March 14, 2018

Tatcha The Silk Canvas Protective Primer Review & Swatches

I purchased this item and I receive a small commission if you shop using the links in this post.

Tatcha The Silk Canvas Protective Primer ($52) is a new facial primer that the brand released a few weeks ago which acts to smooth and prep skin for makeup while extending the wear of your foundation.

I purchased this the day it launched which I believe was the first week of February and I’ve used it every single day since to give it a fair testing period. I had hopes it would turn out as well as Mally Poreless Face Defender which I use and love. The formula actually sounds a hell of a lot better than Mally’s formula in some ways as they throw around words silk powder, flawlessness, and protection against free radicals. They make it seem like you’re doing something really good for your skin not to mention they promise this will even out your skin tone and ease dullness.

It’s weird to me to see this promoted on Instagram showing shots of eyeshadow swatches with and without Tatcha The Silk Canvas Protective Primer used. I have no idea how this relates to the product. Sure, the eyeshadow swatches with this used under it look more intense but how does that apply to a product you’re using on your face!? It just seems an irrelevant and unrelated way to promote the product.

None the less, I was intrigued by this and decided to purchase it to try out.

You might be wondering why I bothered since I have dry skin and I do not have visible pores. Regardless, I still use primer to give me a smooth, flawless finish. I just tend to avoid ones with silicone as they aren’t terribly flattering on my drier skin. I suspect that like most pressed primers this would have silicone which is one reason for me to avoid it. I don’t like silicone primers but I’ve used them in the past with some success. Hell, Mally’s formula is completely loaded with silicone and it works great for me. So, it really depends.

Tatcha’s formula does in fact have dimethicone but it is surprisingly lower on the list. They actually rely on a silkier silicone agent in this formula which is cyclopentasiloxane that’s commonly found in many hair care products. It’s a slippery texture in my experience. On top of that they also have a water and glycerin base which all in all gives you a very hydrating feel. It’s also loaded with some incredible plant botanical like camellia sinensis (green tea). There’s no doubt that there are a good deal of amazing ingredients in here. However, it does have a very strong herbal lavender scent. I thought the scent was pleasant but I think it might prove irritating for sensitive users.

This arrives in gorgeous large purple metallic compact with an ombre purple and white face place. The lid completely screws off to reveal the balm which is 0.7 oz in size. It’s a very luxuriously packaged product. It comes with a small round pick which you can use to scoop the primer out of the compact.

The primer itself is a creamy balm which is light pink. It’s actually a lot like Etude House Sweet Recipe Baby Choux Base. If you’re avid Korean or Japanese makeup users you’ve technically run across products like this a plenty I’m sure. The main difference between Tatcha’s formula and those would be the higher scale of ingredients and the fact it doesn’t leave behind a whitish cast. I did think it would at first as they said it had “pink and gold pearl” which I thought meant it would have some tint to even out or brighten skin tone. It does neither and sets to a transparent finish. So, the promise of easing dullness simply wasn’t there for me. I love and use Holika Holika Miracle Real Skin Finish Premium and I thought perhaps this would produce the same effect but it does not.

They created it with a geisha’s makeup routine in mind as geisha’s use a wax called Bintsuke to create a smooth, poreless canvas for her makeup. Most of us are not applying full geisha makeup daily though. On that note, we do apply foundation daily and my hope was at the least this would create a smooth canvas for my foundation and allow it to last for a longer period of time.

The fact of the matter is if you’re applying a layer of anything between your skin and foundation it will in fact allow the makeup the wear longer. Because hey, your foundation isn’t touching your skin and is sitting on top of your primer. That’s the magic of primer or even a heavy moisturizer like Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream. So, technically that means there isn’t any magic behind Tatcha The Silk Canvas Protective Primer. I can’t say it really made my foundation last longer though. I actually felt like my face was an oily mess after using it.

It does take a little bit of trial and error to figure out the perfect amount to use. My first time out of the gate I used about a pea-sized amount and that was a bit too much. A little goes a long way in my experience. I have drier skin so I’m always looking for more moisture and this provides plenty, too much in fact since I felt very oily during the day when I used it. My skin thankfully didn’t look shiny but it felt greasy. I do wonder how someone with oily skin will do with this if I felt oily as a dry skin user.

It is quite thick but absorbs easily and has a creamy yet silky texture that initially feels slippery but sets to a silky finish. I don’t have larger pores but I have visible ones on my nose and this did diffuse their appearance quite well but the effect didn’t last long since I felt like it melted off as the day progressed which also left my foundation looking less than stellar at the end of the day.

There’s so many things to love about this product. The luxurious packaging, the host of incredible ingredients, the way it applies and the way it does initially make my face look smooth and flawless. However, I don’t really love how it makes my face feel as the day progresses. I just felt oily all day and by the end of the day my foundation looked like it melted away. Honestly, if this is a product you want to explore for yourself I’d recommend checking out a variety of my past reviews in the Korean and Japanese Brand Archives because I’ve reviewed a lot of primers like this in the past which have a similar texture but actually perform considerably better and aren’t as greasy.


Oh well! As they say you win some, you lose some, and today I’m call Tatcha The Silk Canvas Protective Primer a loss.

Tatcha The Silk Canvas Protective Primer is available now at

I purchased this item and I receive a small commission if you shop using the links in this post.

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‘.

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  • kjh

    Tatcha seems to have studied Asian, especially Japanese products…rice powder, etc, high-ended the packaging, and raised the price a boatload over classic AB. Is Tatcha a true Asian or Asian-American line? It always failed the cost/benefit ratio to interest me. ‘full face of geisha..’ best laugh all day, as you always provide. You are so right about silicones being very had to judge. Thanks for the tip on cyclopentasiloxane being the preferred one.

    • Isabella Muse

      Victoria Tsai is actually Taiwanese but born with the US but she based the line off of Japanese skincare particularly that which geisha used. Time and time again she said her main inspiration was geisha makeup and skincare. It’s weird for me in all honesty because I see Tatcha as more of an American brand and not so much an Asian one. I have extensive experience with Japanese skincare and makeup and Tatcha just doesn’t come as being a Japanese beauty native if that makes sense πŸ˜€ She feels more American. None the less, they have a great line of products but yes, the cost is quite high end. LOL but really, it is true? It’s a weird way to market a product, “Oh this is like what geisha’s would use to prep for their makeup…” but really, are any of us doing geisha makeup in the real world?! My pleasure. they went with water, glycerin, and cyclopentasiloxane which means it feels a lot less like a silicone primer such as say Smashbox Photo Finish but this also seems to give it too much of a slipperiness which results in an oily feel for me. I wanted to love this so much but it didn’t work out!

      • Jane

        I dunno, Muse. Occasionally I’ll see a woman (less often a man) in full Instagram makeup. The colors and ingredients may be different, but some people ar definitely going all out every day.

        Thanks for the review. I am intrigued by Tatcha but repelled by their prices. I want that red lipstick, but $55? Good lord.

        • Isabella Muse

          Hi Jane! Perhaps for full Instagram makeup this would be great but does the average person wear that heavy a makeup in real life? I sure hope not! Pores need to breath hehe…! But yeah, you’re right but still the comparison to geisha makeup is probably a little bit extra….! Even those who use heavier makeup or coverage probably aren’t wearing a heavy coating Shiro-nuri Doran and Kona Oshiro daily unless of course, you’re a geisha ;-D or a cosplayer!

          • Jane

            Change up the colors and I think they’re there! Primer, powder, thick foundation, powder – baking even! – concealer, highlighter, contour, bronzer, blush, finishing powder and that’s before the “point” makeup.

            I mean I barely can slap on a half face before my kids start carrying on, but I think many are very, very dedicated!

          • Isabella Muse

            lol yeah you could be right πŸ™‚ Honestly, I try to go light with foundation and other base products!

  • Kish

    Thanks so much for the review! I keep thinking, oh I should use a primer, but I never do because I’m always worried they will break me out. I had this one on my list to try, but as my skin is slightly more on the oily side, I think it will be an easy pass for me. Also, your reviews are so much better than many because you use the product for more than a day. Nothing gets me more than people who write reviews the second they slap the product on lol.

    • Isabella Muse

      I can’t blame you because I always feel like I’m about to bust into hives when I use silicone primers. I think it is about finding the perfect formula you know? πŸ˜€ Oh girl I used to totally do that! Guilty as charged! I’ve learned I need to give products a little more time before I make any snappy decisions πŸ˜€ Sometimes I still do if something works out of the box for me right away but it is rare! I tend to stick to trying things for longer periods of time as I think it benefits readers most that I completely and fully tested it before settling on my thoughts and experience with it.

  • Kimmwc03


    I’ve been having hecka dry patches lately. Do you think I should try the Charlotte Tilbury one or go back to Mally’s primer? The Too Faced Hangover primer is just not cutting it anymore. Thanks.

    • Isabella Muse

      Don’t try Charlotte’s it’s too heavy imho! Try CosRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence prior to moisturizer or try Belif’s Bomb Moisturizer after that you can go ahead and apply lightweight primer of your choice. Don’t rely on your primer to hydrate your skin, your first step in treating dryness is prepping well with hydrating skincare. Or at least that is what works for me! πŸ™‚ Also, apply the essence when your skin is wet! After you shower pat your face gently but leave some moisture behind and apply the essence. Go about your normal stuff and apply your moisturizer after the settles in! If you don’t like products with snail secretion you can always get a different hydrating essence of your choice to use!

  • Jen

    I actually took a risk and got this for myself, and I have a very sensitive, oily face. It actually feels better than any other primer I’ve used, including Missha and my tried and true Beauty Shot Face Blur from Etude House, and the scent just reminds me of the essence. I’m also going to note really quick that the little line on the spatula is a guide–the maximum amount of product you need should not exceed that line as you swipe or across the surface. I only know this from watching the demo; I can’t remember if instructions were included on the typical rice paper insert or not D;

    And as far as branding, Tatcha is absolutely American, but all of the products are made in Japan and they have a permanent store and spa in Kyoto, plus they are partnered with Japanese artisans, especially for their tools/vanity items and the lipsticks. It’s kind of a weird comparison, but I kind of put them on par with ClΓ© de Peau, a brand you wouldn’t expect to be Japanese with the French name and very European aesthetic.

    … If Tatcha starts putting out makeup other than the primer and lipsticks though, my wallet is doomed.

    • Isabella Muse

      I am so glad to hear it worked for you! (I love Beauty Shot too by the way!) Thanks for educating me today on Tatcha not tot mention that little line! Actually if I used that much it would prob be too much! I use a really small amount since it makes me feel rather greasy πŸ™ Haha! Yeah, I do so wish Tatcha was a smidge cheaper πŸ˜€

  • Paige

    Weirdly, this is 100% awesome for my combo dehydrated and yet oh so oily skin with giant pores. I use less than a grain of rice for my whole face, and it is holding makeup (not settling into pores), and no greasy feeling/look, I love it. It seems to hold the pressed powder all day too, I’m in love.

    Muse, thank goodness you had put up that Sephora HOLYGRAIL gift with purchase up that I would have missed otherwise so I could try it before buying the full size, and then I bought the full size on the recent 15%.

    For those that hate the disk (which is insanely silly IMO), I don’t use that thing, I use the top of my tweezers which I disinfect before use, and already have in hand anyway.

    • Isabella Muse

      man I wish I can say the same! It just didn’t work out for me. Felt too oddly greasy on my skin! yay glad you got the same first ;-D plus saved 15 on the full! Thanks for letting me/us know what you thought of it.