Rather than offering leave-on exfoliants that contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs, such as glycolic acid) or beta hydroxy acid (BHA, also known as salicylic acid), Tatcha offers a rice-based powder with the enzyme papain. It's meant to be mixed with water and massaged over damp skin, then rinsed.
Essentially, this is an extremely basic, minimally abrasive scrub in fancy packaging, but no matter the ingredients or the lore behind them, scrubs are not the best way to exfoliate skin. They only work on the surface, while leave-on AHA or BHA exfoliants work far more effectively on built up layers of dead skin.
Moreover, the enzyme papain is an unreliable exfoliant because it's extremely unstable, especially in a rinse-off formula.
Along with rice powder, you get a soap-like cleansing agent and a duo of abrasive ingredients: rice bran and microcrystalline cellulose. Each will provide extra cleaning, but the soap-like cleansing agent makes this cleansing scrub potentially drying.
In the end, this isn't a terrible scrub, just a step backward compared with today's best exfoliants. Geishas may have smoothed their skin with a mix of rice powder and other powdered grains, but remember, only 50 years ago we used to sunbathe for hours and smoke cigarettes unaware of the damaging effects it was causing on our skin and bodies!
Note: Although this scrub powder is packaged in a jar, the cap is designed so that only a small hole is offered for the powder to flow through, a packaging step that helps keep the contents hygienic and less messy.
The allure of ancient beauty treatments coupled with modern science is tempting for many people—and 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 Tsai’s 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 hasn’t 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 don’t, but it’s quite likely that when unadorned and viewed close up, these women have the same types of skin issues as women the world over—save 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, it’s 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 Tatcha’s promises, your skin will be left wanting more.
For more information about Tatcha visit www.tatcha.com.
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