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Photo by Lexa One

Photo by Mike Kowalek

Photo by Elite Cosplay

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Tarte Amazonian Clay Foundation Review or My Cruelty Free Foundation Quest, Part 2!


After a disappointing experience trying to find a cruelty-free foundation online, where I thought there would be more variety, I decided to focus on brands I could find in person.

I cross checked every makeup brand that Sephora carries with both Peta‘s and the Leaping Bunny‘s lists and found 6 companies that didn’t test on animals:

  • Cover FX
  • Tarte
  • Too Faced
  • Stila
  • Smashbox
  • Urban Decay

I headed to Sephora with my little list and enlisted the help of a Beauty Advisor to help me find both a liquid foundation and powder foundation in any of those brands that matched my pale yellowish/neutral skin tone.

We had a bit of a hard time finding a liquid foundation but finally settled for Tarte‘s Amazonian-clay-12-hour-full-coverage-foundation (yes, all that really is its name) in Fair Beige. It was the tiniest bit too pale and pink so I matched it with a yellow-er powder foundation to compensate (which I use as a setting powder).

The first thing I noticed about the foundation is its mousse-like texture. It’s somewhat of a cross between a cream-mousse and sculpting clay. The foundation is easy to apply with a sponge (I use latex wedges) or fingers for a lighter coverage. It’s very gentle on delicate skin and does especially well with dry skin. I often have rashes, eczema, dry patches, etc. and I found that the foundation smooths over damaged/dry skin and gives it a healthier look.

Foundation texture

While the product description states the foundation can be built up heavily, I found that, for the best results, it’s best applied thinly and only built up lightly in specific areas. It is great at evening out the skin tone and covering redness, however it is less efficient with dark acne scars.

Bare skin on the left, one layer of foundation on the right

The foundation can get a little bit oily after several hours but despite this it does not break up and slide off the skin. The shine can be taken care of easily with blotting paper or mattifying powder.

The thing that annoys me the most about this foundation is the disorganization and inconsistencies with the shades available. Earlier in 2012, Tarte decided to change some of the names of their Amazonian Clay line (all products) which created confusion among return customers. Not to mention that the shade names are extremely vague and confusing (why not use a simple alpha-numerical system Tarte?!).

Their shades are available in various undertones (pink, yellow, er, peach?) and, as you might expect, shades are available for various complexions. That’s great, however, there is no consistency and equivalent in shades. For example, if you have a neutral skin tone there is only one shade available to you: ‘Light Neutral’, which, unlike its name seems to indicate, is not for pale complexions but medium ones.

All this means that while you will certainly find a shade that is pale or dark enough to closely match your skin tone, it does not necessary exist in your undertone.

Which is how I ended up with a pink undertone foundation when my undertone is yellowishly neutral. :(

To add insult to injury, their Amazonian clay powder foundation shades, which, as expected, have the same exact names as the liquid foundation, do not even come close to matching their liquid foundation counterpart. Unfortunately, none of the shades available were pale enough for me and I’m not even using the palest liquid foundation available.

Seriously Tarte. I love you, but get your act together.

Final Verdict

I have been using this foundation everyday for 2 months and I absolutely LOVE IT! It is even better than my all time favourite Lancôme’s Teint Idole Ultra. My cruelty-free foundation quest can come to an end! <3

I will definitely continue to use this foundation and live in hope that, come summer, I can match one of the yellow shades with a light tan. In short:


  • Moisturising without being oily
  • Gentle on sensitive skin
  • Full coverage (a little goes a long way)
  • Long lasting (about 7 hours without touch ups)


  • Doesn’t deal well with heavy build-up (reduces staying power and creases visibly)
  • Shade selection and names are inconsistent