Tarte makes a big deal of how much moisture its Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation SPF 15 provides to skin, but the fact of the matter is it isn't very moisturizing! Along with this disappointment comes a couple of other major drawbacks, making it a foundation more washed up than one that makes a splash on the makeup scene.
Before we get to the heart of this review, we do appreciate the foundation's packaging, which consists of a frosted glass bottle with a dropper applicator in the cap. This makes for precision dispensing, so you don't overdo it when you're trying to get out the amount of foundation you need.
This fluid formula glides across skin, providing medium to full coverage before drying to a soft matte finish. While the finish isn't unattractive, this is supposed to be a hydrating foundation, and that's one of the big areas that Rainforest of the Sea falls short.
Tarte claims the 20% water content of the formula is what helps provide moisture to skin, but topically-applied water doesn't do much to add moisture; in this case, it serves largely as a filler ingredient where other, more hydrating ingredients could have been added instead.
The formula would be much more impressive with the addition of more emollients and skin-replenishing ingredients, which truly help skin retain moisture. As it stands, combined with the lack of robust emollients and the inclusion of absorbent ingredients like isododecane, aluminum starch, silica, and talc, which is as anti-moisturizing as it gets, this is better suited to those with combination or slightly oily skin.
Another problem is it contains potentially-drying alcohol as well as fragrant gardenia extract. They aren't at the top of the ingredient list, but they can still serve to aggravate skin, which is not what you want from a soothing, hydrating foundation.
Then there's the significant issue that while this does provide broad spectrum, mineral-based sun protection, the SPF 15 rating is below the SPF 30 or greater most medical experts and cosmetic regulatory administrations around the world recommend when it comes to daily sun protection (see More Info for the scoop).
One more comment on the sunscreen: Tarte claims the actives of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are "non-chemical", but that's misleading. Both of these ingredients are chemicals, just as any cosmetic ingredient is, whether natural or synthetic. The notion of "non-chemical" is ludicrous and just a marketing contrivance.
Like most of Tarte's foundations, Rainforest of the Sea comes in a wide range of shades for fair to deep skin, and most are natural-looking for their intended skin tones. There are some colors to consider with caution, but no sense naming them since we're strongly not recommending this foundation over several others.
Despite some positive traits, Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation SPF 15 has enough negatives to not be worth strong consideration. You'll find much better options on our list of Best Foundations With Sunscreen.
One more note: Tarte claims this foundation is "hypoallergenic." This term is meant to imply that this is less likely to aggravate skin; however, there are no accepted regulations or guidelines anywhere in the world for determining whether a product is or is not hypoallergenic. It's best to look for products without drying alcohol or fragrance, both of which this includes.
- Dropper applicator allows for precision dispensing.
- Provides medium to full coverage of imperfections.
- Good range of shades for most skin tones.
- Not a hydrating formula as claimed.
- Contains alcohol and a fragrant plant extract that could potentially aggravate skin.
- SPF 15 is far below the SPF 30 minimum recommended level of protection by medical boards and cosmetic regulatory administrations around the world.
Sunscreens Rated Lower than an SPF 30: An extensive body of research and a growing number of medical organizations around the world have determined that a sunscreen rated SPF 30 or greater is mandatory to ensure adequate sun protection.
While a sunscreen will provide protection at the SPF number on the label and may claim broad spectrum protection, we will always point out when it doesn't meet the standard of being an SPF 30 or greater because of how important it is for the health of your skin.
References for this information:
Journal of Clinical Oncology, September 2016, ePublication
Photodermatology, Photoimmunology, and Photomedicine, August 2014, issue 4, pages 212-219
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, May 2008, issue 5 supplemental, pages S149-154
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 and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
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