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Tarte Mascara Line Guide: Which Is The Perfect Mascara For You?

Tarte has a robust line of mascaras, so a Tarte mascara line guide is useful when you begin to check them out. If you already love the brand (and even if you don’t), you’re probably wondering how to begin to narrow it down to a new mascara to choose.

There’s something here for everyone, and a lot of the mascaras wear many hats, making claims to make lashes look longer, thicker, more defined, curled, and richly colored.

Tarte Mascara Line: Guide to Finding the Best One for You

I’m comparing the current formulas here, side-by-side, so you can get a better grasp on what they have to offer and how one formula compares to the next. First, though, let’s get an overall look at Tarte’s mascara offerings. They have some things in common, from formula to formula, though they each have their pros and cons, too.

About Tarte Mascaras

The Tarte mascara line is full of success stories. Sure, people have their favorites, but they tend to perform well across the board. There aren’t any true duds; which one is the right one depends on you, your preferences, and your lashes. Here are a few facts about Tarte mascaras:

  • They have some award winners in the line-up, like Allure Beauty Award winner, Maneater.
  • They have some of the darkest formulas out there (in fact, most of them don’t come in a variety of colors—just black, but some are darker than others).
  • There are plenty of vegan formulas
  • Tarte mascaras are free of parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, and gluten
  • Ophthalmologist-tested
  • Most (if not all) are deemed safe for people who wear contact lenses
  • Several are available in mini/travel sizes so you can test them before you buy a whole tube (and they can make traveling easier)

What to Consider

Tarte Mascara Line Guide

Tarte mascaras are good overall, but when you want to narrow it down to the perfect one for your lashes, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind and decide what are must-haves versus nice-to-haves. Here are a few things to think about while you shop:

Your Goal for Your Lashes

As with any mascara, you need to start your shopping with a game plan. What do you need from mascara? Volume? Length? Definition? Deep black pigment? Curl? Several options in the Tarte mascara line cover all or most of the bases, but you’ll need to go in looking for the things that are most important to you.

Some of the mascaras will give you all of the benefits a mascara can provide (length, fullness, definition, lift, curl, and color) but will prioritize and perform one or two of those things over the others. So even if a mascara does it all, make sure it does what you need it to do well. (Reading individual reviews will help with this, but I have tried to give a quick overview in the chart below.)

Regular or Waterproof?

The Tarte line offers quite a few mascaras that stay on all day without many reports of smudging, but only a few of them are waterproof. Other lines have more waterproof versions of their mascaras.

If waterproof is especially important to you (and not just that your mascara stays on all day), you will find that your options are limited within the Tarte line. Luckily, all of their mascaras seem to perform pretty well, so as long as there’s one that matches your lash goal, you should be okay. 

Does It Need to Be Vegan?

One of the best things about Tarte’s mascara, for some people, will be the fact that they have so many vegan formulas. If that’s important to you, you’ll feel great browsing the Tarte mascara line.

Can you find vegan formulas outside of Tarte? Of course, but going to the Tarte site or the Tarte section of a makeup store will give you a high concentration of vegan formulas to choose from.

What Color Do You Need?

If your hair is light or you like an especially natural look, you may decide Tarte mascaras aren’t for you because they don’t come in the range of shades that other mascaras (especially from the drugstore) do. While not all Tarte formulas are the blackest of black mascaras, you won’t see brown, auburn, or other lighter shades (at least, not as of this writing).

Tarte Mascara Line Guide

Are You Interested in a Set?

One thing Tarte does well is pairing their mascaras up with products that compliment them well. For example, you may find the perfect summertime kit—a waterproof mascara, bronzer, and lightweight lip color. Or you could purchase a mascara that comes with an eyelash curler. You could also run across a whole kit that covers your entire eye look (shadow, liner, and mascara).

These aren’t like the limited edition options that come out around the holidays and then disappear—you can get kits like this all year, often on sale.

How Much Are You Willing to Pay?

All of Tarte’s full-size mascaras are in the $23.00 range, so there’s not much to compare between mascaras in the line. Their mascaras are fantastic (check the chart below for all the times I recommend them), but if you’re on a budget, other drugstore brands can achieve similar results.

Tarte Mascara Line Guide at a Glance

Sometimes, it’s hard to wrap your head around all the pros and cons listed in reviews, all the claims (and which ones match what you’re going for), as well as any additional benefits different makeup products provide.

Mascara Name Claims/Benefits Formulas Brush type Additional Details Pros Cons Recommend?
Lights, Camera, Lashes Volume, length, curl, conditioning, 24-hour wear, ultra-black pigment, no flaking Vegan, washable, vitamin-enriched A mix of short and long bristles to coat and lift every lash (their 260 magniLASH wands) Full-size and mini are available Volume, length, lift, separation, curl, lasts all day, easy to remove Some people don’t like the packaging, some say it clumps Yes
Maneater Volume, curl, length, no clumping, no fading, no smudging, separation, protection/hydration for lashes Washable 500+ bristles, split into three types to achieve length, volume and curl Travel size is available, won Best Mascara (Drama) Allure Best of Beauty Award in 2020, contains jojoba for hydration and strength Lots of volumes last all day, looks like false lashes (but others say it looks beautifully natural, suggesting it’s buildable to suit your preferences) May smudge a bit Yes
Surfer Curl Volume, curl, lift, fanned-out lashes, smudge-proof, flake-proof Natural, vegan, Washable Tapered tip, traditional brush style Travel size available Lashes look fuller but still natural, does a good job of fanning the lashes out, buildable May flake, clump, and/or  smudge on some people Maybe, though reports of smudging make me wary
Lights, Camera, Splashes Volume, length, curl, conditioning, 24-hour wear, ultra-black pigment, no flaking, waterproof Waterproof A mix of short and long bristles to coat and lift every lash (their 260 magniLASH wands) Same as Lights, Camera, Lashes, but in a waterproof formula Good separation of lashes, length, easy to remove, doesn’t clump, doesn’t flake Some say it’s not actually waterproof and will smudge (others praise its ability to stay on even if it gets wet) Yes
Big Ego No clumps, incredibly black pigment, lift, length, volume, 16-hour wear, doesn’t smudge, conditions lashes Washable, vegan Tarte’s confiDENSE Booster Brush has an hourglass shape Vitamin-enriched Amazing volume, separation, length Some people feel that the brush is too big, some report smudging Yes
Lash Smoothie Volumizing Hemp Mascara Volume, curl, conditioning Vegan, washable Short bristles on one side for separation, long bristles on the other side for curl and volume Includes hemp oil to stimulate lash hair, as well as a variety of natural ingredients to condition and nourish them Great separation, volume, good for sensitive eyes May flake may run if you sweat Yes
Lash Paint Very dark black, volume, gets every lash, length Vegan, washable Silicone, molded brush with bristles of different lengths Achieves thickness by grabbing even the tiniest lashes to coat with mascara, thanks to the brush design Wow-worthy fullness, length, separation, doesn’t clump Some say they get more of a natural look than a dramatic one, may. smudge Yes
Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara Length, volume, curl, lightweight formula, nourishment Regular, vegan Traditional Has antioxidants and conditioners, Amazonian clay boosts health of lashes Stays on, won’t flake, definition, good for sensitive eyes, volume, curl, length, buildable, long-lasting Some users reported flaking, but overall the reviews are outstanding Yes

The Main Differences Between Tarte Mascara Line and Drugstore Options

I mentioned earlier that you could achieve roughly the same results with a drugstore option, and not to fret if you’re on a budget. Let’s do a quick comparison to see how Tarte mascara compares to drugstore mascaras in general.

  • The Tarte mascara line will set you back about $25.00 no matter which one you choose, whereas, with drugstore options, you’ll have more flexibility, with plenty of choices under $10.00.
  • The Tarte mascara line emphasizes using cleaner ingredients, whereas drugstore options may not (that’s not to say there aren’t clean lines in drugstores, though, because there are).
  • The Tarte mascara line only comes in black, whereas drugstore options will give you choices like brown, blackish-brown, various shades of black, auburn, navy, and royal blue.
  • The Tarte mascara line has quite a few vegan formulas, whereas vegan drugstore options may not be as easy to find.
  • The Tarte mascara line has several options that do everything you could want a mascara to do, whereas drugstore options sometimes focus more on one or two things (though some amazing ones achieve length, volume, rich color, etc. at the drugstore, too—especially within the Maybelline and L’Oreal lines).

Where to Buy Tarte Mascaras

Tarte mascaras are more readily available than ever. Here’s where you can find them:

  • Ulta
  • Ulta in Target
  • Sephora
  • Sephora in JC Penney and Kohl’s
  • Macy’s
  • QVC
  • Dermstore
  • TarteCosmetics.com


Question: Which Tarte mascara is best?

Answer: Tough question! I like Maneater and Lash Paint, but there are other bestsellers, like Surfer Curl, Big Ego, Gifted, and Lights, Camera, Lashes, Lights, Camera, Lashes has been around for several years and it’s still holding strong, whereas Gifted is newer and has nearly perfect reviews so far.

Question: Is Tarte makeup American?

Answer: Yes. Tarte products are made in and ship from the United States, and the brand was created by Maureen Kelly in New York in 1999.

Question: Is Tarte really all-natural?

Answer: Pretty close, because they do focus on natural ingredients and keeping the harmful ones out. However, since the website says “All Tarte products are formulated with a blend of naturally-derived & other ingredients designed to perform” that it’s not all-natural. (Tip: You can check the list of ingredients of any Tarte product on their page.)

Question: Is Tarte Black-owned?

Answer: No, Tarte was started by Maureen Kelly and purchased by Kosé (a Japanese beauty company) in 2014.

Question: Is Tarte a luxury brand?

Answer: While these products are high-quality, they aren’t really considered to be luxury brands.

Question: Is Tarte a good brand?

Answer: Yes, the products are good, and the company is cruelty-free. Many of the products are vegan, and they also strive to keep questionable ingredients (like parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, and gluten) out of their products.

Question: Is Tarte ethical?

Answer: Yes, they are cruelty-free, often vegan, and use natural ingredients (though not exclusively natural, they seem to care about what they do use in products quite a bit, and they leave out the ones that are especially bad for you).

Which of The Tarte Mascara Line-up Should You Buy?

Maneater and Lash Paint are my favorites because I love volume more than length, but want length, too. I also want the darkest lashes possible, and these deliver. I never wear waterproof mascara, so the availability of a waterproof formula didn’t come into play in my decision.

If you need a waterproof formula, I recommend Lights, Camera, Splashes because it does it all and stays on through sweat, tears, rain, etc.

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