Tarte Cosmetics At-A-Glance
Strengths: Excellent foundation; great cheek stain and powder blush; superior pressed powder and eyelining pencils; good mascaras; unique, innovative, beautiful packaging; complete ingredient lists on the company's Web site.
Weaknesses: Expensive; some gimmicky products and claims; lacks matte eyeshadow options.
Tarte Cosmetics CEO and founder Maureen Kelly started Tarte in 1999, supposedly out of a need to create a cosmetics line that "would prove that glamour can be good for you." Well, to be honest, we didn't know that glamour could be bad for anyone, no matter who was selling it. In this case, good-for-you glamour is about the products being "natural." Of course, lots of women believe that natural ingredients are the only way to go because they're told, and unfortunately often believe, that the synthetic ingredients in cosmetic products are toxic and poisonous for your skin. That is a misguided belief!
Ironically, despite Tarte's attention-getting marketing concept, their products aren't any more natural or healthier than loads of other products. We take particular issue with the company's claim of being preservative-free, synthetic dye-free, and talc-free. Not only are these ingredients not a problem for most people, but also many of Tarte's products do contain them! What is that about? Didn't anyone at Tarte read their own ingredient labels?
We are beyond understanding how a cosmetics company can base their advertising on what their products do not contain, yet fail to realize, or just won't acknowledge, that their products in fact do contain them—the very ingredients they tell you are toxic or poisonous for your skin. We mean, really, if your products (in this instance Tarte products) do contain isododecane, imidazolidinyl urea, butylene glycol, parabens, PEG/PPG-18/18 dimethicone, aluminum starch octenylsuccinate, that's the pot calling the kettle black. Whatever… if Tarte chooses to mislead and misinform the consumer it doesn't seem to matter, because many uninformed women won't notice the hypocrisy—they'll just accept Tarte's claims at face value.
Marketing hype and ingredient deception aside, the ingredients Tarte does leave out of its products are sulfates (though sulfates are rarely used in makeup products anyway, so it is a trait most makeup products share), phthalates, and synthetic fragrance (but "natural" fragrance isn't any better for skin). That's nice, but in the scope of things, not really all that special.
We appreciate that Tarte conveys their message without the "granola," antiglamour, or anti-elegance image that's characteristic of many "natural" lines. The trade-off is that you're going to pay extra for Tarte's glamorous image and packaging. Although there are a handful of products in the Tarte lineup worth the splurge, if you only shopped this line for cosmetics, your wallet would definitely be lighter—and there's no need to splurge to the point of incurring debt just to outfit your makeup bag with all things Tarte. After all, you aren't going to be applying the packaging to your skin.
Those who shop carefully should pay close attention to Tarte's foundations, blush options, eye pencils, and a handful of their innovative products. If you're looking for matte eyeshadows, however, you're out of luck. Tarte isn't as full-featured as several other makeup artistry lines (Bobbi Brown and Laura Mercier come to mind), and Tarte doesn't outdo Rimmel or Sonia Kashuk at the drugstore, but their good products are indeed good.
For more information about Tarte Cosmetics visit the Web site at www.tartecosmetics.com.