Worth it? Tarte Knockout Tingling Treatment

Tarte Knockout Tingling TreatmentTarte Knockout Tingling Treatment, $39

At the end of August, during the surprise BI sale, I purchased two things:

  1. Restocked Ole Henriksen Truth Serum.
  2. I decided to give the overwhelmingly positively reviewed Tarte Knockout Tingling Treatment (5oz for $39) a shot.

My interest in the latter was piqued when Stef Nicole mentioned it in her 2017 skincare video; she’s a highly skeptical character, went in to try this with an admirable level of skepticism, and came out impressed. So hey – I’ll give it a shot too. Like her, I question the foray of makeup brands into the skincare realm, but her judgment is pretty damn solid.

If it Ain’t Broke

For as long as I can remember at this point, I haven’t tried any new skincare products. This was due to a few things:

  • I’m on a low buy
  • I didn’t want to risk compromising my skin
  • Everything was working

For chemical exfoliation, I was largely relying on my Alpha Skin Gel for an AHA. That said, I can’t seem to get my hands on the Alpha Skin Gel easily – and for the first time in a while I felt adventurous.


The product comes packaged in a simple, cylindrical bottle with a screw-off top. I don’t adore the Tarte Knockout Tingling Treatment packaging. Aesthetically, it is nice enough – but it seems heavy and clumsy for what it is. The opaque bottle makes it difficult to get a sense of how much product remains. You can give it a shake, of course; I can tell I still have a good bit left but I don’t have any real concept of my usage.

pH Balancing

I have not tested the pH of this product myself, but Beautypedia reports it at a 3.3. That makes it effective for exfoliation, but I’m not sure that I’m convinced that this product is some pH-balancing magician.

How to Use

Tarte Knockout Tingling Treatment, which contains both lactic (alpha) and salicylic (beta) acids, is a toner. Previously all of my chemical exfoliants have been in gel or serum format, so an exfoliating toner was a new experience for me.

After I washing and drying my face in the evening, I invert a cotton pad (I like these Shiseido dupes from Swisspers) on the top of the uncapped bottle and saturate. Then, I smooth all over the face and neck in sweeping, upward motions. After twenty minutes or so, I slap on 3-4 drops of argan oil and go to bed.

My Results

As for me, I use 3-4x per week and am loving the results. The texture of the skin high on the bridge of my nose is much better, sebaceous filaments are kept in check, and dark spots from breakouts of yore are diminishing in severity. My skin is glowy, dewy, and frankly pretty damn awesome. I’d be more shocked if I didn’t trust Stef Nicole’s judgement – but I do, so here we are. It’s a keeper!

The Bottom Line

In short, an arsenal update is overdue! I’m pretty impressed by this toner and would happily repurchase. Even at the full price of nearly $8 per ounce! A tiny, tiny amount goes a long way and is doing great things for my skin. I will endeavor, however, to avoid paying full retail by planning my purchases and taking advantage of BI sales and whatnot.

A few other things to note:

  • Some users occasionally notice a vinegar-reminiscent smell when using the product. I have on occasion, but do not consistently. The smell, when I perceive it, does not linger on the skin.
  • Notably, this product is marketed with the acknowledgement that it may tingle. My skin is accustomed to acid exfoliation so I do not experience a tingling sensation. If you’re new to AHA and BHA usage, it very well may tingle or sting a bit at first. To mitigate this, do not aggressively scrub or manually exfoliate beforehand, and start off with 1-2x per week usage and work up from there.