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Zainab Burmawala On The SMASHBOX Primers And Why They Have Cult Status

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You never know what you can do until you try. While that quote holds a lot of depth philosophically, I’m about to tell you why it just seamlessly fit my thirty-minute telephonic interview with the wonderful Zainab Burmawala, Training Manager for Smashbox, India. To be honest, it entirely changed the way I looked at one of the most underrated products in the Indian beauty market today. Primers. She effortlessly broke every single myth about this mysterious and puzzling base elixir that consumers most often misinterpret (confession: including me).

Despite the OG Photo Finish Smooth And Blur primer still being a blockbuster hit since 2017, Smashbox has occasionally launched other, more targeted versions (all born straight out of a photo studio, btw) to its famous primer family. Primers that deliver a cashmere-soft finish. For a second, you wonder if it somehow vanished between your fingers and your face. That said, here’s Burmawala on probably the most informative banter on why life is just way easier with these primers aka unsung heroes by your side. She sets the record straight on their cutting edge technology, expert techniques, formulations and hidden truths on the most iconic line of primers that ever set foot on the market.

1) Beauty Book – Is there a technique to keep in mind while applying a primer to help keep your base intact?

Zainab – I live by the mantra, less is more. A lot of people tend to put way more product on their skin than needed. So, it’s important not to over prime. When using the tube primers, a pea size is more than enough, for example 2 pumps of the Primerizer and 2 drops of the Primer oil should work. Always start from the T-zone and then apply outwards to the rest of the face. Also, it’s important to not massage, instead gently dab and apply the formula. You’ll see the difference once you try it. Something as simple as that is where the magic of the technique really lies.

2) Beauty Book - Smashbox primers are known to address a string of skin conditions. Can you elaborate a little on each of them for our readers?

Zainab – Absolutely, primers are my favorite topic. We have a wide range of primers in different textures that cater to multiple skin conditions and concerns. The smooth and blur primer works as a brilliant filter for your skin. It’s a nice velvety texture that blurs out all the basic imperfections, if any. The pore minimizing  is an oil-free, mattifying formula that reduces the appearance of pores and oil control for up to eight hours breakouts and does not clog your pores. You want to warm it up on your palms a little to make the application easier. The Primerizer melts right into your skin for a 24 hour boost of hydration for dry and combination skin. You don’t need a moisturizer if you have this on your skin. The oil and shine control is a gel-to-powder primer that provides a cloud-like, mattifying effect and also controls oil for up to 12 hours. Primer water is perfect for all skin types. It is a water-based primer that immediately moisturizes and instantly absorbs into your skin for a long-lasting hydration. Think of it as a glass of water that your skin needs.

3) Beauty Book - And the primer oil, reduce redness, radiance, super light and there's one that comes with sun protection too, right?

Zainab - Yes, the reduce redness brings us to color theory. It’s a green-toned formula that color corrects redness, blurs pores and fine lines. The radiance primer is a moisturizing face primer that gives you that instant instant golden-hour glow. It has a satin-smooth formula that illuminates, perfects and enhances radiance while hydrating your skin for better makeup application. The primer oil is an ultra-light, fast absorbing oil that combats dry lines and also doubles up as a face primer that gives an elegant, dewy finish to your base. Morning and evening application adds increased moisture in just four weeks. It is non-acnegenic and dermatologist-tested. The protect SPF 20 is perfect for those who are too lazy to put on sunscreen. It’s an invisible gel that comes with anti-aging properties and a broad-spectrum protection leaving zero white cast. Last but not the least, the super light, consider this as the little brother of the original smooth and blur primer. It's an oil-free, water-based formula fortified with Vitamin C. This ultra-lightweight, oil-free gel makeup primer smooths skin and creates a soft-focus finish for flawless makeup application. It works for all skin types but is ideal for sensitive, acne-prone, oily or combination skin.

4) Beauty Book - It’s hard to imagine a time before the Smashbox Iconic Photo Finish Smooth & Blur Primer. How did the Indian market respond to this product when it launched in mid 2017?

Zainab - I agree. This primer is iconic. Primers have definitely gained momentum globally in the last couple of years. Back in 2017, before the launch they weren’t really a conversation in the Indian beauty industry. So, our release really changed the game. It created a sense of curiosity around primers and a category as a whole in India. We concentrated on education around the product and tackled a lot of myths so it really drew the customers and helped establish our product. Like I said, educating the customers is key.

5) Beauty Book - Primers are mostly viewed as a marketing gimmick. Can you tell us why that is and how it plays an important role in our makeup routine?

Zainab - The misconception is really around the fact that primers are only meant for your makeup routine. What most people don’t know is that primers don’t just fall under makeup, it actually doubles up as a great addition for your skincare routine as well. Think of it as a bridge between makeup and skin. A primer should be the last step of your skincare routine and the first step of your makeup regime. So, to answer your question, primers are anything but a gimmick and everyone should have one added to their beauty routine.

6) Beauty Book - Can you tell us a little bit about the ingredients and active formulas present in the primers?

Zainab - Sure. Our primers are packed with a power mix of skincare benefits. Our bestseller smooth and blur primer is packed with antioxidants, Vitamins A and E. It protects your skin from environmental pollutants, damage and stress. The oil and shine control comes with Witch Hazel, Zinc and Salicylic acid that treats and prevents acne and breakouts. The primerizer is really a primer-cum-moisturizer duo for a 24 hour hydration. Then comes the primer oil that’s infused with 15 rich plant extracts and essential oils like Jojoba and Chamomile. The primer water (ah, one of my personal favorites) is a mist infused with revitalizing electrolytes that reawaken skin and gives rich moisture for your skin. The Protect SPF 20 Primer is an antioxidant blend of Vitamin E, Green Tea, Grapefruit extracts and SPF 20. It’s important to pick the right primer that caters to your specific skin condition. There’s one for everyone.

7) Beauty Book - This iconic range of primers have consistently reigned on the leaderboard crushing every competition in the business. What makes them so unique?

Zainab - So, Smashbox as a brand is born straight out of the legendary photo studio located in LA. All our products are tested in the studio in LA to meet the lifestyle of every customer. Studio tested, lifestyle approved! A product that helps give our customers camera-ready makeup that lasts for hours. Long lasting makeup is what we truly stand for! We are also super proud to be a cruelty-free brand and always have been. We don’t test our products on animals and we don’t ask others to test it for us either. The range is massive. Eleven primers for every woman and every skin condition. That’s what makes us truly a leader in the business.

8) Beauty Book - If you were marooned on an island, what primer would you want with you?

Zainab - I'm sure you’re not going to be surprised if I pick the primer water (laughs). But it’s a hard pick between that and the primerizer. Funny story. I’ve actually been marooned in a hotel room, if that counts? I travel a lot for work, so I’m always packing in a hurry leaving no time to pack my essentials. So, with barely any skin care products in my personal kit, I happened to have only the primerizer just lying there in my bag. So, I survived on just the primerizer for days. I realized on that trip that my skin was well hydrated, zero grease and acted like a makeup magnet. Also, here’s why the primer water stands neck to neck. It wears many hats. It hardly takes up your time. You spritz it on and you're good to go. I also use it as a regular mist for a quick lift. Also, it helps intensify my eye shadow too.

9) Beauty Book - Wait, your eye shadow? How?

Zainab -  Oh, you’re going to love this trick. After you take your desired eye shadow pigment on your brush, you top that up with a few spritz of the water primer on that exact same brush and continue your application. Something as simple as that just instantly intensifies your shadow and it helps give you a much smoother application. Also, after you powder your skin and you feel you’re looking too made up, spray this on to make your base look more natural. One more thing. You can refrigerate it. So, when you head to your fridge to grab a snack, you can spray this on to quench your skin's thirst.

10) Beauty Book - Can these primers go on as is for a clean look. Especially for those that prefer going makeup free on a daily basis? Or is makeup really required?

Zainab – Yes, most certainly. It completely depends on individual needs. On an optical level, our primers can be used to address specific skin concerns, also it creates that beautiful blurring effect. So yes, it can be worn without makeup. But for uneven skin, I suggest you pick the primer designed for your skin condition and follow the primer application with a little foundation and concealer.

11) Beauty Book - The most common fear that scares most Indian women away is that primers tend to clog pores. Do they really or is it just a myth?

Zainab -Yes, it’s a myth. Primers don’t clog pores, they blur them. Consumers may feel that way if they go for the texture that they dislike. Smashbox offers different primers for different skin conditions available in different textures for the consumers to choose from. So, using the right primer is going to change everyone’s perception on the benefits of a primer. It all boils down to the right primer and the right technique. They always go hand in hand.

12) Beauty Book - What’s on the cards for Smashbox this year? Any exciting launches to look forward to?

Zainab - Oh yes, we do! We have the vitamin glow primer coming out soon. It’s vegan. It’s refreshing. It’s a beautiful harmony of Birch water, Vitamin B, C & E to enhance your natural glow. It helps revitalize, refresh and prep your skin. I mean, who doesn’t want flawless, glowing skin. Right? So, yes really stoked about this new release. The consumers are going to absolutely LOVE it!

Zainab - We as a brand keep reinventing and are true trendsetters. We’re super excited to launch the new Photo Finish Vitamin Glow Primer so that you get your daily dose of vitamins every time you prime! This vitamin-enriched vegan face primer is infused with skin loving ingredients like Vitamins B, C & E, and antioxidants to boost your natural glow. The refreshing lightweight, water-gel formula hydrates, revitalizes and softens skin so makeup applies smoothly. It’s the perfect hybrid product of skin care and makeup. You can wear this primer alone on bare skin for a natural glow or under makeup.

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