Smashbox Camera Ready BB Water SPF 30 is the brand's newest entry into this cosmetic alphabet game, but fortunately for you, it's a very good one. This super-fluid, lightweight formula sets to a satin finish that is neither matte nor moisturizing—striking a balance that makes this an option for nearly any skin type, including the acne-prone. We were thrilled to see the extra-added benefits of an SPF 30 + a decent array of antioxidants, too!
Smashbox used a mix of mineral and non-mineral actives—octinoxate, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide—to achieve its broad-spectrum SPF rating. This blend likely helps the formula retain its fluid, water-like texture, as a pure-mineral sunscreen tends to feel thicker on skin. (We should note that despite the inclusion of non-mineral actives, we didn't experience sensitization around the eye area from it.)
Housed in a plastic bottle with a push-button dropper applicator, Camera Ready BB Water SPF 30 pays homage to both the BB cream trend and the recent wave of serum foundations to hit the market. This provides initially sheer coverage that can be layered to medium—but just barely—and looks incredibly natural on skin.
Due to its fluid nature, you may be surprised by how little you need to cover your whole face. We found that 3-4 drops was more than sufficient for a full face, and it easily evened out a mildly uneven complexion (think redness around the nose, faint red marks or slightly blotchy areas). More pronounced discolorations will need extra help from your preferred concealer.
We should mention that the tiny amount needed to cover the entire face would not get you the amount of sun protection stated on the label. To obtain the stated SPF, liberal application is key; a sheer application of products like this isn't enough, so if you want to apply in this manner, be sure to layer over your (liberally applied) daytime moisturizer with SPF.
This blends effortlessly onto skin—whether you use your fingers, a sponge or brush, it was a breeze to apply. The finish, as mentioned earlier, is best described as "natural," as it isn't moisturizing, but it isn't exactly matte, either. Those with oily or combination skin will likely love how light this feels, while those on the dry side will find this layers well over a richer moisturizer and resists clinging to dry patches. We found this wore well over the workday, and didn't wear away over oily areas—but this is sheer enough that such signs would be far less noticeable than if it were a medium-to-full coverage formula. This does not control shine well, nor does it claim to, so expect to powder and/or blot as usual.
As promised by Smashbox's marketing, this includes a few antioxidants and reparative ingredients, from vitamin E, lecithin, apple and watermelon extract, and sodium hyaluronate, just to name a few. It's a nice mix, especially as few foundations include such ingredients.
Smashbox offers this in 8 neutral shades, with options for those with fair to deep skin tones. Its light coverage makes this a much more forgiving formula to shade match, but we found that there could be more options to suit a wider range of undertones, as most shades leaned neutral to slightly warm. Bottom line, we encourage you to try this in store for the best match.
We couldn't leave you without letting you in on this secret: This is the exact same formula as M.A.C. Cosmetics Studio Waterweight SPF 30 Foundation. Not just a similar, or "inspired by" formula, but it is literally the same product repackaged. M.A.C. Cosmetics, however, has the edge in that their version costs almost $10 less and offers 10+ more shades to choose from. Estee Lauder owns both brands, so this sort of thing isn't uncommon.
Smashbox Camera Ready BB Water SPF 30 earned out top recommendation for its beautiful finish, extraordinarily lightweight texture, broad-spectrum sunscreen protection, and added beneficial ingredients.
Note: We referred to this as a foundation in this review a few times, despite the "BB" name, as at this point in the cosmetic industry the products attributed to the category of "BB creams" are as different as snowflakes. We give up, we're just calling it a foundation, but regardless of what you want to call this, it's a fabulous formula.
Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 5%, Titanium Dioxide 3.1%, 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)]
Two interesting things about Smashbox are that its name refers to the early, accordion-style cameras and that Smashbox is first and foremost a Hollywood-based photography studio. The company's creators, Dean and Davis Factor, have their heritage in makeup—their great-grandfather was the legendary makeup artist Max Factor. The makeup, which debuted in 1996, began as a collection of trendy and fashion-forward colors coupled with a pleasingly neutral palette of foundations, concealers, and powders. Nowadays, there are exceptional options to choose from, but also some color products that fall short due to too sheer formulas or other issues noted in their respective reviews.
Where Smashbox has lived up to their Hollywood makeup pedigree is with a few standout formulas, including impressive lip products as well as excellent foundations, BB and CC cream options. Of course, the brand is also well-known for their range of makeup primers—whether that’s a necessary step is up for debate—but nevertheless they do offer a few products in this category that are worth considering.
For more information about Smashbox, now owned by Estee Lauder visit www.smashbox.com.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
Beautypedia cuts through the hype to bring you product insights and recommendations you won’t find anywhere else!