March 18, 2014

Kose Buys Tarte Cosmetics

Tarte Color Your World with Shades of Clay Collection

Yes, it’s true the “Kose Buys Tarte Cosmetics” rumors are indeed true. WWD announced yesterday that Japan’s Kose company has purchased a 93.5% stake in Tarte Cosmetics.

You might recognize the Kose name from brands like Visee, Cosme Decorte, Softymo, Happy Bath Day, etc….all Japanese brands I have featured and reviewed on Musings of a Muse before.

Kose actually purchased a majority of the company including Tarte’s founder Maureen Kelly’s shares.

This is Kose’s first breach into the US market so it could potentially be an exciting one although considering the Japanese’s stance on animal testing one might wonder how this will be effect Tarte’s own animal testing policy. Tarte’s existing management will remain in place so this could mean very little change.

Tarte’s growth has been tremendous in recent years and is it any wonder considering the excellent QVC value sets they release as well as many fantastic new products released seasonally.

This could potentially mean an even bigger growth for the brand with Kose backing them as Kose brings a good deal to the table as well in this venture.

This could also potentially mean Tarte will be open to the Asian market as well. I know many friends in M’asia, Japan, and Singapore who really adore the brand but haven’t exactly at an easy means of getting it. There isn’t any word of course, if and when Tarte would be sold in Asia but again, with their stance on animal testing it is hard to say if this deals means they’ll break into the Asia market or not. Update: As mentioned by many readers Singapore and Malaysia started getting Tarte earlier last year! Thanks for this info!

Update: Today Tarte shared their official press release are Kose’s purchase which you can read below. Their stance on Animal Testing remains the same as you’ll find out below so there likely won’t be a lot of changes as Kose moves forward and management, as mentioned above, stays in place.

NEW YORK, March 17, 2014—tarte™, Inc., a privately held, high-performance natural™ prestige beauty company, today announced an agreement to be acquired by KOSÉ Corporation. The deal is expected to close April 2014, pending legislative clearance in the United States and other customary closing conditions.

“It’s been an amazing ride, from the little venture I started in my bedroom 15 years ago to the global powerhouse we’re privileged to now join,” said Maureen Kelly, Founder and CEO of tarte. “Our vision throughout has been to create beauty products that are ‘healthy treats for your skin,’ foster the highest level of customer service and give back to the community and the environment. By joining the KOSÉ family and adding to that rich portfolio, we can build on what we’ve already accomplished with powerful products targeted at new markets.”

The eco-chic beauty line from tarte is infused with ingredients such as superfruits, plant extracts, vitamins, minerals and other naturally derived ingredients, and all products are formulated without parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate and gluten. The company’s blushes, LipSurgence™ lip tints, Amazonian clay and maracuja-infused complexion products have won a broad following and industry awards.

The company has steadily increased its market presence over the years and received a boost through an investment in 2010 from Encore Consumer Capital, a San Francisco-based private equity firm focused specifically on consumer products companies. Since then, tarte has significantly expanded its footprint throughout North America open-sell environments and specialty distribution channels with market-leading retailers such as Sephora, Sephora Inside JCPenney, Ulta, QVC and Macy’s Impulse. tarte has also grown its international presence with Sephora South East Asia and QVC UK.

Following the closing, KOSÉ and tarte will develop a comprehensive integration plan to incorporate tarte into the KOSÉ family. The senior executive team including Ms. Kelly, Scott McDonough, General Manager, Heather Hemsley, Vice President of Finance, and Candace Craig Bulishak, Vice President of Branding will continue to lead the organization, as well as play key roles to draw strength from the parent company and ensure the continued success of tarte. The brand will keep its headquarters in the New York, New York office.

What do you think of this news?

To you like the idea of Tarte being purchases by Kose?

Not so much?

Do share!

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • Michou

    Since these sort of takeovers happen all the time, the only way I’ll be upset is if they change their formula. I know of one company that REALLY went downhill once they were bought out by a major cosmetics brand, but most of them tend to keep the formulas the same or even get better. Since I love the formula of many Japanese brands (often very hydrating), I’m hoping Tarte will only get better. I hope so, as they are one of my favorite brands.

    • Dawn

      Tarte itself may be cruelty free but the parent company is not and by buying them you are giving your money to a company that test on animals. Also will be selling in china that requires animal testing. I liked Tarte but I will move my business. I have also moved on from Too Faced, Urban Decay, NARS, The Body Shop, Tom’s of Maine, to name a few very well know and popular cruelty free companies that have now sold out….TRY VAPOUR BEAUTY …You will be amazed at how fabulous the products are…

  • Cj

    Hmm I wonder why tarte decided to sell? Are they not doing as good as I thought or something?

    Ps: speaking of “tarts” still waiting for your list of recc’s missy!

  • Sarah S.

    Aw man… I’ve been SO good at keeping my makeup vegan, in part because of Tarte’s awesome vegan offerings. I don’t even buy Urban Decay anymore because I also avoid companies with non-cruelty-free parent companies… Might mean the hunt for a new favorite mascara 🙁 bummer.
    FWIW I have considered still patronizing CF companies with (otherwise)vegan products whose parent companies are not CF, but I think a few more (OCC, Pacifica, Too Faced, ELF, Wet n Wild) would have to bite the dust before I do that.
    That said, I’m sure I used to have a collection that rivals yours, Muse, but now my makeup all fits in my vanity 😀

    • Leigh

      Sarah you do know that L’oreal went cruelty free a whole year ago right? The European Union passed a law banning animal testing for all companies headquartered in countries that make up the union. For reference, L’oreal, which is headquartered in France would fall under this law and their new status is stated on their website. L’oreal is not leaping bunny certified, however, because PETA is viewed by many in Europe as a domestic terrorist organization and thus being associated with them is not considered wise.

      • Sarah S.

        Hi Leigh. No, I haven’t heard that! I hope, of course, that you are right. Definitely worth looking into. Thanks for the heads up!

      • Sarah S.

        Hi Leigh, I personally avoid brands that sell in China, because by selling in China (currently), the Chinese government may decide to conduct animal testing on finised products still. I realize that is not L’oreal’s desire, however they do choose to sell in a country fully aware of this policy. So, until the policy in China changes (or if L’oreal stopped selling in China) I choose for myself to not buy their products. I don’t necessarily discourage others from doing so, and I do applaud L’oreal’s efforts to end animal testing in China. My own purchase choice, however, will only be affected by their success in ending the testing there.

      • Sarah S.

        Also, sorry for the multiple replies but I wanted to put it out there that Leaping Bunny is an entirely different organization from PETA.

  • Jen

    I REALLY hope Tarte doesn’t change it’s stance on animal testing. It’s by far my favorite cruelty free brand!

    • Diane

      If KOSE is based in China they WILL TEST ON ANIMALS!! No doubt!
      Sorry, no more tarte for me !!

  • Suselew

    This is disappointing to me. I’m shocked that Maureen would turn her company over to a Japanese brand. I’m assuming that Kose is not cruelty-free so this puts Tarte in the same position as Urban Decay (L’Oreal) and so many others who have abandoned their cruelty-free promise. It will be interesting to see how Tarte spins this. Once again, the almight buck rules the day.

    • shelly

      Urban Decay is still cruelty-free. (The Body Shop is also owned by L’Oreal, and The Body Shop is also cruelty-free.)

      • tina Max

        The Body Shop, I don’t believe is vegan. They use bee products and also lanolin which comes from sheep’s wool, which is cruelty at its best. I bought a tube of lipstick there and never went back upon learning this information.

  • Jessica Rose

    I keep hearing about this range…Love to try them out for myself…

  • Amber (One Lost Mama)

    Not gonna lie, as someone who only buys cruelty free products this makes me anxious. I’m really hoping the dreaded “…unless required by law” doesn’t pop up in their animal testing policy due to this change. Hopefully, they will be like Urban Decay and stick with their no testing policy even though they now have a parent company that is not cruelty free.

  • mikachan

    KOSE is a great company! Interesting to see them take stake in Tarte Cosmetics! ^_^

  • Amber (One Lost Mama)

    Also, I linked back to this post on my blog. Hope you don’t mind. Please let me know if you would prefer otherwise. Thanks!

  • clkhoo

    Hi. Im from malaysia. Just a bit of sharing. Tarte is available in sephora malaysia and sephora singapore since last year. But the price is more expensive here than in US. Besides, almost all the Christmas sets available in US last year were not available here. Hopefully with the purchase by kose, it will make us having fuller range of products with better price.

  • beautybabbling

    I’m worried. A lot of my collection is from Tarte, so I would be really upset if their cruelty-free status changed. 🙁

    • Margi

      I don’t think their status as cruelty free will change. I still won’t be purchasing anymore from them, I will use up what I have. They might be cruelty free but the parent company is not and by buying them you are giving your money to a company that hurts animals. I loved tarte but I have to move on.

  • Christina

    This is very interesting news indeed. I like Tarte as a brand and their whole concept and philosophy, but other than their blushes, I haven’t really liked anything. There’s nothing wrong with the products, but I’m a eye makeup and complexion gal, and since their eyeshadows are softer and the foundations don’t match me, I just don’t purchase from the brand often.

    I’m curious to see how Kose will change Tarte, because, let’s face it, with any new ownership comes change. Take Bare Escentuals for example: ever since Shiseido bought them, we’ve seen some radical changes. Still “natural and good for you” makeup, but definitely not as simplistic in terms of ingredients and definitely more appealing to a broader range of users with their pressed products and soon to be liquid foundation and nail polish (say what? Natural nail polish? LOL!). Asian skincare and makeup is quite different in concept than what we have in North America and Europe, so I’m very interested how that will translate to Tarte.

    I know Tarte sells in Singapore now and I think Malaysia has gotten it as well, so it’s no question about expansion to Asia. Does all of Asia allow animal testing or is it just China? News typically tends to center around testing in China, so I am a bit ignorant about the rest of Asia.

    If Maureen sold her shares, I’m betting she’s got some other ventures in her future. Very interesting news! Thanks for sharing.

    • Kathy A

      Bare Escentuals brought out a limited line of nail polishes several years ago. As I recall, there were 6 colors (I think they were sold in a set instead of individually), but they didn’t last past that initial introduction.

    • Bunny Larue

      BE had a liquid foundation decades ago. I see it more as a brand that’s coming full circle now. Maybe they will re-release the bath, body and fragrance line.

  • PharmNCharm

    Oh, wow. Tarte is my favorite so I am really worried! I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I really hope this doesn’t mean that All of the things I love about Tarte are going to change!

  • Li

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought Kose is an environmentally-conscious company? Kose is actually funding the rebuilding of fukushima (where the damaged nuclear plants are). I’d like to think that $ is not the only factor Maureen looked at when she sold her shares to Kose.

    • Isabella Muse

      Environmentally friendly maybe but some of their brands do test on animals from my understanding such as Addiction and a few others but I could be wrong.

  • JoElla

    IMO if she wanted to sell, I can’t blame her. Maybe she is up to something else fantastic.

    I’m not worried about product changes. Make up is different then fragrances. I don’t think we have to worry about “not changes” that Philosophy has suffered from.

    • Ashley

      I think that problem is that KOSE will now be getting a huge majority of the sale profits.. and then they’ll use that money to keep funding testing on animals.

  • Kharanya

    Wow, I really hope this isn’t horrible news. I finally got a match and love it. Their formulas agree with my super sensitive skin, I don’t break out or dry out. I don’t particularly care for their eyeshadows, they just aren’t pigmented enough for my skin (and I’m not even that dark, I use their foundation in light neutral),but I love their foundation, powder, blushes (stains & powder ) and mascara.

    Oh well, guess you can’t blame someone for cashing in and pulling out in these times. Time to find a new holy grail foundation just in case *sigh*.

  • Kaitlyn

    They just posted on their facebook that they will still not test on animals and Maureen will stay on as CEO.

  • Katmary

    I’m concerned as I thought Maureen was doing a great job expanding Tarte. I wish she’d kept majority so we’d know she was in charge and giving it the same dedication. I personally am bummed, but will wait and see how things go.

  • Carrie

    They probably will stay cruelty free though? And I’m pretty sure Urban Decay did as well. I remember when L’oreal bought them, they said that they were keeping their cruelty free policy.

  • Aly

    I am going to be really upset if the formula is going to change! 🙁

  • Jo

    I think my main issue with this is the products will no longer be made in America. 🙁

    • Phyrra

      I wrote a long blog post about this. In short, I will continue to support tarte as long as they remain cruelty free. It seems like Maureen believes they will be. I choose to support cruelty free companies even if their parent companies are not cruelty free.

  • JJ

    I am a fan of Japanese brands and I don’t see this acquisition as a bad thing. A lot of Japanese cosmetics are indeed made in Japan. Some of the Tarte products are already made in China (Off the Cuff Blush Palette, the eyeshadow quads). I noticed when “prestigious” brands such as Stila, Smashbox, Tarte offer “value items” they are usually made in China. I don’t know if that affects the quality of the product, just something I noticed.

  • Steph

    It is a little disappointing to hear the news, especially as they are due to release over here in the UK on QVC at the end of this month. But as long as their ethics and stance on animal testing and also the ingredients used in their products does not change it may be a good thing. Time will tell I guess.

  • JenJ

    I saw this yesterday on the QVC boards and was like wow. We shall see what changes come from this. Especially their presence on QVC. I don’t have a whole lot of tarte but their blushes which are a big favorite and some eyeshadows. Other than the December TSV and a recent palette purchase, Tarte isn’t a “must buy” brand for me like say Bare Minerals or Bobbi Brown.

  • JeriS

    I am very unhappy with this news. Even if the formulas remain the same, even if the no cruelty policy remains in force, I am still not happy. I am frustrated with American companies selling out to foreign investors. I’m sure that Maureen made a nice profit and I don’t begrudge her the success that she earned through her hard work, but we need to keep American businesses in America.

  • PeggyR

    I hope their quality remains the same. Too many companies start to build their factory in other countries once they expand and lost their quality. Hate to see that happen to Tarte as I love their products.

  • Jennifer

    I’m SO EXCITED about this!!! Kose makes some amazing cosmetics and I’ve always liked Tarte, so I can’t wait to see what happens. I think Kose will bring Tarte to the next level in terms of cosmetic elegance and formulas. Like the update says, they will remain cruelty free so no worries there, and Tarte cosmetics were not all made in USA to begin with so nothing to contend with there. I would be unhappy if Tarte were purchased by a lower-end company (quality wise) or a country with questionable regulations and quality control standards, but this is great!

  • judy

    This is very upsetting. I will no longer purchase Tarte, they are sell outs just like the rest. I loved the fact that they were cruelty free, and as much as Maureen says they will continue to be cruelty free,the money will go to a company who does do animal testing.

  • Sara

    Tarte is available in Singapore! As of this year at least… They’ve forayed into our Sephora stores, so glad for that!

  • MichelleChefNYC

    I always thought of Tarte as an environmentally conscious brand that was cruelty free, but I was horrified when I recently purchased two of last season’s holiday sets in the F&F sale they have going on right now, and I flipped over the packaging to see that they were “made in china”… I don’t know what this means for their cruelty free status considering the animal testing laws existing in china…

  • Lea

    Wow this is so disappointing… I was only buying tarte products because they were cruelty free… “WERE”…now to find a real honest product…

  • Erin Coe

    I am so disappointed in tarte. I don’t understand how the founder of tarte doesn’t realize that her values are now Kose’s values. It doesn’t matter if her line is cruelty-free, ultimately it’s not because the parent corporation is for animal testing. It’s the same with Estee Lauder owning so many seemingly care-about-the-planet companies, it’s a tricky sham, they’re commodifying good intentions. It’s just awful.

  • Kris

    Hi, I just moved to Tokyo and I love Tarte! Their clay paint liner is my all time favorite. Where can I buy it here?