Can you please share with the AILLEA audience a little background about yourself, both personally and professionally?
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. I was living in Miami when my stepfather was diagnosed with cancer and I would travel back to Colombia frequently to help my mother care for him. At the time, we had purchased a farm in Vermont to escape the city which would later be where we handcraft everything from formulation all the way through to fulfillment of our products.
What was your inspiration when initially launching the Tata Harper brand?
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. There wasn’t an option for people like me that were looking for that. Since I couldn’t find any natural skincare products that gave me the results and the luxury experience I was looking for, I decided to create my own.
Can you share more about your farm and how you harvest ingredients?
We bought the farm about 13 years ago while we were living in Miami and wanted to move back north. It was always my dream to live on a farm, but we didn’t even plan to live here full-time, we thought we’d end up in New York City. I was in the midst of creating the beginnings of my business, and the more time I spent here the more I became inspired and the less I wanted to leave. We wanted to make our products ourselves, and the farm provided the space and resources to manufacture the products and even grow some of the ingredients, and became the perfect birthplace for Tata Harper Skincare.
We grow the herbs for our Estate Grown Beauty Complex on the farm. Our core ingredients are calendula, alfalfa, borage, arnica, and meadowsweet which are native to our part of the world. The herbs 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.
You recently launched the Superkind Collection (of which we LOVE!) – what inspired you to develop this new collection?
Superkind is a game changer for reactive skin. As you know, we’re obsessed with the science behind our products. 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 we live in is full of stressors & allergens, and they are just making people more prone to reacting. What I’ve also realized is that people with reactive skin are afraid to try anything that they consider to be too powerful. They are a little bit traumatized by the vicious cycle of flares up and they end up with this very simple routine (not very inspiring) that tends to be quite synthetic with a lot of products found at pharmacies that are not very efficacious when it comes to anti-aging. So solving this problem really became the next challenge, for me and my team. Let’s figure out how to give reactive skin powerful skincare that’s also 100% natural like everything that we do. What we do is already difficult -- but the engineering of Superkind was so much harder! With Superkind, we had to add even more formulation requirements to how we work. We had to now meet all our green beauty standards, plus the line needed to be completely hypoallergenic. We wanted to be super comprehensive to minimize the chances of people being in touch with any potential stressors. All together, we excluded more than 80 of the most common skin triggers.
Why was creating a clean / conscious beauty line important to you?
Clean beauty at its essence is about finding replacements for banned ingredients, but we go beyond that. Today, clean beauty isn’t the exception, it’s the rule. And we’re proud of the world we’ve helped create. I feel that clean beauty is a great effort that the industry has made to “clean up” their products. They’ve been using a lot of controversial ingredients for a long time and are trying to rid their formulas of that. At the end of the day, that’s how everything should be – that’s the baseline. We do so much more than just avoid a few controversial ingredients.
Authenticity is always top of mind for us. Because of the rise of clean beauty, every brand is trying to claim that they are safe or natural or any of those adjectives. We live in a world where companies can say whatever they want without having to back it up or actually do what they claim. For us, education is how we have always connected with clients. Building trust through transparency and an unwavering message. We were outliers when we first launched, so education was the key to breaking into the beauty market. We were making safe, nontoxic products before the industry branded it as “clean beauty”, before the average customer started reading “toxic ten” lists. When we would talk to retailers and customers, it was like speaking in a foreign language -- the idea of natural and nontoxic beauty wasn’t prevalent in department and chain store environments. It started as a “myth busting” conversation because we had to overcome the misconception that naturals are less effective and we had to break the news that there are toxic ingredients, like antifreeze, in their favorite moisturizer. When you begin to clean up your beauty routine, it is important to pay attention to labels and third-party certifications. We’ve voluntarily taken steps to ensure that both our products and business are third-party certified so you can trust that when we say we’re committed to nontoxic and eco-friendly practices, we really mean it.
What are some of the hero ingredients featured in the Tata Harper collection?
We don’t feature just one or two hero ingredients. Hero ingredients and simplistic approaches to skincare are just not how we do things. We believe your skincare should multi-task as much as you do—so you’ll see a library of benefits vs one. I like to say that one formula of ours is equivalent to seven from another brand. You’ll need less products on your shelf because we engineer with up to 72 high-performing ingredients that deliver unyielding results. From Spanish lavender extract to help reduce wrinkles to winged kelp to hydrate and increase cell renewal, our Complex Formulas are engineered with the highest possible number of powerful, 100% natural ingredients.
What is your personal favorite Tata Harper product?
The first formula that we created and finished was the Resurfacing Mask and it is still one of our fan favorites to date. It is my go-to after a long flight, before an event, or whenever my skin needs a pick-me-up. It’s a BHA and fruit enzyme mask that gets rid of buildup and basically gives you instantly fresh, glowy skin.
Can you share any pro tips for how to use your favorite Tata Harper product (or any products within the collection)?
The Glow Getter routine is one of my favorite hacks that came to fruition when I was in a time crunch and layered two of our most glow-giving products. The result? Major glow. 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.
Are there any new products that you will be launching soon? Can you share any details?
The future of sustainability for us is to end single-use products. We proudly launched our first refillable product, the Water-Lock Moisturizer, in 2020 – and we have some really exciting refill updates coming next year. We’ve been working on refills behind the scenes for a while now! First, we’re doing refills for our best sellers and eventually our entire product line. I hope that this is something that other beauty brands begin to adapt to because it is so crucial in reducing the industry's environmental footprint.
What are your favorite non-Tata Harper products or brands at AILLEA?
SPF is so important, and I absolutely love Suntegrity’s formulas. I also love Ilia’s cosmetics – I don’t wear makeup often but when I do, Ilia is a great choice.