Tarte Clean Slate Timeless Smoothing Primer Review & Swatches

I don't know if it's just me but I get giddy every time when I get to try a new face primer especially the one that promises blurring of pores and fine lines! The past couple of weeks I've been testing the Tarte Clean Slate Timeless Smoothing Primer and I have to say, it is quite different from a lot of pore-minimizing primers I have tried in the past. Is it good? Is it great? Is it my new favorite? If you're curious, then please read on!

Tarte Clean Slate Timeless Smoothing Primer
Tarte Clean Slate Timeless Smoothing Primer

Shown here is a deluxe sample I received with my recent order. The primer is housed in a cute little frosted glass jar with a purple screw-on lid. From what I know, the full-sized one also comes in a jar which immediately raises the sanitary issue. However, upon using the product, open glass jar is probably the best packaging for this primer due to its unusual consistency. The primer is pale beige in color and has a very pleasant smell to it. I can't pinpoint what it is exactly but it reminds me of something powdery and flowery with a hint of something fruity. It's a refreshing scent that does not linger on the skin.

Tarte Clean Slate Timeless Smoothing Primer
Tarte Clean Slate Timeless Smoothing Primer

What I mean by unusual consistency? Well, first of all, it's much thicker than any face primers I have tried. It has a mousse-like texture that feels very thick and silicone-y. Not surprising since silicones are listed at the very top of the ingredient list. And because of its thick consistency, I only reserve it for spot-priming on certain areas on my face where pores and fine lines are visible such as on and around my nose, inner cheeks, and forehead.

Application tips

  • Start with the least amount possible. Too much and it can cake and flake. A light touch on the surface of the primer with a fingertip is generally enough to cover a small area.
  • Instead of rubbing it in circular motions, I find that it's better to pat in on gently over the surface of the skin in downward motions to prevent the product from balling up.
  • Apply it on bare skin, post moisturization, or under makeup only (when I applied it over makeup, it flaked terribly)
Tarte Clean Slate Timeless Smoothing Primer
Tarte Clean Slate Timeless Smoothing Primer

When applied properly, the product really does give my skin a softer, smoother experience. Pores are filled (substantially but not completely), fine lines are diffused, and imperfections are minimized. It also mattifies my skin instantly! It does not leave an oily/greasy or sticky feeling on the skin at all, just a nice, smooth canvas so that my foundation glides on flawlessly.

Tarte Clean Slate Timeless Smoothing Primer unblended (L) and blended (R)
Tarte Clean Slate Timeless Smoothing Primer unblended (L) and blended (R)

It does not seem to control oil any better than my other primers, though. My T-zone still gets slightly shiny in late afternoon like it normally would. At least it doesn't make me any oilier so I'm happy with that! It doesn't seem to cover any kind of redness, either. In terms of improving the makeup wear time, I'd say it keeps my makeup intact for about an hour or two longer, nothing too extraordinary. :)

Wearing Tarte Clean Slate Timeless Smoothing Primer (R)
Wearing Tarte Clean Slate Timeless Smoothing Primer (R)

And for the curious mind, this primer contains Vitamins E and C to help fight free radical damage and brighten the skin, mineral pigments to soothe and soften the skin, and green bean extract to provide anti-wrinkle and pore-minimizing properties. This is totally new to me. Green bean extract for pore-minimizing? Mind = blown! ;D Now, I can't say I have seen drastic improvements on my skin since I have only been using it as a spot-primer and it's only been just a couple of weeks. What I can tell, though, is that it hasn't caused any breakouts or irritation of any kind, and that is more than enough for a pore-minimizing primer for me! :)


US$39 at SephoraBeauty.comUltaTarte

฿1,450 at Sephora Thailand



  • So uh, WHAT PORES? What are you talking about? You don’t have any! LOL

    Glad to hear this works so well for you! I still like Dior Pore Minimizer (which I remember you not loving). Kinda wish this were not in a jar, but other than that it sounds promising for sure ;)

    • I dooooo! I blame the flash! It makes my skin look better than it actually is. LOL. Yep, and I remember you loving the Dior Pore Minimizer! I should give it another try this summer!

  • I love face primers, especially if they are supposed to blur pores and imperfections even though I don’t have a lot of visible pores. And I see you don’t either but I do see a difference on your skin after using it! I don’t know if I believe in the wrinkle reducing claim but I guess time will tell!

    • I honestly don’t think I’ll be able to tell whether the wrinkle reducing claim is true since I’m only using it as a spot-primer. :-/ What is your current favorite face primer, Agata?

      • I am loving Laura Mercier Radiance Primer at the moment. It will probably be too glowy in the summer since my skin tends to be a bit more shiny then. But for now, it’s perfect.

  • Jaa…only your super macro shots can show if this thing actually does make a difference. And yes..I do see that its made a difference to the pores on your cheeks in that pic. But you had me at THICK and SILICONEY (and not in a good way this time lol ) AND no one’s going to get close enough to my face to notice a difference lol. I’m not a big primer person but if anything FEELS like silicone on the skin…i usually cant stand it! Great review though ( as usual) :) ty Jaa!

    • I actually can’t stand the feeling of heavy, silicone-y product all over my face, either, but for spot-priming/concealing, I’m all for it! :) In fact, it has become a part of my routine to cover pores on and around my nose every morning. :)

  • This sounds really similar to a L’Oreal primer actually, also housed in a jar due to the texture/consistency. I used to be a primer fiend but thank god aging is making me less oily, lol. As for pores, I just don’t pay that much attention – but then again I don’t produce mega high quality pics like you do. Even still, there’s not much of a difference in the before/after, Jaa. ;)

    • Oh I did not try the L’Oreal one! I heard so much about it, though! I blame my bright studio lighting for making my skin look better than it actually is! ;)

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