Saturday, March 1, 2014

Review: Tarte Colored Clay CC Primer in Fair

Tarte recently came out with a new "CC primer", a stick-complexion product that, in theory, can be used as a primer or to add just a little bit of coverage for people whose skin, unlike mine, is not covered in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, acne, redness, and a myriad of other shit.

I'm going to go ahead and start this review with the bottom line. You do NOT want this product if:

  • You have fair skin.
  • You have dark skin. 
  • You have dry skin.
  • You have cool-toned skin.
  • You want this product to actually work as a primer.
  • You have significant complexion imperfections.
I'm going to go ahead and guess that most of you probably fit into at least one of those categories. So, really, y'all can probably just close this review now and go on your merry way, content in your decision not to buy this product. 



This product is a twist-up tube that looks like a classed-up version of a push-pop. In a loading-screen-esque wheel, it contains two chunks of "color correcting" product, a green and a purple.

So, green and purple do actually color-correct. Unfortunately, as anyone who has ever fingerpainted should be aware, green + purple = brown. So, if you blend this product, it won't color correct. You could, hypothetically, use this product to color correct if you selectively put the green half on any redness you have and selectively put the purple anywhere that leans yellow. However, Tarte has made no indication that this is their intention, and I've seen no reviews or tutorials that have mentioned anything on that topic. I think Tarte just kind of went, "If one color-correcting product is good, two must be better!" without giving the way that color correction actually works any thought.


The two larger wedges of product in the wheel are orange. This is the "fair", the lightest shade. The lightest that this product goes is "carrot".

The thing about this that is so disappointing is that I know that Tarte knows that fair ladies exist. They make relatively fair foundation shades. If MAC made this product, I could just shrug my shoulders, content in the knowledge that people who make MAC foundations have never seen anyone with light skin. But, Tarte knows better.

The darkest shade, called "Deep", sadly, is also in the "tan person" range. If you have dark skin, then, this is also not for you. On the bright side, if you are a medium-ly tan person with warm-toned skin, you can probably find a "good enough" match.


When I try to use the product on its own, it looks terrible because it is the complete wrong color. I end up with an orange face, but all my yucky skin stuff still pokes through. All it really does is make it so that my face does not match my body. In that way, it's like the opposite of color-correction. (I have seen a lot of reviews do really weird mental gymnastics to forgive this problem. E.g. "Oh, it's nice that it makes it look like I have a little bit of a tan!")

What's worse, the texture is really unpleasant and dry. I have oily skin and it was dry and patchy on me. If you have dry skin, I can only imagine the train-wreck it would be. It created additional unevenness on my skin by really emphasizing the parts of my face that were drier. There are lots of products that also give a matte finish and look ten million times better.

That problem carries over if you try to use it as a primer, as well. Perfectly nice foundation can look patchy because the "primer" below it is patchy.

I also did a quick test to see if it actually extended the life of my foundation. I used Tarte's Amazonian Clay Foundation in Ivory, which is one of my favorite foundations when I have a little bit of a tan (it's too dark at the moment!). Here's how the two foundation swatches looked at the start of the day:

No primer, primer
You can see that the primer did darken my foundation by virtue of being beneath it.

Here's how they looked at the end of the day:


In other words, exactly the fucking same. The primer didn't do shit.

In summary, I hate everything about this product. (Well, except the fact that the packaging is matte. That looks kind of nice.) On me, it does nothing it promised and, indeed, makes everything worse. Tarte is a good brand that makes lots of good stuff. That's why I know that they can make something a million times more awesome than this dry, orange stick.

The Tarte Colored Clay CC Primer retails for $34 for 0.51oz, or $66.67 per ounce.

42 comments:

  1. This "one shade fits all" attitude by make-up manufacturers drives me batty. I have a hard enough time finding foundation that doesn't go yellow or orange on my pink, pale vampire of a face. Then they release products that have three colors in the entire line?? Pssshhh.

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    1. It's even more confusing on full-coverage products like concealer! (Benefit. What are you doing.)

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  2. I am completely confused by this product. And seeing how I'm fair/cool/somewhat dry and looking for a primer that actually work as a primer, I think I'll pass.

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  3. I could not agree more! Like you, I am on the fairer end of the spectrum and I looked like an oompa loompa after applying the product. I was really disappointed, I own many great tarte products and had high hopes for this one. I guess no cosmetics company is perfect, though.

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    1. Yup! As long as they keep making things I like, I'll forgive them for the ones I don't.

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  4. I can't agree more. I bought this in a QVC pack along with their new Amazonian Colored Clay liquid foundation, mascara, lipgloss, bronzer-blush, long-handled kabuki, and black liner. I kept the brush, blush, and included bag (large enough to put a newborn in, and hot pink!) And gave the rest to my yellow-leaning sister.

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    Replies
    1. I liked the foundation, actually! (It's neutral-toned.)

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    2. The foundation oxidized on me to a festive shade of jaundice yellow. Something else in my "put stuff on my face" routine reacted funkily with it, perhaps? Could have just been an 'off' batch.

      And yes, I did shake the bejesus out of it.

      Glad it worked for you! I liked the coverage, just not my selected shade, I guess.

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  5. I just adore your negative reviews. Thank you for lightening my mood this afternoon! I have to wonder how this item actually makes it through production to development. It doesn't seem like it would work for anyone. (I wondered the same thing about the wifi egg-tray). Somethings just seem so bad/useless/confusing that it is hard to imagine that someone dreamed it up and managed to sell the idea to other people at their workplace. Maybe group think took over?

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    Replies
    1. Development to production is what I meant.

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    2. Clearly it works for some people. As much as I hated it, there are lots of positive reviews.

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  6. The whole idea behind this product is kind of weird. What were they thinking? :/

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    Replies
    1. I don't know! The people that like it seem to really like it, though. Maybe I'm just the wrong audience.

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  7. meh, I didn't find this primer to be dry (quite the opposite, in fact), and while it does lean stupidly dark, it is at least very sheer. my biggest complaint is that it really doesn't seem to do anything as a primer. It doesn't seem to smooth the texture of my skin, OR make my foundation last longer.
    Just as a side note: if _I_ were to put foundation anyplace other than my face, like my forearm/wrist area, it would last all day, whereas if I put if on my face it certainly would not, because my face is oily (and breaks down foundation) but my forearm is not. So I wouldn't expect a primer to make any difference on how well my foundation lasted on my forearm, because the whole mechanism by which a primer would work is to keep the evil skin oils from breaking down my foundation, but my arm doesn't have any of those evil skin oils, so the primer has nothing to do. Bottom line, if a primer made no difference to how foundation lasted on my forearm, I wouldn't expect that to mean it would make no difference on my face. Just sayin'.

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    1. I agree with your comment so much. The face is where all the shit goes down, and where the product is intended to be used, so a before and after comparison of the face would be much for meaningful for this review!

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    2. I probably should have done that, given that I only had two conditions (face and not face) to contend with! I can say anecdotally that I don't think it does squat.

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  8. It's pretty sad that the lavender part is a better match for your skin than what was supposed to be the "fair" part. No fair-skinned person has orange undertones. We should tell Tarte they're being un-fair, haha corny pun-time!

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    1. I beg to differ! My blindingly white tummy is visibly yellow compared to a lot of other folks. I'm pale enough that Bare Minerals "fairly light" is visibly darker than my skin, but "fair" is much too pink.

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    2. Same. The Flower BB cream in the lightest shade is literally just pale yellow out the tube, and it was perfect except for the fact my skin hated it.

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    3. I'm just surprised that they didn't go neutral-toned, given that they had so few color choices!

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  9. I'm one of the very few who doesn't hit the criteria above (medium shade skin, warm toned, oily, wants sheer coverage) so I enjoy this product. But I was very surprised to find that the Light shade is what works for me (and I contemplated the Fair) because I always hit in the mid-range. (I do the same with Tarte's tinted BB primer.)

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, I watched/read a fair number of other product reviews on this sucker and almost everyone was wearing a shade that was nominally lighter than the way that I would describe them.

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  10. yikes! i hope you an return this...

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  11. I completely agree. I sometimes wear Tarte's 12hr Amazonian Clay foundation in Fair and I love it. I work at Ulta, and I am the one that updated all the Tarte stuff in my store and I made all the testers. I played with the CC sticks because I was excited about them, and I couldn't believe how dark Fair was. I wonder if their CC stick was inspired by stila's stick foundation, which has a green center to correct redness.

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    Replies
    1. It may have been meant to "one up" them? I haven't tried that foundation, though.

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  12. I wonder if there is a significant difference between batches of these. I seem to recall seeing a photo where it looked so dry it was splitting along color wedges but when I use this I need powder or my face feels slippery.

    All last week I was using just this and powder as my all-over face makeup (with spot concealer) because my skin was in good condition and it was enough to make me look finished enough for concerts without looking made-up.

    ...but. I broke out like whoa, like I did in the days of Smashbox primer & foundation, which makes me think it is too dimethicone-heavy for my skin to be happy with it. On the other hand, February was insanely stressful, so I'm going to give it another go in a few weeks and see how it goes, because I like the format. I am lazy enough to want everything to come in a stick (Stila smudge crayon in Kitten is one of my HG products).

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    1. Oh no! There are other stick products if you find that this was the acne-source. No need to resort to a non-stick (heh) format.

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  13. It's a good thing I'm a medium toned orange person (I am actually not kidding, I put on light orange lipstick once and my lips just disappeared....), but I can still understand the frustration. This sounds like a crappy product regardless though.

    http://mattekat.blogspot.ca/

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    Replies
    1. There are definitely people that liked it... it just didn't work for me at all.

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  14. I hope someday you feel comfortable enough to really express how you feel when you don't really like a product. :-)

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  15. http://instagram.com/p/knbM5NjMid/ as a follow-up, proof that it doesn't make me all orange. Also, I followed your crappy eye shadow tutorial for this look.

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    Replies
    1. You're right, definitely not orange on you!

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  16. Urgh. I have to admit, when I saw the picture, I was wondering how just smearing green and purple onto your face from the stick along with the 'skin' coloured part was supposed to really colour correct...

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    Replies
    1. I think I may do a "how does it work" on color correction in the near-ish future.

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  17. I wanted it to work. It had colors and looked exciting. There's something vaguely alluring about the stick in a 'I've never seen anything like this...' sort of way. And yet, no. Just no. Thanks for the sanity check.

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    Replies
    1. Did you get a chance to try it?

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    2. I excitedly swatched it and discovered it was less exciting than anticipated. I don't know if it's because I swatched a communal use Sephora stick, but it felt really drying bordering on chalky.

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  18. I just don't get why you would want to make a primer -something that should glide on the skin and make your face feel like a smooth baby's bottom (because that's not bizarre), a quick step you can use your hands to apply before your foundation - into a thick, large stick.

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    Replies
    1. Eh... I can imagine it working, hypothetically. It just didn't work here, unfortunately.

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