Interview: Tata Harper, Natural Beauty Entrepreneur

Beauty editor SARAH HALLIWELL speaks to TATA HARPER, founder of her eponymous NATURAL BEAUTY BRAND

We met natural beauty entrepreneur Tata Harper as she launched her new beauty counter in Arnotts this month. She was in Dublin for the first time – inbetween visits to Helsinki, Copenhagen, Milan and Paris – and had taken her team to see LCS Sound System the night before at Malahide Castle. Here, she talks natural beauty, passionate beliefs and how her skincare is green way beyond the packaging …

ON LOCATION

Harper was born in Colombia “but I’m a quarter Irish – my mum is half French, half Irish and my dad half Austrian, half German – a real melting pot!” She lives and works on her farm in Vermont.

ON FEEL-GOOD BEAUTY

We use so many flowers and plants and essential oils and extracts which you smell as you apply them – we don’t put perfume in the products. So you get that added benefit of wellbeing as you breathe them in when applying – they make you feel good. I love to take a bath in the evening – that moment is the most relaxing part of my day. I think it’s important to find those little things that make you feel good – life is too hectic and you need to slow down and stop and take some moments for yourself. And for me skincare, of course, makes your skin look beautiful but it should also make you feel good.

ON SKIN

I am very regimented about my skincare – make-up wise I might use a bit of blush, a bit of lip and that’s it. I’m not into that perfected look. I’m more into a natural beauty when your skin glows through. You don’t need to be covering things up. I believe that glowy skin is achievable at any age – it’s a sign of health and wellness.

ON WHAT MAKES TATA HARPER SKINCARE SPECIAL

Our line doesn’t revolve around one ingredient but many ingredients together, and it has the philosophy that more is really more when it comes to skincare – more ingredients equal more results. And I always formulate the products with that in mind – to give the customers the most value for the money. So if you wanted to get the 38 ingredients that are in our Elixir Vitae, you’d probably have to buy say seven serums, for that amount of benefit and ingredients. Our cleaners have multiple actives; the Crème Riche moisturiser has 42 active ingredients and will moisturise the skin at multiple levels, keeping hydration in with multiple types of hyaluronic acid. I don’t formulate for a woman who’s just looking for a moisturiser, I really cater to the client who is looking for the BEST natural moisturiser – it’s very different. I feel that in the anti-ageing category there’s still not a lot out there for the super maximalist. There’s plenty of minimalism and simplicity, which is fine, but we don’t do anything simple! We’re about complexity not simplicity.

WHERE TO START

I like to recommend that people start with the complementary products, so the cleansers, masks, essences, and dive into the serious stuff later.

 

ON DESERT ISLAND BEAUTY

Elixir Vitae is our most concentrated, hyper-potent product. It’s also my desert island essential – a serum that has the latest in anti-ageing technology to give you the same results as injectables. It’s not going to paralyse the whole muscle, but it has this peptide technology that relaxes wrinkles. It also has a technology to volumise the skin; as we age we lose the plumpness of the skin, the fat pads start disappearing, and there’s this new technology from Germany that works in your fat layer and makes your fat cells fatter – literally increases the diameter – to put targeted volume back in the face.

ON CLEANSING

Some clients think that cleansing is irrelevant – but when you use cleansers containing harsh chemicals, SLS etc you’re compromising your moisture barrier and stripping the skin, raising the pH super high. We have a new narrative on cleansing – with our cleansing treatments, you apply them on DRY skin then you rinse off, so they work their magic without being diluted. We also have a daily exfoliator which I use every day – I’m a huge believer in daily exfoliating. Ours is gentle enough for every day. Our skin is in a state of constant renewal, and most of that happens at night, so using it in the morning ensures skin is glowing and that your products absorb better. At night I double-cleanse to take off the day. I start with an oil cleanser, which is very effective at removing debris and oil, then our Purifying Cleanser which is anti-pollution – pollution has been shown to damage skin as much as the sun, and it’s unavoidable.

ON THE BIGGER PICTURE

We are vegan as I don’t like to use anything that’s derived from animals – instead we use things that grow on the earth – that’s the definition of natural. So many companies use fillers and emulsifiers that are shortcuts – the lowest common denominators. Things that you couldn’t even believe you’re putting on your skin every day. So what we stand for is really a movement, it’s an evolution of consumer goods and people demanding better safer things. We have a real conviction and commitment, and we’re giving people options, not just a bit of coconut oil. We offer true high-tech anti-ageing solutions, and we make them. We don’t outsource the product – so much of the beauty business is outsourced now. We make the products – we use raw materials from the farm, we bottle them, label and package up. We spent a lot of time trying to find sustainable packaging – a lot of innovation is done in plastics and acrylics, and even if they’re recyclable, they’re plastic – whereas glass is infinitely recyclable. Those things cost more, and are more of a hassle, but I feel that’s what our customers really expect. Some things, for example pumps, are not yet recyclable. But as soon as they are, we will change them. We sometimes have to use tubes – but as soon as a better option is available, we will use it. It’s just the way to do business in the future. I have three kids – if something is not sustainable, it means that it’s unsustainable. At some point we all have to stop pretending and just do the right thing. Just because that’s how it should be done.

ON THE PROCESS

Formulation is my favourite part of the process, and the part that takes the most of my time. I love it. I also love meeting my clients – I do a lot of beauty classes where I teach people about beauty, and things I’ve learned along the way. Getting behind the curtain of the beauty industry and realising how different it is from the fantasy of it was devastating. But I decided to keep all those fantasies alive, by putting my beliefs and values into the thing I do every day. For me, it’s been a mission in life, and I feel very lucky to do this and to be part of this movement.

ON PAYING MORE

We don’t formulate just simple things – they are more expensive to make – it’s like the difference between Apple and a simple laptop. Apple is more expensive, but if you were to get a simple laptop and add in all the functionalities it will end up costing you more. I just don’t like to make lousy products! I don’t like the easy route – I don’t feel it would motivate me enough. What I like is bringing a new perspective, a new point of view, giving people real options that are as good as we can.

Tata Harper is available at Arnotts, www.arnotts.ie.

@SarahHalliwellBeauty

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