Her beauty brand is one leading the way in natural skincare, and fans of the Water-Lock Moisturiser seem to love well it hydrates and smoothens out their skin. Now celebrating 10 years of innovation, Tata Harper reflects on the early beginnings of her brand, a time before she ever saw herself as a beauty entrepreneur.
It was her grandfather’s battle with cancer, she says, that started it all.
“Doctors kept talking about a topic called ‘toxic load’ where we absorb chemicals from the environment that we live in. There are certain things you can’t control, but there are certain things and you can and should to reduce this toxic load. That’s where it began for me, I became obsessed with removing toxins from everyday use.”
When the brand first launched, Tata recalls ‘natural beauty 1.0’ sold typically at supermarkets and apothecaries. “There wasn’t really anything for a woman like me who wanted to use natural beauty, but was confronted with the reality that the products didn’t feel great, and lacked technology for results.”
Choices in non-toxic skincare were limited to creams containing orchids and roses, but Tata would learn from the ingredients that these products also contained industrial chemicals. She remembers, “Parabens, petroleum, Propylene Glycol — ingredients that you know, belong in my car.”
Clean beauty wasn’t the only problem the Colombian native set out to fix, she also wanted to safely maximise the benefits of every product created, and reveals that the decision to stick to these values didn’t always sit well with experts she consulted.
“We wanted not to have just one key ingredient but a whole formula, which needs a lot of research, and the only way to do that was also to have our own Research & Development lab as well as the farm. We knew we were going formulate and produce our products in the farm so they are fresh and unique, where we can also control how much ingredients are produced ensuring nothing goes to waste.”
She explains, “If you make as much as other third-party suppliers tell you they make, or how much other companies make, then the products are just going to end up on shelves and who know for how long. Some people don’t care about that, but I care about that.”
Just like the realities of fast fashion, Tata equally believes that there’s fast beauty that can be solved by innovation within the realm of safe, cruelty-free, eco-friendly skincare. “The science of skincare is well beyond Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C, and other mainstream ingredients. Vitamin C, for example, is great and gives you luminosity, but there are other ingredients that are amazing anti-oxidants and can also give you luminosity. If you combine them, you get better results.”
“We formulate for beauty maximalists — someone who wants not just a natural moisturiser but the best natural moisturiser.”
A decade on, Tata see’s her brand as part of a bigger wellness scene. “Our customers want to enhance their well-being, and it’s really about optimising, as in ‘how do I optimise different parts of my life?’
All Tata Harper formulations eco-certified, while packaging is made from responsibly-certified forests and soy ink. The popular Water-Lock Moisturiser is sold like a starter kit with a reusable jar and product pod. Tata shares, “Beauty product packaging is very wasteful. You use it and then throw it away, but actually some things like pumps and containers you can actually use for a long time.”
Packaging aside, the moisturiser is much different than others because it intentionally focuses on just the outer layer of the skin. “Most of the hydration, 70% in the skin, is in the internal layer of the skin while the remaining 30% of hydration is in the outer layer. The hydration in the outer layer is the one that suffers the most because it gets the most contact with outside elements.”
The moisturiser packs a multi-layer matrix including ingredients like hydroscopic molecules, pomegranate spheres, sugar carbohydrates, and orange peptides that form a seal to lock hydration in place.
“Many water-locking products contain silicones, which are just huge impenetrable molecules made from rubber, plasticisers and petroleum, and those don’t even hydrate the skin. This moisturiser does all that and more, completely naturally.”
If you would like to incorporate more Tata Harper products into your skincare routine, Tata recommends the Regenerating Cleanser for a daily exfoliation, which leaves on in combination with the Resurfacing Mask a few times a week.
“A lot of people are afraid of exfoliating everyday, but the reality is that exfoliating is something that depends on what you use. Not all exfoliators are the same, and most of them are really aggressive and shouldn’t be used everyday,” she says. The reality is though that we produce dead skin cells and shed them every single day — that’s what our skin does when we go to bed. When we sleep our bodies’ circadian rhythm kicks in, and that’s when all of our organs basically reset and our skin is an organ. There’s a build up, and then products just don’t penetrate as well, there’s congestion, maybe your skin doesn’t glow as much as it can.”
Finally, she recommends finishing up with the Resurfacing Serum. This product has five fruit acids, vitamins, and other micro-exfoliating ingredients in small amounts safe for everyday usage. “I think this would be the perfect skincare routine for Malaysian weather, the feel is very lightweight,” she shares.
As for the future of Tata Harper — especially after a year of renewed love for skincare rituals — Tata Harper is excited for the launch of five new products we’ll have to wait to see.
(All images: Tata Harper)