Review: Tarte Amazonian Clay “Passport to the Amazon” collection

By Voxy  

The other night I fell asleep on my couch in front of the TV. (This is not an uncommon occurrence in the House of Voxy.) And while I was sleeping, either I rolled over on the remote control, or — and I am not writing off this possibility — one of the cats sneakily changed the channel, probably hoping for a nature show or a soap opera about mice. Anyway, I woke up just after midnight and QVC was on. I’m not a QVC watcher, partially because I’m suspicious of their demonstrations and partially because most of their hosts are blithering idiots to whom I would happily give a nice wet mackerel slap if we should happen to be at the same party or in line together at the grocery store. I have purchased from QVC exactly once before in my life.

All of this is, of course, by way of a disclaimer, to explain how the fact that I never watch QVC and that somehow I woke up to it at just the right moment to see a fabulous Tarte makeup set (on Special Value!) is really a sign from the Universe telling me I had to have it.

You know I love many of Tarte’s products, almost as much as I love to make fun of their marketing language! The cheek stains have always been winners for me; Lights, Camera, Lashes! is my favorite mascara; I like their ReCreate liquid foundation and emphasEYES brow pencil … well, there are many things I like. They also have some spectacular duds (those lip crayon things, for example), but the products I like I find to be so good that they make up for the slackers.

This set capitalizes on Tarte’s newest Wonder Ingredient: Amazonian clay. Tarte calls it “nature’s most perfect ingredient.” (If I were naming Nature’s Most Perfect Ingredient, I’d probably go with water, but whatev.) They also say it is “completely intuitive” — interesting concept, that — and that it is “multitasking and totally skin balancing.” According to Tarte, it simultaneously removes surface oil and hydrates dry skin, reducing the appearance of dryness and flakiness. The first part of that I absolutely believe, but the last part should induce raised eyebrows in anyone who ever made a pinch pot in fourth-grade art class.

Since I buy Tarte products for how well they function, not for whatever Flavor-of-the-Week magic fairy dust is supposed to be sprinkled in them, the wonders of Amazonian clay are less of a draw for me and I’m willing to overlook the fluff if the products are good. When I saw it on QVC, it was a “Today’s Special Value” item, so the usual price of $48 was reduced to $39.95. The kit contains the following:

• Full-size cheek stain in The Perfect Rose (rose-gold)
• Full-size Lights, Camera, Lashes mascara, thankfully NOT in the purple snakeskin condom case (black)
• Full-size lip gloss in shade Paradise (a very pretty medium pink shade exclusive to QVC until 12/31/10)
• Eyeshadow palette with three full-size shadows (matte pale pink, shimmery champagne, and shimmery cocoa)
• Small container (i.e., not full-size) emphasEYES clay eyeliner/shadow pot in shade Blackened Plum
• Small container (which I assume is not full-size but this product is not sold as a stand-alone yet, so who knows) Brow Mousse. You get to choose your shade from three options. I went with Medium Brown.
• Two brushes: one shadow/liner for the plum clay liner, and the other a brow brush with a spoolie on the other end for the brow mousse.

[Edited: Wendy’s comment below made me go look at the labels — a “full-size” Tarte emphasEYES clay eyeliner/shadow comes in a package which is twice as big but which actually HOLDS LESS PRODUCT! The standalone product contains 2.5 g/0.08 oz, and the “smaller” product in this kit contains 3.4 g/0.1 oz! The brow mousse is also 0.1 oz.]

A full-size cheek stain costs $30 and a full-size Lights, Camera, Lashes costs $19, so you’re already over the price of the whole kit with just those two items.

Most of the items in this kit are good performers, but I have a serious gripe about the poor quality of the brushes. When I was removing the brushes from the plastic housing inside the box (hmm, Tarte, super-ecofriendly-green-cosmetics company, with a molded plastic insert), each of the two double-sided brushes lost one of its brushheads. The whole ferrule just came right off. Also, the brushes had been jammed into the plastic untidily so that on each brush one of the two brushheads had a warped shape.  Also, the lipgloss applicator has a brush end, not a doe-foot end, but the bristles were stuck together at the end and did not separate until I applied considerable pressure. They never fully separated and I’m wondering if I’m actually going to have to wash this applicator in order to make it usable. I hate to see a good company skimp on details.

You’ve heard me rave about Tarte’s cheek stains and Lights, Camera, Lashes before, so I won’t go over those again. In the next few days I’ll be doing a full review of the emphasEYES clay liner in a separate post, because a few weeks ago I also picked one up in shade Indigo. I’ll also be doing a full review of the brow mousse, but you’ll see it in use in the photos below.

Close-ups, swatches, and an eye look done using the products in the kit!

This is the Medium Brown shade of the brow mousse.

L-R: Cheek stain in The Perfect Rose, lip gloss in Paradise, brow mousse in Medium Brown, clay liner in Blackened Plum.

These are the shades in the eyeshadow palette. I wish the two light shades weren’t so similar in color; in real life (i.e., when I’m not artificially constraining myself to use only the products in the palette for a review post), I’ll be adding in some other shades from other lines.

Here’s an eye look I did with some of the eye products. I used the matte pale pink shade as a wash all the way up to the brow bone, put the shimmery champagne shade on the lid, and used the shimmery cocoa in the crease. The liner is the Blackened Plum liner, and the brows were done with the brow mousse. Shadows were worn over TFSI and MAC Paint Pot in Painterly. Mascara is *not* LCL, but Lancome Definicils, which I’m currently testing.


Tarte Amazonian Clay “Passport to the Amazon” collection: $48 on QVC.

Provenance: Purchased, by order of the Universe

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

Purchase again? Probably not; one of these is enough. However, they do plan to produce other versions with different color assortments as the seasons change, so if these particular shades don’t catch your fancy, stay tuned for the next seasonal iteration.

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

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  1. avatar WENDY Schuchardt
    Posted September 24, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hey, just an FYI. You got an even better deal than you think. Check to weights of the eyebrow mousse and the liner. These are more product, smaller jar with less exposed to air, so all around a great deal! I have and love it as well.


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted September 25, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Wendy! Thank you so much for posting that — I am SHOCKED! OK, maybe that is a tiny bit overdramatic, but — I am always railing about there being too much packaging on things and I cannot for the life of me imagine why Tarte would choose the larger package for what is actually LESS PRODUCT.

      Uncool, Tarte. Very uncool.


  2. avatar chaosbydesign
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    That is extremely good value for money.

    Is it possible to buy Lights, Camera, Lashes in that normal-looking case separately? It is the best mascara I have used yet, but I really dislike its packaging (even before you likened it to a snakeskin condom. Ugh.)


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted September 20, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Alas, I don’t think so. Maybe we should lobby the company for change.


    • avatar chaosbydesign
      Posted September 20, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I fail to see the logic behind putting such an awesome product in such an aesthetically displeasing case. The condom should at least be removable. Actually, maybe it is.

      goes to find scissors


  3. avatar Relationalista
    Posted September 19, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    WANT — especially since the clay liner/shadow is a nice shade. The not-blackened plum shade is too bright and too cool for me (and also very shiny! And yet still strangely attractive) and I certainly don’t need more liner in any of the other shades available that I would wear, but that blackened plum looks very nice. And what a great deal for all that stuff!

    But, as usual, I’m some combination of relieved and disappointed (mostly disappointed in this case) that QVC, like a bunch of other retailers, won’t ship to Canada (well, they do for some items, but not cosmetics). It saves me money, but bums me out anyway. Whither logic?


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted September 19, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Relationalista!

      The only reason those are shiny is that I managed to open the containers without digging my fingers into the pristine surface of the cream. Once you break into it with a brush, they’re matte.

      QVC may not ship to Canada, but Voxy Mail does, so if you decide you really want it, email me and I can do a custom purchase for you.


      • avatar Relationalista
        Posted September 19, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Ooooh, Voxy Mail! How exciting. I just might take you up on that amazingly generous offer of service, but perhaps I’ll wait for your liner and mousse reviews first.

        Also, just to clarify, I swatched the EmphasEYES clay liner/shadow in plum on my last Sephora visit — ok, maybe my last two Sephora visits — and that’s the one I was referring to as shiny. It was quite a shimmery purple, and though the shade was lovely and slightly transfixing (shiny purple things seem to have a strange effect on me … or maybe that’s all shiny things), I think it would not be a good one for me.


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