Cover Tatcha founder, Vicky Tsai (Photo: Courtesy of Tatcha)

Vicky Tsai, founder of Japanese-inspired beauty and skincare brand, Tatcha shares why it's important to improve your skin's health during the pandemic and how their products will help you achieve that

Cult beauty and skincare brand, Tatcha, which is inspired by classical beauty rituals in Japan has taken the world by storm—and as much as it had changed Vicky Tsai's life. The pure, natural formulas and philosophy of harmony, healed Tsai's own acute dermatitis and helped her regain balance inside and out after she discovered the beauty rituals in Kyoto in 2008.

Then, the Tatcha Insitute in Japan was born the following year to create a skincare collection based on hinou dokon, the mind-skin connection. Amid the challenging year that has affected all aspects of our life—mentally and physically—it's easy to overlook how it has also affected our skin, our body's first line of defence.

We spoke with founder Vicky Tsai to understand why improving our skin's health matters during the pandemic, and how their products can help us achieve that.

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In what ways has the pandemic affected our skin health?

The pandemic affected so many of us in so many different ways but one way, in particular, was through our skin. Like our mind and our body, our skin also reacts to stress and is usually the first part of your body to show its effects outwardly.

No two people’s skin reacts the exact same way, but acne, redness, irritation, dryness, hives, or eczema are common ways our stress can manifest itself. It’s important to listen to your skin and care for it properly so it and yourself can heal.

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Why is it important to keep our skin healthy during these challenging times?

It’s important to keep your skin and yourself healthy during these challenging times because your skin is your immune system’s first line of defence. As our body’s biggest organ, its job is to keep us safe and protect us from harm both inside and out. By caring for your skin you are caring for your overall health, they go hand in hand.

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How will your product, The Essence, help nourish our skin?

Tatcha’s Essence is a hundred per cent pure double-concentrated Hadasei-3, our proprietary complex composed of the three superfoods at the core of the traditional Japanese diet. The complex is rooted in Akita rice fermented with a specially selected yeast strain to yield much less alcohol, and it’s rich in amino acids and AHAs including lactic acid to support natural surface cell turnover for smooth skin.

As the base of Hadasei-3, the Akita rice ferment helps deliver nutrients by flooding the skin’s aquaporin channels with hydration from the Okinawa algae, increasing skin’s moisture levels by 576 per cent in just seven seconds. This allows any formula applied to the skin after to penetrate more deeply and become more efficacious.

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You personally developed the Indigo Overnight Repair treatment because of stress brought on by the pandemic, can you tell us more about how that came about?

Our body "talks" to us through our skin, and it’s important to always listen to what it’s saying. My skin in particular is quick to communicate with me when I’m stressed or my body’s run down, and as a result, hives, redness, eczema, and irritation will appear depending on what's going on with my life or with my overall health and well-being.

Before the pandemic began, we had started work on what would eventually become the Indigo Overnight Repair, but as it continued my skin became increasingly more reactive and irritated because of the stress.

I began using the formula to calm my skin and then realized if this was happening to me, it was likely happening to many of our clients—including many who never before had experienced irritation brought on by stress. At Tatcha, our goal is always to be of service to our clients and care for them through their skin, especially during these historic times, so we worked with our scientists to make it even more efficacious, accelerated the development and pulled up the launch date so we could help our clients when their skin began to talk.

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In what ways will these new products be beneficial for our skin?

In Japan, indigo has been used for centuries to soothe and calm irritated skin thanks to its naturally effective antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which is gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin. I was introduced to the ingredient and its rich history during my travels to Japan, and it immediately helped me reclaim my skin by healing dermatitis and eczema I developed in my corporate life.

We originally developed our indigo collection for clients with skin similar to mine, and when developing the Indigo Overnight Repair, our scientists at the Tatcha Institute in Tokyo took it one step further to create a formula that could calm the effects of external stressors on the skin, while also repairing and strengthening its line of defence.

The resulting formula strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier, replenishes lost moisture, and balances the microbiome by activating its natural immune defences, allowing good microbes to flourish while preventing bad from proliferating, which helps skin perform at an optimal level and protect itself from future harm.

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Can you give some skincare tips to keep healthy amid pandemic stress?

Don’t be afraid to prioritise your well-being. It’s up to each and every one of us to care for our minds, bodies, and our health. As our skin is our natural armour, the first and foremost way to keep yourself and your skin healthy is starting from the outside in. Gently cleansing every day is essential as we are all exposed to so many external stressors right now and our skin is working overtime, so keeping it clean will ensure your skin stays healthy and strong.

Also, as stressed skin also tends to become dry and dehydrated, our skin barrier function and immune system can become compromised. Using an essence followed by a nourishing moisturiser to replenish your skin’s natural moisture levels will strengthen skin barrier function, keep the skin calm, and boost our natural immune defences that keep us safe and healthy.

Finally, sleep is incredibly important for the entire body, especially the skin. It’s a time of restoration and healing both inside and out. From the inside out, consider practices that keep you in touch with your body-mind. For some, that could mean meditation, others it means going out in nature, but ultimately it’s up to you to decide what type of practice will help promote a sense of calm.

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This article was originally published on July 16, 2021 and was updated on August 13, 2021.