Long-Term Relationships: Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder

Highlighting the products that I’ve been using for years and that I still love after all this time.

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Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder

Length of relationship: 5+ years

Product type: Setting powder

Great for: Matte skin, minimized pores and bulletproof oil control

I think I’ve been using Smooth Operator almost as long as it’s been on the market. Why? Because there is no better setting powder. Period.

Obviously, OK, everyone’s skin is different. But this one has been with me through a few iterations of skin — combination/oily T-zone early 30s, juiced-up pregnancy skin, drying-out late-30s skin — and has never let me down. It was the only product that ever conquered the oil slick of my hormonal pre-pregnancy skin. It even stands up to Midwest summer humidity — as well as any one product can, anyway. (Sometimes the weather just wins.) I love it so much that it was the only product in my Maternity Leave Makeup Basics for which I didn’t suggest a drugstore alternative because there isn’t one.

I apply a dusting of this powder all over my face, after I’ve done everything but my eyebrows and lips. (There is also a pressed powder compact, but I don’t recommend it; get the loose powder.) I especially love it under my eyes because it doesn’t settle into fine lines. One word of caution: Don’t try to apply anything over this powder. If I forget to highlight before I set with Smooth Operator, I just won’t be highlighted that day. As a finishing product, this mattifies and minimizes pores beautifully. If you put something on over it — cream, powder, whatever — it has a tendency to collect in your pores and make them seem larger than life. It is extremely unattractive. Take the name at face value and use this one for finishing only.

Shopping tip: The package is generous in size and lasts a decent amount of time, but since I use it every day, I do go through a fair amount of Smooth Operator. I try to wait for Ulta to do a 5x points offer on Tarte products and stock up for the year then. It’s a hefty outlay of cash at one time, but the bonus points make it worth the price tag, especially if there’s a 2x/3x overall points offer running at the same time. Check out my post on getting the most out of your Ultamate Rewards membership to learn more about how I shop smarter to rack up bonus points.

You can also find it at Sephora and on Amazon.

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