Don't forget to check the beauty sale pages at Macy's here and
Nordstrom here for new beauty deals plus free shipping!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hard Candy Sheer Envy Face Primer vs. Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer

Wow, it seems like a million years ago that I was freaking out about the new Hard Candy collection at Walmart, but it was actually just in September of '09 that I first spotted the display. And for some reason I have managed to reviewed everything I purchased from that first haul except for this little lovely, which I also purchased that day back in September. So finally, I'm delighted to present you with this review!

Hard Candy Sheer Envy Face Primer (retail: $8, 1.6 oz) can be found exclusive at Walmart (in-store and online) and it's one of just a few drugstore-level face primers that you can find with ease these days.

I don't know about you, but face primer is one of those things that should be part of my daily routine, but never quite manages to get there. It's just one of those steps in my routine that I will skip if I'm running late (which seems to be the norm for me) but when I do use it, I always say to myself, "Wow, I really should use this more often."

So let's take a look at the box:

Yay for cruelty-free!

Yay for paraben-free!

So how does this compare to arguably the most popular silicone-based face primer in the entire world, Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation primer? Well I just so happen to own the Smashbox product, so here are the ingredients:

As you can see, the first few ingredients are extremely similar in both formulas, but after that, there are differences. Hard Candy contains mica and titanium dioxide (Smashbox does not) and the Smashbox primer has several natural ingredients that are absent in the Hard Candy formula. In my humble opinion, the formula of Smashbox seems like the Cadillac of face primers while Hard Candy seems like a more stripped-down, economical primer (maybe a Toyota Corolla?). One is luxurious while the other will dependably get you from point A to point B. Oh and by the way, a 1oz bottle of the Smashbox primer will set you back a cool 36 bucks.

Let's take a look at the actual product:

Hard Candy Sheer Envy Face Primer

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer

Obviously the Hard Candy primer is white while the Smashbox is clear. But once you start blending these primers into your skin, they both feel a lot alike. Here's what the Hard Candy product looks like once you start to rub it in:

The more you rub, the clearer it gets, until it's finally completely clear and undetectable (and really, it takes no effort at all for it become clear once you start applying it).

I wanted to show you what both primers look like once they've been applied to my skin but my camera just could not pick it up. So I'll tell you that the feeling and texture of both products is quite similar. If you've used a silicone-based primer before, you know that it fills in every little wrinkle or dry patch on your skin and it makes everything feel very smooth because it deposits a light, gel-like quality to the surface of your skin. I put some on each hand and, honestly, I couldn't tell the different. They felt almost identical in terms of smoothness.

Let me stop right now and tell you something funny though. If you go back up to the photo I took of the box of Hard Candy primer, you'll see that the directions say to "Apply one pump for an even layer all over your face..." but tell me, how do you apply "one pump" with THIS:

Hard Candy, I hate to break it to you, but you cannot "pump" a squeeze tube. I seriously didn't know how much to use the first time I applied this because it comes out like toothpaste. I could have just kept on squeezing...and squeezing with no clue when to stop. But after my first use, I quickly figured out that you really only need about 1/4 of an inch of product to cover your entire face. Not much is required at all, exactly like the Smashbox primer. Less is certainly more with both products, otherwise you run the risk of making your skin too slick.

After using both the Smashbox primer and Hard Candy primer several times on cold days and warm days (and if you're confused, you apply primer AFTER your moisturizer and/or sunscreen and BEFORE your concealer and foundation), it is my opinion that the Smashbox primer holds up a bit better under warmer conditions (especially if you have oily skin like mine), but during colder weather, the Hard Candy primer performed like a champ for me and was almost identical to the results that I get from my beloved Smashbox. Both products make your concealer (especially under-eye concealer) apply so much more smoothly, and they both really help extend the staying-power of your foundation (I've used these with liquid foundations, cream foundations and powder foundations and it works well with all three). If you've got oily skin and you're sick of having your foundation disappear at around 1 or 2pm in the afternoon, I would highly suggest giving a silicone-based foundation primer a try--you might be surprised to see your foundation still in tact at 6pm!

All in all, I would say that the Smashbox primer extends the life of my concealer and foundation and keeps me looking fresh until around 6 or 7pm on a good day. The Hard Candy primer does the same exact thing for me, but only until about 3 or 4pm. At that point, I will definitely need to apply a bit of powder to my nose, cheeks and chin. But this is just me, and again, I have very oily skin. If you have normal or dry skin, your results could be much better.

So if you're new to the silicone foundation primer game, I would DEFINITELY recommend purchasing the Hard Candy primer first, to see if this type of product is a good match for you and your skin type. If you find yourself really loving the effect of this primer, then maybe, when you have extra cash, you might consider stepping it up and treating yourself to the Cadillac. Otherwise, Hard Candy primer should be able to get you from point A to point B with no major issues, for sure. Definitely worth the eight bucks!


  1. you are the best. i've been wanting to experiment with primers because i get shiny by afternoon and this looks like a cheap way to do so. great comparison!

    (i have a sample of smashbox's primer too which i keep forgetting to try. maybe i will use it this weekend since i have an all-day event saturday!)

    the more i see of HC, the more i dig it. i crave their exotic colours!

  2. ooh this is super useful. I just finished road testing a bunch of primers and smashbox came out on top. Now this throws a little spanner in the works ;)

  3. Do you think it's worth picking up only to use for undereye concealer? I don't wear foundation, but if it would extend the life of my concealer by a few hours it might be worth it.

  4. I love this blog. Every time I have a question about a product or even if I just stop by to see whats new, I can always find something I need to read/know! Thanks for this review. I saw a HC display in my local Wal-Mart and now I'll have to check and see if they have the primer.

  5. i'm always scared to use primers because my skin is very acne prone and sensitive. I'm afraid the silicone will react badly with my you have any advice, insights etc.. on this?

  6. I think the best smashbox dupe ever is the monistat anti chafing gel, for around $5, with the exact same ingredients too. And to 1 up that, the generic store versions the the monistat for $3. I love my Smashbox but if it weren't for the free samples of it they give, and the value kits, I would def. switch, $36 is too much for me lol.

  7. Primers are like the twilight zone of makeup to me, i'm so scared i might break out horribly if i try them... but they promise sooo much I'm considering giving the smashbox one a try...

  8. Oooh, thanks for the review!

    I did want to tell you that my Walmart FINALLY got the Hard Candy display! I saw it there last week. My Walmart is quite a small one, so I wasn't sure they'd get it at all. So there's still hope for people whose Walmarts didn't get it when it first started showing up!

    And I really love the Visibly Wet lip pencils. The name is so wrong, but the product is so right...

  9. How do these compare to Avon's Magix primer?

  10. I got some of this because I couldn't find the anti chafing cream. I hated it the first time! It made my face itch,but I figured out it was because I hadn't properly exfoliated and moisturized before and I used too much. It felt almost like a mask. But, the second whirl around, I made sure to do the proper skin care routine, and used a smaller amount and it worked great. I'm approaching 30 so am starting to get lovely little things like random dry patches on the cheeks and discoloration and this helped my foundation cover it up nicely without catching on the dry patches.

  11. beautifulmonday: Aww, thank you so much!! I would definitely give your Smashbox sample a try and then grab the HC and see how you like it--I am so curious to know if you agree with me. And yes, HC has amazing colors! xo

    scarletholly: Oh, I would LOVE to know how you think the HC compares to Smashbox. Keep me posted? :)

    PB: YES! I definitely do. Especially if you use a thicker concealer that tends to get a little dry under your eyes, or settles into fine lines. I've been using the HC under my SuperStay concealer and it's amazing that way. xo

    adorepink: OMG, that was just the sweetest comment ever! Thank you SO much!!! I would love to know what you think of this primer if you try it. xo

    Rubychopsticks: I know what you mean--every time I apply primer I always think to myself, "Oh gawd, I hope this doesn't break me out" but you know what? I never does! I can't speak for everyone, but I have honestly never had a problem with a silicone-based primer breaking me out. Hope that helps! :)

    Lisa: We've had major discussions about the Monistat chaffing gel here on Nouveau Cheap, and I've heard wonderful things about it. In fact, the only reason I haven't tried it yet is because I've had several people tell me that if you have very oily skin (which I do) that it doesn't work so great. Do you have oily skin? I'd love to know your thoughts on that! :)

    Pau F: I know what you mean. lol! It's a concern for me too, but honestly the HC has never broken me out, not once. I would consider giving that a try first, since it's so inexpensive. If it seems to work for you, then you can safely invest in the Smashbox! :)

    Hana: You are so welcome! And CONGRATS on finally getting the HC display at your Walmart! That's great news and I'm sure this will give several readers hope! :) And I totally agree w/ you about the name of those pencils--SO wrong! lol.

    Angela: I have never used the Avon primer, so I honestly couldn't tell you. Sorry!

    Charissa: Thanks so much for the helpful comment! I'm sure this will help a lot of readers out because it really is all about how much you use, and how you've prepped your skin beforehand. Those two factors can make a WORLD of difference (as you indicated!). I'm SO glad this eventually worked out for you--that's fantastic! And I know what you mean about your skin changing--it's happened to me too and that's why primers can be such a wonderful thing. If you have flawless skin, they may not do that much to improve the look of your makeup, but if you need a tiny bit of help, they can work miracles! xo

  12. God i hope someone will do an international swap with me soon. i NEED hard candy back in my life!

  13. im glad you finally reveiwed hard candy primer. i bought it and for 8dollars it is great. have you seen elfs new makeup collections. i have the mini one and it is fantastic for 15 dollars. also, if you go to walmart more often for hard candy or something, i think you should check out the love my eyes collections because you get two mini eyeliners for 1 dollar.

  14. Lillian: I bet you anything the offers will come flooding in! There are SO many coveted UK brands that we all want to get a hold of! xo

    teresa: Thanks! I have seen a few of the e.l.f. products and they look great! I'll definitely have to keep my eyes open for those "love my eyes" collections. Thanks for the heads-up! :)


I love and encourage comments here at Nouveau Cheap, and I do not censor comments unless they violate my comment policy, which you can view here.

Please refrain from comments that contain:
• Links to your own blog or website
• Advertisements or referral links

Thanks very much for your help in keeping this a spam-free zone.

© 2009- Nouveau Cheap. All rights reserved.