I stopped wearing foundation on a daily basis since the beginning of 2013 when my skin just came to such a level of bad that there was no point in covering it up. Also read: I was forced to use concealer as a foundation and going through it quicker than I should. While covering up acne for photo shoots may work, I personally think the covering up looks very obvious IRL. It can look tacky and does no good for your skin. As soon as I stopped smothering my face with foundation, even the mineral-based ones, my skin started to get better. Still had acne as it wasn’t product-related, but it definitely calmed down by 10%, which is much when having severe breakouts!
Since then, I’ve stuck to mineral/powder foundations, buying samples here and there and here. But I never really felt 100% comfortable with it on. So it’s been years since I used a liquid foundation or a foundation at all. I decided to put my bad experience behind, as I like to think that within these three years the foundations must have improved!
What do I look for in a foundation?
I’m probably the odd one when it comes to picking a foundation in contrast to other people suffering from acne and acne scars; I want my foundation as sheer and natural looking as possible. That means no full coverage, no complete matte finish, and definitely nothing thick. Because I have quite normal skin, I don’t mind some luminosity or a dewy finish, as long as the foundation doesn’t feel too heavy.
In a way, what I want won’t cover any blemishes. But I think most of us should confess that that’s not a foundation’s job to do – That’s where a concealer comes into play. I simply want a foundation to bring “health” to my face; cancel out any redness and make my skin color look a bit more even but not made up.
MAC Waterweight SPF 30 Foundation / Smashbox BB Water Foundation
Before I jump into the review, let me clear out why I’m using MAC which technically isn’t cruelty-free… And why does it also say Smashbox Camera Ready BB Water SPF 30 in the title? Well, it’s a lil’ complicated…
Same formula, different brands
Both companies are owned by Estée Lauder, and so it’s not unusual for brands within the same parent company to have the same formulated products! In this case, we have two similar if not the exact foundations, but two different brands: Smashbox, which is a cruelty-free brand; while MAC has decided to sell in China but work with the Institute for In Vitro Sciences to spread and educate about cruelty-free ways to test products. Because they have the same exact formula, you could say in many ways that this product has been animal tested by default. And therefore we wonder how and why Smashbox is still selling it?
I personally don’t want to be militant about this or make stuff look like a chore. Because the whole “boycotting brands and companies” to me is ridiculous. As that would technically mean I can’t buy groceries or go out to eat. Because hey, they serve and support the meat industry, and I can’t give my money to that! Not to mention how organic foods are actually fertilized with waste from the meat industry = I shouldn’t eat organic either? Then this hypocritical layer of people caring that it’s cruelty-free but still eat meat? Nothing is as black and white as some likes to think of it. Most of this is just too confusing and unnecessary behavior! Whatever good you do, keep doing it. Try to evolve, but don’t feel the need to become all purist and shit. The world is enough complicated as it is.
Now, my first choice was actually to try out the new 100% Pure’s new 2nd Skin Foundation. But as my luck would have it, my potential shade has been out of stock for months! This lead me to search further, and I came across the Smashbox Camera Ready BB Water Foundation which sounded much similar. What was great with this one was that I could go get samples of it. So I took home the shades Light/Medium and Medium shade and fell in love. However, I happened to have a bunch of discounts on a particular beauty store that does not sell Smashbox but sell MAC instead. And when I found out that the MAC Waterweight foundation was practically a dupe, I figured I could buy the MAC foundation just this one time and save me some bucks. Would they’ve had Smashbox, I would’ve purchased that one instead, as I already knew my color match. But considering they are very much the same formula – and I’m sorry to be frugal to the point I cross morals – I went and ordered the foundation from MAC instead.
Because these two products are so similar and I’ve tested them both out, I will review them both interchangeably in this review.
A 2-in-1 Product
- Oil-free formulation with built-in primer water technology that creates a liquid silk-consistency to glide easily onto your face and moves with the skin.
- Demi-matte, never flat finish with buildable coverage and Photoset Polymers create all-day wear.
- Moisture-Fusion Complex provides immediate and all-day hydration leaving skin feeling quenched and silky to the touch.
- Includes antioxidants and reparative ingredients as vitamin E, lecithin, apple, lentil and watermelon extract, and sodium hyaluronate.
- Formulated without Parabens, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Phthalates, Oil, Fragrance & Talc.
- Features SPF 30 sun protection (in the form of Octinoxate 5%, Titanium Dioxide 3.1%, Zinc Oxide 2.1%)
I was very into buying a Tinted Moisturizer at first. But then I came across Glossier’s Skin Tint, which basically can be used alone or blended with your regular moisturizer. However, they only ship within the states. But the whole idea of custom blending foundation with your moisturizer sparked my interest and I started to look into foundations that could be used for this purpose.
CoverFX Custom Drops foundation was then a candidate. But not being able to get samples, I was worried about the shade not matching. And it’s a bit pricey to be spending on the wrong shade.
I love the whole “makeup meets skincare”-concept, where your makeup also is beneficial for your skin. Like the formula we found in W3LL People’s concealer, which doubles as an eye cream too! And so it leads me to look up “Serum Foundations” like this one from Smashbox.
But before I found the Smashbox BB Water Foundation, I tried my luck with samples of the BareMinerals bareSkin Pure Brightening Serum Foundation (omg, all these ultra-long names!). However, I found the colors to be a bit too pigmented which made it hard for me to find a good color match. I also didn’t like that it was too easy to go full coverage. I don’t want to speak for all foundations out there, but when having scars, full coverage makes the indents much more obvious. Not to mention, full coverage doesn’t look natural and makes you look “too made up” in daytime for my taste. The ingredients on it looked good, it had a built-in SPF, but something about it wasn’t agreeing with my skin. After a day’s wear it starts to feel heavy and like I feel it on, and as a result, a few whiteheads popped up. So I definitely recommend asking for samples before purchasing any foundation! Not only will you get the shade more right, but you get to see how well it reacts with your skin!
Look & Feel
This Serum foundation needs to be shaken well before use. It gives you a very sheer coverage that can be layered to medium – but barely. This blends out beautifully and doesn’t leave your scars more prominent looking, it looks incredibly natural on your skin. I like to think of it as your skin, but even better. It’s neither matte or too moisturizing, but I definitely found that it adjusts to what base you have under. So if your moisturizer or primer is matte, it will go more to matte. If your cream is more dewy-looking, it will turn into a very luminous look.
With that said… Though this foundation feels hydrating, it may cling to dry patches. And I suggest dry skin types blend it with a hydrating primer or moisturizer of some sort, as well as exfoliating regularly with BHA or AHA. Otherwise, I do think it’s a good foundation for plain dry skin that does not have the flakiness.
And for very oily skin types, you may have good luck with applying a matte primer. But because of this foundation’s hydrating properties, blotting might be needed at the end of the day depending on your preference. I personally love the look and feel of it alone! and don’t feel the need to put finishing powder over as that would ruin the natural 2:nd skin look that I’m going for.
But yeah, overall this foundation has a sort of “primer”-feature to it and sinks in just like a serum and lightly blurs any imperfections. I barely feel like I have it on, it’s like another layer of skincare to me. Just the way I want my foundation to be!
Because it’s so sheer, you do need to use more than 1-3 drops to go to a medium coverage. But I guess finishing it off with a powder, you may save on some of the product. But it goes on very nicely on the skin and blends well with just your fingers. I don’t feel like a makeup brush or sponge is even necessary to use to apply this foundation.
Since it has low coverage, it’s okay to be one shade off as long as the undertone matches. But the sad part is that, because of its sheer formula, it’s not as easily mixed with your moisturizer as I thought. 3 drops of this, and it barely looks as if you have any foundation on. And so for that reason, I’m still looking into the CoverFX Custom Cover Drops – which is so highly pigmented, that only 2 drops are needed for a medium coverage!
So in contrast to the bareSkin foundation serum, this doesn’t make me look like I have foundation on. My boyfriend will always notice and ask if I got makeup on before hugging him to prevent any transfer to his shirt. Now on days, I wear foundation he’s like, “Your skin looks really good!” Not even suspecting that it could be the foundation. And that’s what any lady wants to hear!
Compared to the bareSkin foundation serum that made me breakout a little, the MAC/Smashbox foundation has not affected my skin as negatively. I still can get a few pores clogged with longer wear than 8 hours. As my skin will usually become oily at the end of the day with foundation on. But I guess that’s just the nature of foundation, I can’t wear them all day long. At least this one doesn’t feel heavy or irritating on me. But overall I find this foundation quite the opposite, as I some days feel like my skin is really benefiting from the formula!
I’ve been wearing SPF 50 all through the summer, and I’m surprised that my face didn’t stay pale white! The shade ‘Light/Medium’ from Smashbox BB Water Foundation is described as “Golden Medium Beige”. And it was a perfect match to my face tone. However, ‘Medium’, described as “Natural Tan”, was a perfect match to my overall tanned body color/decolletage. And so for reference, ‘Medium’ would totally work as my summer shade and ‘Light/Medium’ for winter time. People who do a lot of contouring and use bronzers might go for a shade lighter. But the general rule of thumb is to actually match your foundation to a shade somewhere in-between your decolletage and your face color. Not too light, not too dark.
Smashbox BB Water foundation only offer 8 shades (but may extend this in the future) while MAC Waterweight foundation offers 23 shades.
Because my skin tone is within the general population/selection, choosing a shade from MAC felt very overwhelming. Of course, depending on the formula and pigment of a product, I for one like it when shades are as simple as ‘Light’ or ‘Medium’. But I do feel that someone with more pinks in their undertone would appreciate the shade selection from MAC more. But this foundation is so sheer and blendable that I find it hard to see how the 8 shades Smashbox offers isn’t enough? But I can be wrong, and so sampling before a purchase is always recommended.
There’s no MAC counter nearby where I live. So I took help from Temptalia to find me a close match to Smashbox’s BB Water in ‘Medium’. It came out to be NC30. But as you see in the picture comparison, NC30 is even slightly lighter than ‘Light/Medium’! I got a bit shocked by this when I got the foundation. Also relieved that I didn’t go with NC25, which was in my mind as it’s starting to turn into winter. But like I said before, thanks to its sheer formula, one shade lighter or darker, doesn’t really matter. It blends right in and adjusts a bit. And NC30 works and will work wonderfully with my winter skin.
First image: MAC Waterweight Foundation NC30 Swatch, Smashbox BB Water Foundation Light/Medium and Medium; Second image: Blended.
Both foundations come in a glass bottle with a dropper. Smashbox BB Water foundation does have a slightly different dropper, one of which you click at the top to suck product into the pipette.
I personally find the MAC bottle more attractive and picture perfect, while Smashbox’s looks a bit on the cheap side with the glued-on-label. But it’s all aesthetic looking. I haven’t had any trouble with the dropper, and it dispenses the perfect amount to use at each cheek.
Although they are basically the same formula, for some reason the MAC Waterweight foundation is slightly cheaper than the Smashbox BB water foundation? At the same time, MAC offers way more shades to choose from and a much more insta-worty bottle. I don’t know where this cost may come from. Could it be that Smashbox is supposed to seem more like a “high end” brand? Is it because MAC has a bigger fan base/stores (more consumers = cheaper pricing)? Or does that bunny logo cost extra? But definitely, something to keep in mind and complain about.
The MAC Waterweight and Smashbox BB Water foundation contain Thermus Thermophillus Ferment Extract, which is a powerful antioxidant, that’s activated by heat and light. Its benefits can be comparable to vitamin E, and is a nice addition to a makeup product. This ferment is derived from deep-sea hydrothermal vents and has a unique ability to help protect skins DNA. It provides a self-adjusting enzyme activity, fibroblast protection, and cell membrane protection while helping to combat free radical damage.
Six months of use showed to prevented five years of aging. As the Ferment Extract worked to protect against age spots, wrinkles, and blemishes. It showed to also work to:
- Stimulate keratinocyte differentiation and maturation
- Strengthen stratum corneum resistance against aggression – protecting against UV damage
- Restore the cutaneous barrier quality
- Reduce water loss after an induced lesion
- Increase ceramide production
- Inspire healthy oxygenation
I reacted with a laugh when I read someone’s comment on a forum about this sea bug extract:
“I don’t understand the meaning of ‘prevent 5 years of aging in 6 months’. So, you use the product for 6 months, and then for 6 months and 4 years you don’t age??” And I must agree, it’s quite confusing, but sounds very appealing! :)
In all honesty, this is THE BEST foundation I’ve tried and owned so far during my lifetime!
All my suspicions that foundations have gotten better with time has been proven right. My experiences with foundation (including mineral-based ones) in the past have always been one where I “feel them” at the end of the day. And like a pair of jeans, I only wear them when I must to look good, but can’t wait to take them off as soon as I get home. But this is the first time I don’t feel that way with a foundation. It might be heavily dependent on skin type, but after 8 hours I don’t feel that “dirty” like I usually do. At. All.
Even when I build it up to medium coverage, my skin feels like skin: hydrated and normal. Because it’s sheer, it’s hard to tell if it stays put, but I feel confident about my skin throughout the day is all I can tell!
The only con about this foundation is its complicated moralistic issue on whether it is cruelty-free or not. And unless I find another foundation that feels similar, and hopefully cheaper, I’m sticking to this one. It’s very hard for me to find a liquid foundation that I like, and I don’t even write about half the samples I bring home here on the blog. Nonetheless, I’m still very much interested in trying out the 100% Pure 2nd Skin Foundation with Squalane. It has a few ingredients that I don’t think should be in a face product, but I’m intrigued by the reviews!
Note that this is a sheer foundation! It will look as if you have nothing on. If you’re looking for something with medium to full coverage, you need to look elsewhere – Like the bareSkin Foundation Serum. It’s also not a “natural” foundation and does contain silicons – if that’s something you avoid. But overall it does not contain fragrance and got a sophisticated and light formula that shouldn’t be pore clogging or irritating to sensitive skin. But hey, anything can break you out as long as you don’t wash your face!