Is Tatcha a Clean Brand? We Investigate
Tatcha is a Japanese skincare brand. Founder Vicki Tsai started Tatcha in 2009 while seeking solutions to heal her dermatitis. The skincare rituals and ingredients she found in Kyoto, Japan inspired her to start a skincare brand. Tsai’s team included “scientists, geisha, and cultural advisors, from Kyoto to San Francisco.”
The brand’s aesthetic has delicate, floral Japanese imagery. Tsai imbues Japanese history throughout the website to share her inspiration for products. Its packaging favors hues of purple and gold. Gold is an ingredient in some products, which symbolizes the sun, wealth, and luxury in Japan.
The company’s mission is to bring the ritual of holistic skincare to every skin type. Tatcha claims to use natural ingredients. Many of its products have names that evoke nature, like “The Water Cream” and “The Dewy Serum.” The brand states it takes a multisensory approach to skincare with nature as a guide.
Is Tatcha as natural as it claims to be? We reviewed the brand to find out.
At Better Goods, we rank brands on our three pillars: ingredients, sustainability, and animal welfare.
Brands are rated on the three pillars as follows:
This ranking is for the best of the best. Only exemplary brands will receive a ranking of best for any category.
This ranking is for brands that are typically quite good, but don’t go above and beyond like our best choices.
This ranking is for when we find something we find iffy. Not a good sign.
This ranking is reserved for the worst of the worst.
Ingredients (Rating: Iffy)
Tatcha positions itself as a natural company that produces luxury Japanese skincare products. The brand formulates products for different dermal needs, including dry, oily, sensitive, and mature skin types.
While there’s no definition of “natural beauty,” Tatcha emphasizes its ingredients are natural because they come from nature. We found natural ingredients like water, rice, and plant extracts in Tatcha’s products.
Tatcha lists active ingredients and their benefits for skin. It labels its ingredients as “non-comedogenic, non-irritating, and dermatologist tested.” Tatcha also provides a list of harmful substances eliminated from products like mineral oil, parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, phthalates, urea, DEA, and TEA. There is also an option to click to see a full list of ingredients for each product.
The company uses Hadasei-3™, a trademarked blend of rice, green tea, and algae. It’s designed to hydrate and gently exfoliate skin. Its simple ingredients reflects Tatcha’s “natural” branding.
While some ingredients on Tatcha’s labels are nontoxic, we found ingredients in its current products we recommend avoiding.
- PEGs (Polyethylene Glycols) are petroleum-based ingredients used in cosmetics for thickening and stabilizing formulas. PEGs also help products retain moisture. However, they are usually contaminated with carcinogenics like 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide.
- Fragrance/parfum was is in many of Tatcha’s products. We don’t recommend using products with synthetic fragrances.
- Phenoxyethanol is a preservative ingredient meant to prevent bacteria growth in products. Some users may wish to avoid it
- Limonene is a scent ingredient from citrus rind that can cause skin and respiratory issues.
- Citral is a scent ingredient that has the potential to cause allergies or dermatitis.
- Synthetic dyes can be found in some Tatcha products. Dyes absorb into the body and some are carcinogenic.
- Mica, a mineral dust, is in some of Tatcha’s products. A 2018 report uncovered child labor and exploitation in mica mining in Madagascar and India. Tatcha has not publicly addressed its mica sources. However, Tatcha states on its website that ingredients are screened for environmental and social impact at all stages.
Sustainability (Rating: Best)
Tatcha openly describes its sustainability practices on its website. The brand’s view of sustainability is influenced by the Japanese phrase mottainai, which means “too precious to waste.”
Tatcha acknowledges that global consumption contributes to waste and seeks solutions to mitigate the harmful effects on the environment. It looks at sustainability from different angles, including packaging, energy, and its carbon footprint.
The company pledges to reduce waste through a circular model. Tatcha is integrating more post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR). PCR plastic is plastic that has been recycled from existing materials.
Tatcha uses paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The brand’s goal is to become “100% reusable, refillable, recyclable, or compostable” in the future.
Tatcha monitors its carbon emissions in partnership with Flexport.org. Flexport.org helps companies review and offset their carbon emissions. Tatcha purchases carbon credits equivalent to its emissions to counterbalance its environmental impact. The brand holds itself accountable for long-term sustainability by participating in projects with carbonfund.org.
Animal Welfare (Rating: Good)
Tatcha confirms its cruelty-free status through third-party animal rights organizations. On its website, it labels its products as cruelty-free.
Cruelty-Free Kitty confirms Tatcha is a cruelty-free brand. Tatcha and its suppliers don’t test products on animals at any part of the formulation process. The brand does not sell products in places that allow animal testing. However, Tatcha’s affiliate company Unilever is not a cruelty-free brand.
Tatcha is not 100% vegan because some ingredients are extracted from animals, reports Cruelty-Free Kitty.
Our rating scale ranges from “Best” (for having the best practices) to “Avoid” (for having unacceptable practices). We rated Tatcha as follows.
|Ingredients||Iffy||Some of Tatcha’s ingredients are come from nature and are not harmful. However we found some ingredients we recommend avoiding like PEGs, fragrance, phenoxyethanol, gold, limonene, and citral.|
|Sustainability||Best||Tatcha has transparent sustainability practices. It uses PCR plastics and FSC-certified paper in packaging and products with the goal of becoming “100% reusable, refillable, recyclable, or compostable.” It holds itself accountable by partnering with flexport.org and carbonfund.org to monitor and offset its carbon emissions. Tatcha buys carbon credits to counterbalance its environmental impact.|
|Animal Welfare||Good||Tatcha is cruelty-free but not 100% vegan. Its parent company, Unilever is not cruelty-free.|
Overall Rating: Good
Tatcha is a Japanese skincare brand that claims to use natural ingredients for holistic skin healing. It’s a cruelty-free brand, although not all of its ingredients are vegan.
While the company uses some ingredients that are organically derived, we found some harmful substances in current formulations. It has detailed sustainability initiatives and partners with third-party environmental groups to hold itself accountable.
Tatcha has been involved in some brand controversies. It filed a lawsuit against the cosmetics company Too Faced in 2017, according to Allure. Tatcha claimed Too Faced’s lipstick packaging was too similar to its own. Some followers on Reddit have also critiqued the brand’s marketing as an exotic Asian company.
The company supports equal access to educational opportunities. It started the educational fund “Beautiful Faces, Beautiful Futures” in 2014. It donates proceeds from products to Room to Read’s literacy program in Asia and Africa. Tatcha is also expanding its literacy outreach efforts into the United States. Tatcha’s website encourages customers to get involved by writing notes to the girls in the program, or connecting to Room to Read’s action page.
For these reasons, Tatcha receives a rating of Good.