Review: Cheek Stains, Part I — Tarte

By Voxy  

tarte cheek stain berryliciousSo, yes. About this cheek stain business.

As I said previously, I am not normally an Early Adopter. Things come out and I look at them suspiciously in stores for awhile, test them multiple times, and then decide whether or not to buy. (Aforementioned exception: flavors of vodka. Lesson learned this week: Passion fruit vodka = yuck.)

Every so often I decide to buck the trend and try the latest and greatest beauty breakthrough, and I remember doing that when cheek stains were the New Kid on the Block. Yes, that was a long time ago. No, we don’t need to remember exactly when, kthx.

At the time, all of the bugs hadn’t been worked out of cheek stains yet. That is, you would try them, and they would be blotchy when you first put them on (because who the hell knew how to apply them), and then you would try to blend them, and then the cheek stain would laugh at you and say “BWAH HAH HAH! You fool! They don’t call me a cheek stain for nothing! I shall be here in all of my blotchy redness, unblendable, uncoverable, and un-hide-able, until the next time you take a sugar scrub to your face!”

Hmm… perhaps that only happened in my imagination. Still, they were difficult to apply and even more difficult to blend.

So, fast-forward — er, some years. Doesn’t matter how many. Some. Up to the present day. And now cheek stains are popping up all over in a range of shades and I love, love, love them.

There are several really good brands on the market, and I plan to do reviews on as many of these as I can get hold of. Today: Tarte cheek stains.

I own four “flavors” of Tarte cheek stains (they’re not actually flavored; that’s just my default word for “varieties” or “sorts” or “shades”): True Love (watermelon pink), Blushing Bride (deeper berry rose), Blissful (the red flush of a ripe peach), and Berrylicious (dark berry). All of the shades are exceptionally sheer, which means that I can hardly think of anyone who couldn’t wear them. Even the Berrylicious and Blushing Bride shades, which are quite dark in the container, are perfectly blendable on me, and I’m very fair-skinned.

Of the four shades I mentioned, I have two trial-size versions (True Love and Blushing Bride) and two full-sizers (Blissful and Berrylicious). I actually think the application is a bit easier with the miniature versions than the full-sizes, because the head of the product is smaller and easier to control. They go on like a gel, not like a cream. To apply, dot the product along the cheekbones and towards the apple of the cheek. Don’t be afraid. They look dark and saturated in the container, but they go on very, very sheer. Depending on what shade you have, it might look like nothing is going on your skin. That’s OK — dot, then blend what you just dotted. Then dot some more. Gradually, you will see the color emerge, and you can blend the edges easily so that it looks ultra-natural. (I have heard some people say that they put this on by drawing a stripe on their cheekbone and blending, but those people are crazy.)

tarte blushing bride cheek stain

I’ve also been impressed with the staying power of these cheek stains — I’ll put them on at 7:45 am and they’re still going strong at 7:45 pm. They don’t fade, and they don’t smear. I haven’t tried them in hot weather yet, so I don’t know if they run, but so far, so good. Setting them with finishing powder does not diminish their gorgeousness. And as an extra super perk, they are alcohol- and oil-free and contain the “Tarte t5 super-fruit complex,” which is a conconction of antioxidant-rich fruit compounds: goji, acai, pomegranate, maracuja (passion fruit, which I swear I did not know when I made the passion-fruit vodka crack above, although now that I know it’s so good for me, maybe I’ll have another drink), and acerola (also called West Indian Cherry, and as far as I know the only vodka which includes it is the Absolut 2008 LE vodka called Absolut Los Angeles).

One warning about Tarte’s color choices: every so often (like now, for the holidays), Tarte gets it into their collective head that they should make some cheek stains that are really shiny and shimmery. If you are eighteen, you are allowed to wear these shades (but we reserve the right to laugh at you). If you are not eighteen, step away from the counter NOW. They have a set this holiday that looks great on the webpage, but when I tested it in-store it was basically Tin Man makeup. So, use your best judgment. All in all, these are fabulous products and I think they’re one of the best things Tarte offers. And, bonus! They don’t come in purple snakeskin condoms!

tarte cheek stainA final thing about Tarte — well, I shouldn’t say it’s just about Tarte. It’s about all cosmetics products. As a general rule, I think cosmetics containers are too big. I’d rather pay less and get less product, even if it’s less cost-efficient in the short run; in the long run, I think it will be more cost-efficient since I won’t be throwing out half-used products. Most of the time I find that I don’t come close to using a product to completion before I am ready to try something else. I’ve been using this “True Love” color for a few months, at least four times a week, and at this rate it looks like it will last me years — and it’s the trial size version! I will probably still be using my full-size Berrylicious and Blissful when I am ninety. I will be the most foxalicious nonagenarian you ever saw. If I could buy the trial size versions of these products for, say, $15 apiece, I’d much rather do that than spend $30 on a larger product I’ll probably end up discarding when it’s half-full (or, half-empty; your choice).


Tarte Cheek Stains: $30. Colors change from time to time, so be forewarned, and the color of the outside of the container is not necessarily indicative of what the product will look like on your cheeks. Also, the colors available at Sephora may be different than those available on the Tarte website.

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good. See above rant re: too much product.

Purchase again? You bet your sweet cheeks. (Sorry. Had to be done.)

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

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  1. Posted December 23, 2009 at 2:55 am | Permalink | Reply

    Voxy :3

    Hiya! The appreciation is reciprocal; I’m glad to have found your elaborate post. Hehe I was being mildly facetious about buying half a cheek stain…

    Yes, come back later and read about my haul. Currently my fever for new makeup is acting a temporary coagulant to my ‘hemophilia,’ that which is clothing.


  2. Posted December 21, 2009 at 2:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A Personal Memoir of my Tarte Cheek Stain: A First and Final Love

    I was just thinking today about my Tarte cheek stain purchased from Sephora over a year ago. I was moving earlier this year and left my beloved cheek stain behind, on accident. I didn’t remember the name of the color, just the bright pink bottle and something about T5 complex, so when I searched for it today, Berrylicious fit the culprit. When this color came out, there were a bunch of cardboard printed models in the Sephora store, each featuring a certain Sephora makeup “look” as advertised on their website. I was sold instantly to this color cheek stain as soon as I saw it on the model; it was so fresh and rosy and pinched-pink and doll-like. And she was dressed like a pin-up model with cat eyeliner makeup. I quickly turned and asked the nearest Sephora rep and pointed to the model and he said, “She’s wearing that color.”

    I grabbed one immediately (one stocked further in the back –it’s a habit) and was more than willing to spend the $30. Now I usually never wear a lot of makeup or buy a lot of colors, so I don’t mind paying a little more once in a while for something I really want, but like I said, I was sold to this one. And I never bought blush before; I was just never into the powder. I didn’t even have to try it on. I was that satisfied with the color and texture. That’s rare for me to do.

    I tried it on one night before going out, applying it with my clean fingertips to my cheeks and a dab on the lips. I was ecstatic with the results. I kept it refrigerated to preserve freshness and color, as well as its physical state when my apartment heats up.

    As you can tell, I rate this product not excellent, but a first love. And no, I’ve never felt this way about another makeup product. However, after reading your post, I do agree that overtime I experienced discolorations in my product, but I didn’t really notice a definite color difference when applied on my face. Also, this was a product which I never needed more than a couple dabs, so it has crossed my mind that it would last until I was “90 years old” too. Moreover, my acne began to act up again earlier this year so I had to put my Cheek Stain into hibernation.

    Finally, I parted with my $30, 1/25 used product rather abruptly. So again, I totally agree with you that less product at a lower price is much more beneficial and efficient.

    I have recently ventured back into buying new makeup, for it has been a good 2-3 years since I got excited about “Bare Minerals,” and my face has cleared up substantially. I am waiting for a makeup/skincare ‘haul’ purchase from Ebay and a Beaute de Kose makeup Coffret. I still have to decide whether or not I want to purchase this cheek stain again….anyone selling half of it??


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted December 22, 2009 at 5:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Stephanie —

      I’m so glad you found my blog and left a comment! And I’m so sorry about the loss of your cheek stain in the move. I feel your pain. ;)

      I wish there were some workable hygienic way to sell/swap partial cheek stains! I guess you *could* buy one and slice it up, but … I can’t say I love the idea.

      I will enjoy reading about your eBay haul on your own blog! It’s always fun to vicariously shop through other people. :)




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