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Tatcha

RADIANT Deep Brightening Serum

1.70 fl. oz. for $ 185.00
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This lotion-like serum is a big disappointment for two reasons. The first is its unbelievable price for what is a completely basic, mundane formula. Second is the high amount of alcohol.

The alcohol poses a risk of irritation, and this is intensified because the ingredient that precedes it on the list propanediol is a penetration enhancer. That can be good for getting beneficial ingredients like antioxidants further into skin's uppermost layers, but it can backfire when combined with problematic ingredients. See More Info to learn how alcohol can hurt skin.

As for the brightening botanicals Tatcha included, some of them do have research showing they can inhibit melanin (skin pigment) production, but we're skeptical about whether or not this product contains enough to make a noticeable difference. Plus, there are many other products that contain these ingredients, without the alcohol, and at a much more acceptable price. See our list of Best Skin-Lightening Products for our current picks.

Pros:
  • Contains some good, lightweight hydrating ingredients.
  • Contains a blend of plant-based antioxidants.
Cons:
  • Ridiculously overpriced for what you get.
  • Amount of alcohol poses a risk of irritation.
  • The Asian botanicals referred to are present in amounts too low to brighten or lighten skin.
  • Basic formula that lacks what far less pricey serums contain to benefit skin.
More Info:

Alcohol-Based Skincare Products: Research makes it clear that alcohol, as a main ingredient in any skincare product, especially one you use frequently and repeatedly, is a problem.

When we express concern about the presence of alcohol in skincare or makeup products, we're referring to denatured ethanol, which most often is listed as SD alcohol, alcohol denat., denatured alcohol, or (less often) isopropyl alcohol.

When you see these types of alcohol listed among the first six ingredients on an ingredient label, without question the product will irritate and cause other problems for skin. There's no way around it—these volatile alcohols are simply bad for all skin types.

The reason they're included in products is because they provide a quick-drying finish, immediately degrease skin, and feel weightless, so it's easy to see their appeal, especially for those with oily skin. If only those short-term benefits didn't lead to negative long-term outcomes!

Using products that contain these alcohols will cause dryness, erosion of skin's protective barrier, and a strain on how skin replenishes, renews, and rejuvenates itself. Alcohol just weakens everything about skin.

The irony of using alcohol-based products to control oily skin is that the damage from the alcohol can actually lead to an increase in breakouts and enlarged pores. As we said, the alcohol does have an immediate de-greasing effect on skin, but it causes irritation, which eventually will counteract the de-greasing effect and make your oily skin look even more shiny.

There are people who challenge us on the information we've presented about alcohol's effects. They often base their argument on a study in the British Journal of Dermatology (July 2007, pages 74–81) that concluded "alcohol-based hand rubs cause less irritation than hand washing…." But, the only thing this study showed was that alcohol was not as irritating as an even more irritating hand wash, which contained sodium lauryl sulfate. So, the study is actually just telling you that one irritant, sodium lauryl sulfate, is worse than another irritant, alcohol.

Not all alcohols are bad. For example, there are fatty alcohols, which are absolutely non-irritating and can be beneficial for skin. Examples that you'll see on ingredient labels include cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, and cetearyl alcohol, all of which are good ingredients for skin. It's important to differentiate between these skin-friendly alcohols and the problematic alcohols.

References for this information:

Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80

Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175

Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, November 2008, pages 1–16

Dermato-Endocrinology, January 2011, pages 41–49

Experimental Dermatology, June 2008, pages 542–551

Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2004, pages 360–366

Alcohol Journal, April 2002, pages 179–190

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No
A brightening serum of time-tested Asian botanicals such as Jujube and Licorice Root extracts, and our anti-aging HADASEI-3 Complex.
Water, Glycerin, Propanediol, Alcohol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Squalane (Olive Origin), Isocetyl Stearate, Inositol (Rice Extract), Oryza Sativa (Rice) Germ Oil, Polyglyceryl-2 Triisostearate, Polyglyceryl-10 Isostearate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Behenyl Alcohol, Sericin (Silk Extract), Arginine, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Sodium Hyaluronate, Zizyphus Jujuba Fruit Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Sorbitan Stearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Hydrogenated Lecithin (Soy Origin), Algae Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Fragrance (Natural), Phenoxyethanol.

Tatcha At-a-Glance

The allure of ancient beauty treatments coupled with modern science is tempting for many peopleand the Japan-inspired brand Tatcha plays that combination up to the max. As the story goes, Harvard graduate and businesswoman Victoria Tsai, had a chance encounter with a modern-day geisha on a trip to Kyoto, Japan. What followed was an introduction to a fabled book on the beauty secrets of the geisha, which led to Tsais desire to translate these secrets and tips into a modern-day skincare line.

The hallmark ingredients Tsai and her team seem most interested in are of Japan-inspired such as green tea, red algae, and rice bran which are supposedly mentioned often in the ancient geisha beauty book. Although all three of these ingredients have merit for skin, research hasnt shown them to purify or do some of the other things for skin that Tatcha claims. What you really need to know is none of these are the solution for any skin concern or for any skin type.

One more point, the entire premise of Tatcha is built around Japanese geishas beauty routines, but this assumes that under all of their decorative makeup, geishas have (or had) beautiful, flawless skin. In all likelihood, some do and some dont, but its quite likely that when unadorned and viewed close up, these women have the same types of skin issues as women the world oversave for perhaps fewer signs of sun damage, as most east Asian cultures are careful about avoiding sun exposure.

Enough about the marketing story because what really matters is the quality of the products and whether or not they are beneficial for skin. The short answer is this line has more problematic formulations than beneficial ones.

Chief among the concerns that keep us from getting behind this line are an abundance of fragrance (natural or not, fragrance can irritate skin) and several products housed in jars that expose their delicate ingredients to light and air.

Admittedly, its easy to get swept up in what the ancients knew and kept to themselves for centuries, only to have these seemingly amazing secrets finally divulged. We wish that were a wise way to find the best products for your skin, but despite Tatchas promises, your skin will be left wanting more.

For more information about Tatcha visit www.tatcha.com.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.

Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.