Tata Harper changed the natural beauty game when she launched her eponymous line of high end – and 100% natural – skincare.
With limited regulations, it's a category that's notoriously hard to navigate, so we asked the green queen to give us her take on it. From defining the beauty buzzwords to spotting greenwashing on packaging, here Harper sets the natural skincare record straight.
How can you define 'natural' skincare when there are no regulations surrounding the term?
'"Natural" like we are, means a 100% synthetic free formula. This is not necessarily a specific regulating body, but there are organisations like Ecocert, who we work with, that certify that all of our ingredients are natural, say what percentage is farmed organically, and certify our products with a seal. For us, the organic content varies but all of it is 100% natural.
'It's important to look for a certification that really spells that out, since there's no regulation on using the term 'natural' – and it can mean there are only two natural ingredients in a formula! Getting a certification is optional, and it's what we do to give our customers more clarity.'
What is it about synthetic ingredients that makes you avoid them?
'After my stepfather was diagnosed with cancer and I started to examine everything I was putting in and on my body, I realised that the products I was using were full of synthetic chemicals.
''Through my own research I learned that synthetic chemicals of concern are common in cosmetics and skincare and there is so much that is unknown about their long term effects. I feel that natural compounds are better understood, and in many cases, have been used since antiquity to enhance beauty.'
How is 'non-toxic' skincare different from 'natural' skincare?
'For us, natural ingredients are unanimous with nontoxic. We consider natural skincare nontoxic skincare. That said, there are natural ingredients that can be toxic - asbestos and cyanide are natural! For us, understanding the details of ingredient toxicity to select the best plants and minerals is a critical part of our development process. Even if we use something that could have an indirect effect, like AHAs increasing the risk of skin burn, we make sure that our clients know via information on the package.'
Where does 'organic' come into it?
'The term 'organic' has to do with the farming method. When ingredients are farmed organically, they're grown without synthetic fertilisers or pesticides. When a product has 95% of its ingredients that have been farmed that way, it's considered organic and typically has a seal from the USDA certifying that 95% has been farmed organically. The remaining 5% could be anything, including synthetics.'
What are the biggest misconceptions about natural skincare?
'Some people still feel that naturals don't work! In my opinion they can even be more effective than synthetics since they are biocompatible with your skin. Natural ingredients are actually the most powerful ingredients in the world, and manufacturers of everything – from medicine to skincare – have always looked to natural ingredients for their benefits. Synthetic ingredients are, in many cases, cheaper more predictable versions of natural ingredients created in labs, to simplify the manufacturing process.'
If someone wants to 'go green' with their beauty regime, where should they start?
'I think the best place to start is with the products you use daily, whichever they are. You don't have to do everything at once; take your time finding the best things for you.'
How can we spot 'greenwashing'?
'The most important thing for people to do, is really look at the ingredient list and pay attention to what is in your products. Make sure you are doing your research.'