Apr 28, 2011

Tarte Smooth Operator™ Micronized Clay Finishing Powder with PM20™ - THOUGHTS...

Tarte Smooth Operator™ Micronized Clay Finishing Powder with PM20™ - THOUGHTS...

smooth operator™ micronized clay finishing powder with PM20™ perfects and mattifies skin, while reducing the number and size of pores by 20% after 4 weeks.
The breakthrough technology of this micronized clay finishing powder improves the production of keratin, a building block of skin synthesis, to promote the tightening of skin and effectively shrinking oversized pores. Amazonian clay, nature's most perfect ingredient, acts as a total skin balancer by reducing dryness and flakiness, improving clarity and texture and removing surface oil to mattify skin for a soft focus and flawless finish.

To apply, use a large fluffy brush and lightly dust colorless finishing powder over skin alone as a treatment or over concealer and foundation to keep makeup in place and add a natural finish. Smooth operator™ micronized clay finishing powder with PM20™ can also be used for targeted application; use your ring finger to gently pat finishing powder over undereye or blemish concealer to keep product from migrating into fine lines, wrinkles and dried, damaged skin.

  PM20™ clinical results: 20% reduction in the number and size of pores after 4 weeks

  Skinvigorating™ benefits:

PM20™: proprietary pore minimizing molecular compound clinically proven to reduce the number and size of pores by 20% after 4 weeks
         Amazonian clay: this nutrient rich clay is extracted from the banks of the Amazon River  
         where the nutrients are at their highest concentration. This multitasking and total skin balancing clay has
         been known to:
þ Remove surface oil to mattify skin
þ Hydrate dry skin
þ Nourish all skin types
þ Give skin an overall smooth and even appearance
þ Reduce the appearance of dryness and flakiness
þ Improve the appearance of skin clarity and skin texture

  skinvigorating™ ingredients
 Amazonian Clay: nature’s most perfect ingredient providing total skin balance

  þ formulated without mineral oil & petrolatum
  þ formulated without paraben                             
  þ formulated without phthalates                         
  þ cruelty free                                                       
  þ formulated without sodium lauryl sulfate        
  þ formulated without synthetic dye                    
  þ formulated without synthetic fragrance           

Size: 0.32 oz
Price: $28


My Five Ps

The Smooth Operator™ Micronized Clay Finishing Powder with PM20™ (quite a mouthful...say that 3 times fast) is priced at $28 for 0.32oz. Similar products on the market retail for roughly the same price: MUFE HD Microfinish Powder is $30 for 0.35oz and MAC Prep+Prime Transparent Finishing Powder is $23 for 0.28oz.

I'd say this product is competitively priced and while it is not the cheapest on the market, it certainly isn't overpriced. So the real test is quality and performance to see if it's worth the cost to you.

The Smooth Operator™ Micronized Clay Finishing Powder with PM20™ is available at Sephora stores, Sephora.com, Ulta stores and Ulta.com as well as directly from Tarte. There is a new Bronze shade available at Sephora that is described as 'matte suntan' which may be great for darker skintones or for use as a contour/bronzer.

The packaging is similar to most loose powders which is a clear plastic jar with an integral sifter insert and a screw-top lid. The lid is a fun purple color imprinted with the Tarte logo and product name on an arbor backdrop.

The sifter insert sports only one hole to release the product from the jar which is great at preventing waste and spillage but not so ideal for getting to the product. You can easily remove the sifter insert to get full access to the powder but I wouldn't recommend this since loose powders are renowned for getting everywhere! My advice is to simply turn the jar (closed) upside down and tap it against your hand or hard surface to deposit enough product into the lid. It may take a few shakes but it beats having too much loose powder flying all around.


Product & Performance

Now the proof is in the pudding or powder in this case. Tarte makes some serious claims for the Smooth Operator™ Micronized Clay Finishing Powder with PM20™ which, funny enough, leads me to scrutinize the product even more. If you make these claims then you better live up to them in my eyes!
And do this it did! Except for the 4-week pore minimizing which I don't really have issues with and therefore can't attest to.

The product itself is an ultra-super-micro-fine white powder that transforms to clear on the skin. This is key for me because I hate the feeling of a gritty powder so I love that this powder feels like silk between my fingers and more so on my face. It is smooth and silky and even a bit creamy against the skin.

The color also plays a big part for me since other 'white' loose powders can translate as ashy and show white residue in pictures (MUFE HD Microfinish Powder does this to me). This melts into the skin and shows no signs of white as long as it is well blended. I say this because if you add too much powder and forget to blend then obviously there will be tell-tale signs of white...but do not blame the powder...blame your application. In pictures it can make your skin look a bit lighter so be sure to blend well!

As an oily-skin girl I was of course intrigued by the mattifying claims and had enough oil to fry a chicken as well as out this product to the test. And I was pleasantly surprised! It worked like a dream on my t-zone. It zapped the shine and oils that often lurk on my skin and left my skin (naturally) matte for at least 8 hours.
There was a little bit of a sheen after a long day but hey I'm oil-central usually so a little sheen is okay by me.

While I cannot attest for long-term pore minimization I can for sure say that this powder blurs the appearance of large pores and fines lines on my skin. I was seriously amazed at how well this powder covered the pores on cheeks and nose and made them completely unnoticeable. I get a similar effect from the MAC Prep+Prime Transparent Finishing Powder which is also a nice product. The result is an airbrushed prefect finish to my skin.

Although I do not have overall dry skin I do have a few dry spots left over from the brutal winter. So I deliberately applied the powder in these areas to see how it faired. And ha! Look ma no hands! Oh...oops...I meant to say the powder did not accentuate the dry spots but rather helped to conceal them. So I feel comfortable saying that is works well for dry skin as well.

But how about the finish? It is matte and flat and boring? Not at all. It is actually a nice natural looking matte finish. There is no shine at all to this powder but it does not leave your skin flat and dry looking. But it's doesn't illuminate either....so you may want to add a bit of highlight in areas if that is your preference. I actually loved the natural matte look of the powder and even used it to dull down some high shine blushes.

I have also used this on its own without foundation and it gives a great natural finish to the skin. I can't vouch for redness since I don't have issues with that. I also can't say that it evens out skintone since it's colorless but it does even out the texture of the skin in a flawless even texture.

I love this powder and I am in love with the Tarte Amazonian Clay products. This powder works great for oily skin and should work equally well for all other skin types. It also works perfectly for my darker skin so dark skin ladies this should be great for you too. The finish and texture is superb. It works well to set foundation or even on its own for a very light coverage. I highly recommend this one for sure!   



No foundation, noticeable pores

No foundation w/ Tarte Smooth Operator™ Micronized Clay Finishing Powder

Before                      Face                               After
No foundation w/ Tarte Smooth Operator™ Micronized Clay Finishing Powder

 Before                      Face                               After
Foundation w/ Tarte Smooth Operator™ Micronized Clay Finishing Powder
See the blur effect?


  1. Thanks for the review. I've been searching for a loose powder to set my makeup for awhile but the only one I've tried so far (L'oreal) made me look ashy. I was thinking I should get something closer to my skin tone but this product sounds like it has potential. I'll see if I can check it out at Sephora. I think the price is reasonable also.

  2. Hello, Tina! For a long time I observe of your blog... You very beautiful! And a make-up do the beautiful! I the beginning visagiste, study independently... On your photos and video. I want to study at you, you the master! I send a kiss from Russia (Siberia) and I am sorry for my English... Well I speak only in Russian :) (I already wrote to you if remember) Ekaterina from Russia)) Now I too have a blog ;)

  3. No prob Beruda! I really like this one. I never usually like the white loose powders but this one is just so great at blurring and controlling oil. Let me know if u get it.

    Hi Katerina my luv! Kisses from NY! U r so beautiful and I love your eyebrows! Great blog and great use of colors. Keep up the great work honey!

  4. wow, that looks like an awesome product. I use the MAC prep and prime and i think it does a good job at blurring, but i think i will be picking this up when i run out

  5. excellent review! I was wondering about this, as a fellow oily gal..the before and after pics are so helpful..thanks so much

  6. Thank you sooooo much for this post. Quite helpful.

    I was going to check out Sephora specifically for Tarte products, and I just happen to cmoe across this very helpful post. :-)

    How do you like the Tarte foundation?

  7. I'm really impressed by the effect of this product. We can really tell the difference. great review**


  8. Hey Mavi. It truly is. I have MAC Prep+Prime too and I like it but this product feels softer on the skin plus it has oil control properties.

    Thanks Jess. I'm glad they help.

    U r welcome Erin! I think Tarte is taking the scene by strom but not everyone realizes it yet. LOL. They really have been releasing consistently great products.

    Awesome Maria! Thanks so much.

  9. Hi Tina! I'm a NW45 in MAC, do you think this product will make me look ashy if applied over foundation since im a darker skin tone?


  10. Hi Tina, great review! I was wondering what liner are you wearing in this post?

  11. WOW it's literally like real-life photoshop! but just curious, is it really that opaque and white IRL or just on flash? bc especially in the last photo it made your face like 5 shades lighter. I have dark skin too and I'd really like something that matches my skin. lemme know :)


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