Smashbox's L.A. Lights Blendable Lip & Cheek Color is a good choice for adding a wash of shimmer and sheer tint to skin, but falters slightly in its execution as a multi-purpose product. For those who are more interested in a cream-to-powder highlighter formula, L.A. Lights offers a good lineup to consider, and is best for those with combination to dry skin. (Stick makeup is always a tricky for those with oily and/or acne prone skin due to the emollient ingredients that keep it in a solid form.)
Packaged in a swivel-up tube, each of the shades available—at the time of this review, there are five—are sheer, yet build in intensity if desired. Soft-textured and easy to blend, these dry down to a satin matte feel on skin. All are fragrance free.
The shade range is small but diverse, which allows you to use this as a blush or a highlighter, depending on the look you want. From sheer pearlescent pinks to neutral bronze, there is a little something here for many a color preference, but we found these tend to "shine" best when used as highlighters. Their degree of shimmer is finely milled and particularly attractive when applied with a light hand, selectively to the upper cheeks, inner-corner of the eye area, and brow bone.
This doesn't fare as well when used a blush or bronzer because the color payoff isn't substantial. As you layer to build up the color, you build the intensity of shimmer, too. The resulting "frosted blush" look is a tricky one to pull off for many, particularly for wear during the daytime (if understated makeup is your goal).
The color range should be attractive for the lips, but the issue of color intensity strikes again. Their sheer pigment makes this look more like a subtle wash of shimmer versus emulating a lipstick or stain, and, on lips, they wear off within an hour (instantly with a sip of coffee).
Smashbox's L.A. Lights gave us a bit of nostalgia for the NARS Multiple Sticks, circa 2005, both in their color range and formula. Which, perhaps, is a bit of the problem and why this didn't earn a higher rating—it's not a new concept and it doesn't rise to the level of superior alternatives, especially given the cost. It also fails to fulfil its potential as a blush/bronzer or lip color—at least not unless you're willing to compromise.
Hollywood may be in the midst of a frenzy of remakes, but in the case of Los Angeles-native Smashbox, their effort here at reinventing the multi-purpose makeup concept is one that's not quite impressive enough to stand out from the crowd.
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.
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