Brand Profile: how Tata Harper pioneered the 'clean beauty' movement
With 45% of 13-to-39-year-old females interested in trying a clean beauty product, it’s safe to say that the clean beauty movement has gained a considerable amount of momentum due to millennial and Gen Z consumers wanting products that are sustainable and eco-friendly.
According to YPulse.com, younger shoppers are looking for more clean and plant-forward solutions such as products that contain herbs and oils. For a product to be labelled as clean, it has to be sustainable and ethical in its ingredients and packaging.
The ingredients must also be organic, sustainable, recyclable and ethically sourced. Although the clean beauty movement has been popular for quite some time, the term is unregulated. As long as a product is made without ingredients that are said to be harmful (parabens, microbeads etc), it is considered to be clean.
As the demand for clean beauty grows, it can be difficult for consumers to identify what fits the standard, which is why clean brands that have been on the market for years have a competitive advantage over new brands on the market. Back in 2010, Colombian-born Tata Harper launched her clean skincare line on her organic farm in Vermont.
Harper’s journey with skincare began at a very young age. “I grew up in Colombia within a very beauty-centric household and was surrounded by women who valued self-care. My grandmother would host spa parties for friends and family and my mother instilled in me the belief that beauty is not a chore, so I have always valued my skincare routine,” Harper says.
Harper wasn’t satisfied with a lot of beauty products on the market and this was one of the reasons why she launched her namesake brand. She wanted highly effective products that were free from the artificial chemicals and toxins she had been putting on her face for years. “The products I was using every single day contained industrial chemicals that can be found in cars like petroleum and antifreeze and I asked myself ‘how can these ingredients make your skin look beautiful?’ At the time, natural skincare wasn’t made for people like myself, who were taking skincare seriously, and that was when I realised I had to create my own skincare line, " she says.
Another reason why Harper wanted to create her own skincare line was to support her stepfather with his cancer diagnosis by helping him change his lifestyle. Through supporting him, she was able to pay attention to what she was putting in her body and what she was putting on her body.
“For the longest time, I perceived natural beauty to be simple and low quality but in actual fact, a lot of the textures and experiences weren’t designed with those who wanted to take skincare seriously in mind. I would visit department stores and I noticed that most products had only a few natural ingredients. I wanted to fuse both worlds and create products that were 100% natural and made with high quality, potent ingredients,” she says.
The first few years of Harper’s journey were dedicated to understanding natural chemistry as well as searching for natural molecules that would provide the results she was looking for. “I wanted to set a new standard for what natural products can look like, feel like and how effective they can be, “ Harper said. Creating and manufacturing products on her farm is extremely important to Harper. To ensure the brand’s products are natural and of the highest quality, her team formulate, batch, fill and ship all products from the farm to the rest of the world.
When she started developing the brand, Harper was shocked to discover that a lot of beauty companies didn’t actually create their own products and this inspired her to be a force of change. “Being on the farm is an amazing way to not only stand behind what we do but it also allows us to control our own production, allowing us to make the freshest products possible," she says.
Sustainability has always been at the heart of the brand’s practices – it has a system in place that ensures it only creates the amount of products it needs to avoid creating unnecessary waste. “By making exactly what we need each month, the quality of our product remains high and effective because of the fresh ingredients. With a truly fresh product, you’ll get the best results possible. It is such an important part of our efficacy that we make all of our products," Harper says.
Tata Harper Skincare prides itself on creating products that it truly believes in and sometimes this can involve abandoning certain projects. With a highly dedicated team of chemists who work tirelessly to create the best and most effective products possible, the brand isn't afraid to learn from the occasional setback in its mission to provide customers with the high-performance products they love.
“I’ve learned to continue to advocate for the use of safe and effective ingredients to formulate our products, and even if there was an easier and cheaper option out there, I wouldn’t use it. I am completely unwilling to take these types of shortcuts and sacrifice the health of our consumers and our planet as a result," Harper says. The brand remains committed to conducting all operations itself to ensure it is providing its customers with the freshest, hard working products available.
“Just because the beauty sector is accustomed to operating in a certain way, it doesn’t mean it’s the right way. While I acknowledge that we’ve chosen the long and hard way of conducting business, it is the only way we will ever operate,” Harper says.
Tata Harper Skincare existed at a time where many consumers did not know what clean beauty was and the brand did face some challenges at first. When it started formulating its products, it had to learn as they went along while also overcoming long-standing misconceptions in the industry surrounding the effectiveness of products that were 100% natural.
“We addressed the misinformation through education as well as our dedication to transparency and this is how we were able to build a wonderful following of avid supporters who truly value the effort we put into creating each and every one of our products,” Harper says. It took the brand five years and a team of eight chemists to develop their first line of products.
During this time, their commitment to searching for high-performance, non-toxic and non-synthetic chemicals never faltered. The brand wasn't afraid to consider all options and ditch anything that wasn’t quite right along the way.
When Tata Harper Skincare first launched, its goal was to provide highly effective products to clients who wanted healthier and safer options for their skincare routines. The brand’s bestsellers include their very first product, the Resurfacing Mask along with its counterpart, the Regenerating Cleanser. “Both products are incredible at providing an instant glow that keeps our customers coming back for more,” Harper said.
Their latest line, Superkind, has also been well received. Developed with advanced green technology, the line is aimed at those who have sensitive skin. “We have excluded all of the common allergens that can cause irritation - every product is fragrance, gluten, nut and soy free, " Harper says.
To make skincare effective and accessible for all, Tata Harper Skincare is adding value to customers' experiences in a number of ways. The brand has a skincare concierge where customers can talk to a caring professional about any concerns they may have and help them choose suitable products.
It also has a Green Beauty Quiz that can identify customer’s skin type and concerns and provide a customised skincare regimen in a matter of minutes. “Good skincare is certainly an investment but it is absolutely worth it when you know you are using safe products that create incredible, lasting results while also improving the planet," Harper says.
As a clean beauty pioneer in her own right, Harper and her team have worked tirelessly to provide customers with the best luxury skincare. “Education was key to breaking into the beauty market because when we first launched, it felt like we were speaking a foreign language to customers as nobody was talking about clean beauty. The idea was not accepted, so we had to build trust through transparency and an unwavering message. “ Harper says.
Harper believes clean beauty is about using products with zero toxins as well as avoiding banned ingredients. “For us, clean beauty is also about finding 100% natural replacements for everything – we’re green beauty: beyond clean and more than natural,” she said.
Harper doesn’t really think of clean beauty as a ‘trend’ but rather the way the industry as a whole is headed. To keep their commitment to clean beauty going, Tata Harper Skincare vows to maintain a completely pure and non-toxic line. It also has all of the necessary certifications that verify its products are made from natural ingredients while steering clear from any potentially harmful toxins and synthetics.
Since the brand launched, it has been ECOCERT certified (ECOCERT evaluates all aspects of a company’s facilities, products and materials) proving that its ingredients are derived from renewable resources, manufactured by environmentally friendly processes and free from harmful GMOs and synthetics. If Harper could give one piece of advice to anyone who wants to enter the clean beauty market, it would be to have a clear vision and be different.
“Think about creating something that will make people’s lives better and not just more of the same," she says.
So what does the future hold for Tata Harper Skincare? Sustainability will continue to be a top priority for the brand as it works to do more, do better and elevate the industry’s current standards. “Sustainability isn’t about marketing for us – it’s the way we’ve always done business. You can’t be a green company without a green product and that means everything from ingredients to manufacturing to packaging needs to take the planet into account," Harper said. The brand is also working on developing product refills to minimise consumer waste and extend the lifespan of its packaging.
Tata Harper single handedly pioneered natural luxury skincare without compromising her values as well as her commitment to providing consumers with products that did exactly what they said on the packaging, and with the brand’s recent acquisition by Korean skincare giant The AmorePacific Group also signalling a commitment to joint research and innovation, they will continue to push boundaries and innovate for many years to come.