The tarte founder discusses the palette 15 years in the making.
Natural beauty products are having a moment, but when Maureen Kelly founded tarte 15 years ago, good-for-you ingredients definitely weren’t trendy. “The packaging was really kind of unglamorous. It was not, you know, something you’d want to carry around in your purse and pull out at a dinner party.” Today, tarte is one of the leading brands to focus on natural formulas. The Sephora Glossy talks to Kelly about how her brand came to be, and how she’s celebrating her 15-year milestone with her new Tartelette palette. BECKY PEDERSON
You founded tarte 15 years ago. Why did you decide to create your own beauty line? Fifteen years ago…it’s hard to believe. Some days it feels like yesterday!
I was always on the hunt for natural and healthy cosmetics, and there were just really not a lot of options back then. Whenever I would find formulas without what you’d call the ‘icky-bad ingredients,’ they just wouldn’t really last through my long days. I thought, there’s got to be a better way.
So I just worked on developing these formulas that were not only as long-lasting as the makeup artist lines, but formulas that used really healthy, good-for-you ingredients in this really adorable, chic, fashionable packaging. Because that’s what every girl wants, right? Something that’s healthy, something that looks good, something that will last. I set out to prove that glamour could be good for you.
So are there natural ingredients in the Tartelette palette that benefit your skin? Always! All of our products have skincare benefits. All of the shadows and shades are infused with our iconic Amazonian clay, which works to balance the skin in the eyelids. We all have sebaceous glands in our eyelids, and the clay works over time to reduce that excess oil. It also works to really nourish and treat dry skin. It’s like the perfect ingredient to allow better, truer, longer wear—especially combined with all the natural mineral pigments we use to capture those really gorgeous colors.
And of course, all of our formulas—what we call high-performance naturals—are formulated without parabens, mineral oils, phalates, triclosans, sodium laurel sulfate, or gluten, and every single one is dermatologist tested. If you wear contact lenses, or if you have really sensitive eyes, or allergies, you’re good.
The Tartelette palette is your anniversary palette. How is it representative of your brand? Oh my gosh, so many reasons. First and foremost, it’s for real women—women like myself; I’m not a makeup artist—so it can be worn every day. And the shadows inside are inspired by our loyal fans. They’re named after our fans’ aspirational personalities. It’s the first palette that was actually launched to live on in our core collection just by popular demand, and that in and of itself is exciting.
And of course it’s representative of the brand because it’s so pretty and portable. It comes in our signature purple and is really playful with the handwritten Tartlette across the top.
And the formulas! All that stuff I mentioned before—that glamour can be good for you. I really feel like this palette is our brand, personified.
You mentioned that the Tartelette palette is inspired by your devoted clients. Can you explain who the typical Tartelette is and what she represents? A Tartelette is a really confident person who is not afraid to be herself and take on the world. She’s someone who empowers other women—that’s so important and huge. You can be a dreamer, a caregiver, a fashionista, a force of nature, a natural beauty…each Tartelette is unique and an inspiration.
We are going to kick off the campaign by highlighting different Tartelette influencers…each of these women really reflects what it means to be a Tartelette. I think it will be neat to see as these different girls come down the pike. We want to continue to reinforce the message that no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, you should feel good about yourself. I wish I could send that message to my young teenage self!
Where do you see tarte going in the next 15 years? Oh gosh. These first 15 have been such a whirlwind. I guess for the next 15, continuing to deliver pure, pretty, powerful products with high-performing naturals to our loyal Tartelettes. We just expanded internationally for the first time with Sephora Southeast Asia, and we’re opening in Sephora Australia. So just continuing to bring tarte to Tartelettes around the world.
And then skincare. That’s definitely one of my loves—everything from our maracuja oil to our eye cream. We’re just going to continue making products where they make sense and where they fit in for our Tartelettes.
So I got this idea from a line in what is probably the best fanfic I’ve EVER read called The gang learns to exist in the moment, seriously it’s fucking amazing, it’s on archive of our own, go read it, it’s a billion times better than this trash you see below.
an always sunny au where Charlie Kelly becomes the caped crusader Dayman, bashing crime and keeping Philadelphia safe. Charlie has a enhanced healing factor, and His partner is Dee Reynolds, or code name birdgirl, a human born with wings, which she hid with a backbrace as a kid. They later team up with two other hero’s, Mac under the code name Badass who has super strength and his boyfriend Golden god (Dennis ) who is a telepath plus Dee’s brother. They are financed by Frank who uses his vast wealth to pay for the equipment. They keep Philadelphia safe from crime and pose as regular bartenders. They’re biggest enemy is rickety cricket, a former priest who went insane from past run ins with the group, with his superhuman agility and fighting skills he is a formidable foe. Especially when teamed up with Catgal, Maureen ponderosa, a werecat determined to get revenge on Denis for divorcing her.
5. what’s your dream role?
hoo boy! i’d love to play angelica schuyler. veronica sawyer. maureen. velma kelly. maybe zoe murphy and vanessa!!
6. what’s a role you’d like to play that you’d never be able to?
i wanna be shakespeare in something rotten so bad. also whizzer!! and thomas jefferson!!! elder mckinley would be so fun too
8. do you like hamilton?
nah never heard of her
(fuck yes are u kidding)
9. have you seen hamilton?
yep!! exactly one year ago tomorrow with the OBC and i’m seeing it again october 3rd!!!
Brand founder Maureen Kelly reveals the next wave in hydrating skincare and makeup.
For truly parched skin, the dewy look can feel 20,000 leagues under the sea—in other words, completely out of reach. But tarte has literally explored the depths of the ocean in order to source ingredients that drench skin in hydration. Its new Rainforest of the Sea collection, which includes both skincare and makeup products, is rich in algae and other marine plants that provide enough hydration and radiance to make jellyfish envious. The Sephora Glossy chatted with tarte founder Maureen Kelly to bring the collection to the surface. JESSICA VELEZ
“The entire collection is powered by our new Rainforest of the Sea complex, which is a proprietary blend of algae and marine flower extracts. These ingredients are really special because they thrive in environments with extreme conditions, from hot to cold temperatures and darkness to UV exposure. In order to withstand these conditions, they’re made up of high concentrations of antioxidants, proteins, and minerals to naturally defend themselves. So, we’ve infused these benefits into our products as nature’s ultimate defense for skin.”
“With our high-performance naturals mission, we have been infusing our products with ingredients from the rainforest for years. My team and I had been on the hunt for our next big ingredient for a while. Discovering the amazing marine ingredients from the Rainforest of the Sea made for the perfect complement to our tarte core line—it’s all about hydration, brightening, and environmental defense. We’re also really obsessed with all of the water trends that are emerging. Dewy, radiant skin is in!”
“Our Rainforest of the Sea complex, along with the other moisturizing and antioxidant ingredients in these formulas, helps protect and nourish skin while reflecting light for a radiant, glowing appearance—because who doesn’t want to look like a mermaid? The ingredients work in harmony to soothe, replenish, and hydrate skin while powerful antioxidants help protect from daily aggressors and activate skin renewal for that youthful look we all want.”
“I’m absolutely obsessed with some of the new skincare, like our Deep Dive Cleansing Gel and Marine Boosting Mist. They’ve become my everyday go-tos since they’re hypoallergenic and great for my sensitive skin. The cleanser removes all of my waterproof makeup (as you can imagine I’m constantly testing new products and then taking them off) but it never leaves my skin feeling dry. The mist works great as a setting spray and I love using it throughout the day. The caffeine and delicious orange scent give me a perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
The makeup formulas are all so luxe and amazing, but my current obsessions are the So Fine Micro Liner and Skin Twinkle Lighting Palette since I’m all about defined eyes and an awakened glow. The liner tip is teeny tiny and great for tightlining eyes with a waterproof, triple-black pigment. The lighting palette has three silky strobing powders that reflect light, brighten skin, and correct darkness—it’s really all you need for an allover glow.”
Aquacealer Hydrating Concealer: “It’s perfect for drier skin types and features concentrated pigments suspended in a deep conditioning serum made up of 20% water for the perfect blend of coverage and moisture. I love to use it under my eyes because the applicator makes it so easy to apply and it has a full-coverage, radiant finish.”
Water Foundation SPF 15: “This is my absolute favorite foundation because it is insanely hydrating, is hypoallergenic, and covers like a dream! Like our Aquacealer Concealer, this concentrated formula is 20% water to quench dry skin while offering 12-hour full coverage. It’s powered by our Rainforest of the Sea complex and non-chemical SPF 15 sunscreen to help restore, brighten, and defend skin. It also has a unique dropper applicator for customizable coverage and comes in a ton of shades to match any skintone.”
“My team did an absolutely amazing job capturing the essence of the sea with this really luxurious collection. The packaging stays true to our colorful, fun, and playful tarte aesthetic with elevated gold accents, chic ocean-inspired prints, and elegant ombré finishes.”
“These products are all about that glow, and there are so many ways to create it—whether you’re literally highlighting your cheekbones with the Skin Twinkle Lighting Palette or brightening up darkness with the color-correcting palette. One of my favorite new tricks is going for radiance through your skincare—we call it ‘glowtion.’ The drink of H2O and the hydrating boost is the perfect daily moisture to make your skin glow on its own without makeup.”