Is Tarte a Clean or Conscious Brand?

5 min reading time

Tarte is a massive and beloved brand, enjoying success on social media with products like their Shape Tape concealer and Amazonian Clay palettes. The brand launched in 2000, currently has 10m followers on Instagram, and continues to be one of the biggest beauty brands in the world.

Tarte’s tagline is “High-Performance Naturals” and they’ve worked hard at portraying the brand as clean beauty with naturally-sourced ingredients. But how true is this?

Let’s take a dive into Tarte, and see how they rate on our three pillars of ingredients, sustainability, and animal welfare.

Accusations of Greenwashing

Tarte has a long history of greenwashing accusations. Greenwashing is the practice of portraying your brand or products as being more clean, natural or eco-friendly than they actually are.

Let’s take a closer look to see why Tarte has been accused of this.

“high performance naturals™”

Tarte’s tagline is “high-performance naturals”, and the brand’ about page states that this means:

There are a few issues that set off our greenwashing alarms here.

  1. “a blend of naturally-derived & other ingredients” – this blatently says that the products aren’t natural, so they probably shouldn’t be using the tagline “high-performance naturals.”
  2. “always formulated without” – this is another red flag. Brands use this to trick consumers into thinking they’re safer than others. As we’ll see in the next section, Tarte products contain some concerning ingredients.
  3. A minor nitpick, but sodium lauryl sulfate is an ingredient that should be avoided, but is rarely ever used in makeup. It’s like saying “formulated without cyanide” – obviously, there’s no cyanide in there.

We believe that their tagline is misleading, and is tricking people into believing that the products are more natural than they actually are.

Class-Action Lawsuit

In November 2019, Tarte settled out of court and agreed to pay a total of $1.7 million for their claims of being “high-performance naturals” when in fact they use many synthetic ingredients.

It appears that the lawsuit did little to deter Tarte from using this tagline, and they appear to still be going all-in on the natural claims.

Packaging and Imagery

Tarte uses ingredients like shea butter, avocado oil, and Amazonian clay to give the impression that the products are natural. This is further highlighted on platforms like their Instagram account, where they post pictures like these.

The caption reads: “Like a green smoothie for your lashes!” further implying that the product and brand are safe and natural.

Another example is their Amazonian clay foundations. From the bamboo cap to the leaf on the package, one might believe that these are all-natural products. But the truth is that they’re not.

To be fair, they recently rebranded the packaging to remove the leaf, but it still has the bamboo cap, and we believe this is a good example of the brand misleading customers.

$19.50 (Reg. $39) Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Foundation - Deal  Hunting Babe

Ingredients (Rating: Bad)

Despite the brand’s claims of being all-natural, that’s simply not true.

Many of the products, including the famous Shape Tape, contain artificial fragrances. This is concerning because fragrance can be made of a long list of unknown chemicals that may have health impacts on us.

A look at their ingredients shows other concerning inclusions like cyclomethicone, dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, and artificial dyes. We take a harsher stance against Tarte for the inclusion of these ingredients as they are strongly attempting to convey the message that they’re all safe and natural.

Don’t believe that Tarte is a clean or natural beauty brand. It simply isn’t.

Sustainability (Rating: Bad)

This picture from Reddit user btyblu shows the plastic packaging in Tarte’s Baba Bomb moisturizer:

This example shows an incredible amount of wasteful plastic used in what should be a simple product. Most of Tarte’s products are made with plastic, with a few exceptions with glass containers.

The brand supports the Sea Turtle Conservancy to “help keep the precious ocean ecosystem as nourished & protected as our marine-sourced ingredients keep your skin.”

Tarte is a brand that pumps out tons of single-use plastic into the world every year, making this seem like a disingenuous claim.

The brand makes no other claims regarding sustainability, nor do they make any plans public about changing any of their practices to create a more sustainable company.

Animal Welfare (Rating: Good)


Tarte is a 100% cruelty-free brand, and neither their products or ingredients are tested on animals anywhere in the supply chain. They are also not sold in areas where animal testing can be required by law.


Tarte isn’t a 100% vegan brand but offers a wide selection of vegan products.

Brand Ratings

Our rating scale ranges from “Best” (for having the best practices) to “Bad” (for having unacceptable practices). We rated Tarte as follows.

INGREDIENTSBad – Although the brand labels itself as “high-performance” naturals, the vast majority of ingredients they use are not natural.
SUSTAINABILITYBad – Mainly plastic packaging with no noteworthy initiatives and no plans to switch to more eco-friendly packaging or manufacturing.
ANIMAL RIGHTSGood – The brand is 100% cruelty-free and offers a large range of vegan options.

Overall Rating: Avoid

While Tarte is a cruelty-free brand that offers a wide range of vegan products, the positives end there.

They’re a brand guilty of greenwashing, and they use the tagline “high-performance naturals” when the products are not actually natural. They also use mainly plastic packaging with no public plans of shifting this practice any time soon.

For these reasons, we give the brand a rating of Avoid.

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