Tarte Cosmetics

Knockout Brightening Gel Moisturizer

1.69 fl. oz. for $ 39.00
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Brand Overview

Tarte excitedly claims their Knockout Brightening Gel Moisturizer “gently exfoliates & brightens while clinically hydrating for 24 hours!” Despite the fact that it has some nice aesthetics, the formula doesn’t quite live up to the hype. Here’s why…

Starting with the exfoliation claim, Tarte touts “20% fruit & plant extracts like papaya, tangerine fruit water, eggplant, turmeric, aloe work to slough away dead skin cells.” In theory, papain, an enzyme extracted from papaya, may offer some exfoliating properties for skin, but it also has the potential to irritate skin. The amount being used here is minimal, but because it’s combined with fragrance-based ingredients (such as limonene and tangerine) that are known skin-sensitizers, it increases the risk.

Other called-out extracts such as turmeric and aloe offer antioxidant power and soothing hydration, but neither has research showing they can exfoliate skin. In fact, this is the first time we recall seeing an exfoliation claim tied to these ingredients.

As for the claim that Knockout Brightening Gel Moisturizer is “proven to brighten skin & reduce appearance of pores after 10 days,” that’s farfetched considering the formula lacks any ingredients to make a noticeable difference in either regard.

On the plus side, this moisturizer delivers on is its promise of “non-greasy hydration without feeling heavy or clogging pores” thanks to the lightweight, gel consistency and key ingredients that replenish skin’s moisture balance. It quickly absorbs into skin, leaving a soft after feel—a nice effect for oily/combination skin.

We’re also happy to report that the opaque, airless pump packaging protects the stability of the antioxidants in the formula.

Although this has some good going for it, there are better options out there, including other lightweight formulas, which you can find on our roundup of best nighttime moisturizers.

  • Delivers lightweight, non-greasy hydration and quickly absorbs, leaving a soft after feel.
  • Contains skin-replenishing ingredients and antioxidants.
  • Packaging protects the stability of the formula.
  • Formulated with potential irritants, including fragrance-based ingredients.
  • Over-exaggerated claims.

More Info:

Irritating Ingredients: We cannot stress this enough: Sensitizing, harsh, abrasive, and/or fragrant ingredients are bad for all skin types. Daily application of skincare products that contain these irritating ingredients is a major way we unwittingly do our skin a disservice.

Irritating ingredients are a problem because they can lead to visible problems, such as redness, rough skin, dull skin, dryness, increased oil production, and clogged pores, and they contribute to making signs of aging worse.

Switching to non-irritating, gentle skincare products can make all the difference in the world. Non-irritating products are those packed with beneficial ingredients that also replenish and soothe skin, without any volatile ingredients, such as those present in fragrance ingredients, whether natural or synthetic.

A surprising fact: Research has demonstrated that you do not need to see or feel the effects of irritants on your skin for it to be suffering, and visible damage may not become apparent for a long time. Don’t get lulled into thinking that if you don’t see or feel signs of irritation, everything is OK.

Generally, it’s best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to ingredients that are known to irritate skin. There are many completely non-irritating products that contain effective ingredients, so there’s no reason to put your skin at risk with products that include ingredients research has shown can be a problem.

References for this information:
Annals of the Brazilian Journal of Dermatology, July-August 2017, pages 521-525
Journal of Dermatological Sciences, January 2015, pages 28–36
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2014, pages 379–385
Clinical Dermatology, May-June 2012, pages 257–262
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798

Tested on animals: No

Fight for what's bright with Tarte's Knockout Brightening Gel Moisturizer, a vegan, oil-free gel serum moisturizer that gently exfoliates & brightens while clinically hydrating for 24 hours!


+20% fruit & plant extracts like papaya, tangerine fruit water, eggplant, turmeric, aloe work to slough away dead skin cells that can lead to breakouts & signs of aging

Delivers non-greasy hydration without feeling heavy or clogging pores

Aloe extract soothes appearances of redness & problematic skin

Clinically proven to brighten skin & reduce appearance of pores after 10 days

Water/Aqua/Eau, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Fruit Water, Ethylhexyl Olivate, Propanediol, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Dipropylene Glycol Solanum Melongena, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Squalane, Isohexadecane, Tocopheryl Acetate, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Limonene, Papain, Polysorbate 80, Sorbitan Oleate, 1,2- Hexanediol, Carbomer, Algin, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract, Corallina Officinalis Extract, Sodium Hydroxide, Coccinia Indica Fruit Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Flower Extract, Solanum Melongena (Eggplant) Fruit Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Flower/Leaf Extract, Ocimum Sanctum Leaf Extract.

Tarte Cosmetics At-A-Glance

Tarte Cosmetics CEO and founder Maureen Kelly started Tarte in 1999, out of a desire to create a cosmetics line that would prove that glamour can be good for you. This comes in the form of products that highlight naturally-derived ingredients in their marketing campaigns, and occasionally taking swipes at the concept of synthetics in makeup.

This is ironic, as Tarte uses more than a few beneficial synthetically derived ingredients in their formulassilicones, synthetic fragrances, preservatives and on and on. However, well forgive them that as whats ultimately important is whether their products meet your needs, and to that we can say the brand excels in many areas at what they do.

However, a few products are a bit on the pricey side and there are a few iffy shades and textures to consider among their foundationsnoted in their respective reviews. A few caveats aside, most of Tarte's foundations, blush options, eye pencils and an ever-expanding range of innovative products demonstrate that color is what they do best.

For more information about Tarte Cosmetics visit www.tartecosmetics.com.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.

Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.

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