I am taking a pause from my regular culinary revelry so share with you a topic that is very dear to my heart. Not only is it important to nourish our insides we must also care for our largest and most tender organ, the skin. After years of struggling with adolescent and young adult acne I was determined to find a cure that didn't involve pills, harsh acid peels or drying retinols. Research led me to a website, Skin Deep, where I learned the disturbing truths and dangers of the ingredients in common brand name cleansers and cosmetics. Even my so called "natural" cleansers where choc-full of phytoestrogens, parabens and chemicals, all of which can wreak havoc on a woman's endocrine system, ultimately leading to problematic and inflamed skin. My eyes were also opened after watching a rather disturbing video, The Story of Cosmetics (take a minute to watch if you haven't already!!)
Determined to heal my skin after many years of abuse I became enraptured in the world of natural, bio-organic skincare. Now I am not just talking about brands who claim to be "all natural" or "organic"...anyone can pay a fee to have that label. I am talking about small batch companies who understand what our skin needs to thrive, heal and be nourished without compromising the integrity of the ingredients or being hell-bent on long term shelf life.
So my friends, thus begins a three part series on how I tend my skin and the gentle, beautifully formulated products that I use morning, evening and before bedtime. Please note that what I share with you is based solely on my personal experience, and I am in no way endorsing a product for compensation, nor was I asked to do any sort of review. I am simply delighted to give my heartfelt support to three exquisite women and their purposeful lines that have completely transformed how I nourish my skin.
For years I struggled with the insecurities that came along with having troubled skin and the heartbreak felt when no product nor esthetician could help me. This series is my personal testimony and herald of triumph over inflamed and toxic skin! So without further ado, I bring you...
After a long night of restorative rest I find it most important to nourish my body and skin as soon as I wake up in order to revive my metabolism, protect my skin from the elements of the day, and cleanse the toxins that my body is ready to purge. While we sleep our bodies work hard to flush out impurities, repair and heal so it is important to start our mornings with a cleansing, rejuvenating and balancing regime.
A simple herbal tea or glass of pure water with lemon is so wonderful for alkalizing and cleansing first thing in the day. Despite the acidic nature of lemons once they are ingested they are in fact very alkalizing so I try to sip lemon water throughout the day to help keep me in balance. Green juices are also powerful elixirs that give energy and purify the blood while sustaining blood sugar levels, leading to less sugar cravings and overeating (my favorite Green Glow Juice recipe is below). If my skin has a breakout or I find dark circles under my eyes I know my body is depleted of nutrients or overly acidic so I immediately try to restore balance with leafy greens, fresh juices, and herbal teas such as peppermint, rooibos, and dandelion root. Try to avoid things like coffee and black tea first thing in the morning. Both are highly acidic and the caffeine can wreak havoc on your adrenals resulting in a momentary caffeine high but a tiresome crash later in the day.
When it comes to preparing my skin for the day I turn to the beautifully gentle products of Tata Harper, self proclaimed alchemist and proprietress of Tata Harper Skincare. Nestled on a 1,200 acre farm in the Champlain Valley of Vermont Tata and her brood of natural skin care enthusiast bottle by hand some of the most breathtaking tinctures and potions, all organic and including many herbs and flowers from Tata’s fields. All production is sustainably done on the farm with Tata overseeing every fine detail resulting in a perfected line of skincare that is healing, nourishing and makes you smell like you too have been romping around in a field of flowers. Tata’s line boasts of anti-aging and moisturizing properties along with being extremely gentle on sensitive skin as her products are free of alcohols, fillers and synthetic ingredients. Every ingredient has a purpose and is responsibly sourced!
I start my morning ritual cleansing with her gentle Regenerating Cleanser that lightly sloughs off dead skin with finely grown apricot seed and willow bark. Grapefruit and pink clay help decongest pores while aloe vera provides moisture, and I am left with baby soft skin that has not be stripped of its natural oils. Though this cleanser if free of soap and is non-foaming I am always amazing at how thoroughly it cleanses my skin! For those of you with extremely sensitive skin Tata also makes the Refreshing Cleanser which is free of any exfoliating granules, but still very effective when it comes to hydrating and cleansing.
Following the cleanse I spritz my face with my most cherished Tata product the Hydrating Foral Essence. It is only recently I discovered the amazingly hydrating benefits of facial sprays. Just ask any French woman and she will tell you that she never goes a day without spritzing her face with some sort of mineral or floral water. Many facial sprays are just purified water resulting in only a temporary moisture fix but Tata’s Hydrating Floral Essence sings of rose, neroli, jasmine and Hiyaluronic Acid, an anti-aging humicant that draws moisture into the skin. High in vitamin C and witch hazel this essence can also aid in reducing redness and calming inflamed skin plus it smells divine! I carry this around with me at all times and love to use it to set my makeup or to refresh my parched skin.
Next, I massage her Rejuvenating Serum, which is more like a very emollient lotion, into my skin. Boasting of 29 active ingredients the Rejuvenating Serum is Tata’s most prized product. This anti-aging serum uses narcissus bulb and date palm extract to increase elasticity and firmness. Menyanthes flower is a powerful tonic to help skin cell turnover and collagen stimulation. Even if you are young, like myself, and are not too concerned with wrinkles I can not tell you enough how important it is to take preventative measures so that as we age naturally and gracefully our skin has been well cared for.
Lastly I moisturize with the Repairative Moisturizer which is ideal for the dry winter months. This moisturizer immediately sinks into my skin giving me a supple glow. Mango butter and fresh rose soften the skin while cocoa extracts protect against harmful environmental free radicals. In the past, moisturizers would cause me to breakout or would not be hydrating enough, thankfully I find that all of Tata’s products are extremely gentle on my combination skin. She also makes the Rebuilding Moisturizer which is more suitable for oily skin. I will probably switch between the two depending on the season since I need something light in the summer months.
For an occasional treat and instant glow I use the Resurfacing Mask, a jelly like spread that helps detoxify and brighten the skin. Whenever I use this mask I notice a dramatic difference in the texture of my skin. My skin tone is even, hydrated and smells like a flower garden! Its healing properties such as white willow extract and witch hazel are excellent for clearing any troubled areas.
Can you share with us your philosophy and how Tata Harper Skincare was born:
This line was born out of a passion for natural, nontoxic living - for healthy beauty that actually works. It all started when a family member was diagnosed with cancer and throughout his treatment process, so much of the conversation about recovery was about being careful of the products he was using daily on his body, on his home, what he was eating. I had never heard of things like parabens or a "toxic load", but I started doing research and switching my lifestyle. I believe in this natural movement that's all about making people healthier, happier, more energized and active - my skincare is completely in line with this lifestyle. It's all about multi-active, multi-functioning products that contribute to health, vitality and balance, and make women feel and look more beautiful - without compromising their health.
What does your morning hour entail:
It includes wonderful things: a bit of restorative yoga or stretching to balance my thoughts for the day, a refreshing shower and wash with my products, a fresh juice and then waking my kids up and getting the day started with them.
In the bathroom, I use most of my products each day, twice a day. For my morning routine I wash my face with my Regenerating Cleanser, to wash off dead skin and brighten my complexion. Then I cocktail our Hydrating Floral Essence and Rejuvenating Serum in my hand - a spray or 2 of each, rub together and then I apply all over my face, neck and chest (a lot of people forget to give the neck and chest anti-aging attention but they need it too!). This combo helps it sink into the deepest layers of my skin, where it really helps activate collagen production and thoroughly hydrate. Then I use my Replenishing Nutrient Complex - a luscious multivitamin oil that is like a layer of environmental protection, and final glow. The fresh floral smells of the product are like an added bonus, a bit of aromatherapy to calm the mind and stimulate the senses before the day begins.
How does diet and exercise play a role in your daily routine:
Exercise is essential for helping me stay sane and energized throughout my hectic days - I try to get in a serious workout a few times a week and do gentle restorative yoga and strengthening exercises more often. Unfortunately I don't have time any more to spend three hours in the gym sculpting each muscle, but I love regular exercise to help relax the mind and body as well as stay strong. A healthy diet has always been part of my life: I grew up in Colombia where food is fresh, vibrant and varied. We eat a lot of salads and drink a lot of juices, and we believe in eating for beauty: did you know that a third of all the nutrients you consume go straight to feed your skin?! The way we look reflects our diet so I strive to have nutrient-rich foods, smoothies and juices every day. But I'm not crazy strict with myself - I eat meat, try lots of new kinds of food, and love sweet treats!
What is the most common mistake women make when it comes to skin care:
First there is the basic misconception that facial cleansers should cleanse with soaps or detergents - so many cleansers out there contain them, when in fact they really disrupt your skin's natural hydration balance and can cause your oil production to go into overdrive. People with oily or combination skin often over-do it with stripping soaps that dry their skin out like crazy, and then it over-produces oil in response, and finding that healthy balance is impossible. The trick is to find a non-soap cleanser that washes away dead skin and cleanses with the gentle antiseptic and antibacterial properties of essential oils. They leave your barrier intact and your skin feels hydrated even right after you wash it!
Another mistake is that women have treatments done to their skin as they get older that really weaken the skin and cause it to become thinner - things like intense acid peels, for example. The goal of anti-aging is to reinforce your skin's integrity and health, so that it's resilient, plump and strong. It's all about nourishing, not stripping! These peels just strip off an entire layer of skin, exposing the new skin beneath - that's why they reveal such immediate results. But in the long run it's really damaging - there is a place for these intense treatments but should only be done once or twice a year. A good anti-aging strategy involves daily skin nutrition and hydration, plus active ingredients that fight wrinkles or dark spots - and a lifestyle that can help your whole body stay feeling and looking young for longer.
Everything about Tata's mission to empower and encourage womens' understanding natural beauty and the importance of nourishing the outside as well as the inside resonates with me completely. And though her products may be considered “high end” I believe her pure, hand picked ingredients are an investment to my overall health, and I start my day knowing that Tata’s products are a natural, toxin-free delight for my skin. To learn more about Tata and the story of her products you can visit her Website, Facebook, Twitter or peruse her Pinterest page.
Tata and I have collaborated to bring you a wonderful giveaway featuring many of my favorite products plus some homemade rose and jasmine water made by yours truly! Everything pictured above is included in the giveaway so if you would like to participate simply leave a comment below. To increase your chances of winning you can also share this giveaway on your social media or personal blog and then leave an additional comment!
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED! THANK YOU!
* International readers: I will gladly ship to you if you cover the cost of shipping, thank you!
Lastly, I would like to introduce you to the beautiful Tristan of Besotted. She graciously hand lettered both the title of this post and labels of the floral waters. Self taught and insanely talented, Tristan curates a haven of a blog called Besotted where she shares her adventures in novelty calligraphy, film photography and more! When her fair hand is not delicately grasping the nib she runs the Besotted Brand shop where she offers custom stamps, paper goods, and even an apothecary (coming soon!).
Please do pay Tristan a visit and shower her with comments and notes of praise, she has such a natural gift and keen eye for all things beautiful, and I am so grateful for our collaboration!
**Many of you have asked, the skirt is from Anthropologie :)
Green Glow Juice (serves 1)
- 1 handful of fresh parsley
- 1 handful of fresh cilantro
- 2 stalks of celery
- 1 green apple
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 lime
- 1/2 cucumber
- 6-8 stalks of kale
Run everything through the juicer and enjoy a deliciously alkalizing and cleansing treat that nourishes you from the inside out!