What the Hell Is Going On With the Tarte Cheek Stains?
ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE. Unfortunately, I presume (since it was brought up), that I’m expected to take a tone of indignant outrage, and that’s just not where I come out.
Here’s why people are upset: The old tarte cheek stains retailed for $30 for 1 ounce of product, putting them at $30 per ounce. The new tarte cheek stains retail at $30 for 0.5 ounces, putting them at $60 per ounce. This isn’t totally out-of-the-blue; Tarte’s new releases have been 0.5 ounces since 2012. What’s new is that all of Tarte’s cream blushes are now in the half-an-ounce version.
Prima facie, it actually makes a lot of sense to be displeased. Tarte cut the size of their products in half but didn’t change the price. You get less product for your money.
Is It a Bad Deal?
Underlying this unhappiness is the assumption that you’re getting a bad deal. Are you getting a bad deal? Well, let’s go ahead and compare that to other cream blush sticks on the market, from least expensive to most expensive per ounce:
Maybelline Master Glaze Blush Sticks are $8.99 for 0.24 ounces ($37.46 per ounce).
Josie Maran Argan Color Sticks are $22 for 0.55 ounces ($40 per ounce).
NYX Stick Blushes are $6 for 0.13 ounces ($46.15 per ounce).
Revlon Babysticks are $5.99 for 0.1 ounces ($59.90 per ounce).
Be a Bombshell’s the One Sticks are $16 for 0.26 ounces ($61.54 per ounce).
NARS the Multiples are $39 for 0.5 ounces ($78 per ounce).
Clinique Blushwear Creamsticks are $21 for 0.21 ounces ($100 per ounce).
If the old Tarte cheek stains were on that list, they would be the cheapest ones on there, less expensive than Maybelline, NYX, and Revlon. The new price is right smack in the middle: more expensive than the drugstore brands but less expensive than higher-end brands like NARS.
The only real outliers on that list are Josie Maran, which is priced low, and Clinique, which is priced high. My prediction is that Josie Maran will adjust in future, raising their prices a few bucks to be in line with the pricing of other brands, and that the Clinique Blushwear sticks will just sell badly.
In other words, $30 for 0.5 ounces of Tarte Cheek Stain isn’t a bad deal, and is pretty much exactly what you would expect to pay if not for a cognitive bias called the anchoring effect, where the first piece of information (“$30 for an ounce of product”) is used to make subsequent judgments (“therefore $30 for half an ounce of product is unfair”).
Is There a Benefit to the Smaller Sizes?
Okay, so we’ve established that these new prices aren’t ridiculous in comparison to other stick blushes out there. There’s still another argument against the change that makes sense to me. The argument is thus: The actual “makeup” part of makeup is not incredibly expensive to make. Tarte is probably not saving a shitload of money by halving the sizes, but they are being assholes to their customers. There is no benefit to decreasing the product size, so they should just suck it up.
Fine, you may say. But I still get less product out of my blush! I want bang for my buck!
In reality, I don’t think you are getting any fewer uses out of your products. I decided to do a quick test.
I didn’t want to put an expired product on my face for obvious reasons, so I checked about how much product I use in one application of cream blush is using my Stila Convertible Color and my fancy scale. (I only took one measurement, and you might cake on more blush than I do, so do keep in mind that my methods are inaccurate as fuck.) One application of cream blush came out to 0.009 grams (0.0003 ounces).
That means that one ounce of the product (the amount in the original Tarte blushes) works out to something like 3333 application in a tube. THAT IS RIDICULOUS. THERE IS NO WAY IT WON’T MOLD IF YOU KEEP IT THAT LONG. If I applied the original one-ounce tubes once per day, every day, with no waste (I admittedly waste a lot on those Tarte blushes because I always feel like they need to be cleaned off), it would take me something like 9 years to totally use it up.
I don’t know how else to say this. There is no reason that this product needs to be a humungous one-ounce tube. It’s just extra landfill fodder.
Well, Then, Shouldn’t They Just Decrease the Price?
Didn’t we already establish that the biggest costs in cosmetics are not the products themselves? I would agree that PR-wise, it would have been an effective gesture of goodwill to decrease the prices. However, let’s say that the extra 0.5 ounces costs $2 to manufacture (I totally pulled that number out of my ass, sorry). No one demanding a lower price is going to be satisfied if Tarte adjusts the prices from $30 to $28. Adjusting the prices significantly (e.g. bumping them down to $22) would cut into employee’s salaries, the company’s ability to develop new products, the company’s marketing budget, and so forth.
You can still be grumpy, but I feel like Tarte didn’t have a lot of choices save building a time machine and traveling back to when these cheek stains were being released and saying, “STOP, FORMER SELVES! THAT IS TOO BIG!”
What About the LipSurgences?
People are weirdly also claiming that the Tarte LipSurgences have also decreased in size, but this is demonstrably false.
There are people complaining, for example, that these lip products are a third of the size. I can only assume that these people are confusing ounces vs. grams and then decimals… simultaneously. The Tarte LipSurgences are and always have been 0.1 ounces, which is the same as 3 grams. They have not changed. I took a photo of a LipSurgence that I bought quite a while ago, in case my word isn’t gold.
|Reading in at 3g/0.10oz|
|And so does the Tarte website.|
Another part of the confusion is that Tarte released a new product called the LipSurgence Power Pigment, which is $24 for 0.04 ounces. Is that ridiculously expensive at $600 per ounce? Yes. Am I going to buy it at that price? FUCK NO. But it doesn’t change the price of the other lip tints, which are still $24 for 0.1 ounces ($240 per ounce).
How Did Tarte Handle This Whole Thing?
Finally, it is worth noting that one of the reasons people are so enraged is because Tarte’s PR team totally botched this whole thing. First, they made no announcements and just kind of plopped a smaller product on the shelves. Then, their facebook response was 800 different kinds of vague:
I think being really explicit about what they are doing would have gone over a lot better. (E.g. Saying, “People were keeping them so long that the products would start molding since no product can last forever.” Except, like nicer than that.) Likewise, they are so vague that it is reading as deceptive. For example, they’re glossing over the fact that, for a period of time, they were selling Tarte Cheek Stains in BOTH one ounce and one half ounce sizes. Consequentially, people are thinking, “Well, I bought a Tarte Cheek Tint in 2017 and it was one ounce. That means that they are lying.” Well, they did have 0.5-ounce products starting in 2012, but they also had 1-ounce products. I think being frank and clear would go over much better than what they are doing right now.
|I am borrowing someone’s computer, and screenshots on this computer look awful for some reason.|
In summary, I don’t think that Tarte’s product size changes are insidious. I do think that they are totally fucking up the PR.