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.
Alcohol in skin-care products causes dryness and free-radical damage, and impairs the skin's ability to heal. The irritation it causes damages healthy collagen production and can stimulate oil production at the base of the pore, making oily skin worse (Sources: Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1410–1419; Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, January 2011, pages 83–90; "Skin Care—From the Inside Out and Outside In," Tufts Daily, April 1, 2002; eMedicine Journal, May 8, 2002, volume 3, number 5, www.emedicine.com; Cutis, February 2001, pages 25–27; Contact Dermatitis, January 1996, pages 12–16; and http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-4/277-284.htm).
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.
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.
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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