There comes a time in every beauty lover’s life when she fantasizes about starting her own product line. If you’re anything like me, this fantasy also involves running off to the country to live on a dreamy farm where I grow my own ingredients and turn them into luxurious, beautiful skincare that is then sold at the coolest boutiques in the country. But no one actually lives like that, right?Wrong. The fantasy is real, people, and I saw it with my own eyes when I visited Julius Kingdom farm in Vermont, the domain of Tata Harper, 100 percent natural, non-toxic skincare and the namesake company of Tata Harper herself. And let me tell you, it is a sight to behold.
Tata and her husband Henry moved to the ever-expanding 1,200-acre farm nestled in the Champlain valley between the Adirondack and Green Mountains and were quickly captivated by the natural beauty all around them. The valley has its own micro-climate, making most days very sunny. Surrounded by wooded hills, flowering meadows, meandering creeks and hidden ponds, “It’s like a postcard moment all the time,” explains Tata.The Harpers live in a restored 1800s farmhouse with their three children and eight dogs, and the farm is home to cows, cats, chickens that lay colorful eggs, and a few goats who roam free on the property. As mesmerized as I was by the idyllic landscape straight out of my rural fantasy, the real stars are the gorgeous skincare products, all of which are made on the farm, including formulating, testing, mixing, packing and shipping. It’s farm-to-face, using the best of modern technology.Tata grew up in Colombia, where beauty is a way of life and fancy products are the norm. But when her stepfather was diagnosed with cancer, she took a long, hard look at the chemicals she and her family were exposed to every day. After changing everything in her life such as food and cleaning products, she turned to her beloved beauty regimen and sought out 100 percent natural skincare that was as effective and luxurious as she was used to. When she couldn’t find anything that lived up to her standards, she decided to make her own.Many tried-and-true skincare ingredients are grown in Tata’s garden, including lavender, arnica, and calendula, and alfalfa is wildcrafted from the farm, since it literally grows like a weed all over the place.
When the best high-tech ingredients are needed, Tata and her team sources them from all over the globe, including plant stem cells and neuropeptides. One of the coolest ingredients is hyaluronic acid made from sweet potatoes, which Tata explains is the only one in the world that is natural and also nano, which means it penetrates the skin and quadruples the amount of HA there. “The dermis [where HA is made] is gel-like, and it’s important to keep that layer cushiony,” says Tata. Her creams, serums and the eye cream have this super HA in them.Every single product is manufactured in the farm’s lab, and because Tata Harper skincare is certified natural by EcoCert, it’s a painstaking process. Because no synthetic preservatives are used, the products are easily contaminated, so all the equipment has to be meticulously sterilized with organic alcohol. “Using synthetics would be a lot easier,” jokes Jon Faris, Product Manufacturer and R&D, who also moonlights as an aromatherapist (he custom-mixed me a potion of corn mint, eucalyptus, cinnamon and fragonia essential oils to help banish a stubborn case of bronchitis). “But we never sacrifice quality,” he says.Because the Harpers are such sticklers for authenticity and transparency, their new Open Lab & Traceability Program allows customers to track the numbers stamped on the bottom of their products back to the date they were batched in the lab. It’s important to the Harpers that people know they’re not a company focused solely on branding and marketing pitches, but are dedicated to creating innovative, natural products from scratch. Tata loves seeing how her products change people’s skin for the better: “Knowing I am making people beautiful and keeping them healthy is the most rewarding part.”
A few Tata Harper best-sellers:
- Resurfacing Mask with pomegranate enzymes to minimize pores
- Elixir Vitae serum utilizes eight natural ingredients to mimic the effects of injectibles
- Aromatic Irritability Treatment—a favorite aromatherapy roll-on for cranky days
- Volumizing Lip & Cheek Tint with natural pigments and skincare ingredients to plump up fine lines
- Beautifying Face Oil (available October 2014) with camellia flower oil and brown algae extract to deeply moisturize and trigger skin cells to act younger
- Purifying Cleanser (Available September 15, 2014) with sugar-based surfactants balances oiliness and washes away pollution