Growing up in Colombia in a household full of women with a deep love for the ritual of beauty, Tata Harper realized that self-care was a luxury that everyone deserved.
On an endless search for non-toxic yet high-performing skincare products following her stepfather’s cancer diagnosis, Tata decided to create them herself. Working with the top botanists and chemists in the industry she embarked on a five-year journey to develop her unique formulation process and propriety bio-engineering technology for creating her signature Complex Formulas, grounded in the philosophy that more ingredients equal more results. Using the latest technology, the full range of products are formulated with the highest-quality natural ingredients available. Created from start to finish on Harper’s certified-organic farm in Vermont Champlain Valley, nothing in production is outsourced, allowing Tata to oversee every aspect of production to ensure maximum freshness and quality. Every Complex Formula is engineered with the highest possible quantity of precious skin innovative ingredients, captured at their most effective peak for maximum potency and meticulously packed into a small green bottle.
In just five year’s Tata Harper Skincare has become a global phenomenon, and has earned the entrepreneur a huge catalogue of fans all around the world. After launching in the Middle East last year, Harper’s products are hugely popular with the local market thanks to their transparency and authenticity. This summer Harper launches Superkind; a new range of products aimed at those with particularly sensitive skin. As the new products arrive on shelves we discover more as we meet with the founder herself.
What can you tell us about the new Superkind range?
I am very excited about the launch of Superkind. This is
going to be a game-changer for reactive skin. As you know, at Tata Harper we’re obsessed with the science behind our products. What we do is already difficult, but the engineering of Superkind was SO much harder! We had to add even more formulation requirements to how we work. We had to meet all our green beauty standards, plus the line needed to be completely hypoallergenic. We wanted to be super-comprehensive to minimise the chances of people being in touch with any potential stressors. So we excluded more than 80 of the most common skin triggers including soy, wheat/gluten, nuts, fragrances, and harsh acids. The whole line is vegan and we also made the products fragrance-free so no essential oils were included, which was such a big departure for us.
It has been amazing creating Superkind and taking a deep dive into the science of reactive skin, and realising that when you use the right filters, meticulously curate the right ingredients, and apply rigorous hypoallergenic testing, you can create powerful skincare for a complicated skin group. We have launched three products, to begin with. They are the essentials: a cleanser, a mask and a moisturiser.
Tell us more about these three products:
I love the Softening Cleanser. It is all about what we call “constructive cleansing”, which is a term we use when we formulate our cleansers as they are more like treatments. This formula was made to support and reinforce the skin barrier, not strip it down. It goes on like a cream and leaves the skin super soft. When you add water it transforms into a beautiful micro-foaming texture which leaves your face feeling clean and hydrated. It is sulphate free and we use a micro-foaming botanical blend made up of cassava tapioca and natural plant surfactants. The formula has a total of 18 active ingredients that offer a lot of benefits including vitamins A, B, C and E.
The Radiance Mask is our way of making sure clients with reactive skin get to enjoy the benefits of our best-selling product; our beloved resurfacing mask. When you have particularly sensitive skin, achieving a glowy look is tricky, so we had to look at the changes that needed to be made to our original mask. It still has a jelly texture that our clients love, but it is creamier, softer, and really comforting. The whole idea of the mask is its delicate refining technology that gives you a glow but also helps prevent over-exfoliation.
And finally, there is the Fortifying Moisturizer. This has a total of 28 active ingredients and this formula is the most complex out of the three. It was voted our silkiest moisturiser by our team. It’s substantial but weightless and the formula includes extremophile endurance technology, with three extremophile plants, meaning plants that have adapted in nature to withstand extreme environments and condition, so each one has a unique superpower to help the skin endure our modern way of living.
It has Vitamins A, B and C and a lot of peptides, as well as mulberry leaf complex; an Asian ingredient that promotes cellular turnover in a way that’s similar to retinol in the sense that it strengthens the skin’s structure for a firming effect and it’s also shown to decrease lines by 23% in 28 days.
Why did you find it important to create a range specifically for people with sensitive skin?
Superkind was inspired by a lot of conversations I was having with my friends and a lot of people with reactive skin, and the reality is that today, the modern environment is full of stressors and allergens, and they are making people more prone to reacting. What I’ve also realised is that people with reactive skin are afraid to try anything that they consider to be too powerful. They are traumatised by the vicious cycle of flare-ups and they end up with this very simple routine that tends to be quite synthetic with a lot of products found at pharmacies that are not very efficacious when it comes to antiaging. So solving this problem became a challenge, for me and my team. And we wanted to find a formula for reactive skin that’s also 100% natural like everything that we do.
How did the process of developing this product differ from the process when creating other Tata Harper products?
It has been an amazing experience taking a deep dive into the science of reactive skin. You realise that when you use the right filters, meticulously curate the right ingredients, and apply rigorous hypoallergenic testing, you can actually create powerful skincare for a complicated skin group. One that just happens to have a lot of restrictions, is more prone to reacting and is compromised more easily. It is a skincare line for people that love using anti-ageing products but are apprehensive and think they are going to break out, react and go through this vicious cycle of reactions.
The ingredients in the range are very important, how did you go about sourcing them and what was the thought process behind sourcing them?
While researching for Superkind, we discovered 36 new unique high-performance ingredients from 13 countries including Chile, Peru, Mexico, India and Japan. Our formulations for this collection feature new green technology that provides anti-ageing benefits, barrier reinforcement, allergen microfiltes, etc. It’s been meticulously curated for reactive skin.
We created two specific proprietary complexes for the collection. The first one is a tetra lipid complex that contains omega 3, 6, and 9 to rebuild the lipid layer. It also has a blend of apple seed, grape seed, evening primrose and phytosqualane. The second complex is the counter stress complex to soothe hyperactive skin. It features a lot of strengthening minerals; magnesium, copper, iron, zinc. This is actually a blend of five flowers and herbs that come from our garden in Vermont, blended with powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
We worked hard to find alternative active ingredients that give the effects of commonly used ingredients. For example, we opted to use mulberry leaf complex in lieu of retinol as it acts in a similar way without the harsh side effects. Our Superkind formulations also use extremophile endurance technology from three plants that have adapted in nature to withstand extreme environments and conditions. Each one has a unique superpower to help the skin endure our modern way of living and are especially fantastic for reactive skin.
We also used two new green technologies deriving from sugar. It is very interesting since we all know how bad sugar is for the skin when eaten. We used a sugar carbohydrate complex, which is a new moisture-binding technology that stimulates the production of ceramides to bind water into the skin and keep it there as long as possible. We also used a new technology of sugar prebiotics that biostimulates the ecoflora and prevents a very specific strain of bad bacteria from disrupting the skin’s natural defence mechanisms.
Tell us a little about Tata Harper in the Middle East – how has the brand been received so far and what do you hope to achieve?
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.
People around the world are looking to make better lifestyle choices and Arab women are no exception. They are highly educated consumers, part of a wellness movement that demands that the products they are using and putting on their skin are beyond authentic, of the highest quality, and really work. They appreciate well-made, long-lasting products and they embrace skincare, makeup and self-care. Arab women expect phenomenal results from the products they invest in, which is why they were pulling us to their region to cater to their skincare, grooming and beauty needs. With the level of potent actives that are in all of our products, it was only natural for us to start the process of bringing Tata Harper to this new customer. It has been a long process, but we are so excited for our products to be available in this region.
From the entire range, which products would you recommend for women in the region?
It’s important to switch up your skincare routine to adapt to extreme climates and your current skin concerns. I feel that a lot of people think of cleansing as a very basic step, but it is critical for your skin’s health. In extreme environments, oil and dirt tend to build up on the skin’s surface so I recommend starting with our Nourishing Oil Cleanser, a multivitamin cleansing oil that breaks down build-ups and dissolves makeup without stripping for soft, supple skin. Then I would follow with a deep cleansing treatment like our Purifying Cleanser to cleanse and detox the skin. This is great if you are have clogged pores from humidity.
Crème Riche is another extreme climate must-have, it’s a rich moisturising cream that delivers youth-preserving hydration and minimises the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. I use it every night as the last step of my routine. It’s packed with antioxidants and a Sugar Carbohydrate Complex that mimics carbohydrates in the skin and is shown to support hyaluronic acid and ceramide production, as well as promote long-lasting moisture. It targets visible signs of ageing with natural antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and vitamin F to give you instantly soft, supple and youthful-looking skin.
Are there any tips you can share related to the skin issues caused by wearing facemasks?
Something that has become a big concern for me during the pandemic is “maskne”. Maskne happens when your skin is irritated from the friction and heat that builds up under your mask from breathing and sweating. I have discovered a few tips and tricks that really work to diminish that irritation and help your skin feel more comfortable. I have switched to wearing silk masks and my favourite is the one that we created with Jonathon Simkhai. If your skin has become sensitive or blemish-prone from wearing a mask, the 100% silk material is ultra-soft and breathable on broken down, uncomfortable skin. My second easy step is curating a skincare routine that works to fight breakouts. I have been loving using a combo from our clarifying line to target blemishes and redness: Clarifying Cleanser, Clarifying Mask, and Clarifying Moisturizer.
I think that skincare is the best makeup and I’ve been avoiding putting on anything dramatic or heavy to give my skin a break. Heat and sweat tend to accumulate under your mask and refraining from wearing makeup when you are out will help your skin breathe and minimise bacteria build-up that leads to breakouts. When I am home and feel like glamouring up, I love to apply our Illuminating Eye Cream and Illuminating Moisturizer which are formulated with diamond dust to give your skin a subtle glow without any glitter.
What do you find it important to use 100 per cent natural ingredients and what is a message you would send to the industry regarding this?
My stepfather was diagnosed with cancer, and through helping him change his lifestyle I started to examine everything I was putting in and on my body. For the longest time, natural beauty was thought to be simple and low quality – a lot of the textures and experiences weren’t designed for a serious skincare client like me. Typically you would find natural beauty in food stores and apothecaries where you don’t find high-quality products with the technology you expect. At the same time, when I went to department stores they had a few natural ingredients that were mixed with synthetics and chemicals. I wanted to fuse both worlds and create products that were 100% natural but made with high quality, potent ingredients. 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. It was an uphill battle. A lot of the natural ingredients to [help with] wrinkles were available — algae, roses, orchids — and the legacy brands had been using them for decades. What wasn’t available was everything else that you need, like emulsifiers, preservatives, stabilisers, pH balancers, thickeners. For a long time, the industry has been relying on chemicals and more cost-effective ways of going about things. In the majority of these cases, the controversial chemicals are exactly those — preservatives and all of those things that no one really talks about — and we as consumers have no idea that they even exist. So really it was a case of how do we do all of the stuff that synthetic formulas do using natural materials?
From the very beginning, we refused to use any synthetic or hazardous chemicals, even in the extraction processes of the ingredients we process ourselves or buy from our suppliers around the world. The ingredients we grow on the farm are hand-picked, then completely dried. Then we do a process called ‘garbling,’ where the ingredients are rubbed by hand on a screen to break them down. Finally, we combine them with a carrier oil and gently heat them to extract all the oils and key nutrients. Then they’re strained and become our Farm Grown Beauty Complex before they are bottled up and shipped off straight from the farm. This is farm to face skin care because we use the real thing, the original natural ingredients, and make products that are completely fresh when they reach our customers. We are beyond clean and more than natural. We do so much more than just avoid a few controversial ingredients. All of our formulas are 100% natural and non-toxic and every single ingredient we use comes from nature. That’s green beauty.
Where in the world do you love to source ingredients and do you have a favourite to work with?
Every single ingredient we use comes from nature from our farm in Vermont and all over the world. Our core ingredients are calendula, alfalfa, borage, arnica, and meadowsweet which are native to our part of the world. Recently I have been obsessed with neuropeptides which are powerful anti-ageing ingredients. They are so effective that they are sometimes referred to as natural alternatives to injectables. We source our quadruple neuropeptide formula from France, Madagascar, The Middle East and Asia to deliver the ultimate smoothing effect in our most potent Supernaturals collection. We source only the highest quality ingredients ( over 300 ingredients from over 70 countries) and the most innovative natural technology available and include as many as we can in every formula to make our products as effective as possible. We are completely vertically integrated, so we formulate, batch, fill, and ship all of our products from our farm in Vermont. The ingredients that we don’t grow on our farm are sourced sustainably and ethically from the rest of the world.
What is one thing you would like to change in the skincare industry?
It takes both consumers and brands to take action to protect people and the planet. The beauty industry is responding to consumers by making eco-friendly products and packaging a reality for those who love their beauty products, but also love the earth
Tell us a little about Tata Harper as a person – what inspired you to start your own skincare line and what motivates you today?
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.
What is the motto you live by?
Love yourself, love the planet.
Where would you like to see Tata Harper as a brand in five years time?
We will continue our mission of improving the lives of others, educating the public on toxic chemicals, and working towards our goal of being 100% sustainable. We’re always looking for the most updated, high-powered green technology out there. Green beauty is evolving a lot and very quickly. I also believe that natural beauty needs to go beyond the ingredients used in the products, it has to be about putting those natural formulas into packaging that doesn’t pose a risk to the environment. Sustainability in the beauty industry is, of course, in a better place now than it was ten years ago but it’s still not enough. 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.
What is your morning skincare routine?
I have always looked at skincare as self-care. It is a ritual for me every morning and night and my time to unwind. It’s important to take a little extra time to focus on yourself. 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.
And what do you put on your skin before you go to sleep at night?
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 cleanse and detox my skin. Then, I use Hydrating Floral Essence. For serum, I use 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 is your “can’t live without” product to travel with?
Elixir Vitae Serum. This serum is like your daily dose of injectables! Packed with 72 high-performance ingredients, Elixir Vitae Serum is my desert island product. It provides a visible filling effect with natural redensifiers and targets severe signs of ageing to restore the look of plump, youthful-looking skin
What is a product you would still like to create?
While we currently don’t offer our own Tata Harper Skincare sunscreen, it’s definitely something we’d think about launching in the future!
What is a message you can share with our readers to help them understand the world of Tata Harper?
Beauty is not a chore, it’s about self-care. Even as a busy mum and juggling a million things, it’s important to always try to have some time for myself. It helps me to reconnect and slow down so I am ready for whatever the day brings. I’m truly my own customer, which has been such an asset – when I created the line, I knew what I was looking for when it came to performance, experience, and safety, and I hope you will get to experience the same every time you use our products.
Tata Harper Skincare is available on Ounass.com, at Bloomingdale’s Dubai Mall and Harvey Nichols Dubai, and is distributed exclusively in the Middle East by Wild Distribution.