Tata Harper’s Moisturizing Mask is a mix of pros and cons, with ultimately more cons than pros!
On the positive side, it contains a blend of rich emollients—fatty acids, shea butter extracts, plant oils and reparative ingredients—all excellent for moisturizing dry to very dry skin not prone to breakouts.
The cons? To get these benefits, you’ve got to make it past the considerable mix of fragrance extracts and perfumes, that combined, put your skin at serious risk of pro-aging irritation.
For the price, we were hoping for more in terms of beneficial antioxidants and proven anti-aging ingredients. What is present here will help to replenish dry skin, but it doesn’t rise to the degree of reparative ingredients that aren’t also found in many drugstore moisturizers (that’s really what this is, despite being labeled a mask) at a fraction of the cost. What antioxidants are included aren’t exceptional, and certainly doesn’t justify the exorbitant price tag.
The ingredient hyaluronic acid (as sodium hyaluronate) that is so prominent in the marketing messaging for this product is actually only present in a tiny amount—less than the amount of added fragrance. Harper also describes this form of hyaluronic acid as “biocompatible”, which is just marketing speak and isn’t applicable here—visit the “More Info” section for the details explaining why.
Allow us to reiterate that despite the fact that Tata Harper advertises this as a mask, it’s actually just a very emollient moisturizer—so you don’t need to remove this as suggested in the product’s directions. This is true of many “moisturizing masks,” as such products (when well formulated) can double as your nighttime moisturizer or to spot treat dry to very dry areas of the face. However, the key is that they’re free of potentially irritating ingredients, which is not the case here.
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 and fragrance shouldn’t make an appearance in your skincare products. (Especially those designed for sensitive, dry and damaged skin as is the case here.)
Even though this formula contains some beneficial ingredients for dry skin (and isn't packaged in a jar), its questionable amount of numerous fragrant ingredients—added “aroma” from essential oils, eugenol, geraniol and methyl eugenol to name a few—coupled with the relative simplicity of its formula, that earned this mask our lowest rating.
Rather than pay a premium price for an overly fragrance (yet really basic moisturizer), we would recommend looking to the hundreds of products at a fraction of this price with significantly more skin-friendly combinations of ingredients in our list of Best Moisturizers without Sunscreen for Dry Skin.
Biocompatible Ingredients: Tata Harper also makes mention that this includes “biocompatible” hyaluronic acid (sodium hyaluronate), but this is a misuse of the term. Biocompatibility means that a substance doesn’t damage living tissue—as in, it’s compatible with it, rather than incompatible. This doesn’t have anything to do with a cosmetic ingredient’s effectiveness or whether an ingredient is natural—for example a pacemaker is biocompatible as they keep your heart functioning without harming your body, and a pacemaker is totally unnatural.
Tata Harper uses ordinary sodium hyaluronate (which is a salt form of hyaluronic acid). This is absolutely an effective form of the ingredient, but no different than the sodium hyaluronate used in hundreds of other skincare products, from the drugstore to the cosmetic counter, all of which are also “biocompatible” with your skin.
This rich mask treatment provides maximum hydration and long-lasting moisture to even the most dehydrated, stressed skin. A proprietary MoistureMolecule Complex infuses the skin with biocompatible Hyaluronic Acid to promote deep hydration and a youthful cushion. This treatment helps protect skin from moisture loss, delivering a dramatically replenished feel and restoring a dewy luminosity.
Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Capric/Caprylic/Triglycerides, Aqua, Shea Butter Ethyl Esters, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil, Glycerine, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Oleosomes, Glyceryl Undecylenate, Xylitylglucoside, Theobroma Cacao, Calophyllum Tacamahaca (Tamanu) Seed Oil, Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Beta Vulgaris (Beet) Root Extract, Silybum Marianum (Milk Thistle) Ethyl Ester, Anhydroxylitol, Sucrose Stearate, Aroma**, Lactobacillus/Arundinaria Gigantea Ferment Filtrate, Sucrose Palmitate, Xylitol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Calcium Ketogluconate, Sucrose Laurate, Hydrolyzed Avocado Protein, Maltodextrin, 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, Sodium Hyaluronate, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract, Tocopherol, Citral, Citronellol, Eugenol, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool, Methyl Eugenol.
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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