Rating: Avoid


  • Outer packaging is recyclable
  • Main ingredients appear to have low aquatic toxicity


  • Contains bioaccumulative silicones
  • Preservatives include EDTA and TBHQ
  • Inner packaging is difficult to recycle

Tarte is a cosmetics brand focused on offering products made with naturally derived products that are cruelty free and vegan. The brand is owned by the Japanese personal care company, KOSE.

Their Shape Tape Contour Concealer* is a silicone-heavy formulation. Aside from water, five of the top eight ingredients in this product are silicones. In addition, two minor ingredients are silicones. The time that it will take for these ingredients to break down in the environment, after waste water treatment, will depend on the environmental conditions. They could stay in the environment for a long time.

The aquatic toxicity data available for the major ingredients in this product indicate that they are not toxic to aquatic life. That said, studies have shown that the two key silicones in this product – cyclopentasiloxane and cyclohexasiloxane – are also bioaccumulative. The potential for a chemical to not break down quickly and bioaccumulate means that it may be a chemical of high concern. Both of these chemicals are listed as substances of very high concern in the European Union for this reason, and companies wanting to use this chemical in European Union may soon have to seek authorisation first.

Other ingredients in this product include fragrances, natural extracts, moisturising ingredients and thickening agents. Most, but not all, of these ingredients are readily biodegradable. Many also have some aquatic toxicity. For those ingredients that are readily biodegradable, a significant amount should be broken down during waste water treatment. This will limit the amount that enters the environment, but a small amount will still be released.

The preservatives include EDTA and TBHQ. Both of these chemicals are unlikely to be readily biodegradable. In the environment, EDTA can increase exposure to heavy metals in waterways and interfere with normal nutrient cycles. The data available for TBHQ shows that it is very toxic to aquatic life. Being likely to last in the environment for a long time and very toxic to aquatic life indicates that this chemical may also be a chemical of high concern. It would be particularly concerning if the chemical was bioaccumulative too. Unfortunately, no experimental studies have been done to confirm that TBHQ does not bioaccumulate in the environment.

The colouring pigments in this product include titanium dioxides and iron oxides. These are derived from mined minerals. The environmental impacts of this process will depend largely on the mining operation, but all mines have an environmental impact.

The concealer comes in a tube with applicator, in a cardboard box. While the cardboard box and tube are able to be recycled in most kerbside schemes, the tube lid and applicator cannot. The only way to recycle this component is through Terracycle. While it is good that this option is available, it is more difficult to use, so the chances of the packaging being recycled are lower.

But does it work?

Considering how well a product works is a big factor in determining whether a product is a good one or not. A product that does not work is a waste.

This product is popular with users – but so are many other products that have a much lower environmental impact. Search our reviews to find other products that could do the job without compromising the environment.

Image credit: Face Made Up

* This review is based on the ingredients list for the “medium” shade. There may be slight differences in the formulations of other shades.

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