This story was contributed by our wellness columnist, Michelle Calarco.
When it comes to healthy living, we all know the importance of a good diet, exercise and sleep. But there’s one area that often doesn’t get as much attention: skincare.
We talked to Tata Harper, natural skincare expert and founder of Tata Harper Skincare to find out how to navigate the cluttered skincare landscape and find a clean routine that sticks. The mom of three splits her time between her home in New Canaan, CT and Vermont, where Tata Harper Skincare is manufactured and packaged on a 1,200-acre organic farm.
The Well: Why is it so important to seek out clean beauty and skincare products?
Tata: I’m someone who has always been a health enthusiast so I try to eat right, exercise, and care about my overall wellness. I started looking behind the curtains of the products I was using and I was disappointed to learn that many were filled with ingredients that belonged in cars, and not on your skin. I was shocked to find that many brands use a fully synthetic or premade base that make up 75% of the formula. Most of the time, the bases don’t do anything for the skin and are made primarily with preservatives and artificial ingredients that might make them look and smell nice, but are really bad for your health. It absolutely matters what you are putting on your body just as much what you are putting in your body. I always tell our consumers to avoid the toxic ten (which all of our products are free from).
A few of these harmful chemicals that should immediately raise red flags are:
– Parabens: Can cause endocrine disruption, cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity.
– 1,4 – Dioxane: Can cause cancer and birth defects.
– Benzophenone: Can cause cancer, endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity, irritation, and ecotoxicity.
The Well: There’s so much clutter when it comes to labels on beauty and skincare products ie natural, non-toxic, organic, green, sustainable, etc! What’s the best way to navigate this?
Tata: With the rise of clean beauty, every brand is trying to claim they are safe or natural or any of those adjectives. When you begin to clean up your beauty routine, 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! ”Natural” like we are, means a 100% synthetic free formula. This is not necessarily a specific regulating body, but there are organizations 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.
The Well: How can you build a clean skincare routine that actually works?
Tata: I think the best place to start is with the products you use daily, whichever they are. Make the commitment to yourself that you want to do better for yourself and make smart decisions, and everything else will fall into place. You don’t have to do everything at once; take your time finding the best things for you. It all really starts by making the personal commitment to yourself that you want to improve your quality of life and want to live better, and buy products that encourage that. Getting into natural products should take baby steps – consider swapping out one product at a time until your entire regimen is cleaned up. Get your toes wet and go slowly; don’t try to change everything at once, and invest in different options to see what works and what doesn’t work.
The Well: Can you offer any skincare tips and tricks to get through the winter? And what are some of your favorite Tata Harper products?
Tata: Our best starter product is the Resurfacing Mask. It was one of the first products we launched, it’s our best seller and our most awarded products, and one of my personal favorites. It gives you glowing skin in just 15 minutes and it’s good for any skin type.
[As for winter], when my skin starts to feel dry and flaky, I know it’s time to prep my skin for the season change. It’s important to switch up your routine as temperatures drop and the air becomes much less humid. An extra boost of moisture [is key]. Creme Riche is a must-have for me – it’s our richest moisturizer that feels like a velvety cream and is packed with antioxidants and hydrators to intensely moisturize the skin and support the skin barrier. Our Nourishing Oil Cleanser gets rid of that top layer of dirt and grime from the day without stripping and leaves my skin feeling soft and nourished. My favorite mask in the fall and winter is the ultra thirst-quenching Hydrating Floral Mask that instantly recharges dry skin. I never forget the most important anti-aging step to my routine which is applying a serum. I love to use the Resurfacing Serum for a glowing complexion because it transforms dullness to reveal brighter, more radiant skin. My final hydrating step is to use our Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil which soothes irritated skin from the harsh winter and is filled with nourishing vitamins and minerals.
In order to maximize the moisturizing benefits of your skincare, I suggest applying products in order of lightest to heaviest molecular weight. This way, small moisturizing molecules, like those in essences, can absorb deep into skin before larger molecules, like the moisture replenishing face oils. Consistency is key for maintaining beautiful and hydrated skin and it all starts with the order you apply your products from cleansers to your treatments.
About Michelle Calarco: Michelle is a wellness and communications expert. After honing her storytelling craft in media and television, Michelle went on to elevate the profiles of premier brands across the hospitality, healthy living, and better-for-you food spaces. She has always been passionate about living and eating well and became even more immersed in health when she became a mom. On weekends you can find her squeezing in a barre class (during Paw Patrol) and baking healthyish desserts with her little one. Michelle has a consulting business and resides in Greenwich with her husband and 2-year-old son.
Have an idea for something you want to see in the column? Write to Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her @michelle.calarco