Thursday, 18 December 2008

Review: Tarte the Vanity

Sorry for the lack of product reviews recently as most days, I'm just exhausted at the end of the day and do not really have the energy to do detailed reviews with photos that take a long time to get right and edit. Anyway, I thought I would review Tarte the Vanity which I've been using pretty much every day for the past couple of weeks.

The Vanity is touted as having a US$494 value versus its retail price of US$52. It is a great value for money as you get 16 full size eyeshadows, 16 lipglosses, a mini mascara, bronzer, luminiser, four blushes and two eyeshadow brushes. I had enjoyed using last year's We Wish You Wealth palette very much so I had been looking very much forward to trying out The Vanity.

Top right corner of the eyeshadow layer. I love the metallic copper peach shade in the top right corner, which I usually use in the crease area for a nice pop of colour. The brilliant jade shade next to it is another favourite that I find myself using very often.

Top right corner: the intense shimmery rich brown shade in the top right corner is one of my favourites in the palette as it is very pigmented and smooth. The pink shade is kind of blah, not very interesting at all, while the metallic olive shade is quite pretty and easy to wear.

Bottom left corner: the shimmery deep black shade with gold flecks is unique and perfect for creating a smokey eye look while the dark eggplant is another gorgeous rich metallic shade.

Bottom right corner: Another two excellent shimmery dark liner shades, a gunmetal grey with silver flecks and a shimmery cobalt. The emerald with gold sheen looks pretty in the pan but can be a bit difficult to pull off. I haven't figured out what to do with the silvery white shade!

Top left corner of the lipgloss layer.

Top right corner

Bottom left corner

Bottom right corner

Here are some side-by-side comparisons of each layer of The Vanity versus the We Wish You Wealth palette. As you can see, there are several similar eyeshadow shades between the two palettes such as the light shimmery beige, shimmery peach, gunmetal grey, bronzey brown, and light silver shades. We Wish You Wealth has too many pale highlighter/base shades but the Vanity has no nice base/highlighter shades as I find its light beige to be somewhat frosty and the white shade too whitish to be a neutral or natural base. Nevertheless, I prefer the more colorful combination in The Vanity, in particular the very impressive dark smokey shades which are quite complex and unusual instead of the standard charcoal black and chocolate brown.

As for the lip colors, I felt that both palettes were equally impressive in terms of the diversity of shades offered, the emollient texture which was moisturising and lasted well (unless you eat/drink) with impressive color payoff for the more intense shades. I especially liked some of the bright red and dark red shades. As you might be able to see from the pic, I used the top row of intense red lipglosses in the We Wish You Wealth palette the most frequently as I like a bright/dramatic lip. Pinks just don't really do it for me. The Vanity has fewer bright red/dark red shades but the range is still fun to play around with.

As for the bottom layer, I was glad that Tarte had done away with the gel eyeliners which were terrible in quality and lasting power. Except for the gel blushes, I had not touched any of the other items in the bottom layer of We Wish You Wealth, not even the lipsticks. As for The Vanity, the bottom layer is again the most disappointing layer. The blushes have barely decent color payoff and are matte whereas I tend to prefer shimmery blushes for a more glowy look. I would have preferred it if they had put in gel blushes instead even though those are more messy to use.

I don't use bronzer at all so that was useless to me. The luminizer seems alright, but not really outstanding. The mascara gives good length and definition but the formula is a bit dry, which made application tricky at times with a slight tendency to clump but this was usually easily rectified. I didn't use the brushes in We Wish You Wealth and same for the Vanity, as I prefer smaller sized brushes.

To summarise, here's what I liked and disliked about the Vanity.

1. The eyeshadow quality is excellent with a good range of flattering, interesting and easy-to-wear shades.

2. The amount of product in the palette is generous and will last a long time. It has almost everything needed for a complete makeup look (lacks brow powder, face powder and concealer though).

3. I love the lipglosses and like having so many shades to choose from and mix to my heart's content.

4. The products are free of parabens (except for the mascara), phthalate, sulfate, propylene glycol, butylene glycol, fragrance and mineral oil.

1. The awkward flip-out design with the flimsy plastic sheets on each layer. Ugh, can't Tarte think of something that's more consumer friendly?

2. Everything in the palette, except the mascara is made in China. With all the product safety scandals from China these days, it would give me much greater peace of mind if Tarte made its products in the US instead.

3. The blushes and brushes could have been much better. For Asians with small eyes like me, I need a smaller eyeshadow brush for shading, blending and lining.

Overall, I would give The Vanity 7 stars out of 10. What would have made it a perfect 10? One, if the palette had been made in the US instead of China. Two, if the blushes were more shimmery with better color payoff. Three, if the mascara had a wetter, glossier consistency. If you already own the We Wish You Wealth palette from last Christmas, I would say The Vanity is not a must-have but it's still nice to have, especially if you're a Tarte devotee.

Here are some close-up pics of the eyeshadows in the We Wish You Wealth palette. As you can see, it features a more muted palette compared to The Vanity with a couple of matte shades in muddy brown and beige.

Too bad we have to wait another year to see if Tarte will put out another blockbuster palette... I sure hope they do!


birkinbagbeauty said...

Thank you so much for comparing Tarte We Wish you Wealth with Tarte the Vanity. I could get my hands on the Vanity palette, but not on the We Wish you Wealth.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I enjoy reading your blog everyday, however today I read that you think made in China products are not of the highest quality. This is untrue. Many of the quality scandals happen because the companies themselves do not want the product to be a certain level of high quality because it will cut into profits. Many luxury goods are made in China, such as certain brands of luxury purses, but they are still good quality because the managers had requested them to be made of high quality. If the managers tell the workers to use certain ingredients that are harmful, then its the workers cannot do anything about it. Tarte is an American company, I doubt they would tell their workers in China, who they paid for at a fraction of the wages in the US, to use harmful ingredients in the products. If the products were not made in China, would probably would have purchased this set at a much much higher price than whatever you paid for it at in reality. That being said, I still very much enjoy reading your blog, but next time try not to offend any of your readers because then you will be losing them. Thanks

Anonymous said...

i asked my sister in law to get this palette for me as she is on her vacation in the US right now. but after reading your review, i am not sure if i want it anyway as i don't like the sound of the packaging especially there is powder and cream products in one.

i have never tried any Tarte products as it's not available to me in Malaysia and i don't shop online.

i hope i am not as disappointed as you since i don't have the one from the previous release.

let me just hope that she can't find one and get me something else. LOL

thanks for the great review. i have been dying to read one! seirously!

Haru said...

Dear Sheila,

It was not my intention to be offensive but at the same time, I do not see the need to censor myself on my own blog. The fact is that product safety has been a very big issue in China in recent years and it is only natural that consumers in other countries become wary of China-made products after seeing all the scandals that have happened.

It is true that many luxury products are made in China these days. But luxury goods such as purses, clothes and handbags are different from cosmetic/skincare products as they are not ingested into the body or applied directly onto the skin.

Why Tarte chooses to make its products in China is a commercial decision for them. I can only say as a consumer that I would rather pay higher prices and have more peace of mind than worry about whether there are any harmful ingredients in my makeup. The possibility may be a remote one, but it is still a possibility. The fact that I have chosen to purchase The Vanity shows that I am not refraining from buying ALL products that are made in China but the fact is that I would be more reassured if the palette had been made in the US instead.

This is as legitimate a point of view as any and I don't see why I should refrain from expressing it just for fear of offending readers from China.

Anonymous said...

I second Sheila's opinion on that. But I do strongly agree with the blogger that she doesn't have any obligations to please any particular group of readers. ^_^

Anyway, products made in US and Japan aren't all of high quality(like the SK II product quality scandal sometime ago for instance).

Actually, China manufactured products which have been licensed under US and Japanese companies are of very good quality.

Like Maybelline China whereby some of its products are made by Chinese companies, which are targeted solely at the Chinese market. And also Shiseido Aupres which is a brand under Shiseido for the China market, but licensed to Chinese manufacturers. (I have to say that these products are definitely on par with or even exceed the quality of their US/Japan peers).

As for clothes and other stuffs, many reputable Japanese brands like Rose Bullet license factories in China to make their seasonal collections. And the prices are jacked up like 10 times when they are exported to Singapore.

All in all, just some facts that I know. (Feel free to correct me though) I do respect the blogger's opinions though. ^_^


Anonymous said...

if made in china products bother you that much, just return it...and cut out all MIC product purchases


Haru said...

I've always liked Tarte palettes so I wanted to try out The Vanity regardless of whether it was made in China or not. I'm just expressing my point of view that I would have preferred it if the palette was made in the US rather than China.

Anonymous said...

Just like Smashbox, i almost tempted to buy their eye shadow palette from nordstrom but later realize it is made in wonder that cheap. they have products made in USA so likewise for tarte, consumer confidence would be higher if made in USA...

Isabel said...

I know I am chiming in WAY late on this, but I agree with Haru regarding concerns about Chinese products. I have no doubt that there are -many- reputable companies in China, however I'm still worried about the possibility of tainted products. For instance, the talc used in Tarte's T-Zone Travel... if I'm going to put Talc on my face, it had better well be true cosmetics-grade talc and not the industrial kind. Industrial-grade talc has been known to cause various types of cancer.

I had written a letter to Tarte asking if they periodically test their Chinese-made products as well as their Chinese-made packaging to be sure they are free of potentially harmful materials, and if so how often, and where the testing is conducted. I am still waiting for a reply. It's been awhile, and I'm really starting to think they won't get back to me on this matter... Actually, I stumbled across this page by looking up "Tarte chinese company" on Google. I wanted to try to find out who the supplier was and see what their website might have to say regarding this. Haven't found anything though. ; ;

Chances are good that Tarte makes sure that the few products they do import from China are safe. After all, they seem to have a concern for eco-friendliness and pride themselves on selling healthy cosmetics. There is a reputation to uphold. But I really wish they'd get back to me regarding my query so I can put my paranoia to rest. ^^;;

And regarding handbags made in China: there was some testing done awhile back on Chinese-made handbags from Target, Wal-Mart, Nine West, and some others; they were found to have seriously high levels of lead in them. May be old news by now, but I figured I'd mention it just in case there were still people unaware of it.