Tarte's Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation Is Like Photoshop in a Bottle

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Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation

Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Product Shot

Lisa Patulny/Design by Cristina Cianci

What We Like
  • Naturally radiant finish

  • Buildable coverage

  • Long-lasting

  • Blurs imperfections

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for oily skin

  • Expensive

  • Not Byrdie Clean

Tarte’s Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation is great for anyone seeking a medium coverage base that doesn’t feel heavy. I’m convinced the airbrush effect makes it worth its weight in gold.


Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation

Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Product Shot

Lisa Patulny/Design by Cristina Cianci

We put Tarte's Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.

I was a bit apprehensive about testing Tarte’s Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation because I usually don't go for fuller coverage base products. While I can appreciate a beat face on someone else, I don’t personally love the feeling of wearing lots of layers of makeup.

Then I read reviews on the Sephora Australia website saying that it felt surprisingly lightweight on the skin: “Breathable, fresh!” one reviewer wrote. I was intrigued. So how did it fare on me? Keep reading to find out.

Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation

Best for: Creating the appearance of a more even skin tone

Active ingredients: Marine plant extracts, vitamin E

Byrdie Clean?: No, contains PEGs

Price: $39

About the brand: A go-to for cruelty-free cosmetics, Tarte marries natural ingredients and high-performance formulas. The brand is known for its use of a few key ingredients, including Amazonian clay and vitamin C-rich maracuja.

About My Skin: Prone to tantrums

My skin is usually one of the few parts of my body I can rely on. Unlike my hair (temperamental at best) and my stomach (growing a baby), it normally looks the same day in and day out. Lately, that’s changed. Pregnancy will do that to you! Along with a sensitivity to heat and certain actives, I’ve got perioral dermatitis.

The parts of my face most affected are around my nose and on my chin. Depending on the day, these areas can be inflamed, sore or itchy, or completely fine and normal looking. It’s a bit of a lottery (and not a fun one).

How To Apply: However you like

The texture of this foundation is very fluid, which lends itself to lots of different types of application. Most of us have a preferred way to put on foundation, whether that’s with a makeup sponge, brush, or our fingers. I like to blend and buff in with a brush and then place my warm hands over my skin to help it "meld." I can’t remember which makeup artist taught me this trick, but it really does help fuller coverage formulas look skin-like.

The Coverage: Medium to full

The brand says this foundation delivers medium coverage, and I don’t disagree. I tend to dot product on with my fingers then buff in with a blending brush (the Rae Morris Jishaku #28: Deluxe Radiance, $200, if you’re curious) so I end up with more of a sheer finish. If you prefer fuller coverage, I’d recommend applying it with a sponge or regular foundation brush.

The Application: The dropper is handy

Because the texture is so fluid and serum-like it makes sense that it comes with a dropper. A dropper is fun because it allows you to dot the formula onto different areas of your face without using your fingers. That said, experts would tell you that you’re not supposed to touch the dropper directly to your skin (because of bacteria) so I tend to hover it over the surface. Warning: Do this in front of a mirror for better aim, especially if wearing white.

The formula itself is silky and easy to apply, to the point you could apply it in the back of an Uber and trust it had blended in just fine. You don’t need much to get good coverage either—I use one drop on either cheek and one on the forehead, the chin, and the nose. It builds nicely if you feel you want to go in again with a second layer.

The Results: Impressive

Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation Selfi

Lisa Patulny/Design by Cristina Cianci

I wasn’t sure I would be a fan of this formula, given that I'm usually a tinted moisturizer kind of girl. I don’t love heavy coverage on me so I was concerned I’d look like I had a mask of makeup on. I needn’t have worried, though, because that didn’t happen. In fact, my skin looked more airbrushed than I’ve seen it look in a long time.

The finish is what I’d describe as satin—not dewy, not matte, just healthy-looking and radiant. The formula also wears really well; I didn’t notice any caking or fading throughout the day. (That’s especially impressive because I live in Australia and the days can get scorching.) It feels very light on the skin, which is lovely.

My skin looked more airbrushed than I’ve seen it look in a long time.

The Value: Punches above its weight

At $39 it’s not the cheapest option out there, but there’s no denying it is punching above its weight (as in it feels more premium than the price point suggests). A little goes a long way, so I’m confident in predicting you’ll most likely get more applications out of this bottle than many other similarly priced foundations.

Similar Products: You’ve got options

Perricone MD No Makeup Foundation Serum: Similar in texture to the Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation, Perricone MD's No Makeup Foundation Serum ($60) offers sheerer coverage but is buildable. It only comes in six shades, which means you might not find a perfect match. Bonus: This one contains SPF 20.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint: A reliable budget option if you're a fan of serum foundations, Neutrogena's Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint ($12) is infused with hyaluronic acid to keep skin hydrated. The texture is thicker and feels smoother thanks to a higher percentage of dimethicone. 

Final Verdict

While it hasn’t convinced me to abandon my preference for lighter coverage formulas completely, I will be keeping Tarte's Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation on hand for occasions when I want to feel more polished.


  • Product Name Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation
  • Product Brand Tarte
  • Price $39.00
  • Weight 1 oz.
  • Full Ingredient List Titanium Dioxide (6.23%), Zinc Oxide (3.84%) Inactive ingredients: Water, glycerin, isododecane, cyclopentasiloxane, phenyl trimethicone, nylon-12, dipropylene glycol, caprylic/capric triglyceride, cyclohexasiloxane, SD Alcohol 40-B, aluminum starch octenylsuccinate, butylene glycol, cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 dimethicone, magnesium sulfate, alumina, PEG-9 polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone, silica, talc, iron oxides, sorbitan isostearate, stearalkonium hectorite, polyglyceryl-4 isostearate, hexyl laurate, aluminum hydroxide, stearic acid, caprylyl glycol, propylene carbonate, dimethicone, hydrogen dimethicone, phenoxyethanol, triethoxycaprylylsilane, tocopheryl acetate, 1,2-hexanediol, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, algae extract, gardenia taitensis flower extract, tocopherol.

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