Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Full Coverage Foundation Review

I’ve talked about Tarte’s foundation before when I answered a tumblr message here. Tarte is one of those beauty companies that I consider similar to a makeup line equivalent of Origins – relatively expansive, try to use ‘better’ ingredients, moderately priced, found in similar distribution channels. 

Although I try mainly to discuss niche, high-end products on this blog, a good product is a good product and their Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Full Coverage Foundation is one that I’ve found myself picking up more and more. I tend to think of this as an alternative to the MakeupForever HD Foundation with skin-friendlier ingredients.

I use shade Light 04 – which is perfect for my slight yellow undertones. The box comes with the full ingredients list (SPF 15 actives are physical sunblocks, unfortunately for purists out there, this uses Titanium Dioxide), and I thought the features helped to make it stand out:

This really helps people pick in a busy store such as Sephora, the product is Cruelty Free, and has “Skinvigorating Ingredients” such as Hyaluronic Acid – a key skin plumper that draws moisture in, Vitamin E – an antioxidant that makes skin smooth, and Amazonian Clay which helps balance oily skin.

The foundation itself is housed in a plastic tube with wood top base which I thought was ‘charming’. It is different from the usual high-end foundations I’m used to such as the frosted glass from Koh Gen Do, but I can appreciate the durability of this packaging.

So right off the bat – my skin type as many of you know by now is sensitive, blemish prone- combination (oily to dry areas) – so I basically don’t have easy skin to work with. I found that this foundation was actually a great ‘balance’. I am able to wear this for around 6 hours without any issues or need for touch up, but I don’t think 12 hours on one application is achievable. I found that the foundation itself is not drying or oily at all, and balanced my skin nicely – but this is also because I’m experienced with knowing how much to put on based on the “weightiness” of the foundation. A few friends who have tried this foundation said it showed up dry patches or felt “heavy” and cakey. That’s the other thing – you don’t need that much of this foundation to achieve a decent medium coverage. 

A pea sized amount is suitable for giving a decent coverage, and you can build up afterwards on the trouble spots. The above is how much I use on my entire face for a “2nd skin with decent coverage” effect, using the Shiseido Perfect Foundation Brush. The foundation itself is best described as an airy cream. It is pretty light and blendable but definitely adequately pigmented. 

Once you blend out, you can see the texture is similar to a mousse foundation but it eventually blends nicely into your skin and just makes it look evenly toned and smooth:

This is definitely a good foundation for covering light scars, blemishes without making it look cakey. I’ve always been the type to wash my face as soon as I get home if I’m wearing makeup, and I sometimes just feel that this product is a little heavy on pores so I use the Vapour Organics Clarity Cleansing Oil  to remove all product before I use a normal cleanser. Afterward, I also douse my skin in YULI Panacea Elixir to make sure my pores are decongested and clear. I think this product really requires you to make sure your pores are clean otherwise it could potentially be a pore clogger with long term use – and my skin is just too sensitive to risk that happening.

For longer and more seemless wear, I also like to apply primer. I made the mistake of using Hourglass with my foundations during my initial foray into primers, but since then I’ve been careful to select primers that do not use silicones that clog skin (and break me out all over my forehead). Korres has a decent performer with their Vitamin E, Silicone Free Face Primer. It isn’t as “slick” as the common ones you’ll find from MAC, Nars, Hourglass due to the lack of silicone but I do notice that foundation spreads on better and lasts longer.

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Full Coverage Foundation and Korres Facial Primer both do not use parabens and are oil-free. However, this doesn’t mean they’re “clean & natural”. Instead of parabens, Tarte uses an actually large concentration of phenoxyethanol, another chemical preservative. Compared to foundations from Lancome, Dior, etc. the formula isn’t bad but just know that it has more similarities with those brand formulations than differences.

Overall, I have enjoyed using this as a quick and easy foundation to use. A little truly does go a long way. I think the best way to use this foundation is to only use a little, if you use more, the formula and clays might be a little “much”. For $38, this offers pretty good performance and is a good option for those of you looking to transition out of MAC and MUFHD.

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation ($38, Sephora)

 

Reader E-Mail: Full Coverage Foundation Recommendation

Hello Beauty Idealist,

I have regular breakouts and lots of redness. I currently use Make Up For Ever HD High Definition Foundation but I think it may be making my skin worse. Help! How can I hide my acne without giving myself even more acne?!

Sincerely,
Damned if you Do

— 

I LOVE receiving e-mails and having conversations with everyone. I can definitely relate to your situation, it truly is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario! On the one hand a product like Make Up For Ever HD’s foundation truly does give full coverage for problem skin but on the other hand it is known to exacerbate the situation for many people. The ingredients list for MUFHD is a who’s who of skin irritants: silicones, PEG, petrols, parfum, etc. It is also just a really heavy product so while it hides a lot, your skin is also masked which isn’t healthy as skin needs to be able to breathe. While we’re on this page, you probably want to skip MAC Studio Fix as well.

To be honest with you, I’ve tried a lot of foundations from clean brands to varying levels of success but if your skin was anything like what mine was like when my skin was really bad, none of them will really work to cover everything. I can only give you the information I have, but I hope it is enough to help you make a clear decision on which product to try next, good luck!

Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation
($42, Sephora)

I’m sure we all are aware Laura Mercier isn’t a natural brand nor does it really try to be, but compared to MUFHD, it is substantially ‘lighter’ on the skin. The concentrations of silicones are slightly less than MUFHD while there are some ‘good’ things like Tea extracts. The primary reason it is on this list is because it provides long lasting coverage and really does conceal acne marks without making you feel like you have a heavy mask like foundation on your face. I think this might be a nice product to use sparingly and saved for major events where you only need to have this on for a few hours at most.

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation 
($38, Sephora

Not a product a purist site like No More Dirty Looks would get behind, but if you’re okay buying Make Up For Ever HD, this is a cleaner, better, formulated product. There are still ‘bad’ ingredients like silicones, PEGs, and phenoxyethanol, but it is free of parabens, petrochemicals, synthetic fragrance, and phthalates which are SO COMMON in most mainstream products. This is also cruelty free, just wanted to point that out since with mainstream products, a lot are unable to get this seal.

The best part of this foundation is that you only need a tiny dab of the clay-cream hybrid for medium coverage. My recommendation for full coverage is to first apply a thin layer with your fingers. Then use a foundation brush like Shiseido’s Foundation Brush (reviewed here) or Tarte’s own Airbrush Finish Bamboo Foundation brush to buff and distribute another layer for that flawless full coverage. This works to give skin full coverage while still maintaining a ‘natural’ not caked on appearance. Tarte’s foundation also feels lighter than MUFHD which at times can feel like a mask. In cooler weather, I found that I was able to wear the Tarte foundation for a full day without oxidation, while in warmer temperature sometimes I found that it did ‘melt’ off my face after about 6-8 hours. Overall a good, cleaner alternative.

 RMS Un-Coverup
($36, Spirit Beauty Lounge

This is a very cleanly formulated product that most pure-natural beauty lovers consider a cult product. It works as a concealer but I found that it is more a concealer-foundation hybrid. You can cover it over the areas that you think need a boost and it gives a wonderful degree of natural coverage. The formula is a nice creamy texture but for blemish prone skin, definitely ask for samples before buying because some people do say that it makes skin oily. I think the coconut oil and beeswax won’t do your skin any favors but if you are mainly looking for something clean – do look into this product, it might work for you.

Nvey Eco Creme Deluxe Flawless Foundation
($60, Spirit Beauty Lounge

At $60, I know this is quite a splurge, but this might be ever so slightly more suitable for your skin. There is also coconut oil and beeswax in here, but I think the concentration is less than RMS’s Un-Coverup product. You can really adjust the coverage with this foundation. For full coverage, apply with a foundation brush, add in concealer, then use a pressed powder puff to gently pat on another layer. The cream is a matte finish so it will not make you appear oily. I’ve been using this for the past two weeks and I have to say that it didn’t really un-balance my skin or give me breakouts. I did get the initial one or two bumps when I try new beauty products since my skin is still very prone to breaking out but they have since disappeared without turning into anything serious.

Vapour Organics Atmosphere Luminous Foundation
($34, Spirit Beauty Lounge

If there is any clean product that can compete with the silicone filled synthetic mainstream foundations in terms of performance, it is this Vapour Organics Foundation. It gives decent coverage without looking cakey. The only caution you should take is around any fine lines or creases as it can accentuate them (as can all stick foundations). The wear time for this foundation isn’t as long as all day foundations but thats because the formula is so pure, the good news is that re-applying is a breeze. The only ingredient in here that could be not bad for acne prone skin is the beeswax, but that is listed lower on the ingredients list than the other products on this list so there is less of it. I think of all foundations on the list, it might be the lightest coverage so some acne marks might still be visible, so I would suggest trying it out first and if you want slightly more coverage just use a concealer such as RMS’ Un-Coverup.
 

Concealer Overview

clockwise top to bottom: Hourglass Hidden Corrective Concealer($32), Edward Bess Platinum Concealer ($38), Ellis Faas Concealer ($40), By Terry Touche Veloutee ($58), Tarte Smooth Operator ($22), Clea de Peau Beaute Concealer ($70), Vapour Organic Beauty Illusionist Concealer ($22)

I recently had this conversation with a few guy friends who work in the beauty dept of Vogue which is “how much makeup is too much makeup?” I think somewhere along the line, there was a paradigm shift and it was no longer in vogue (pun intended) to be too obvious. You see gorgeous girls on Intothegloss espousing skincare parsed lightly with minimal makeup, and beauty magazines now tell you how to do the ‘natural’ look. Food, makeup, boobs – everything has to feel organic and natural now. A few of my guy friends said they draw the line at eye makeup and mainly do foundation and concealer. A few also said foundation is not necessary if you have good skin and that concealer to illuminate and hide spots might be all you need. It seemed clear to me that concealer was the ‘gateway’ product for most people. 

Working in the beauty department has its perks, mostly I get to take things home! Without that perk, I would not be able to compile this list of my observations on the top concealers in the market today. I know that concealers can last a long time, so it is really important especially for high-end beauty products that the products do what they say. 

Clea de Peau Beauty Concealer: This concealer has won more awards than any other concealer on this list. Beauty editors and interns swear by this stuff, and this has become one of the most ordered stock products at Neiman Marcus/Bergdorf. At $70, it is the most expensive stick concealer on my list, however if you want a concealer that will be reliably high quality- look no further. This stuff has great coverage, looks natural, retains wear after 10 hours, doesn’t shift/melt, and doesn’t crease. It applies like silk, and is easily blendable. The only minor con to this product is it doesn’t offer a great range of tone so unless you tend to be fair to light-olive toned, you might have a harder time finding the right match.

Hourglass Hidden Corrective Concealer: Hourglass kind of came onto the scene with their Veil line of foundation and primer. I think they’re best known for their primer, although it breaks me out so badly. The Hidden Corrective Concealer retails for $32, half the price of Clea de Peau— which is still a lot, but the results are very similar. I would say of the stick concealers, this replicates Clea de Peau the most – which is a high compliment. It is very creamy and light, easily blendable and extremely undetectable. The hue is slightly darker than Clea de Peau and the coconut oil and Vitamin E make it a little more buttery which is great if you’re in a dry place or for winter – but for people with oily skin, try to sample this first.

Tarte Smooth Operator Concealer: I really don’t think Tarte gets the respect it deserves amongst luxury beauty products. It is more Sephora/QVC than Barneys, however they make really good products and try to steer clear of not-so-good ingredients. The Smooth Operator Concealer is waterproof and loaded with Vitamins A/C and soothing Amazonian clay to balance skin. It completely hid the dark circles under my eye. It goes on matte, is buttery, and doesn’t flake or slip after a full day. At $22, this is the best value on the list. The only minor issue is that for me, I’ve noticed after a day of wear, my smile lines are somewhat accentuated but when I reapplied, this problem went away quickly. Although Tarte isn’t a ‘clean’ company, it does make efforts to put only good things in its product, as such they do not use mineral oils, parabens, or synthetic fragrance which a lot of products do use- so I want to commend them for being able to make a comparable product at a reasonable price point while filtering out a lot of the bad ingredients.

Vapour Organic Beauty Illusionist Concealer: The cleanest product on this list bar none. I am a huge fan of Vapour and really want to support clean companies in general. This is also why I don’t want to grade them on a slope, because I truly believe these companies need to put out products that are just as good as traditional products in order to remain competitive. To that end, the Illusionist Concealer is a wonderful product that provides great coverage. It falls short of earning full praise because it is a little on the thick side and there is some creasing after a few hours, especially if you apply under your eyes. The longevity of this product also leaves me wanting more and the colors are a bit too pigmented/dark for my skin tone. With that said, if they reformulate this product, I will be the first in line to try it!

Edward Bess Platinum Concealer: I love a niche product, but this fell short. It made my normal-oily skin look dry, made the dry spots very obvious, and was very heavy. It is the opposite of lightweight and creamy – it felt drying and heavy. I really feel you need to apply a lot of moisturizer before this product will look decent. Also, it only comes in 4 shades! Skip.

By Terry Touche Veloutee Concealer: This is a cream pen that dispenses the product through the brush head. The product is said to hide fine lines and wrinkles with its silky finish. I’ve found this to be true when first applied, however this product dries to almost a powder texture and accentuates tiny flaws. If you want a concealer for a quick event, like a dinner – this is a great product to use as it will illuminate your face, but for anything longer than 2-3 hours, I’d skip it.

Ellis Faas Concealer: Another cream pen option, unlike By Terry, this product doesn’t crease or wrinkle. It stays on very well and needs minimal after-application maintenance. It covers everything a concealer is supposed to with full coverage but with the feel of a light layer. The only negative is the beautiful pen will quickly become your worst nightmare! It doesn’t dispense by click, instead you have to dial the clicker over and over until this weird oil comes out and then it spews out the product. I think some more work needs to be done on the engineering of the packaging because the product is terrific.