January’s – ‘The Positivity Issue’ – Download Now
Founder of the eponymous skincare brand, Tata Harper is a champion of natural, green beauty. We discuss how the brand is making a positive impact in the world.
Talk us through your career background?
I was born and raised in Colombia by my mother and grandmother who were obsessed with beauty. After high school, I wanted to study fashion, but my mother encouraged me to attend school in Mexico to become an industrial engineer. Then, I took this road of being an entrepreneur in beauty. I never thought that I would be in beauty, even though I’ve always loved it. We started Tata Harper Skincare on our organic farm in Vermont in 2010 and since we launched our first product line, we have grown into a global business. From the inception of the company, I have been unwilling to compromise or take shortcuts. If I had chosen to take the easy route or was willing to take no for an answer, Tata Harper Skincare would not be what it is today. I am always striving for the best, most innovative solution to the problem, and I won’t settle for a lesser answer. We have a unique approach to formulation, grounded in the philosophy that complexity equals efficacy and more ingredients equal more results, to the completely vertical integration with zero shortcuts or outsourcing that now defines the farm-to-face movement.
What led you to explore the beauty space?
The catalyst for starting a green beauty line was when my stepfather was diagnosed with cancer and I became aware of the toxins and chemicals. I couldn’t find any natural products without synthetic chemicals that gave me the results and the luxury experience I was looking for. Looking behind the curtains of the products, I was disappointed to learn that many products used ingredients that belonged in cars, and not on your skin.
You’ve always focused on natural beauty. Was this the strategy form the outset?
When I started learning about the toxic load and how many toxic ingredients are in my personal care products, I was shocked to find that many brands use a fully synthetic or premade base that makes up 75 per cent of the formula. Most of the time, the bases don’t do anything for the skin and are made primarily with preservatives and artificial ingredients that might make them look and smell nice, but that’s it. My goal from the very beginning has been to create products that would give me the results of the luxury skincare I was used to but with completely natural and nontoxic ingredients. For us, luxury is about the quality of our ingredients and the powerful performance of our products. We achieve that by using as many potent and high-tech ingredients as possible in every formula to make multifunctional, hardworking products that give you real results without a single drop of synthetic chemicals. It’s not the easy way, but it’s the only way we have done things and will continue to operate as a brand.
Since you launched Tata Harper skincare in 2010, how has the brand developed?
We were outliers when we first launched, so education was the key to breaking into the beauty market. For the first few years, it was like we were talking to customers and retailers in a foreign language. The idea of clean beauty was not accepted so we built trust through transparency and an unwavering message. Now that natural beauty is widely recognized, it is here to say. It is no longer just “a trend”, but rather the way the industry as a whole is headed.
How does your brand leave a positive impact on the world?
I believe that our products have opened the eyes of so many people who believe the only option out there is to use products and formulas that are bad for your health. We are so proud to be innovators and pioneers in this industry and to pave the way to do things differently. We are completely transparent and take social and environmental responsibility in every step of our process. Whether it’s our ingredients or our packaging, we work with vendors that are committed to fair trade, protecting workers, supporting local communities, sustainability, and environmentally responsible practices.
What are the three hero products from Tata Harper?
This is always a hard question because I love every product we make, but if I had to pick it would be Elixir Vitae, Regenerating Cleanser, and the Resurfacing Mask.
Elixir Vitae is seriously the product I can’t live without and it’s our most potent and powerful formula. It has 72 ingredients and works like a daily dose of injectables. It has a Quadruple Neuropeptide Complex that uses relaxing technology to minimize the look of wrinkles, Kelp Polymers that address signs of cellular ageing, and Pistachio Tree Crystal Tears that use filling technology to restore the look of volume.
If I want to instantly grow and restore radiance to the skin, my favourite products are in our Glow Getter routine. The first step is the Regenerating Cleanser, which is a daily BHA exfoliant that polishes your skin with a deep clean. You want to apply enough so that the product creates a thin, white foam on your face by rubbing all over the skin in circular motions. Instead of washing the cleanser off, I then apply our Resurfacing Mask directly on top of the cleanser and let the products work their magic for five minutes before removing. I love it because the combo gives me results like a peel, but without the downtime.
Can you talk us through your daily skincare routine?
When it comes to my daily essentials, I’m a maximalist. I believe that more is more when it comes to my skincare and I use a multitude of our products every day, twice a day.
For my morning routine, I always start by exfoliating with Regenerating Cleanser – exfoliating daily really lets my skin breath and glow since it gets rid of any build-up that accumulates overnight, it also helps products absorb better. I follow with Hydrating Floral Essence to help prep my skin for treatment and help my serums penetrate deeper. Then it’s all about layering — I use Elixir Vitae on my whole face, next I’ll use Elixir Vitae Eye Serum, and then Repairative Moisturizer.
At night, I always start with double-cleansing. First, I use Nourishing Oil Cleanser to get rid of that top layer of dirt and grime from the day, then I follow with the Purifying Cleanser to actually cleanse and detox my skin. Then, I use the Hydrating Floral Essence. For serum, I use the Elixir Vitae on my face and Boosted Contouring Serum on my neck. I like a thicker eye cream at night, so I usually use the Boosted Contouring Eye Balm. I also like a richer moisturizer at night, so I finish with Crème Riche.
What positive steps are you and your brand taking in 2021?
Sustainability has always been a top priority for me and even though we’ve always been eco-friendly, there’s always an opportunity to do more. I believe the future of sustainability is in reusable packaging, which is even better than recycling. We have recently launched our first refillable product, the Water-Lock moisturizer which is our first step to becoming reusable beauty instead of throwaway beauty. The reality is that beauty packaging can definitely be used longer. The pump, caps, and jars can always be reused multiple times – it’s not like the components will disintegrate after a month or two of using it! Right now, we’re working on developing product refills for our entire product line to minimize consumer waste and extend the lifespan of our packaging.
What has your journey as an entrepreneur been like?
In the beginning, no one believed that naturals really worked, it was an uphill battle to educate our first customers and get them to try the products so they could really see the benefits for themselves. It has been such a rewarding experience to make products that are better for the people and the planet and I feel so lucky to travel around the world and teach people about our mission so they can live healthier lives. I am continuously learning about new technologies and ingredients from the earth so we can continue to advance the next generation of beauty.
What have been three hurdles you have had to overcome throughout your career?
The misconception that naturals aren’t effective. When we first started, formulating high-tech, ingredient-packed products with exclusively natural ingredients was a challenge.
Then, once we launched our first products, the challenge we faced was overcoming this old misconception that naturals weren’t effective. Now, as we continue to grow and are more focused on international expansion we’re facing new challenges that come with scaling a business. It has also been challenging to design sustainable luxury packaging. We’ve had to create our own moulds, rethink conventional packaging practices, and spend years researching. It has come a long way, but it is still a hurdle.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, what are three milestones that stand out?
I’ll never forget when I saw our products in Vogue for the first time. It further validated what we were trying to do and the idea that women don’t have to compromise health for beauty.
Recently we have launched our first refillable product, the Water-Lock moisturizer. This was a huge milestone for us because our goal is to end single-use plastics and help our customers live a waste-free life.
Beyond beauty, our mission is to make people’s lives better and this means making our products accessible to customers around the world. It’s been amazing engaging with an even broader audience of men and women who deserve to look and feel amazing, without having to compromise their health. It means the world to me to now be able to share this philosophy with our customers in the Middle East.
This is ‘The Positivity Issue’ – how do you plan to instil positivity in your life throughout 2021?
It really can be that easy to bring more positivity into your life. Take care of yourself, change your thoughts, and show some appreciation. And soon you’ll be rolling in good vibes.