Violet-C Brightening Serum
Tatcha’s Violet-C Brightening Serum has some ingredients that can work exactly as claimed – but some not-so-good ingredients make this a product we just can’t recommend.
Housed in an opaque bottle with a pump dispenser, this serum’s lightweight liquid texture absorbs quickly into skin, with no sticky residue after it dries down. This means it works well both over and under other skin care products.
Ingredient-wise, there’s plenty to appreciate: this contains two forms of vitamin C (bis-glyceryl ascorbate and ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate) as advertised, both of which have research proving their ability to help brighten and even skin tone, as well as reduce fine lines and wrinkles. There are non-fragrant antioxidant plant extracts too, including soothing licorice and skullcap extracts.
A quick note on pH: the main form of vitamin C used here (bis-glyceryl ascorbate ) works best for skin in a pH up to 4.5, and this formula is at a pH of 4.11, so you can count on it “fighting premature aging from daily free radical assault” as claimed.
One of the major claims about this product is that it contains 10% AHA in the form of fruit extracts and juices. While some fruit extracts have mild exfoliating properties in high amounts and the citrus juices provide some of the AHA citric acid, they simply don’t have the potency or benefit of synthetic AHAs such as glycolic or lactic acid. While this does contain lactic acid in a supporting capacity, Tatcha doesn’t make exfoliating claims about it, plus the amount doesn’t come close to a 10% concentration. In essence, don’t count on this serum for exfoliation.
Another issue is that many of the touted fruit extracts (grapefruit extract, orange, lemon, and lime juices) are known skin irritants. Over time, using these on skin will lead to more problems, not fewer, making this one to avoid (see More Info below for details).
In an ironic twist, the citrus juices increase the risk of discolorations when skin is exposed to sunlight. Remember, even if you apply a broad spectrum product, no sunscreen can filter 100% of UV rays. For some, the small percentage that reaches skin can be enough for the citrus juices to cause what’s known as a phototoxic reaction, resulting in dark spots.
- Fluid formula absorbs quickly.
- Includes skin-brightening vitamin C.
- Contains antioxidant and soothing plant extracts.
- Fruit AHAs are not as potent as more-researched AHAs such as glycolic acid.
- Includes citrus extracts and juices that cause skin irritation.
Irritating Ingredients: We cannot stress this enough: Sensitizing, harsh, abrasive, and/or fragrant ingredients are bad for all skin types. Daily application of skincare products that contain these irritating ingredients is a major way we unwittingly do our skin a disservice!
Irritating ingredients are a problem because they can lead to visible problems, such as redness, rough skin, dull skin, dryness, increased oil production, and clogged pores, and they contribute to making signs of aging worse.
Switching to non-irritating, gentle skincare products can make all the difference in the world. Non-irritating products are those packed with beneficial ingredients that also replenish and soothe skin, without any volatile ingredients, such as those present in fragrance ingredients, whether natural or synthetic.
A surprising fact: Research has demonstrated that you do not need to see or feel the effects of irritants on your skin for your skin to be suffering, and visible damage may not become apparent for a long time. Don’t get lulled into thinking that if you don’t see or feel signs of irritation, everything is OK.
Generally, it’s best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to ingredients that are known to irritate skin. There are many completely non-irritating products that contain effective ingredients, so there’s no reason to put your skin at risk with products that include ingredients research has shown can be a problem.
References for this information:
Journal of Dermatological Sciences, January 2015, pages 28–36
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2014, pages 379–385
Clinical Dermatology, May-June 2012, pages 257–262
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798
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.