We have often reviewed eye products that are mere imitations of face products, and often they are not as good, or even appropriate, for the eye area. In the case of Tata Harper’s Restorative Eye Crème, no truer words could be written. With the exception of a few ingredients (and none that are best for the eye area), this is the same formula as Harper's Rejuvenating Serum. The real difference is that Restorative Eye Crème is $180 per ounce! That’s almost $100 more than their Rejuvenating Serum. This is one more example where it is clear that most eye creams aren't necessary (see More Info for details).
Because this formula is almost identical to the Rejuvenating Serum, much of that review applies here as well. Restorative Eye Creme contains a mix of beneficial and irritating ingredients (especially fragrance; see More Info for details on fragrant ingredients), which is the wrong way to go for the eye area or for any skin you want to take care of.
This formula also includes the high points of the Rejuvenating Serum, which are aloe, mango seed butter, olive, safflower and borage oils, glycerin, and other plant-based fatty acids—all excellent ingredients for dry skin.
While Harper didn’t include the fragrant rosewater and witch hazel found in the facial serum (which is good because both are irritants), they left in the arnica, lavender, a high amount of fermented radish root extract, and other fragrance ingredients that cause irritation and are a problem for any part of the face. When you're paying this much for an eye cream that is essentially a repackaged facial treatment, at the very least you should expect a formula that doesn’t present the risk of pro-aging problems to the eye area.
Don't believe Harper’s over-the-top claims that attribute cosmetic procedure–like results to everyday plant extracts. Published research does not support their statements that date palm extract “reduces the appearance of wrinkles and slows the effects of aging,” or that a product with buckwheat wax and arnica "visibly reduces puffiness and dark shadows.” Eyebright flower, no matter how interesting the name, has no published research demonstrating it has any benefit for your skin, in the eye area or elsewhere.
Tata Harper and the spas selling this line make frequent mention of “Active Natural Ingredients” in their products. When used this way, the phrase “active ingredients” is a marketing term, nothing more, because all cosmetic ingredients (even water) will have some “activity” on skin, either positive or negative. While many plant extracts certainly have beneficial “activity” on skin, the main “activity” of extracts that have irritating components is more pro-aging than anything else.
Like all of Harper's products, they state that their products contain "Fragrances from 100% natural clinical grade essential oils,” but there isn't any such classification or standard for essential oils. These ingredients are little more than fragrance, and fragrance isn’t skin care. Perfume can be wonderful when selectively placed behind the ears or on pulse points, but applied all over the face it is 100% irritating for all skin types just about 100% of the time.
Despite the fact that this formula contains good ingredients for dry skin (and isn't packaged in a jar, which is rare for any eye cream), there are hundreds of products, at a fraction of this price, with significantly more skin-friendly combinations of ingredients on our list of Best Moisturizers (Daytime and Nighttime).
- There are a few beneficial ingredients.
- Packaged to keep beneficial ingredients stable.
- Contains multiple irritants such as lavender and arnica.
- Eyebright has no published research supporting its benefit for the eye area, even though it sounds like it should.
- Unsubstantiated anti-aging claims.
- Contains fragrant ingredients.
- Expensive nearly repackaged version of their Rejuvenating Serum, yet this is supposed to be specially formulated for the eye area.
Why You May Not Need an Eye Cream: Most eye creams aren't necessary. That's either because they are poorly formulated, contain nothing special for the eye area, or come in packaging that won't keep key ingredients stable. Just because the product is labeled as an eye cream doesn't mean it's good for your eye area; in fact, many can actually make matters worse.
There is much you can do to improve signs of aging around your eyes. Any product loaded with antioxidants, skin-repairing ingredients, skin-lightening ingredients, anti-inflammatory ingredients, and effective emollients will work wonders and those ingredients don't have to come from a product labeled as an eye cream.
You would be shocked how many eye creams lack even the most basic ingredients to help skin. For example, most eye creams don't contain sunscreen. During the day that is a serious problem because it leaves the skin around your eyes vulnerable to sun damage and this absolutely will make dark circles, puffiness, and wrinkles worse!
Whatever product you put around your eye area, regardless of what it is labeled, must be well formulated and appropriate for the skin type around your eyes! That may mean you need an eye cream, but you may also do just as well applying your regular facial moisturizer around your eyes.
Irritation from Fragrance: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).
Claims: This Powerful Eye Treatment Créme Visibly Helps Reduce The Appearance Of Wrinkles, Fine Lines And Dark Shadows Around The Eye Area, Leaving The Skin Noticeably Brighter And Younger. Suitable For All Skin Types.
Water (Aqua), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Butter, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Derived From Coconut), Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Hydrosol*, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Oleosomes, Glycerin (From Vegetable Origin), Olea Europea (Olive) Oil*, Cetearyl Alcohol (Wax Derived From Grapeseed And Wheat), Cetearyl Olivate (Derived From Olives), Sorbitan Olivate (Wax Derived From Olives), Leuconostoc Ferment Filtrate (Radish Root Extract), Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola) Extract*, Cetyl Alcohol (Derived From Coconut), Borago Officinalis (Borage) Flower*, Arnica Montana (Arnica) Flower*, Euphrasia Officinalis (Eyebright) Flower*, Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Flower*, Pheonix Dactylifera (Date) Seed Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract*, Polygonum Fagopyrum (Buckwheat) Seed Extract, Lavandula Stoechas (Spanish Lavender) Extract, Narcissus Tazetta (Daffodil) Bulb Extract*, Menyanthes Trifoliata (Buckbean) Flower Extract, Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Flower*, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Oil, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract*, Sodium Hyaluronate (Naturally Produced Fermentation), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder*, Galactoarabinan (Gum Derived From Larch Tree), Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Sclerotium Gum (Derived From Root Vegetables & Corn), Cetearyl Glucoside (Wax Derived From Grapeseed And Wheat), Cetyl Palmitate (Wax Derived From Olives), Sorbitan Palmitate (Wax Derived From Soy), Soy Peroxidase (Derived From Soy), Superoxide Dismutase (Derived From Horseradish Root), Ethyl Alcohol (From Corn Origin), Natural Essential Oil Blend**
Based in Vermont, the Tata Harper brand knows its niche—those who equate expensive with effective, and those who buy into the fear tactics that “chemicals” are bad and only all-natural ingredients are good. These beliefs are common misconceptions we have dealt with repeatedly over the years, and here’s the quick summation: There are good and bad natural ingredients, just as there are good and bad synthetic ingredients—and with skin care, expensive does not necessarily mean better.
Tata Harper is a real person, who created her namesake line based on the concept that natural ingredients are 100% safe and that beauty products should be free of chemicals. The “chemical- free” rhetoric certainly isn’t a new approach to marketing skin care, but the claim is nonsense, regardless of the company, because everything, from daisies to asphalt to water, is composed of chemicals… but we march on.
Harper’s marketing appeal is the claim that she and her team grow most of their ingredients on their 12,000-acre Vermont farm. If the farm doesn’t supply the ingredients they need, they have them shipped in, from all over the world. Their Vermont farm-laboratory is where the products are made, in small batches by hand. That sounds interesting until you realize that “batches by hand” is actually true of any cosmetic, made by any brand, as hands are always needed, and batch size is irrelevant. As Tata has grown, the size of the batches has grown as well. They formulate their products using botanicals that are “free of toxins” and “biochemically compatible with our skin.” If those claims sound vaguely fertilizer-worthy, you are on the right track.
It is important to understand how misleading the “free of toxins” claim is. A toxin refers to a poison, like real poisons (think snake venom, which, incidentally, is 100% natural); cosmetic ingredients are not toxins. Biocompatibility just means that a substance doesn’t harm living tissue; that is, it’s compatible with it, rather than incompatible. Biocompatibility has nothing to do with whether or not a substance is natural in origin. For example, pacemakers are biocompatible in that they keep your heart beating without harming your body, but they certainly are not natural; on the other hand, snake venom and cyanide are both completely natural, but they certainly are not biocompatible.
Of course, many natural ingredients do benefit skin, but many natural ingredients also are a problem for skin, including such seemingly innocuous ingredients as lavender and peppermint. Synthetic ingredients, like retinol or peptides, can be wonderfully beneficial for skin, so, ideally, the best products will contain a mix of proven beneficial natural and synthetic ingredients. When evaluating any ingredient, we always consider what the published, peer-reviewed research has shown to be beneficial or detrimental for your skin, whether it’s natural or not.
Despite the science-y-sounding claims and phrases Tata Harper uses in their marketing materials, most of it is a smoke screen. (They stop just short of promising cosmetic surgery–like results from flowers and essential oils.) What this translates into is a collection of products that are so fragranced they can be mistaken for perfume. Each contains a mix of standard plant-based moisturizing agents (think olive oil, shea and mango butters, and other plant-based fatty acids) along with plant oils or extracts that are proven skin irritants, which is bad news for you!
Tata Harper repeatedly describes their ingredients as “actives,” as in “Active Natural Ingredients,” which is a misuse of the term. “Actives” refers only to ingredients regulated as drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), such as sunscreen actives, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid acne treatments, hydroquinone skin lighteners, and others. Outside of this standard, the phrase “active ingredients” is completely meaningless, because all cosmetic ingredients (even water) will exert some sort of action on the skin.
Like all of Harper’s products, they state that their products contain “Fragrances from 100% natural clinical grade essential oils,” but there isn't any such classification or standard for essential oils. These ingredients are little more than fragrance, and fragrance isn’t skin care. Perfume can be wonderful when selectively placed behind the ears and on the pulse points, but applied all over the face it’s 100% irritating for all skin types just about 100% of the time.
The bottom line? The Tata Harper line is an overall disappointment, especially if you have common concerns such as acne, rosacea, dark spots, enlarged pores, or sun damage. And their prices are bizarre—$45 for a 0.5 ounce bottle of rosewater, olive oil, and jojoba oil is not worth the cost, not by any stretch. We are not against natural ingredients, but if you’re looking to use natural products, this line isn’t the way to go.
For more information about Tata Harper, call (877) 321-8282 or visit www.tataharperskincare.com.