Tatcha Founder Vicky Tsai Reveals the Beauty Secrets She Learned From a Geisha
In just over a decade, Tatcha has taken the beauty world by storm. Founded in 2009 by Victoria Tsai, the luxury skincare line has won numerous awards and fans by giving Kyoto’s ancient beauty rituals a decidedly modern twist with cutting-edge technology. When a modern geisha is a major inspiration, what else can you expect? But Tsai knows there’s more to beauty than just the skin, which is why the brand recently made the leap to 3 million school days for girls donated through its partnership with bedroom to read. Tsai shares Tatcha’s journey.
Why did you decide to launch Tatcha? I created Tatcha as a love letter to Japan because my experiences there healed my skin and my soul. Before Tatcha, I made my career in the corporate world. I became disillusioned with the work I was doing because I wasn’t clear on how it was positively impacting the world. I had also developed acute dermatitis on my face while working in a global beauty company during my business studies. I used steroids and took antibiotics for three years to try to control my skin, but my doctors told me the damage was irreversible. Around the same time, I began to realize that while I was spending the majority of my waking hours working, I needed my work to have meaning in order for my life to have meaning. I woke up one morning, said out loud “I choose happiness”, quit my job the same day and started traveling with no other plan than to find out what would make me happy – and I found it in Japan. While in Kyoto, I was healed in the truest sense of the word – the beautiful ingredients and timeless rituals introduced to me calmed my skin, while the kindness and care of people nourished my soul. . I created Tatcha to share everything I had learned in Japan in hopes that what resonated and healed me would also help others.
What did you learn from the modern Geisha that inspired your line, and what classic Kyoto beauty rituals also play a role in Tatcha? The geisha taught me that beauty begins in the heart and the mind, and that beauty is something that is acquired with age, not lost. When you are younger it is on the surface, but as you get older it deepens and becomes intrinsic as your heart and mind become more beautiful. It resonated deeply with me because it went against everything we are taught about beauty in the United States, where there is such a fear of aging. With Tatcha, I want to share this message and celebrate life and beauty at any age. The core of our collection is a four-step ritual rooted in classic skincare traditions followed in Japan for centuries. First, purify the skin with a cleansing oilthen polish it like a jewel with a non-abrasive daily exfoliatingthen plump with a gasoline to flood the skin with hydration, and finish by nourishing with a moisturizer.
How did you want Tatcha to be different from other skincare brands? In creating Tatcha, we wanted to build a values-based business – customers care as much about the philosophies and values behind the business as they do about what the product is. And just as my travels to Japan healed me, we created Tatcha as a way to help our clients reconnect with themselves from skin to soul. Our Beautiful faces, beautiful futures partnership with bedroom to readwhich supports girls’ education in low-income countries in Asia and Africa, is also an extension of this.
Why did you specifically decide to partner with Room to Read? We started a forever partnership in 2014 that is fully funded by the generosity of our customers, our Beautiful Faces, Beautiful Futures program, and because of this, every Tatcha purchase sends a girl to school. We decided to partner with Room to Read because they are one of the most respected and effective nonprofits today – their reputation for effectiveness and efficiency is unparalleled. We also knew we wanted to support girls’ education because studies have shown it’s the most effective way to fight global poverty. If you educate a girl, she can lift her community out of poverty in just two generations, because educated girls become educated mothers. , who in turn educate their daughters. The cycle continues, which is quite incredible.
How are literacy and beauty related? True beauty is much deeper than what’s on the surface – it’s about discovering your own worth, learning your own potential, and finding your own inner strength.
Since you’re based in both San Francisco and Japan, how does each location inform the line? Each location serves as a wonderful complement to the other and has profoundly influenced Tatcha’s philosophy. Our roots are in Kyoto, in the rituals and traditions that make it such a beautiful place, while our scientists are in Tokyo at the Tatcha Institute. They are our founding team. Our sales and marketing office is in San Francisco, a city I love for its enthusiasm and ever-changing perspective on how to imagine the world. The marriage of these two worlds is where the magic of Tatcha happens.
Why is Hadasei-3 so crucial for Tatcha? As the skin is our largest organ, it only makes sense that what is good for our body is also good for our skin. Hadasei-3, which is the cornerstone of our collection and which appears in all our formulations, is an exclusive complex of actives derived from Okinawa red algae, Akita rice and Uji green tea. Scientists at our Tatcha Institute in Japan use a double fermentation process to release the actives in each ingredient, making them more effective and easier to absorb. The result is a remarkable renewal of the skin’s barrier function, an increase in the skin’s ability to retain essential moisture and give it the appearance and action of youthful, healthy skin, regardless of your age.
What are your favorite ingredients to work with? Along with the Akita rice, Okinawan red seaweed, and Uji green tea that make up Hadasei-3, another favorite ingredient is silk extract, which has been used in Japanese beauty rituals for centuries. Rich in antioxidants that help revitalize the skin for better elasticity and suppleness, it has an amino acid structure similar to our skin that gives it that weightless feeling. It’s also wonderful for helping to maintain our skin’s natural moisture levels and protecting barrier function. Thanks to modern technology, our scientists are still discovering new uses for it, which is amazing.
What’s the most surprising beauty lesson you’ve learned along the way? This “whole body health” is real and important. Your skin is a reflection of your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and you must take care of each need to successfully impact the other. When you are sad or stressed, it shows, and conversely, when you are happy, you radiate. Taking care of yourself (including your skin) on a daily basis is just as important as eating well, sleeping well and drinking enough water.
What is one thing you wish all women knew about skincare? That a product doesn’t have to itch, burn, peel or redden the skin to prove it works! Your skin is the largest and one of the most important organs in the body, so treat it with care and gratitude. Gentle formulas are your best friend.
What is your skincare and beauty routine? It varies with the seasons and my skin’s needs, but it never strays too far from the classic ritual – less is always more: in the morning, I always start with The Classic Rice Polish Classic to exfoliate, then continue with The Essence, which is a somewhat misunderstood product category here in the US – ours is a superfluid that is 98.7% double-fermented Hadasei-3 and enhances everything I put on after work. And as the air gets drier with the changing seasons, I use The Silk Cream, our rich yet lightweight anti-aging gel moisturizer, followed by The Silk Peony Eye Cream and The Silk Canvas Primer to protect my skin throughout. the day. At night, I remove makeup using One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil and Classic Rice Polish to gently exfoliate, followed by The Essence, Violet-C Brightening Serum, Dewy Skin Cream and Silk Eye Cream Peony.
What is your vision of Tatcha’s future? To keep Tatcha here for the next 100 years and to fund many more school days for girls around the world. There are over 30 million girls out of school around the world and we’re just getting started.