Many conscious consumers want to buy clean beauty products but have no idea where to start. With a plethora of brands, certifications, and active ingredients to choose from, finding products that work for you and align with your values can be overwhelming at best.
One brand that stands out in the clean beauty industry is Tata Harper Skincare. Their luxurious, multi-tasking products are free from synthetic chemicals. They include over 300 active botanicals from around the world, manufactured by hand on a farm in Vermont, and formulate their products from scratch.
Why Tata Harper Started Her Eponymous Clean Beauty Company
Growing up in Colombia, Tata always loved beauty products. She’s a “beauty maximalist,” and she has up to 50 products in her arsenal at any given time.
In the early 2000s, Tata’s stepfather was diagnosed with cancer. His doctors recommended finding alternatives to synthetic and chemical products in his home, which sparked Tata’s interest.
“I started my journey of cleaning up my life along with him—cleaning products, dry cleaners, you know, eating organic. But really, skincare was the last frontier for me because I couldn’t find products that speak to me,” says Tata.
Researching Ingredients in Everyday Beauty Products
Many of the natural beauty options she found were watered down, had very few beneficial ingredients, or mixed natural and synthetic chemicals. At department store beauty counters, they would tout the one or two products with botanicals in them—and then evade pointed questions about the other ingredients.
As she continued to research common ingredients, Tata realized that most of the ingredients in her favorite formulas were preservatives, emulsifiers, and thickening agents.
Worst of all, some of the ingredients turned out to be something else entirely. She couldn’t believe that propylene glycol was found both in her eye cream and in the antifreeze in her car.
Building a Luxury Clean Beauty Brand
The common misconception, Tata found, was that luxury consumers didn’t care about natural ingredients. “I kept thinking to myself, ‘there must be more women, like me, or men like me that don’t want to put synthetic chemicals on their skin every day, twice a day,’” says Tata.
Over the next five years, Tata built the Tata Harper Skincare brand. Her products needed to be all-natural, clean, and actually work. Many natural products weren’t formulated with efficacy in mind, but Tata wanted to change that.
“The fact that the product was natural was actually more important than that even that the product worked. And that’s a no-no for skincare because you only buy skincare because it works. You don’t, like, buy this moisturizer to save the planet. You buy this moisturizer because it’s a great moisturizer,” says Tata.
How Tata Harper Skincare Embodies Farm to Beauty in Their Products
Besides making their products with all-natural and non-toxic ingredients, Tata Harper Skincare breaks the beauty industry mold with their farm to beauty approach.
Many beauty companies start with pre-formulated bases for their products and outsource research, development, and manufacturing. At Tata Harper Skincare, their products are formulated, developed, and prepared by a small in-house team at their Vermont farm.
“It’s from the farm to your doorstep,” says Tata.
Several key ingredients in their products are grown at the Vermont farm, but Tata’s beauty maximalism also applies to the ingredients they source for their products. They source over 300 specialty botanical ingredients from 68 countries.
What Clean Beauty Really Means (And Why it’s More Expensive Than Traditional Products)
Although we hear the term “clean beauty” all the time now, back when Tata Harper Skincare launched, the term didn’t exist.
“For us, [clean beauty] means no synthetic chemicals. So we have a hard line on the formulas being 100% natural.
Also, we believe that if you’re going to take that hard line, you have very specific validation standards. Just like overall standards, it’s important that you certify your products to those claims and those standards,” says Tata.
To that end, all of the Tata Harper Skincare products are independently evaluated and certified by Ecocert.
Tata’s products end up being more expensive than most traditional products and other clean beauty brands. That’s because they use so many more active ingredients—where some products have four active ingredients, some Tata Harper formulas have 40—and make responsible packaging decisions. It would be cheaper to use virgin plastic bottles, but Tata has chosen a recycled, sugarcane-based plastic instead.
“[Our luxury prices are] a result of many, many decisions that are made along the way. Making good and responsible decisions is expensive,” says Tata.
In addition to certification and ingredient costs, Tata makes sure that her products pack a powerful multi-tasking punch. Rather than buying one product with Vitamin C, one with Vitamin B, and one with hyaluronic acid, Tata carefully formulates her products to combine active ingredients in safe and effective ways.
Tata says, “You have all of those true and tried ingredients that you love, plus more, and everything is working really well together in this formula for you. So you don’t have to buy like 15 different things that all can fit in one product.”
How You Can Be a Cleaner Beauty Consumer
No matter what brands you prefer, it’s a good idea to research their ingredients, packaging, and processing standards. Make sure that their choices align with your values before supporting them.
Tata also recommends learning which labels are essential to you. Companies aren’t required to put in the time, energy, or expense of getting certified, so when a company makes an effort, they show how important those values are to them.
“If fair trade is important for you, get familiarized with the seal of the people that are actually doing fair trade, and then buy those products that have that seal.
Or if for you, it’s important that you buy things that come in packaging that has responsible, you know, you know, that are responsible to the forest, then make sure that you know what that seal looks like so that when you’re out there buying things, you look out for the seal,” says Tata.