Tata Harper’s beauty products use only natural, organic and nontoxic ingredients, a rarity in modern skincare.
“With our products, you can ensure that you’re taking care of your skin with the best and the latest anti-aging technology,” Harper says. “But also that you’re not putting any industrial, synthetic chemicals into your skin.”
She’s talking to WAG at Neiman Marcus Westchester before a skincare master class in “Tata’s Garden,” as the temporarily transformed space on the store’s Level Three is being called. It’s sunny and cheery as is Harper, a vibrant blonde in a country chic gingham pantsuit. Her skin glows with little makeup.
Harper’s look suits her eponymous line, in which equal attention is paid to a formula’s active ingredients, which purify the skin, and to its additives, designed for consistency, texture and lasting properties. Her products are 100-percent free of synthetics, genetically modified organisms, fillers, gluten and synthetic fragrance.
And to ensure product purity, the line — which includes face and body skincare, aromatherapy oils and cosmetics — is produced at Julius Kingdom Farm, the Harper family property in Whiting, Vt.
“We make it all there,” she says. “We don’t subcontract anything.”
Harper never anticipated becoming a beauty entrepreneur. But following her stepfather’s cancer diagnosis in 2005, she learned about toxic load when doctors suggested replacing his hygiene products with all-natural alternatives.
“Toxins from our lifestyle just tend to accumulate from what you eat, what you put on your skin, what you clean your house with and the chemicals you just get in touch with,” she says. “When toxins penetrate our skin, they just accumulate in all sorts of fatty tissue and organ tissue, and that’s where the concerns begin.”
These toxins are found in everyday items, including skincare products.
“Oftentimes in the industry, the ingredient that gives the results is natural, but there are also ingredients that no one talks about,” she says. “Typically, the cheapest industrial chemicals are used, like ethylene glycol, which is (the prime ingredient in) antifreeze.”
To counter high costs and satisfy market demands in skincare, Harper says, additives often contain chemicals, which may go unnoticed by clients.
“We don’t necessarily think that natural is the answer to everything, but it’s really not a good idea to be putting cheap, industrial chemicals that belong more in car engines and in heavy-duty equipment around your eyes and on your body, every day, twice a day, for years,” she says. “If there’s an option, you shouldn’t just fall to the lowest common denominator.”
Though Harper was new to the beauty industry, she wasn’t new to a beauty regimen. Originally from Barranquilla, Colombia, Harper grew up helping her grandmother with weekend spa parties, in which family and friends enjoyed facials, homemade body scrubs, hair masks, manicures, pedicures and hairstyling.
“I really enjoyed the self-love activity,” she says. “A lot of people don’t see it that way. They see it as a chore, that it’s annoying and they don’t have time for it. While for Latin women, it’s about self-love, pampering yourself and feeling great.”
Harper spent five years refining her products before launching the brand in 2010, relying on the work of eight chemists to develop the perfect formulas. Her organic 1,200-acre farm, which serves as the company’s headquarters, also cultivates many of the essential ingredients used in every product. This includes the Estate Grown Beauty Complex, a concentrated blend of five organic herbs — arnica montana, calendula, borage, meadowsweet and alfalfa flowers — that is infused in every product.
By using raw materials, such as these, Harper’s skincare is multi-active, packing between nine and 29 active ingredients into every product. According to Harper, the market average is between one and three active ingredients. This means that clients can experience similar benefits from one product as opposed to six separate products.
“As a producer of beauty products that are all-natural, I can tell you that all-natural beauty is the ultimate luxury,” she says.