Ask the experts

A Natter with Tata Harper

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The Eighties, with its love of all things artificial and dismissal of the flower power predecessors, laid the grounding blocks for general suspicion of anything remotely natural in beauty. If it wasn’t born in a lab, we weren’t interested. Product lines based on the absence of synthetic ingredients tended to be a bit ‘hessian’. Roll on 20 years of research, add a few impassioned individuals worried about the hyper-toxic lives we lead today, a splash of against-the-grain entrepreneurship and you find some properly grown up alternatives to synthetic chemical-based skincare. Tata Harper sits very much in this camp, which is why I wanted to find out more, and also why we’ve just launched our cult selection here.

1. What would you say are the three main reasons people should go natural wherever possible with their skincare?

The skin an organ that absorbs much of what is put on it, and the vast majority of synthetic chemical ingredients in everyday skincare products haven’t been tested for health or long-term safety, and I’m not interested in taking the risk. That’s a big part of the inspiration behind my line: creating compromise-free skincare, for women who didn’t want to choose between health and beauty.

Another big reason is that synthetic ingredients and fragrances can really irritate the skin and body. A lot of people experience allergies, breakouts and sensitivity that they may take for granted but is often caused by harsh chemical ingredients. Natural ingredients are bio-compatible with the skin in a way that synthetic ingredients aren’t – they cooperate with the skin, nourish it and help it glow with health. With a totally natural regimen, the skin has a luminosity that is really unique.

Lastly – 100% natural skincare is better for you! The ingredients are trustworthy, and literally feed the skin with natural vitamins, minerals, nutrients, antioxidants. Synthetic chemical ingredients come from laboratories and are derived from coal tar and petroleum, as opposed to flowers grown in a field.

2. If I only buy one product from your range, what should it be and why (I have dry skin and am 36)?

The Rejuvenating Serum! This is our all-time best-seller, and our global anti-ager. It’s a triple collagen treatment that supports healthy skin and fights signs of aging on all levels, by improving elasticity and reducing the look of existing fine lines and wrinkles, while helping to prevent further ones from forming with muscle-relaxing technology. It’s the perfect product to start using in the beginning of your 30s, when anti-ageing becomes an actual concern. Plus it’s super bio-compatible, so it just sinks right in and leaves a matte finish – great under makeup.

3. What are the top 5 ingredients to avoid in your opinion?

– Synthetic fragrance – A word that masks a list of hundreds of fragrance chemicals that have been untested for safety. I definitely don’t trust products with the word “fragrance” on the label.

– Parabens – A group of compounds used as preservatives in all sorts of personal care products, from moisturizers to makeup, and they’ve been linked to cancer.

– Phthalates (banned in Europe!) – chemicals that disrupt our endocrine and nervous systems; they’re especially dangerous because of their ability to build up in the system. Look for labels with words like “Dibutyl phthalate.”

– Synthetic dyes or colors – listed as “D&C” or “FD&C”. These are usually derived from coal tar, which is totally unnatural and has been linked to cancer in scientific studies.

– Petrolatum – another word for petroleum, and is a common ingredient in moisturising products because it forms a layer on the skin that traps in moisture, but its safety hasn’t been tested and it has questionable origins. I would avoid that one too.

4. From your range which particular products would you recommend for people in their 20s, 30s, 40s+ and why?

I think it’s essential for people to start using preventative anti-ageing skincare as young as possible, to keep skin strong, healthy and resilient for longer. In your 20s, deep cleansing and balanced moisture is essential. In your 30s, start incorporating treatments that support collagen production and deep hydration.

In your 40’s and above, use products that continue to support collagen production, elasticity, resilience and deep hydration, and be sure to use them on your neck and chest as well. Avoid frequent, regular use of intense synthetic chemical peels as these strip the skin of strength and can weaken the skin long-term. Plus, use more targeted treatments for your specific concerns, whether it’s loss of shape, lack of volume or hyper-pigmentation.

5. What’s your favourite multi-tasking skincare ingredient?

That would definitely be Bio-compatible hyaluronic acid. HA is a substance that’s naturally produced in our skin, in the deepest layer of our dermis; it holds up to 100x its weight in water and is what keeps skin looking plump and hydrated. As we age, our skin’s natural production of HA starts to slow down, as everything starts to dry up and weaken. Supporting that natural HA production with super low-molecular weight HA works wonders for maintaining youthful plumpness, tone and moisture in the skin. We source our HA from the Czech Republic, where we’ve found the only 100% natural and vegetarian version of this ingredient in the world. It’s extremely expensive and super-high quality, and is found in every one of our products that has to do with anti-ageing!

6. We all have our guilty pleasures, do you have a synthetic based product that you just couldn’t give up?

My one exception though would be getting highlights!

You can see the heroes from Tata Harper’s range here.


Verity Douglas

Verity Douglas

Content Editor

Verity is our Content Editor and a Cult Beauty veteran. Currently on maternity leave, raising Cult Beauty’s honorary ‘word nerd’, Tabitha, she speaks fluent ‘beauty’ and loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm (and cleanser and candles… ad infinitum). Nothing can stop her from quoting Nancy Mitford, treating herself to yet another Bella Freud candle for her desk or buying that pilgrim-esque collared or heavily fringed outfit she’s been eyeing. You can trust her to debunk widespread beauty myths and dispense invaluable advice with ease…