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Tarte Timeless Smoothing Primer Review: Does It Really Work?

Tarte is one of the best brands to use if you have sensitive skin and simply want to use clean beauty.

Tarte boasts a huge line of makeup that ranges from face to lip makeup. They also make skincare and other beauty products. If you’re like me and have sensitive skin, you’ll benefit most from using Tarte’s face makeup, including their primers. Primers are products that create a base between your skin and foundation, so your makeup lasts longer and applies better.

For this Tarte Timeless Smoothing Primer Review, I’m reviewing the Tarte Timeless Smoothing Primer. EWG Skin Deep confirmed this product is non-toxic and contains no cancer-causing ingredients. But is it still worth it? Here’s our verdict.

Tarte Timeless Smoothing Primer Review

Tarte Timeless Smoothing Primer

Key Features

  • Softens the looks of imperfections, such as pores and fine lines and wrinkles
  • Offers skincare ingredients, such as vitamins C and E, mineral pigments, and green bean extract
  • Creates an effective canvas for makeup application


  • Helps smooth out foundation
  • Because of this, foundation applies and blends easier
  • Makes the foundation last longer


  • Some reviewers complained about the primer caking up (didn’t happen to me)
  • Difficult to apply with a brush, need to use fingers
  • It may not be good for certain skin types, such as oily
  • Small packaging

Decision-Making Tips

  • Use this primer if you want to smooth out skin for foundation application
  • Best if you use a liquid foundation, not powder
  • Best if you have dry skin or struggle with imperfections such as large pores and wrinkles — not a good primer for oily skin


First, I want to discuss the packaging of the Timeless Smoothing Primer. The first thing I noticed was the size of the primer. At only 0.5 oz, it’s very small. And this primer wasn’t exactly cheap — it costs $39 (not sure if that’s USD or CAD).

Otherwise, the packaging is nice. It comes in a little jar. You simply twist off the lid and access the product. The packaging is nice and screams quality. It’s very simple, a clear jar with a gold lid. But it looks very classy but unlike Tarte’s typical fun packaging. I understand that not everyone likes jar packaging because of hygiene issues, so keep this in mind before buying this product.

I will explain this more in another section, but it’s best if you apply the primer with your fingertips. The texture is very thick and is best to take directly out with your fingers. Don’t use a brush or sponge to apply this product. This product may also be difficult to use if you have acrylic nails.


Many reviewers complained about a sweet smell from the product. However, I don’t smell anything. Unless they changed the formulation recently, this primer is virtually scent-free. That’s ideal for me, I personally don’t like using cosmetics and skincare that have a scent.

Using the Product

As stated previously, judging by the texture of the product, I immediately knew this product was best when applied with fingers. That and I don’t have an extra brush for primers (I used this product/am writing this review at my boyfriend’s and I have limited products here, my extra brushes are at my house) so I had to use my fingers anyway.

The texture is very soft and smooth. It spreads easily on the skin and blends flawlessly. I applied a tiny bit of product on my fingers and started at the bridge of my nose, blending out to my cheeks. From here, I blended into my chin, forehead, and under my eyes.

Guys, a little bit goes a long way! I only took out a dime-size amount, and I didn’t even use half of that. The product is extremely thick, so you only need a tiny bit to cover your entire face.

However, I didn’t notice any amazing blurring action. I don’t struggle with large pores and fine lines, so maybe that’s why I didn’t notice anything. It did nothing for my acne scars, so I just suggest getting this primer if you want a smooth base for foundation.


I’ve only been wearing the primer for a few hours, but it’s definitely holding up my foundation well. From reading the reviews, it looks like other beauty enthusiasts agree that this primer lasts longer than the average primer.

However, I’m also reading this foundation doesn’t last all day, but it does last several hours. After I’m done with work, I’m going out to dinner with my boyfriend, so let’s see if the primer and my foundation will hold up for the rest of the night (I applied my makeup this morning).

My skin does look nice, virtually poreless. As I mentioned, this primer does nothing for my acne scars, so I’m sure it’s true for fine lines and wrinkles.

About Tarte

While this primer works well, it’s not amazing and I definitely don’t think it’s worth $40. But in all honesty, I’m trying to find other reasons to recommend this product. The reason that I’m landing on is the fact that it’s a Tarte product, and this brand has a cult following due to its ethics.

First off, Tarte is a cruelty-free brand and most of their products are vegan. The brand was formed by Maureen Kelly, a fellow beauty enthusiast who wanted to form a brand that offered clean ingredients and high-performance naturals. When you use Tarte, you’re not only using some of the best makeup on the market, but all of their products are beneficial to your skin.

In addition, all of their products are made without mineral oil, parabens, triclosan, phthalates, gluten, and sulfates.


While the Tarte Timeless Smoothing Primer is a good product, there are qualities I don’t like about it. For example, it’s small and pretty expensive. That’s why I want to recommend some other alternatives.

Paula’s Choice Smoothing Primer Serum

Paula’s Choice is a brand I’m shocked I never used. And at less than $10, you can’t go wrong with this product. The Paula’s Choice primer smooths out the skin’s surface, decreasing the look of fine lines and wrinkles. This primer is also made with antioxidants that protect the skin and contains SPF 30.

Unlike the Tarte primer, this has a lightweight texture so it’s good for oily skin. The texture is also silky, so it’s the perfect prep for makeup.

Tatcha The Silk Canvas Protective Primer

If you truly want a primer that shows results, choose this Tatcha primer. While it’s nearly $70, all Tatcha products are known for delivering amazing results.

This primer has a velvety texture, which smooths the skin. Your makeup not only lasts longer but the botanicals will prevent clogged pores and breakouts. These ingredients will also protect your skin from environmental stressors. This primer also blurs the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Other ingredients, such as gold and pink pearl, make your complexion look healthier and youthful.

What I find interesting about this product is how it can also be used on the eyes and lips. You’ll definitely get your money’s worth if you want an all-in-one primer.

Elf Poreless Putty Primer

Out of all of the drugstore brands, I recommend Nyx and Elf the most. And the Poreless Putty Primer by Elf is the best, cheapest dupe to the Tarte Timeless Primer. So much so to where this primer was actually rated #1 in America!

This primer not only blurs the look of pores but also makes foundation glide across skin easily. This primer has a velvet texture which will decrease the look of pores.

Neutrogena Matte Primer + Serum

I didn’t know Neutrogena made makeup, but I found this primer in my research and wanted to include it in my list. While it’s a mattifying primer, it does blur the look of pores. It can also be used as a serum alone; rice protein draws oil out of the skin, so your complexion will look flawless even without makeup.

Nyx Bare With Me Hydrating Jelly Primer

Nyx is especially known for its primers. And at their low prices, you really can’t go wrong.

Out of all of their primers, this is one of most comparable to Tarte’s Timeless Primer. It has a jelly-like texture rather than a thick texture, making it suitable for oily skin. It smooths out skin for a more even foundation application, though I don’t think it blurs pores.

Like Tarte, Nyx is certified cruelty-free and this primer is vegan. At 1.41 oz, this product is significantly larger than the Tarte primer.

Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer

If you’re looking for something more high-end, I love Laura Mercier’s line. Like the Tarte product, it creates a smooth canvas for makeup application. It’s formulated with beneficial ingredients such as green tea extract, vitamin C, and aloe vera gel to diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, brighten, and calm the skin.

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Question: Does Tarte Have Other Primers?

Answer: Yes they do! The rest of their primers in their catalog include:
Base Tape Hydrating Primer
Glowtion Skin Protector
Rainforest of the Sea Quench Hydrating Primer
Poreless Mattifying Primer
Clean Slate Blur Balm
Shape Tape Pore & Prime Balm

Tarte also offers two BB creams you can use as primers: BB Tinted Treatment Primer and Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer.

Question: Does Tarte Timeless Primer Contain Silicones?

Answer: It does. I don’t recommend silicone primers if you have acne-prone and/or oily skin. You also shouldn’t use this primer if you have silicone sensitivity. But keep in mind, I have acne-prone skin and I haven’t had any issues with this primer.

Question: I Have Large Pores. Would Tarte’s Timeless Primer Work for Me?

Answer: This product is actually formulated for people like you! The Timeless Primer works by blurring the look of pores so your complexion looks smoother. This also improves makeup application. While I don’t have large pores, others with the same struggles have said the Timeless Primer is one of the better pore minimizing primers out there. However, this isn’t a pore treatment.

Question: How Can I Reduce the Look of My Pores?

Answer: While the Tarte Timeless Primer won’t improve large pores, there are other ways you can decrease the size of your pores. Some helpful tips include:

• Ask your dermatologist for a retinoid prescription (or use an OTC alternative)
• Wash your face twice a day
• Use a pore treatment — I recommend Benefit’s POREfessional
• Sit in a sauna or steam room
• Use a clay mask or deep cleansing treatment weekly
• Exfoliate at least a couple times a week
• Go to a professional and try a chemical peel


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