Beautifying Face Oil is a good addition to the facial-oil trend that also surprisingly affordable—Tata Harper’s product line certainly aims for a higher-end price point, so this concentrated formula’s price was a pleasant surprise.
Best for normal to dry skin, this contains a beneficial mix of jojoba, olive, argan and other plant oils, along with reparative ingredients, antioxidants and fatty acids. There are some fragrant extracts plus fragrance (aroma) to be aware of, which keeps this from being a strongly recommended product (especially for those with sensitive skin). If it were fragrance-free, that would be even better, at least from your skin’s perspective!
Packaged in an opaque glass bottle with a dropper-dispenser, this can be mixed into a moisturizer, serum or used on its own—as is the case with any facial oil. This allows you to “tailor” the amount of moisture you need based upon your particular degree of dry skin. Like any facial oil, this does have the tendency to feel heavy if too much is applied.
Beautifying Face Oil is a squalane-based formula, which is good news for those with dry, dehydrated skin. Squalane is a helpful addition that aids skin retention of moisture and plays a role in repairing damage—when paired with other beneficial ingredients (The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 2011).
Among the range of oils in this formula, you’ll find Plukenetia volubilis, sometimes referred to as “Inca omega” when used in cosmetics. This is a non-fragrant plant oil that is rich in linoleic acid, as well as the antioxidants A and E (Food Chemistry, 2013). It’s a good oil for moisture and similar to the benefits you would see from many other varieties such as olive, coconut, and argan.
We should note that Tata Harper calls out the ingredient brown algae, which is listed here as just “algae extract”, but is present in a tiny amount. This is odd as the marketing makes the point of stating, “Powered by Brown Algae”, but there you have it (this isn’t a tragedy, as the research around brown algae isn’t compelling anyway).
However, the ingredient included in much higher amounts is Sambucus nigra fruit extract, or elderberry, which is much more interesting due to its potent antioxidant potential (Pharmacognosy Magazine, 2010). We would have recommended calling this antioxidant out instead.
If you’re curious whether there is truth to Tata Harper’s description of their fragrance blend (i.e. “aroma”) as made from “clinical grade essential oils”, there isn’t. There is no such standard or classification for essential oils—this is just another phrase for fragrance.
The Beautifying Face Oil missed out on earning our top rating due to the inclusion of three potential irritants, comfrey extract (Symphytum officinale extract), arnica extracts and added fragrance. For the most part, the amounts are low, but nonetheless they do have the potential to irritate skin and the total amounts likely present make this product a questionable choice for those with extra-sensitive skin.
This luxuriously lightweight, fast-absorbing face oil helps to instantly energize the look of the skin, leaving a silky-soft, hydrated surface with a brighter and firmer appearance. Powered by Brown Algae Extract, this oil helps turn back the skin’s age clock to reduce the appearance of dullness and fatigue for a toned, radiant look. Camellia Flower oil deeply moisturizes with essential fatty acids, while a blend of botanical infusions delivers long-lasting hydration and glow. Makes the perfect primer for makeup application.
Squalane, Jojoba Esters, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, Plukenetia Volubilis, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Extract, Arnica Montana (Arnica) Leaves and Flowers, Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Flower Extract, Symphytum Officinale (Comfrey) Leaves, Borago Officinalis (Borage) Leaf Extract, Spiraea Ulmaria (Meadowsweet) Flower Extract, Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract, Aroma, Algae Extract, Linalool, Limonene.
Tata Harper At-a-Glance
Based in Vermont, the Tata Harper brand knows its niche—those who equate expensive with effective, and those who buy into the fear tactics that “chemicals” are bad and only all-natural ingredients are good. These beliefs are common misconceptions we have dealt with repeatedly over the years, and here’s the quick summation: There are good and bad natural ingredients, just as there are good and bad synthetic ingredients—and with skin care, expensive does not necessarily mean better.
Tata Harper is a real person, who created her namesake line based on the concept that natural ingredients are 100% safe and that beauty products should be free of chemicals. The “chemical- free” rhetoric certainly isn’t a new approach to marketing skin care, but the claim is nonsense, regardless of the company, because everything, from daisies to asphalt to water, is composed of chemicals… but we march on.
Harper’s marketing appeal is the claim that she and her team grow most of their ingredients on their 12,000-acre Vermont farm. If the farm doesn’t supply the ingredients they need, they have them shipped in, from all over the world. Their Vermont farm-laboratory is where the products are made, in small batches by hand. That sounds interesting until you realize that “batches by hand” is actually true of any cosmetic, made by any brand, as hands are always needed, and batch size is irrelevant. As Tata has grown, the size of the batches has grown as well. They formulate their products using botanicals that are “free of toxins” and “biochemically compatible with our skin.” If those claims sound vaguely fertilizer-worthy, you are on the right track.
It is important to understand how misleading the “free of toxins” claim is. A toxin refers to a poison, like real poisons (think snake venom, which, incidentally, is 100% natural); cosmetic ingredients are not toxins. Biocompatibility just means that a substance doesn’t harm living tissue; that is, it’s compatible with it, rather than incompatible. Biocompatibility has nothing to do with whether or not a substance is natural in origin. For example, pacemakers are biocompatible in that they keep your heart beating without harming your body, but they certainly are not natural; on the other hand, snake venom and cyanide are both completely natural, but they certainly are not biocompatible.
Of course, many natural ingredients do benefit skin, but many natural ingredients also are a problem for skin, including such seemingly innocuous ingredients as lavender and peppermint. Synthetic ingredients, like retinol or peptides, can be wonderfully beneficial for skin, so, ideally, the best products will contain a mix of proven beneficial natural and synthetic ingredients. When evaluating any ingredient, we always consider what the published, peer-reviewed research has shown to be beneficial or detrimental for your skin, whether it’s natural or not.
Despite the science-y-sounding claims and phrases Tata Harper uses in their marketing materials, most of it is a smoke screen. (They stop just short of promising cosmetic surgery–like results from flowers and essential oils.) What this translates into is a collection of products that are so fragranced they can be mistaken for perfume. Each contains a mix of standard plant-based moisturizing agents (think olive oil, shea and mango butters, and other plant-based fatty acids) along with plant oils or extracts that are proven skin irritants, which is bad news for you!
Tata Harper repeatedly describes their ingredients as “actives,” as in “Active Natural Ingredients,” which is a misuse of the term. “Actives” refers only to ingredients regulated as drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), such as sunscreen actives, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid acne treatments, hydroquinone skin lighteners, and others. Outside of this standard, the phrase “active ingredients” is completely meaningless, because all cosmetic ingredients (even water) will exert some sort of action on the skin.
Like all of Harper’s products, they state that their products contain “Fragrances from 100% natural clinical grade essential oils,” but there isn't any such classification or standard for essential oils. These ingredients are little more than fragrance, and fragrance isn’t skin care. Perfume can be wonderful when selectively placed behind the ears and on the pulse points, but applied all over the face it’s 100% irritating for all skin types just about 100% of the time.
The bottom line? The Tata Harper line is an overall disappointment, especially if you have common concerns such as acne, rosacea, dark spots, enlarged pores, or sun damage. And their prices are bizarre—$45 for a 0.5 ounce bottle of rosewater, olive oil, and jojoba oil is not worth the cost, not by any stretch. We are not against natural ingredients, but if you’re looking to use natural products, this line isn’t the way to go.
For more information about Tata Harper visit www.tataharperskincare.com.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
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