Review: Tarte Smooth Operator Micronized Clay Finishing Powder

Hey everybody!

Today I’m reviewing something I got a while ago in the US for you. It’s Tarte Smooth Operator Micronized Clay Finishing Powder. I only started using face makeup very recently, but I did hear good things about this powder before going to the US (notably Jen from From Head to Toe. This actually made it to her 2011 Naughty and Nice list). Since I have combination skin and have to blot my shine-prone T-zone a couple of times a day, I thought I’d give it a try. When I made it to Sephora, I talked to an SA about a finishing powder. She told me she uses this one herself, and if I was going to get pictures taken this would do better than the Make Up For Ever HD Powder (apparently it gives a white cast in flash photography). I have personally never tested the Make Up For Ever one so I can’t say anything about it, but since I was going to get a lot of flash photos taken I took the safer option.

Tarte Smooth Operator is a very finely-milled white powder housed in a regular loose powder container. There is a little stopper in the hole where the product comes out, and I don’t think I will throw it away because it makes the powder a lot more travel-friendly. Imagine taking this jar anywhere without the stopper: I’m worried when I open the lid the powder is going to get everywhere! When I use it, I take the stopped out, put the lid back on, flip the jar over, and tapped it twice. That gives about enough product for one single usage.

My experience with this product is mostly positive. I do think it helps control shine on my forehead and nose, and I need to blot less often than what I normally would. I still need to do it maybe once, but the shine does develop slower. At the same time, the powder doesn’t make my cheeks look dry and powdery. This powder also sets my foundation rather well. I don’t have any problems with my foundation (Bourjois Healthy Mix. I’ll review that soon) slipping off my face or anything. However, whatever undereye concealer I have tried in the past makes the eyeliner on my lower lash line smudge in about a minute (it’s probably the shape of my eyes). At the moment I don’t use any concealer, but I do carefully blend foundation under my eyes. There was this once I wanted to set everything after I was done with my makeup, and between applying eyemakeup and blush my lower lashline was already smudging! The next time I tried, I set my foundation with this finishing powder before putting on eye makeup, and that kept the smudging under control. It still did smudge a bit towards the end of the day, but it did not happen shockingly fast. This powder also gives a nice airbrushed finish to my face which I like.

Now onto the things I don’t like so much about this powder. I use my Bobbi Brown Bronzer Brush to dust it on, which is technically speaking fluffy enough to distribute the product evenly and sparsely, and I try my best not to overdo it. However, even with that, for the first half an hour or so, my complexion does look a bit whitish and flat. This does go away, and once it goes away the effect is very natural, but I feel obliged to give my honest opinion here. If you check this picture for example, it was taken about 7 hours after I applied makeup. My forehead and nose are perhaps a bit shiny, but I still get a nice airbrushed complexion for photos. If you check this one however, it was taken with flash right after I was done, and my face does seem a bit whiter than usual. You have to be the judge of how bad it is, but were it not for this blog I don’t think I would get any photos taken right after finishing my makeup very often.

This finishing powder also promises to “reduce the number and size of pores by 20% after 4 weeks.” Since I haven’t been using it on a daily basis for 4 weeks, I can’t say I have noticed any difference that is for sure related to this powder. Let’s just say it would be nice, though I have no idea how anyone is supposed to measure the number and size of their pores!

Bottom line: if you have combination or oily skin, I do recommend checking this out since it helps delay sebum production. The skin on my cheeks are normal and it doesn’t look dry or powdery with this product, but I can’t vouch for it if you have dry skin. I do wish my face wouldn’t look so matte right after using this powder, but it is a good trade-off for the airbrushed effect I would be able to keep for several hours afterwards. I am willing to experiment with different finishing powder, but so far I am quite content with this one!

How about you? What is your favorite finishing powder? Do you use one? Why or why not? Do share!



  • cal

    i just started using this and it is great compared to the EDM I was using! Will definitely repurchase :)

    • http://mostlysunnybunny.wordpress.com Sunny

      I haven’t got to try mineral makeup so far, but this thing is really growing on me! The “white cast” I was talking about could really be more or less the bad lighting. I’m still experimenting with it :)