Smashbox BB Water SPF 30 REVIEW

03 August 2015

I don't often do foundation and other base products reviews. It typically takes me a while to get them done, partly because I typically like to test them out with a variety of primers and powders to get a feel on how a product is going to function. But this is a foundation that I feel I have a grasp on after about a week of wear; every now and then a product is like that! For example - the Smashbox BB Cream is my HG product STILL. I purchased it way back when it first hit the market and I've repurchased several times, which, for me is INCREDIBLY RARE. I've loved that BB cream since the first use and I haven't looked back. Every now and then I feel like trying out one of those incredibly raved about Korean BB creams (especially seeing as how I, myself, am Korean) BUT then I remember that the Smashbox BB cream exists AND that I can use my discount on it, haha. So this BB Water had a lot of competition to beat out its prior incarnation.

Did it manage it? Click the jump to find out!

FTC Disclaimer: This product was received by me as gratis from my job. I am employed by Ulta BUT all opinions in this post are mine alone and do not reflect those of my employer. I am not affiliated nor sponsored by the company in question, nor have I received any monetary compensation for this post. As always my opinions are thoroughly my own.

Product Rundown

Description || "What is it? Your skin needs a drink. Meet Smashbox's first and only BB with a water-like texture that delivers multiple benefits in just one drop. Why get wet? Built-in primer water technology means a liquid silk-consistency - it literally glides onto your face, blends easily and moves with your skin. Because it's alcohol-free, there is no drying, cracking or caking during wear. The ultra-hydrating, oil-free formula also creates a sheer, radiant finish that makes you really love your skin in every conceivable light. Here come the compliments."
Colors || Eight different shades.
Price || $42.
Size || 30 mL/1 fl oz.
Where to buy || Smashbox, Sephora, and Ulta.
Initial thoughts || This blends in the best into my skin with my hands, although a Beauty Blender does leave a nice dewier finish. I notice that hand application causes this base product to have a bit better coverage. In my experience brushes took a bit more work; this has a thin, liquidy consistency and got a bit streaky with brushes. Coverage is light and is buildable but you won't get anything more than a medium from this product.
Would I repurchase? || Possibly. I think this product is better suited for those who have drier skin that I but the finish it leaves on the skin is quite nice. Plus I find it's super easy to use.
Ingredients || Active ingredients: Octinoxate 5%, Titanium Dioxide 3.1%, and Zinc Oxide 2.1%. Inactive ingredients: Water\Aqua\Eau, Methyl Trimethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, Silica, Butyloctyl Salicylate, Dimethicone, Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone Silylate, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Glycerin, Polysilicone-11, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Lecithin, Citrullus Vulgaris (Watermelon) Fruit Extract, Lens Esculenta (Lentil) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Protein, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Sodium PCA, Methicone, Triethyl Citrate, Thermus Thermophillus Ferment, Laureth-7, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Dextrin, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Chloride, Dimethicone/PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer, Sodium Lactate, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Zinc Stearate, Litchi Chinensis Seed Extract, Polyglutamic Acid, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, [+/- Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491), Iron Oxides (CI 77492), Iron Oxides (CI 77499)]

Okay, a few more factoids from Smashbox:

Simply put, we have no other BB foundation with a thin, water-like veil. What makes it a technological feat is our breakthrough system that suspends pigments in H2O. The big pay-off: a BB that hydrates your skin throughout the day and a demi-matte, but never flat complexion. Just a few drops create a remarkably natural-looking canvas that still camouflages imperfections. Just build for more coverage. Plus, our exclusive Photoset Polymers—taken from medical grade liquid bandage technology—make it last from A.M. to afterhours.


Blurs out imperfections like fine lines, pores and blemishes
SPF 30 helps shield skin from environmental damage
Sheer-to-medium coverage comes easy with its buildable, liquid-silk consistency. Plus, 8 forgiving shades means one for every skin tone. Guaranteed.
A revolutionary formula infused with elements of Primer Water quenches skin
Expect a gorgeous sheen. No shine.

Want that all natural off-duty model look? Done. After applying BB Water, add a healthy flush or subtle, sun-kissed sheen to your flawless skin with our new L.A. Lights Blendable Lip & Cheek Color.

“It all starts with skin in the studio. A sheer finish on the face reflects natural light better and highlights contours like cheekbones.” – Davis Factor, Founder and Photographer

“Remember, it’s all about perfecting—not masking your skin. You only need to apply foundation on places that need coverage.” – Lori Taylor Davis, Global Pro Lead Artist





Claim #1: Primes

I'm going to say that this claim is pretty accurate, just owing to the sheer number of forms that dimethicone appears in this product. A common emollient found in many primers, the different forms of silicones in this base are going to make the skin appear smoother and feel softer. However, if you're similar to me and dislike the feeling of slick, silicone-heavy primers, then this is probably not a great thing to read. Another skin conditioner found in this is butyloctyl salicylate, along with ethylhexyl palmitate.

Claim #2: Protects

The original Smashbox BB is SPF 35 and contains four different sunscreen ingredients: oxybenzone, octisalate, octinoxate, and titanium dioxide. The BB Water is SPF 30 and contains three; titanium dioxide and octinoxate are still in here, but zinc oxide has been added. This is a great thing; titanium dioxide alone can help block ultraviolet-B and short-wave ultraviolet-A rays BUT it is not as effective as zinc oxide at blocking long-wave UVA rays. Octinoxate bumps up the UVB protection and is the most commonly used chemical additive in SPF.

The issue is not whether or not the sunscreen is's just that, like all sunscreens, this product SHOULD be reapplied every two hours or so for maximum effect...and who is going to remove and reapply their face makeup that often? So, while the SPF ingredients are nice, they're kind of useless after the first two hours, ya know?

Claim #3: Perfects

Here's where it gets murky. Smashbox base products tend to pull pretty golden, for the most part. There are eight shades available in this range and it might be challenging to find a shade that matches well for fair, cool-toned skin. While the coverage is pretty sheer, it can definitely be built up and when it is the match, or lack thereof, is going to be apparent. The shade I have, "Light/Medium", is a touch too dark. Not to the point where it looks super noticeable or orange, but if I didn't have super yellow skin to begin with it might be more apparent that this doesn't quite match me.

This has a nice finish on the skin; it looks very natural. I wouldn't say the finish is dewy nor is it completely matte. I get about 12 hours of wear with this, with one or two blotting sessions. It fades after the 12 hour marker, but I've been informed by my coworkers that it does not make me LOOK overly shiny; I felt as though I was, but apparently I wasn't, ha.

I like to bump up the coverage a bit more by setting this with the Halo powder; even though this is buildable to a medium coverage, I still like a little bit more. I would say this does a nice job of evening out my skintone but it won't help to mask super noticeable imperfections like my insanely dark undereye circles. It does help to reduce my redness though!

Claim #4: Hydrates

The first ingredient of note is the glycerin. This is a humectant and it is extremely hydroscopic, meaning it freely attracts water from the dermis and the environment to the epidermis. The BB water also contains tocopheryl acetate; more commonly known as vitamin e. Finally, the last ingredient I want to mention is sodium hyaluronate, which can hold up to 1000 its weight in water. Basically, I definitely agree with the "hydrates" claim; I suspect this product will be highly loved by those with drier skin than I. I have extreme combo skin; I get super oily in the t-zone...and super dry and scaly along my jawline, and this BB water feels great along my dry patches!

Claim #5: Oil and alcohol-free

Can't really refute this claim, ha. Either it is or it isn't.

Overall I don't mind this BB water BUT it's not the type of base product that I would reach for frequently NOR does it beat out the BB Cream for me; if you have oilier skin and like a bit more coverage I suspect the original BB cream is going to be more up your alley.

Bare skin.



Blended in.

Bare skin.

Applied to the left side of my face (your right) only.

Applied to the left side of my face (your right) only.


Halo powder.

No flash; natural light.

Pores closeup!

One last thing to note is that this product contains lecithin! But I'm not sure if it's animal or plant based. If you're vegan, I suggest avoiding this product anyway. I emailed customer service to inquire about which type of lecithin is used and I'll edit this post when I get a response.


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