Review: Tarte Cheekstain (Blissful)

Blushes are one of those products that are nearly as personal as foundation.  A good blush should exactly mimic the flush of color your get after jogging a few blocks, coming inside from a quick jaunt in the snow, or holding your head upside down for a few seconds (but, now, why would you be doing that?).  Many blushes also tend to fade and lose certain pigments throughout the day, leaving you with either a blotchy cheek, or a wash of some horridly unnatural color that was previously mixed in with the various other shades that have now disappeared.

As many of you know, my skin is trés oily.  Like, extremely.  So finding a good blush that won’t oxidize or fade quickly (let alone look natural on my terribly pale skin) is a chore.  In general, powder blushes tend to last longer on oily skin, while cream blushes work better for those with normal to dry skin (kind of like foundations).  However, for some reason, with my skin, many powder blushes tend to cake or cling unevenly, making it look like I’m wearing blush rather than just having a natural rosy glow.

(This isn't Blissful, but a stock image from Sephora. Actual product pics and swatches will be up by this weekend.)

(This isn't Blissful, but a stock image from Sephora. Actual product pics and swatches will be up by this weekend.)

And in comes the Tarte Cheekstain ($30 for 1 oz).  I first stumbled across these last summer.  I was up in Boston, studying at Harvard, and the weather was absolutely dreadful.  Like, ninety degrees and humid one day, and pouring rain the next.  Not good climate conditions for makeup.  My skin was relatively under control, and I wanted to try wearing a bit less foundation (which tended to melt under the heat or moisture) while still looking “alive”, but I knew I’d need something to perk up my skin otherwise.  So, naturally, I turned to blush.  I’d already worked my way through a multitude of powder and cream blushes, from drugstore to department store, and although I’d found a few I liked, none of them were natural enough (either containing a hefty amount of shimmer or just being an odd color for my pale, yellow-toned skin).

I’d heard quite a bit about these Cheekstains, and finally decided to check them out for myself.  I dragged a few friends into the city and trekked to the closest Sephora, quickly weaving my way to the Tarte display.  A row of these short, chubby sticks were lined up right in front.  Presentation-wise, they kind of remind me of those really old-school push pops from when I was a kid.  You unscrew the top, remove a plastic protector, and push on the bottom of the tube to get the product to come up.  After looking at a few shades, I finally decided that “Blissful”, a light, rosy peach, would most suit me, and swatched it on the back of my wrist.  Boy, was I underwhelmed.  It looked weak, sheer, and a tad unnaturally pink.  But it was my only option, as I’d already worked my way from NARS to Urban Decay in the blush department.  I snagged one of the last tubes, paid, and headed back to campus.

The next day, I decided to try out this initially disappointing product for the first time.  I’d heard that many people simply dab it straight onto the skin, but, being a hygiene freak and worried that it would disturb my foundation, I turned to a brush instead.  A stippling brush, to be precise.  The odd thing about this product is that it isn’t quite a cream, but more like a solid gel.  It’s one of those things that you kind of have to experience to know what I mean.  After applying my foundation, but before powder, I dabbed my brush over the top of the domed stick, and then gently tapped it on top of my cheekbones.  And if I had wanted to talk (to my reflection, as no one else was in the bathroom with me), I would have been speechless.  My cheeks had the most natural, bright, and fresh tint of color that really looked as if I had just been in the sun a tad too long, but hadn’t begun to burn yet (quite true to the color in the tube).  I looked lively, awake, and youthful (I know I’m already young anyway, but just go with it.)  The edges blended out seamlessly with my skin, leaving no obvious mark that this was makeup rather than my own skin’s natural flush.  It was perfect.  For now.

My worry was that it wouldn’t last more than a few hours with my oily skin and the moist (I hate this word, but it perfectly describes the weather there) atmosphere outside.  Two hours later, during class, I surreptitiously slipped out my pocket mirror and gave my face the once-over.  So far, so good.  Four hours in, my cheeks still looked healthy and glowing under the harsh fluorescents of the school’s bathrooms.  Eight hours in, and I could still see a fair amount of the color wafting over my cheeks.  Twelve hours, and it had begun to fade ever so slightly.  But even at fourteen hours, when I went to wash my face before settling in for the night, it was still there!  Muted a bit, but it had faded completely evenly, and didn’t lose any sort of pigment, but rather just a bit of strength.

Since then, I’ve really put this through some harsh trials.  Four hour dance rehearsals, two hour workouts, eighteen hour days in heat or cold… And always the same results.  A perfect wash of color all day long.  I’ve also migrated away from using a stippling brush and have instead turned to a regular paddle foundation brush, simply patting the product exactly where I want it in small circular motions to evenly blend it into the skin.  I find that this brush gives much more control and allows you to place the blush exactly where you want it.

This stuff works equally well on all skintypes, and doesn’t accentuate pores or texture issues.  It is buildable, so if you have darker skin, never fear.  I’ve never tried the other ones on myself, but I have no doubt that they’re of the same quality level.

Also, these smell wonderful.  Like some fresh fruit and berry mixture I can’t quite name.  The scent isn’t cloying and doesn’t linger, disappearing almost immediately upon application. I’d heard that each of these used to have their own unique scent, but now all have the same one, though I’ve not confirmed this.  Even if this is true, if they all smell like Blissful, I’d be… blissful.

A few notes.  Keep the plastic covering that comes on top of the actual product: it’s handy for pushing it back down after use (and really, only push the product up a tiny bit, not all the way, or you could risk breaking it).   Condensation does sometimes collect on top of the product; this is normal.  Simply wipe it off with a tissue or ignore it.  And finally, this product last a long time.  I used mine nearly every day for about six months, and still hadn’t used up half of it.

Yes, these things swatch dreadfully, so it’s hard to tell if a shade really is for you or not until you actually try it on your face.  But with eight shades ranging from warm peachy pinks to deep plums, there should be one here that suits you.  The only reason not to go out right now and pick one of these chubby tubes up is if you enjoy looking like you’re wearing blush rather than just being alive and healthy.  Do you?  Really?  Didn’t think so.

  1. #1 by Nicki on May 3, 2011 - 20:20

    Great review! I’ve been wanting to try this for a while but I was a little unsure. I, too, have super oily skin so I may have to go ahead and pick one up. I also LOL’d because I thought I was the only one who hates the word moist *shudders*.

  2. #2 by Amanda on May 4, 2011 - 12:16

    Thanks for the review! Just wondering: Do you know how this stain compares to the Tarte Amazonian 12-Hour powder blush? I’m in the market for a longer-wearing blush.

    • #3 by finallyindigo on May 10, 2011 - 13:20

      I think they both wear EXTREMELY well, but if you’re looking for one that’ll keep no matter what, go for the powder. I prefer the look of gel/cream blushes in general, but they’re certainly not the longest lasting blushes, especially on oily skin. However, these Cheekstains are the best in the category I’ve found, and have lasted 14+ hours on my oily skin.

  3. #4 by Angelica on June 26, 2011 - 10:23

    Fantastic review. I havr a mini trio from a kit but the condensation turned me of- thought it had gone bad. Plus some genius at sephora said to blend with fingertips which was so faux pas unless you want the raggedy anne look. Because of you, paddle brush and tissue in hand, these will ve rescued from the depths of my ‘gah/blehk’ make up bin:)

  4. #5 by Janessa on October 3, 2011 - 01:46

    I’ve always wanted to try one of these but I now own Josie Maran’s Argan Color Stick and I’m loving that. I don’t know of the wear-time yet but I love that it’s so moisturizing and good to the skin.

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