Review: Tarte Natural Lip Stain Pencil

By Voxy  

Tarte’s new Natural Lip Stain Pencil is, without a doubt, the cutest lip product I’ve seen come out in the last year. It’s a crayon! For your mouth! How Adorable Is That???

Unfortunately, as lip products go, it is also among the least effective. Le sigh.

This product is such a good idea that I almost didn’t want to tell you how disappointed I was. I kept testing it and testing it, hoping I’d be able to come back with a different result. Sadly, I kept getting the same result all the time, which was this: This product is absolutely great for the first five minutes of wear, and then it vanishes. It’s just gone. Where did it go? Maybe it fell into an electromagnetic vortex and ended up on a secret tropical island where it can hang out with Naveen Andrews and Matthew Fox. Maybe it’s hanging out with my Lancome Rouge Magnficence lipgloss under the front seat of my car. I don’t know; the point is, it’s no longer on my lips.

I tested all of the colors in-store, and ended up with the above-pictured Lust, which is, for those of you who are still using black-and-white computer monitors, a bright, slightly cool red. It goes on more sheer than you might guess from the photo, so it is not as intense as it might be. It’s very wearable, I think, and you can build the coverage up if you want more intensity. It also doesn’t need sharpening, which as you know is a big plus in my book. It is peppermint-flavored, which doesn’t thrill me since I don’t really like the use of mint as a lip-plumper-through-irritation, but it’s fairly subtle.

Of course I also have to pick on their marketing language. As you can see on the side of that there box, this product promises a 6,000 percent increase in lips’ moisture content. Really, Tarte? First of all, what does “lips’ moisture content” mean, exactly, and secondly, 6,000 percent of what?

But I’d overlook all that if the product would just stay on my lips! And they do call it a “stain,” so it ought to … well, stain. You know I’m a big fan of Tarte’s cheek stains; they are well-pigmented and last all day, so Tarte clearly understands the concept of “stain.” I’m therefore flummoxed as to why this otherwise-brilliantly-conceived product is just a FAIL in terms of performance. Now maybe again it’s a case of “well, it would last much longer if you wouldn’t do stupid things like talking,” but since talking is a fairly indispensable part of my job, that bit is non-negotiable.

Now with swatch!


Tarte Natural Lip Stain (Sephora exclusive): $24

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Poor.

Purchase again? Nope. You can feel fine about skipping this one. (It is awfully cute, though.)

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

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  1. avatar chaosbydesign
    Posted December 3, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    “As you can see on the side of that there box, this product promises a 6,000 percent increase in lips’ moisture content.”

    Apart from the fact that 6,000% is *completely* ridiculous (and impossible), I find the whole idea of increasing lips’ moisture content a bit disturbing — moisture content is measured by totally drying out the thing you want to know the moisture content of in an oven and calculating the difference in weight. So now I have an image of Tarte drying out surgically removed lips and testing the effect of their product on them. Almost enough to give me nightmares…


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted December 4, 2010 at 1:26 am | Permalink | Reply

      See, I bet this is a case of Tarte’s marketing people not knowing (or not caring, or figuring that the lip-crayon-buying public will also neither know nor care) that WORDS ACTUALLY MEAN THINGS and that when you say “moisture content” you actually mean a genuine, quantifiable value that is measured using a process that is entirely unsuitable for anything still attached to a human body.


  2. avatar Kelsey
    Posted December 3, 2010 at 1:55 am | Permalink | Reply

    I agree that this product was ridiculous! It’s buried somewhere in a drawer and is begging to go back to Sephora and be exchanged for something I would love and use.

    I, personally, didn’t find it wearable without lip-liner (I only feel comfortable with brights, if I have a crisp lip-line), I didn’t feel more moisturized (I’m with you! 6000%…really?) , and the color was gone no sooner than applied.

    Ewww. If I’d have known how horrible it would be, I wouldn’t have spent anything on it. Even if it was $5, it wouldn’t have come home with me.

    (Sorry, a little ranty, but I’d expect more with all the hype!)


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted December 4, 2010 at 1:22 am | Permalink | Reply

      I could not agree more. But dang, when I look at that swatch I’m reminded of how much I liked it originally. Stupid lip crayon.

      It would, however, be excellent for writing revenge messages on an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend’s bathroom mirror. Not that I’m suggesting such a thing, of course. I’m just saying.

      ::whistles innocently::

      (Welcome, Kelsey!)


  3. avatar marigolds
    Posted March 6, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I am SO MAD that this doesn’t work. Could you have gotten a broken one? Should I buy it anyway?


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted March 6, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Well, it does work, if you don’t mind reapplying. It has a nice lip-feel and a really pretty color!

      If you do buy, go to the store and swatch the products on your skin rather than buying online. Some of the colors are not so wearable.


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