America’s first Smashbox flagship isn’t just somewhere to visit when you run out of mascara. The new Los Angeles store is equal parts retail space and photo studio; a blinking neon playground designed to be Instagrammed. There’s a sparkly lip-shaped swing, a 3-D lipstick printer, and a build-your-own gloss bar (Smashbox’s answer to free gift with purchase). Everything is content.
According to global brand president Beth DiNardo, the Venice location will host daily theme parties (“Transformation Tuesdays, Swipe Right Saturdays”) offering visitors the opportunity to experiment with makeup and take pictures using pro-lighting, backdrops, and props. “If you buy a certain amount of products, then you’re getting your makeup done, you get a headshot, and we give you a link to download the photos. We’ve been doing that for 15 years, store by store by store. We’ve just never had a physical location to do it,” DiNardo says. “Our strength is having events on wheels and collaborations.”
Last year, Smashbox joined forces with YouTube star Lilly Singh to create Bawse, a limited edition red liquid lipstick. In January, a collaboration with Shay Mitchell became the biggest in Smashbox history. A few months later, the brand tapped beauty influencer Vlada Haggerty to become Lip Editor in Chief, a role entirely dedicated to, you guessed it, all things lip-centric including designing more of her elaborate lip art–like the dripping mouth she once accused Kylie Cosmetics of ripping off.
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With so many shiny distractions, it’s possible to neglect the main event: wall to wall makeup (truly, there’s an entire wall dedicated to 120 shades of lipstick) and a menu of services that goes beyond your traditional beauty counter touch-up. “Flawless in a Flash” gets you a 15-minute face plus product recommendations, free of charge. For $45, “Going Out Tonight” buys an eye, lip, and cheek upgrade in 45 minutes. “Almost Famous” offers a 15-minute professional photoshoot complete with digitals and Polaroids.
After swinging, gloss-mixing, and 3-D printing my way through the store, I asked one of the matte-lipped makeup artists to try “Going All Out Tonight”–a rendition of the makeup seen on Smashbox’s Instagram with “fierce eyes, defined lips, contoured cheeks, and more.” There are few beauty experiences more demoralizing than looking in a fluorescent vanity mirror. Smashbox mitigates “before” face with adjustable lighting at makeup stations (and California sun).
Makeup artist Chloe Schlossmann smoothed a few drops of Camera Ready BB Water into my face; a cross between serum, sunscreen, and tinted moisturizer that seeps into pores and blurs discoloration with more authenticity than traditional BB cream. To neutralize dark circles, she dotted the orbital-bone with Studio Skin 24 Hour Wear Waterproof Concealer, a light-reflective formula that looks like actual skin, and just as the name promises, lasts through the day without settling into expression lines.
For my eyes, she dipped into two of Shay Mitchell’s wildly popular Cover Shot eye palettes, a dozen or so shimmering neutrals that coaxed flashes of bronze out of my irises I had never seen before (confirming why Smashbox can’t keep the shadows in stock).
Since no Instagram makeup look is complete without full, deliberate eyebrows, Schlossmann sketched over sparse spots with Brow Tech Matte Pencil and put me on to a YouTube-worthy hack for anemic brows: Lather up a bar of clear soap, scrape it with a spoolie brush, and comb the goop through your brows. “It not only keeps hairs adhered, but it gives a nice filled in look.”