Oh am I ever excited to share some news with you today. I’m thrilled to tell you that I’ve partnered with Tata Harper (aka one of my absolute favorite, can’t-live-without-it beauty brands) for a series of posts that will share so much fantastic information about natural beauty. Whenever I have written about this topic in the past, I always get great feedback from you guys, but also lots of questions. Believe me, I get it: when it comes to picking your beauty products, the choices are dizzying enough as it is. Add in trying to learn about the natural aspects of it, and navigating the right product choices becomes downright intimidating!
A few years ago, I got really into natural beauty after seeing some coverage about it in Time magazine, and reading the book No More Dirty Looks (aka the natural beauty bible). One of the first luxury beauty brands I was introduced to was Tata Harper, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I swear by her moisturizers (Rebuilding in the summer, Reparative in the winter). In fact, while I’ve tried many other great natural moisturizers, I always end up coming back to hers (and justifying the cost) because 1) it is the ONLY 100% natural moisturizer I’ve ever used that dries completely matte and 2) a bottle seems to last me for about half a year. Worth it.
Starting in January, Tata Harper and I will be sharing a series of posts focused on things like the ingredients you should absolutely avoid in your beauty products, the biggest misconceptions about natural beauty, and lots more (with some Tata Harper goodies to be given away for good measure!). To kick things off today though, I wanted to share a chat I recently had with Tata about her company, how she got started in the beauty business, and her favorite skincare tips. I’m also sharing a special discount on her products, so you can stock up for yourself or use it for holiday gifts! Here’s the scoop:
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Tata! I have to say, I’m so interested in your background. Where are you originally from, and how did you end up living in Vermont?
I grew up in Colombia, in a city on the coast where the weather is tropical and the beach is just a stone’s throw away… so different from Vermont! I studied in Mexico and in Paris, and then settled in Miami for a few years with my husband, and we worked on real estate development together. When we decided to have a family, we wanted to be settled somewhere beautiful and healthy, and we had been daydreaming about land in Vermont for a while. After a lot of searching, we found the perfect farm, and it was just around this time that I was starting to do research about the possibility of a natural, non-toxic luxury skincare line. Once we realized our farm could be the headquarters for our new project, that sealed the deal, and we’ve been in Vermont ever since!
So cool. I sometimes have daydreams about moving to a farm too — it sounds incredibly beautiful there. I’m also curious about how you got interested in non-toxic skincare. In chatting with other natural beauty devotees, I often find we all have an “Aha!” moment where we realize the products we’re using may be toxic, and we decide to investigate further. What was your “Aha!” moment? How did you immediately change your regimen?
My “Aha” moment happened about ten or eleven years ago, when my stepfather was diagnosed with cancer. I accompanied him to a lot of medical sessions during his treatment and recovery process, and a common theme that kept recurring during discussions with doctors was that we should take a look at the personal care products he used every day, and look at the potential toxicity of some of the ingredients. They were recommending that we swap them out with natural, safe alternatives – I was shocked, since this was the first time I ever heard about the idea of unsafe ingredients in things we use every day, like shampoo and deodorant and moisturizers. I immediately started investigating my own products, and was so frustrated to realize that a lot of the ingredients in my products had been linked to health repercussions like reproductive issues, allergies or even cancer. I thought that was just crazy, so I swapped everything that I used out for products with totally natural ingredients, but the one thing I couldn’t find was a truly safe replacement for my high-tech skincare. I’ve always used luxury lines formulated to deliver real results, so I was looking for a natural version that offered the same anti-aging science. I looked all over the world with no luck, so I decided to make what I was looking for. I really didn’t want to compromise with products that were blends of synthetic and natural ingredients – I wanted the real thing. I believe women shouldn’t have to sacrifice their health to look and feel beautiful!
The natural beauty market is one that’s (thankfully!) growing and really evolving. How is Tata Harper Skincare different from other natural (and luxury) skincare lines?
First of all, we are truly, seriously 100% natural. There isn’t a single synthetic ingredient in any of our products, and I don’t think there’s another line out there that can say the same thing – and still say that their ingredients are clinically proven to work, and that their products deliver real, visible anti-aging results. Also, our line is proprietary, meaning that my team of chemists formulated the line themselves, from scratch. Many big cosmetic companies buy base formulas for their skincare and cosmetics and then slightly modify them or add one or two unique ingredients, but ours is the opposite: every formula was developed to be truly good for you, good for the skin, and all about results. Beyond that, we do a lot that sets us apart: our products are all batched by hand in our lab in Vermont, in small batches so the products are fresh and never sit for long on the shelf. All aspects of production happen in-house, everything from filling the bottles to shipping to graphic design, so our carbon footprint is tiny compared to other businesses that have elements of their operation scattered all over the place. And we’re different because our priority is truly beauty without compromise: seriously healthy products that deliver real, visible results without a drop of synthetic chemicals.
I really love how you’ve grown such a well-respected, luxury skincare business from a Vermont farm that also supplies so many of the unique ingredients used in the products. What inspired you to want to grow your own ingredients? How has running the farm shaped your business and the brand?
Many of our ingredients are flowers that can grow in our climate, so we figured to keep our environmental effects as small as possible, why not source as much locally as we can? So we grow about fifteen herbs and flowers that we process and turn into essential oils and extracts that contribute to the fresh efficacy and the delicious aromas of our products, like borage, calendula, meadowsweet, arnica, lavender and lemonbalm. Running the farm means we have a deeper connection to the products themselves, since each bottle has a little bit of Vermont in it. It means we think about our products differently: they’re not chemical cocktails with no life in them. They’re alive, fresh and energetic, which is totally unique in the beauty industry, and which overall contributes to even healthier, happier skin.
Oh, I love the idea of the products being “alive and energetic.” Ok, true story and fun fact for you: when I first got into natural beauty, I had a fleeting moment where I thought about launching some kind of beauty line. I spent a little time researching labs and the whole cosmetics creation process — and it was DAUNTING. How did you navigate this industry, get hooked up with the right scientists and labs, and ultimately educate yourself about good/bad ingredients and the formulation process?
That is a great question, and the process is no doubt so different for everyone venturing into this industry. For me, I went straight to the people who I knew who could answer my questions and give me the honesty I was looking for: European chemists! Ten years ago, Europe was leagues ahead of America in terms of natural, safe skincare science. European labs were the only places you could find scientists developing botanically-derived alternatives to the synthetic technologies we’re used to in the states, so I went to those labs and told them what I wanted to create. They all thought I was crazy, and that it couldn’t be done, but I was very, very persistent! It required some creativity and some convincing, as in many cases we needed ingredient manufacturers to produce, specially for us, a version of an active ingredient that had all of the chemical bad stuff taken out (like paraben preservatives). It took five years in all, and there were so many moments along the way that felt daunting, just as you said – but I was passionate about it, and stubbornly persevered. It worked!
Yes, and speaking of working: I recently got the chance to try your body oil, and I’m obsessed! What is it about Tata Harper products — specifically the oil, and the facial moisturizers — that allow the product to sink in so quickly and not feel greasy? (It’s really miraculous!)
It’s all about the quality and molecular weight of the oils. The oils we formulate with are lightweight and super-fine, so they’re absorbed quickly. Plus, they’re biocompatible, meaning the body recognizes the substance as something natural and friendly, so they work with your skin to become healthier and more balanced. They don’t leave any greasy residue, rather they leave behind a velvety feel and a nourished glow.
I think that’s one thing that sometimes surprises or even turns people off about using oils — that they’ll feel greasy or just rub off. Interesting to know it’s all about the science. I’m personally a huge fan of your facial moisturizers and the body oil, but if there was one Tata Harper product for a newbie to invest in, what would it be, and why?
This is such a tough question! I really have to recommend two, because I believe in them so strongly. First is one of our cleansers, either the Regenerating Cleanser or Refreshing Cleanser depending on your skintype (Regenerating is for normal skin, Refreshing is for sensitive). They’re not like your average cleanser, which usually clean the skin with soaps, detergents or alcohols that essentially strip the skin of its moisture and hydration barrier, leaving it dry and depleted. They’re more like cleansing treatments, which means they purify, exfoliate and moisturize all at once. They cleanse the skin with active enzymes, clays and essential oils that leave the skin balanced and glowing, while all natural hydration is retained, which is super important for anti-aging!! The last thing you want is dry skin if you are trying to avoid fine lines. A dehydrated skin environment really contributes to deep wrinkles.
Secondly, our Rejuvenating Serum, which is the ultimate multi-tasking anti-aging treatment. It has twenty-nine active ingredients that help address fine lines & wrinkles, elasticity and firmness while nourishing the skin with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help prevent environmental damage. I’ve been using it every day for years and it’s worked wonders; it’s our best-selling product and always has been. It’s great for skin of all ages, whether you’re in your 20’s and you want to start taking preventative action, or you’re older and you want to star tackling existing signs of aging.
I so agree about dry skin = fine lines. With that in mind, other than investing in good quality products, what’s the one thing women can do to protect their skin? Is it drink plenty of water? Wear a (non-chemical!) sunscreen? Eat the right foods? What do you see in your work and research?
There’s a lot you can do to contribute to beautiful skin! The way I see it, good skincare is an element of a healthy lifestyle that will ultimately contribute to the happiest, most youthful skin, but it’s by no means the only thing you can do. First, hydration is key! Make sure you drink lots of water, and also the sun is truly the greatest enemy of the skin. It degrades our collagen structure, causes dark spots and fine lines, etc – always be conscious of sun exposure, and wear your SPF. Eat well, lots of fruits and vegetables. A third of what we eat goes to nourish our skin, so your complexion is really a reflection of your body’s health. Cultivate beautiful skin with a diverse, colorful diet! Exercise is key, especially cardio workouts that help boost circulation and therefore oxygenation to the skin. It helps keep the skin glowy with a fresh supply of nutrients from the blood. And last, manage stress, which directly contributes to depleted, damaged skin.
When I first got into natural beauty, I think all my friends thought I was a little nuts (I literally threw out almost everything in my bathroom and started from scratch). But nowadays, I find that women are really wanting to learn more about it, and are actively seeking more natural products. What do you think has contributed to so many people becoming more interested in natural beauty?
A general awareness and enlightenment about how health is holistic! I think the way we think about food has been changing a lot in the last few years, as we’ve seen the rise of oirganic, booming farmer’s markets, the local movement and even the popularity of juicing and going raw. To me, it makes sense that after we think about what we put in our bodies, we would think about what we put on our bodies, since our skin is like a sponge that absorbs so much of what goes on to it. As we strive to be healthier, happier humans with longer lives and healthy families, seriously considering personal care products and whether or not they’re good for us is inevitable. I’m so thrilled every day to be part of this movement, and to be contributing to that process of people creating healthy lives for themselves!
How do you think the natural beauty industry will evolve over the next five years? Are we at the tipping point where the FDA will begin regulating the beauty industry more? Labeling is obviously such a big part of the entire cosmetics industry…
I certainly hope so. I really try to pay attention to what is going on in various states and in the government in regards to regulating cosmetics, but since it seems like that is not going anywhere fast, I’m focusing on what we can do as a company, to raise awareness, educate consumers, and create a natural, nontoxic skincare option that people love to use. I think the natural beauty industry will continue to grow, and I just hope that the new and growing businesses that occupy that market will be doing the right thing: no greenwashing, no tricking customers with misleading marketing or packaging. But truly, it’s up to consumers to do their research and know who they’re supporting with every natural beauty purchase they make, since what you buy really determines what stays in the market and what goes!
Thank you so much to Tata Harper for taking the time to chat with me! I hope you guys enjoyed her interview as much as I did…and that you learned something to boot!
As I mentioned before, the Tata x vmac series will pick back up in January after the holidays, but to tide you over in the meantime, I wanted to be sure you knew that right now, you can get 15% off your entire order at TataHarper.com by using the code ADORED. This offer ends tomorrow, Dec. 4, so don’t miss it! This Try Me Kit and this travel set are perfect places to start…
The full disclosure: This post was sponsored by Tata Harper, a brand I genuinely adore and use every single day! All opinions and words not provided by Tata Harper are my own. Photos by Victoria McGinley.