Well, no need to beat around the bush. I have a new love in my life. It’s new, but believe me, it’s serious. I am self conscious about my pores on my face; I don’t know if it’s the change to being an oily skinned person living in the sub-tropics, or just getting older (shudder), but I didn’t notice my pores before, unless they had morphed into blackheads. Now … now they’ve developed a life of their own. I did a brief review of the pore filling primers in my life on Instagram a while back, but on no-makeup days, I had concerns they were all going to just slide on down my face in hot weather without any other products on top to glue them down. All of those primers are silicone based, and have that dry silicone slip to them. Then, Sephora sent me a product suggestion (gee, thanks): Shiseido Ibuki Smart Filtering Smoother Serum. The product was supposed to blur and fill pores and texture using a micro powder (instead of silicone like the rest of my stash). Uhhhhh … where do I sign up?
There weren’t many reviews on the Sephora page, and there’s no Sephora within a thousand miles of me to try it … but happily, my local base exchange carries Shiseido (the export line I should say), so I schlepped down one day to see if they had this item to check out.
Hurrah! Shockingly they did (unfortunately there was no tester though). They also had the other two “blurring” primers I wanted to check out, the First Light Filter Face Primer and Backlight Filter Face Primer from Becca. Thankfully they had testers of those two products to compare.
The Backlight Filter Face Primer was seriously half perfume. I’m not kidding. I could still smell it, after washing my hands numerous times that day, into the evening on my hand. It was also very glittery. Hard pass.
The First Light Filter Face Primer is lilac colored and looked pretty on my hand, though it did seem to cast a bit of color onto my skin under the store’s fluorescent lighting (which isn’t particularly cute when you are almost morbidly fair to begin with). It thankfully was sans the godawful perfume of the first (seriously, why does nobody mention that?!) but it didn’t seem to do much.
Later, in the sun walking to my car, I was glad I had passed it over as well as, while smaller and less noticeable than the first Becca primer I tried (El Stinko), it still had micro glitter, which I personally don’t care for all over my face on a no-makeup day.
Aaaand I Bite the Bullet on the Shiseido Ibuki Smart Filtering Smoother
Despite lacking a Shiseido tester, I decided to buy it anyway. I haven’t met much from Shiseido that I didn’t like. Aaaaaaaand you see where I’m going. It’s amazing. It’s everything I was looking for. It blurs pores. It feels dry and undetectable on the face (not so with silicone based primers). It’s completely colorless and there is no glitter.
I tried the Shiseido Ibuki Smart Filtering Smoother Serum under makeup next. I put my Make Up Forever Water Blend over the top. I love this foundation, but I do jokingly refer to it as my “why bother” foundation as it’s very thin and has very light coverage. Over the top of the new primer though, it seemed to be able to get its bearings and grip a lot better than over skin or silicone primers, giving a bit more coverage than it normally does. A better together pairing for sure.
You are supposed to be able to layer this over makeup as well … that often doesn’t go well, but I have found it to be true for this product. Though to be honest, personally I prefer to just blot oil with blotting papers instead of adding more product.
Shiseido Ibuki Smart Filtering Smoother Serum: The Not-So-Great Bits
First, there are parabens in the formula, so beware. Also, if you are looking for vegan products only, squalane oil is included in the ingredient deck. Like I talked about when reviewing the Haba Squalane product, squalane can come from shark livers or from plant-based sources. I don’t know what the case is with this product, and couldn’t find anything online in reference.
Second, the price. This bottle is tiny at .67 oz/20 ml. That’s 2/3 the size of a regular foundation or primer bottle. The retail price is $23, which is pretty steep for such a tiny little thing. To be fair, the product is pretty thin and spreads easily, and covering my whole fat face takes a pretty small amount of product. But still … Shiseido, why did you make this so tiny?
Final Thoughts on Shiseido Ibuki Smart Filtering Smoother Serum
If you can’t tell, Shiseido Ibuki Smart Filtering Smoother Serum is a keeper. It’s in the top two of awesome new products I’ve tried in the last year, hands down. I love how my skin looks with it over my sunscreen and nothing else, and I love how it works as a primer under makeup. It is the best and sadly, for my wallet anyway, I will keep shelling out money for the teeny tiny bottles because it’s that good.
If you followed the link to the ingredients, the product has a smattering of good, botanical skincare ingredients (and squalane!). Which makes sense since it’s from their Ibuki skincare line, not their makeup line. How much? I don’t know. I wouldn’t skip any skincare steps before, but it’s nice to have a bit of extra goodness thrown in, right?