Makeup Hype: Tarte Shape Tape Foundation

The launch of the Tarte Shape Tape foundation was one of the most anticipated launches to kick off the new year, but the beauty community kicked it right back.  Here’s why.

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For those of you who are new to my Makeup Hype series – welcome! This is a series where I basically provide my own commentary on a recently launched product that I notice has received a lot of “hype” (both good and bad) on the internet with my “research” mostly taken from a bunch of YouTube reviews.  In short, I watch a lot of YouTube videos and thought maybe it might be useful to condense them down into one short report of my own consumer opinion!

Way back in the Summer/Fall 2016, Tarte launched their Shape Tape Contour Concealer.  More affectionately known as just “Shape Tape” by the beauty community, this $27 concealer was praised for its high coverage and blendability… with a rating of 4.6/5 based on 6,588 reviews on ULTA, a rating of 4.8/5 based on 4,227 reviews on Tarte’s website, and a search query yielding ~164,000 results on YouTube, this concealer has clearly gotten its fair amount of hype.

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Original Tweet xx

Fast forward a few months later, to when Allure says Tarte actually teased their foundation in January 2017 in a response on Twitter to KathleenLights, as seen above.



Finally, a year after that, which brings us to this January, Tarte followed up with the Insta above, showing a sneaky pic of what looked like their Shape Tape concealer wands.  This had many people speculating that maybe it was a foundation in the works that had the same applicator as the concealer…


Which was confirmed on January 16 when Tarte announced the release of not one, but two foundations in the Shape Tape line: a matte one + a hydrating one.  And they lived happily ever after, right??

It’s a no from me, dawg.


What started off as one of the most anticipated foundation releases of 2018 fell flat as people began to note the abysmal shade range.

Popsugar // Tarte Cosmetics Shape Tape Hydrating Foundation Swatches

The lack of dark shades is especially highlighted in the swatches of the Hydrating foundation done by Popsugar above, with the shade range of the Matte version being equally as underwhelming.

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Many YouTubers are not amused by this, especially those with darker complexions, who are justifiably annoyed at the extremely limited selection.  For today, I wanted to focus more specifically on Alissa Ashley’s video because I thought it was very thought out and well-done!

Alissa Ashley

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Alissa Ashley // NEW Tarte Shape Tape Foundation..Are They Serious?

Those of you who have read any of my previous Makeup Hype posts will know how much I adore Alissa Ashley for her talent and bubbly personality (and insane camera quality… w-o-w), but her extremely thorough reviews are what usually make one of the first if not the first YouTuber I watch when it comes to new product releases.

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She starts off her video by saying how she “religiously” uses the Shape Tape concealer and that Tarte sent her a PR package for the foundations.  At 1:06, she shows a close up of what the wand looks like, and it basically just looks like a larger version of a normal doe-foot concealer wand.

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At 1:11 she starts swatching, showing the three colors they sent her, saying that it looks like she’s going to have to mix two shades for her to get a decent match since it looks like none of the ones she has will match her on their own.  At 1:52 she starts applying the hydrating foundation on the left side of her face (our right), using Tan Sand (her highlight shade) and Deep Honey to mix in, blending it out with the paddle foundation brush provided in the PR kit.

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It’s definitely dewy and Alissa says it’s not very full coverage as you can still see her little mole peeking through, but it’s “decent coverage” and she thinks it looks “ok.”

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She then starts applying the Matte foundation on the other side of her face at 2:26, using Tan Honey and Deep Honey.  At 2:55 she notes that both sides look kind of orange and says at 3:00 that she’s not “extremely impressed” in terms of “shock factor” because they’re just “ok.”  She goes on to apply a second layer to see if it improves her impression on it using the sponge to do so, which she turns out to not be a fan of because it seems hard.  She also wasn’t a super fan of the brush she used initially because she says she doesn’t really use brushes to apply foundation in the first place.

She highlights her face using the Tan Sand concealer, bakes her under eyes and then powders her whole face, saying at 4:40 that she thinks it [the foundation] doesn’t look bad at all.  At 4:59, she says she was prepared to do a wear test with the foundation, but legitimately doesn’t see a point because there’s no point of her sitting there and doing a full on review when in actuality, if she ends up liking the foundation it is going to be “extremely disappointing because of the fact that the shade range is literally so limited that my viewers, as well as just women around the world who watch me, and men as well, they won’t be able to wear it because most likely – more than likely – their shade is not provided.”  She remarks that it’s so disappointing for there to be such limited shades for people of color or anybody with melanin and is “shocked” that Tarte would due this given the fact that they knew people would be excited about it.  She says she’s extremely disappointed in the brand and that it’s 2018 and it’s time to be more inclusive.

At 8:40 she does a full face of some of her favorite brands that are inclusive, highlighting how many shades they each offer in their range, including:

  • @8:46 – Primer: Fenty Beauty Pro Filter Primer
  • @8:59 – Foundation: Fenty Beauty Pro Filter Foundation (40 shades in foundation range)
  • @9:14 – Concealer: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (22 shades in concealer range; 33 shades in new natural radiant foundation range)
  • @9:44 – Baking: Makeup Revolution Banana Powder (Alissa notes this brand isn’t known for their face products as much as their palettes, but they offer 3 variations of setting powder)
  • @10:01 – Setting Powder: Laura Mercier Translucent Powder (looks great on everything without being ashy + also offers shade Medium Deep)
  • @10:21 – Bronzer: Too Faced Dark Chocolate Soleil (she says while Too Faced is one of those brands everybody was frustrated with due to not offering a wide shade range, she can respect them for reaching out to Jackie Aina to expand their deeper shade selection – shows they’re taking initiative to making a change in their selection)
  • @11:15 – Blush: NYX Sweet Cheeks Blush Palette (offers variety of products suitable for a variety of skin tones & actively use a diverse range of people in campaigns)
  • @11:51 – Eyeshadow: Cover FX Shimmer Veil in Moonstone (offers 40 shades in Natural Finish Foundation & has a range of setting powders suitable for all skin tones)
  • @12:07 – Highlighter: Bobbi Brown Highlighting Powder in Moonglow (30 shades in Skin Foundation & launched foundation recently with wide range of shades + make highlighters suitable for multiple skin tones)
  • @12:22 – Lips: Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb

After finishing the look at 12:34, she says that it’s not really a look “to slay” but more a “look with a purpose” as she wanted to show some love to brands who actually make an effort to be inclusive and provide shades for everyone.  She says they may not always get it right the first time, but still make efforts to try to get it right and at 13:16 she says, “we are tired of being an afterthought.”

I think Alissa’s video was particularly thoughtful because of the fact that she tried the foundation on for her audience without doing a full-out wear test like she usually does due to the fact that she refuses to recommend a product that isn’t made for everyone.  She also adds positivity by spotlighting the brands that are more inclusive – she doesn’t full-out bash Tarte, but shares her honesty and disappointment, saying very directly to the brand while their products are well-loved that “you need to work on catering to everyone… if you’re not going to do it don’t give us some half-ass bulls*** where you throw in three deep shades to claim you’re inclusive when you’re not and you know you’re not and you know that you can do better so we’re going to hold you accountable.”  She also says that not everybody is going to do this, but she personally is going to hold Tarte accountable and say it’s not acceptable.

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Popsugar // Tarte Says “We Know There Is No Excuse” For the Lack of Diversity in Its Shape Tape Shades

Alissa’s video was published on January 22, and I believe her “tired of being an afterthought” comment had something to do with the statement Tarte released on their Instagram story, which Pop sugar transcribed above.  Popsugar also said that “10 more Shape Tape Foundation shades are in the works” and that “a rep from Tarte explained to POPSUGAR that even when Shape Tape Foundation was revealed, the new colors were already in the works.”


Continuing on with the controversy is the fact that the hydrating version of the new Shape Tape Foundation and the old Gel Hybrid Foundations apparently have an eerily similar ingredients list…

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Original Tweet xx

In response to the Tweet above by @KilesSmiles showing a picture of the ingredients on both the foundation boxes, Temptalia did some further investigation, sharing that the ingredients matched 1:1 and were even in the same order:

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Original Tweet xx

You can see Tarte responded above, saying the ingredients are the same, but the “process” is different.  Some people went, “Sure, Jan,” so K from Dupethat took to YouTube to do an actual comparison.


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K starts off by saying all these people have been snapping her and asking and then reads Temptalia’s tweet at 1:12

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At 2:15 she swatches the same shade (Fair Light Neutral) in both the hydrating and matte versions of the foundation on her face to show how the colors look – the matte foundation (the bottom one in the screenshot above) is a bit lighter and not quite as yellow as the hydrating one.

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When she swatches the Hybrid Gel foundation (the third swatch on the bottom), she notes that it’s closer in color to the Hydrating foundation.

She uses two separate beauty blenders at 3:15 to apply the Hydrating foundation first on the left side of her face and then the Hybrid Gel on the right side of her face.

At 5:10 just after starting to apply the Hybrid Gel she says “as of right now, they are looking the same… it’s really hard to compare the textures and consistencies when one is in a jar and one is in a tube being applied with a wand.”

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At 5:38 she applies the Hybrid Gel to her forehead – she left some of the Hydrating unblended so she could compare between the two and says, “I don’t know, they are looking very similar as far as the consistency and the texture goes for these.  It’s really hard to say… I guess we’ll just have to do a wear test and see how they really differ throughout the day.”  At 6:13 she remarks, “I will say upon application as of right now, they look incredibly similar… the color is the same, the formula looks and feels the same.”





At 6:30 she shows the foundations with her left side being the Hydrating foundation (left image) and the right side being the Hybrid Gel (right side).  She says they look the same to her (colors, finish, consistency) and that she doesn’t notice any differences.  At 7:42 after completing her full face of makeup, she says they still look the same, but that it’s still “really tough to tell if the formulas are very different feeling because one is in a tube with a wand and the other one is in a jar.”  She does make the statement that they’re so similar already that “even if they are not exactly the same due to Tarte processing one differently, I don’t think you need both.”

She gives a 4 hour wear update at 8:30 – she decides to go ahead and try to take off the stopper of the Hydrating foundation at 9:44, emphasizing how difficult it is to compare the two because of packaging.





At 10:31 she shows both of them on unused lipgloss wands, saying “I think these absolutely look the same, I think they feel the same, I think upon application they feel exactly the same now that they’re being applied the same way.  I think you could blend these together and it looks exactly the same.  I definitely think these formulas are identical – I don’t want to say that Tarte is lying, I’m sure that they did kind of process it a different way, but the end result is the same.”

She says from wearing the two throughout the day they look the same on both side with an identical finish and it seems like the same foundation in her opinion, calling them “dupes” and that she thinks they’re the same.  She says the Gel Hybrid has 1 fl oz and it’s $39, while the Hydrating foundation is the same price and has .01 more fl oz worth of product in it



Let’s start off with the launch… I do think that the IG story statement Tarte released seemed like a bit of a “cop out” when it comes to them trying to explain not releasing the full range of shades due to the fact that they got “swept up in it all” and got too excited.  I also think it’s a bit weird that they released the statement via Insta story, for two reasons:

  1. It’s “fleeting” – aka once the story expires, it’s gone
  2. To view the story you would need to physically “click in” to it

If you didn’t get a notification from IG saying that Tarte posted on their story, how would you know to look there for an apology? I think it’s kind of silly for someone to either stumble upon the statement just because they were randomly clicking through stories or “actively” look to see if they released a statement after seeing/hearing/reading people talk about the fact that they actually.  I’m not sure why Tarte didn’t just post some kind of apology on their actually Instagram in the first place as it would just kind of “organically” pop onto people’s feed once posted.


Now getting to the whole formula conspiracy thing – granted, I only watched the one video on the topic, but everything seems to add up here in that they looked basically the same.  Regardless of whether or not they’re exactly the same, they seem to perform similarly enough to negate any actual differences between them.  I think you would have gotten more of the product out of the Gel Hybrid because it’s a lot easier to scrape product out of a tub than a tube at the end of the day.

At the end of the day, do I think Tarte tried to pull one over on us? Not really… I’m sure brands repackage and slightly tweak formulas of discontinued products all the time in favor of newer, “fresher” launches.  The Hybrid Gel foundation is actually no longer listed in the foundation section of Tarte’s website, although you can still find it by searching for it in the search bar, but I digress.

The main issue to me here was the lack of inclusive shades.  Again, I think their excuse is kind of BS, but let’s say they did really just jump the gun and wholly planned to release more shades later… ethics aside, this strikes me as a pretty poor marketing decision.  Yes, hindsight is 20/20 and yada yada yada, but when brands like Fenty Beauty are being talked about because of how inclusive they are and when you as a brand have a cult classic product that you’re planning on releasing as a foundation that’s been highly anticipated, wouldn’t you want to capitalize on the compounded positive press you could get not just from the highly anticipated release, but from the fact that you’ve shown the initiative to expand your shade range?

I think it’ll be interesting to see what happens when Tarte drops their promised more inclusive shades – will beauty gurus with darker complexions try them out, or continue to refuse to use them because the initial launch and how it was handled might have left a bitter taste in their mouths? I personally have no idea how the community will react – what do you guys think?




  • Tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer // $27
  • Tarte Shape Tape Hydrating Foundation // $39
  • Tarte Shape Tape Matte Foundation // $39
  • Tarte Empowered Hybrid Gel Foundation // $39

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*Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with the aforementioned YouTubers/companies in any way, shape, or form! None of the links above are affiliate links and my opinions are purely based on what I watched in the above videos.  Content of screenshots and .gifs are not my own and are owned by the credited YouTuber in the linked videos above.  

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

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