Last month I decided to update my makeup, so I went to the "new" Sephora in town. It's been open over a year, but I hadn't stopped in yet so it was new to me. And others, at least one friend of mine didn't know there was a Sephora in town when I mentioned my trip.

I got a number of items, but I'll first review the Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer SPF 15 with Dermaxyl. I'm a huge fan of this stuff now. Foundation primer has been around for a decade, but I don't know how many people actually use it. I got some of a different kind before my wedding, and used it a bit back then, but it wasn't worth the effort for everyday for me.

This stuff, however is magical. I didn't realize HOW magical until I put on my new foundation without it. I did this because I was happy with my new foundation (review to follow), and I was in a hurry one day so I decided to skip the primer. I also skipped moisturizer, which I'm sure added to the problem. When I slapped my foundation directly on my skin, I was horrified at the results.

There was nothing really wrong with the foundation, it still matched my skintone perfectly, evened out coloration, etc. but there was still a horrendous difference in how my skin looked without being moisturized and primed. I could see patches of dry skin, and my wrinkles were more prominent. I'm sure it was a bigger difference to me than to anyone else, but I suspect I looked more my age that day when I went out. Since I switched to my new makeup I've once again been mistaken for a woman in her early 30s.

So what's so great about this primer? I'll tell you. It really does convert your imperfect skin into a smooth canvas ready to accept makeup under the best conditions. The primer itself has an unusual feel-- not creamy like a moisturizer, not oily, but it's more like a pure smoothness. I think it's got silicone in it, which creates the smooth and slip. It fills in all the microtextures in your skin. Covers any rough dry patches, smooths over minor wrinkles, fills in big pores. It goes on clear, so it's invisible and doesn't really make your skin look better when it's used on its own. But once you put foundation over it, voila, perfection.

I've got oily combination skin, and suffer from frequent breakouts, but the silicone doesn't affect my skin as far as that's concerned. I don't break out any more or less since I started using it, my breakouts are still timed with my hormonal cycle. It also makes foundation more pleasing to apply, since it just glides smoothly and evenly over the skin without much effort. Without the primer, I've got to carefully check in the mirror to make sure I've got it applied evenly and it's not too thin or thick in places. With the primer, it's not an issue, I seem to apply it fine the first time.

BOTTOM LINE: I highly recommend this product to any woman of a certain age who wants to look younger and prettier. It really works. I don't recommend it for women in their 20s unless they have heavy skin damage. If you don't have any fine lines & wrinkles or other skin imperfections to hide, this product doesn't do anything to improve on perfection. Go enjoy your youth, and save your money for when you'll really need the advanced makeup.