then I go in with a stippling brush to make it all even. It's my go-to routine for foundation because I've never liked the way that full foundation looks, but I find that the coverage level of tinted moisturizers varies too much for my liking. With that in mind, how did the Almay Smart Shade Primer stack up? I've broken it down by my top "needs" for a primer below:


Like I said, this wasn't nearly as thick or as "slick" feeling as the Stila primer. In fact, this felt far more wet and jelly-like than almost any other primer I've used — high- or low-end.


Because I don't use primers as primers — I use them to mix together with a foundation and create a slightly thicker tinted moisturizer — the lightness of this product should've made it a great choice for me. And for that purpose, it felt amazing and it did thin out the foundation to a color that never looked flake-y or pancake-y.


Swatching it on the back of my hand, I found that it really didn't make a noticeable difference once applied. And adding it to my foundation, it didn't add the sort of "glow" that I've experienced with other serums and primers. So if you're using this as an actual correcting primer... I'm afraid it's pure snake oil in that sense.


Skin Care Benefits

None that I noticed, to be honest. I don't tend to break out, and this didn't give me noticeably duller or oilier skin, but I can't say it did anything positive for me either.


Final Verdict

Ultimately I won't be re-purchasing. I was hoping I'd found a much cheaper replacement for my beloved Stila primer, but sadly other than thinning out my foundation and making it nice and light, the primer itself really didn't do much. If they had this for maybe $7-8, my opinion might be different, but $16-18 for a drug store product that doesn't really do what it says on the tin can't quite cut it.


Grade: C-

Originally posted at Fifty Shades of Coral.

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