Review: Laura Geller Spackle Foundation Primer (and a bit of a comparison with Smashbox Photofinish)

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My first foray into the world of foundation primers came almost 10 years ago when I started working for QVC. Although I was a bit of a beauty enthusiast, my knowledge was limited to what was available in John Lewis and Boots (the only reputable places to buy makeup in Liverpool at that time) and I’d never come accross a primer until I started hearing rave reviews from QVC customers on the phone about the Smashbox Photofinish. This, at the time, was a pretty pricey product- about £42 for 28ml if I remember correctly but after trying it I deemed it instantly to be a miracle product. The original Photofinish was great for all skin types- dry, oily, old, young, caucasian, hispanic…whatever. It gave a velvety finish to the skin, plumped out wrinkles and refined pores and worked as well on a sixty year old as it did on a sixteen year old. When I completed my MUA qualification and started working it was an integral part of my kit until the fateful day when Smashbox decided to get a little too big for their boots and reinvent the product. Photofinish is now available in a range of varieties- colour correcting, light, hydrating, luminizing and even a foundation, none of which are as good as the original. They kept the “original” but it isn’t the same- presumably because Smashbox can make more money selling 6 items rather than one and, although they have reduced the price to around £24, I no longer keep any of them in my kit.

The oldschool Photofinish

In the months that followed the relaunch I searched all over for something to replace this, not only for my kit but for myself. I tried a whole bevvy of primers on the UK market, thinking for a moment that I had found a match in the Gosh Velvet Touch (which, it transpired, brought me out in horrendous acne after 3 days of wear) only to be disappointed time and time again. Even my clients asked me why I had switched, at which point I practically broke down sobbing as if an old friend had died.

Forward a couple of years and whilst watching QVC I come across Laura Geller- a brand from the other side of the pond with slightly boring but high quality, good payoff products- advertising Spackle. Having tried a few LG foundations and being happy with them, I decided to give the Spackle a go so ordered the 3 piece collection (item# 222072, approx £24). At 28mls each, this item offered 3 times as much product as the Photofinish for the same price plus comes in 3 finishes- clear, tinted champagne and tinted bronze. Although the colours look pretty heavy in the tubes, all are a gel formulation and can be sheered down pretty easily, similarly I’m sure you could build them up if you really wanted to. The only difference in the varieties is the colour; all promise to make the skin retain moisture, feel softer, look smoother and retexturise the surface of the skin to achieve a flawlessly smooth finish.  They are packed with “powerful antioxidants”; white tea, centella asiatica and aloe vera, so although not advertised as a moisturiser the packaging hints at it.

The champagne primer is the one I reach for the least. It suits pale skins, but doesn’t really add anything to the skin tone other than a slight shimmer (it actually looks pink in the above photo, it’s not). If you were on your holiday somewhere warm and not wearing a heavy foundation, this would be great, but in good old Blighty where it’s always cold and raining and we’re all pale the shimmer is a bit pointless under a heavy coverage. Still, it’s a nice product and if someone gave me a full size one for free I’d take it and use it, I just wouldn’t purchase it for my kit when the clear one does the same job.

The Bronze tint looks a bit scary. It’s pretty deep when you see it in person and without proper explanation I’d shy away from it BUT, it’s pretty sheer and adds only a faint glow to a pale skin. This is particularly great for using under the LG Balance & Brighten foundation as it encourages a bit of a tanned look without it looking as though you’ve hit the sunbeds. I’m an NC25 and a light application of this matches me perfectly.

The clear is great for all skin types and all ages is there is no shimmer or colour whatsoever. That’s all I can really say about that.

Anyway, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Spackle certainly does prolong foundation wear and help to keep everything in place. It’s gentle enough to use around the eyes (I have, on occasion, swept it over the lids too) and a little goes a long, long way. The full size comes with a pump dispenser, something I’m particularly keen on as it makes dispensing really easy to control. It’s an oil free formulation so great on oil/combination skin types but isn’t so great on dry- I’d recommend a heavy application of moisturiser before you apply (I actually mix it with Illamasqua Satin Primer if I’m working on dry skin). Like the Photofinish, I use this on skins of any age and always see an improvement in texture, although not as great as with the Smashbox and I’m sad that this doesn’t give a velvety finish- although once it’s dried it does feel nice on. Admittedly,  it’s not as miraculous as Smashbox but I definitely like it and will continue to repurchase.

Overall, this is nowhere near as good as the original Photofinish but after scouring the market for many of year I think it’s the best replacement I’ll find. It’s definitely better than the new generation Photofinishes. If you are in industry and looking for a primer, the small 28ml versions come in a squeezy plastic container and are easy to transport and keep clean, plus you can mix and match your Spackle to create different looks. Similarly, if you are starting out it’s a great product at a great price. More importantly, if you like this and decide to invest in it the full size contains a whopping 118mls (yes, you read that correctly) for £24, so you’ll be getting a lot of use out of it before you have to repurchase. I actually prefer the small sizes because the big one is just too cumbersome to carry around!!

Laura Geller isn’t widely available in the UK- just QVC and Harvey Nicholls. I’ve always purchased from QVC so can’t comment on prices in HN, plus don’t forget that you have a 30 day money back guarantee with QVC (even on beauty products). Please let me know your thoughts if you have tried this, even if you hate it! It’s always interesting to hear the counter argument!

(Full Size Clear: Item# 221821) (Full Size Bronze: Item# 229982) (Full Size Champagne: Item# 220628) Prices vary- all from QVC UK

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