Tata Harper: Limited Edition Night Out Essentials Collection

I rarely find a set available featuring the products I'd cherry pick myself, if I could create my own set. Happily, I struck gold with this one!

Tata Harper's Beautifying Face Oil is one of the more reasonably priced products from her line, as well as the most versatile one. I mix a few drops in with my Gressa foundation and blend it in only where needed -- as a concealer. Or I use it underneath/in lieu of a moisturizer or pat a few drops over my makeup to freshen up mid-day. It's fragranced, but not overtly so. It absorbs in about 10 minutes and feels wonderful onwards.


The Resurfacing Mask is highly lauded for it's instant benefits. It's a gentle exfoliator, and the immediate results are remakrable. Skin feels smoother and fresher and any excess oiliness is mopped up. It's a translucent pink, florally scented gel, and dries within 5-10 mins, but you're advised to keep it on to 20 mins. I'll mist my face with water to prolong the dewy stage before rinsing it off. Before I had a jar of my own, I used to save my sample packs of this for hotel rooms, to offset the effects of dry cabin air. Be wearned though, people advise stroring this away from bathroom humidity which can compromise the preservation of the rpoudct.

The Love Potion is heaven! It's a grown up powdery scent (thanks to the ylang ylang), very romantic (jasmine) but not girly at all (sandlewod). While there's no violet in the concoction, that's what my mind instantly conjures on first whiff. A heady, complex posy of violets. 

Very Vivacious Lip and Cheek is one I reviewed earlier. It's a wearable, flattering orange that can be blended out to a muted peach or applied in thin layers for a bright coral statement.

Washington Post Article

Reading Washington Post journalist Brigid Schulte's Overwhelmed was a total game changer for me. I've read it at least four times to date, and listen to it on Audible when feeling spread thin and need some grounding. Any parent, spouse/domestic partner, employee or person struggling to live the good life and find time for work, play and love will benefit from her research. 

I'm a parent and a full-time employee, which makes it tricky to find time to work on this little blog, as satisfying and enjoyable it may be for me.

I was fortunate enough to be part of Brigid Schulte's time hacking project, where she paired me with Kathy Korman Frey, a powerhouse and confidence guru to figure out how to make this all work. This experience was another game changer, which you can read about here.

Wa Post (1).jpg

Gressa Skin Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation

The name is a mouthful, for sure, and certainly not minimalist, but it's one hell of a foundation.

Gressa Skin Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation in #03

Gressa Skin Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation in #03

This is a far cry from the creamy thick foundations you get from a pump. The texture is a thin liquid, due to it's principle ingredient,  Brassica Oleracea (also known as broccoli seed oil), a powerful inflmmatory and antioxidant. It's oil based, but minus the slick sheen of greasiness one often contends with when it comes to liquid oils. A little goes a long way (2-3 drops is more than enough) for this high coverage foundation, before it magically dries to a powder, making it perfect for warmer months.

It should be noted, I like a little evening out, but am not a fan of foundation in the strictest sense. I believe foundation is best thinned out with water, oil or a good sponge, and treated like a concealer over specific areas – unless you're going on out a stage or a photo-shoot.  

There has been criticism amongst bloggers that the Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation is too drying, that the formula snags over dry skin, showing up like lint on a dark towel. However, this is totally avoidable. I mix equal parts of this foundation with a carrier oil (sweet almond oil is my go-to) or Tata Harper's Nourishing or Beautifying Oils and pat it in over key areas (under eyes, around the nose and over any redness.) It's perfect for me, this way. It's completely believable, and reflects light like bare skin would.

My color is #3, which I'd suggest if you're pale-ish but not porcelaine and unsure which color to choose. It's a chameleon of a foundation, I've used it to tone down redness in pale ruddy complexions, but even out darker olive complexions.

$54 / Gressa Skin

Ingredients: *Brassica oleracea (Broccoli) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Silica, GRESSA Healing ComplexTM *Silymarin, *Neem (Azadirachta indica) Extract,*Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) Extract, *Lemon Balm (Melissa officianalis) Extract, *Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) Extract, *Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) Seed Extract, *Elder Flower (Sambucus nigra) Extract, *Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia) Extract, Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate Non-GMO, Coenzyme Q10, Ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, (Vitamin C), *lecithin, *glycerin, mica, iron oxides, titanium oxide. *CERTIFIED ORGANIC

Aquarella Nail Polishes

First off, there is no such thing as organic or truly green nail polish; any brand that claims as such is blatantly "greenwashing." 

That said there are cleaned up formulations available to those looking for an alternative to the – frankly toxic – mainstream brands. There are the 5-free formulas (notably sans formaldehyde and by products like formaldehyde-resin), and there are the water based formulas, which are basically water and acrylic polymers.  I wouldn't recommend the latter for little ones who habitually suck their thumbs, or to anyone who washes their hair vigously and regularly, or does the dishes without gloves.  Water based polishes deteriorate rapidly under warm, wet conditions.

Scotch Naturals and Aquarella are the leaders of the pack when it comes to water based polishes, and in my experience, Aquarella is the better of the two. I'm not wild about having to repaint my hands every other day, but it holds up nicely for pedicures.

And these two sheer shades below layer beautifully for a glossy water color stain that reminds me of summer popsicles.

Aquarella Nail Polishes in Tickle Me and Cameo.

Aquarella Nail Polishes in Tickle Me and Cameo.

Treat Collection in So Simple

I (surprise, surprise) picked up another bottle from Treat Collection, and dare I say – it's my favorite one yet. So Simple is a grayed down lavender beige, which is a refreshing departure from all the precious pink shades that pop up in the Spring.

Most grays and lavenders look dull and lifeless on my pale hands, not so with this. Anyone looking for a wearable, toned-down lavender that won't clash with whatever you're wearing this week will be pleased.

$7 (normally $18, but often on sale at Amazon) / Amazon.com

Tata Harper Travel Sizes

Most pricey skincare lines don't offer trial sizes that last long enough (7+ days) to form much of an opinion on its efficacy. Generally speaking, you'll know early on if there's an ingredient that you're reacting to, but whether a serum is worth its salt? That takes at least week.

Not so with Tata Harper, their webstore is generous with the samples, and they often offer capsule collections to test out their – frankly, expensive – line. I picked up a few, and sprang for their Replenishing Nutrient Complex, a roll on oil that penetrates beautifully, and the most deeply nourishing product I've found yet. Despite it being housed in a glass vial, it travels well, and I keep a miniature version (not in pictures) in my purse to smear a bit on my cheekbones to freshen up in the afternoon.


The takeaway on the remaining products?

  • Boosted Contouring Serum  - light texture, had a bit of a tacky feel post application, but didn't blow me away. I suspect it would take a full size bottle to reap any measurable benefit.
  • Hydrating Floral Essence -  very hydrating, it mists well (versus the larger bottle with shoots out) with a quickly dissipating, and vaguely floral scent. It's both functional and sensory.
  • Rebuilding Moisturizer - intense and jam-packed with a long list of workhorse ingredients. It has a lotion-y consistency but a mildly tacky feel post application (likely due the raw honey in its formula) and ended up being too heavy for my sensitive, reactive skin. I've heard it said that there are too many active ingredients, which is an interesting thought.
  • Resurfacing Mask - a staple, especially when traveling. It's a gentle and soothing exfoliation mask and highly recommended for any skin type.
  • Beautifying Facial Oil - very light, heavily fragrant and nice in the morning. Especially great for patting over makeup to take things down a notch and restore some glow.


Replenishing Nutrient Complex: Rosa Canina Seed Extract*, Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) seed oil*, Olea europaea (Olive) oil*, Prunus armeniaca (Apricot) kernel oil*, Borago officinalis Leaf Extract *,  Medicago sativa (Alfalfa) leaf Extract*, Sambucus nigra (Elderberry) fruit extract, Calendula officinalis flower Extract*, Arnica montana leaf Extract*, Tilia europaea (Linden) leaf/flower Extract*, Daucus carota sativa (Carrot) root Extract, Aroma**,  Linalool, Limonene, Geraniol, Citronellol, Farnesol, Citral, Benzyl Alcohol
Rebuilding Moisturizer: Aloe barbadensis leaf juice*, Mangifera indica (Mango) seed butter, Carthamus tinctorius (Safflower) oleosomes*, Olea europaea (Olive) oil*, Glycerin, Cetearyl olivate, Oryza sativa (Rice) extract*, Rosa damascena flower water*, Sorbitan olivate, Leuconostoc ferment filtrate (radish root extract), Mel (Honey), Sambucus nigra (Elderberry) fruit extract, Sodium hyaluronate, Menyanthes trifoliata (Buckbean) Leaf Extract, Salix alba (Willow) bark extract*,  Medicago sativa (Alfalfa) leaf Extract*, Borago officinalis Leaf Extract*, Calendula officinalis flower Extract*, Spiraea Ulmaria (meadowsweet) flower Extract*, Tilia europaea (Linden) leaf/flower Extract*, Lavandula stoechas (Spanish Lavender) extract, Arnica montana flower Extract*, Galactoarabinan, Sclerotium gum, Caprylic/Capric, Triglyceride, Cetyl palmitate, Sorbitan palmitate, Soybean peroxidase, Superoxide dismutase, Sodium phytate, Aroma**, Citronellol, Linalool, Citral, Eugenol, Farnesol
Hydrating Floral Essence: Aloe barbadensis leaf juice*, Rosa damascena flower water*, Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) flower water*,  Leuconostoc ferment filtrate (radish root extract), Hamamelis virginiana (Witch Hazel) Distillate, Sodium hyaluronate, Beta vulgaris (Beet) Root,  Centella asiatica (Gotu Kola) extract*, Salix alba (Willow) bark extract*, Oryza sativa (Rice) extract*, Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Sodium phytate, Superoxide dismutase*, Soybean peroxidase*, Aroma**, Limonene, Citral, Linalool, Citronellol, Geraniol, Eugenol, Farnesol
Beautifying Facial Oil: Squalane (Plant),  Jojoba Esters, Olea europea (Olive) Oil*, Argania spinosa (Argan) Kernel oil*, Plukenetia Volubilis, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Medicago sativa (Alfalfa) Extract*, Arnica montana (Arnica) Leaves and flowers*, Calendula officinalis (Calendula) Flower Extract*, Symphytum officinale (Comfrey) Leaves*, Borago officinalis (Borage) Leaf Extract*, Spiraea Ulmaria (Meadowsweet) flower Extract*, Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract, Aroma**, Algae extract, Linalool, Limonene
Boosted Contouring Serum: Aloe barbadensis leaf juice *, Rosa damascena flower water*, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Mangifera indica (Mango) seed butter, Silybum marianum (Milk Thistle) ethyl ester, Hydroxystearyl Alcohol, Propanediol, Acacia Senegal Gum, Glycerin, Punica granatum , Glyceryl undecylenate, Cetearyl alcohol, Olea europaea (Olive) oil*,  Leuconostoc ferment filtrate (radish root extract), Algae extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Flower Extract (pomegranate) extract,  Centella asiatica (Gotu Kola) extract*, Lavandula stoechas (Spanish Lavender) extract, Narcissus tazetta (Daffodil) bulb extract*, Phoenix dactylifera (Date) seed extract, Sodium hyaluronate, Sambucus nigra (Elderberry) fruit extract, Menyanthes trifoliata (Buckbean) Flower Extract, Daucus carota sativa (Carrot) root Extract, Salix alba (Willow) bark extract*, Borago officinalis Leaf Extract*, Arnica montana flower Extract*, Calendula officinalis flower Extract*, Spiraea Ulmaria (meadowsweet) leaf Extract *, Tilia europaea (Linden) leaf/flower Extract*,  Medicago sativa (Alfalfa) leaf Extract*, Rosa Canina Seed Extract*, Hydrolyzed Rhizobian Gum, Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) Seed wax, Ornithine, Solidago virgaurea (Goldenrod) extract*, Oryza sativa (Rice) extract*, Kaolin (clay minerals), Sclerotium gum, Montmorillonite (clay minerals), Illite (clay minerals), Phospholipids, Glycolipids, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Coco-glucoside, Cetearyl olivate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Sorbitan olivate, Superoxide dismutase, Soybean peroxidase, Hydroxystearyl Glucoside, Aroma**, Citral, Linalool, Citronellol, Geraniol, Limonene, Benzyl Benzoate

*Ingredients from Organic farming

** Clinical grade essential oils blend

Price range $11-45 /  Tata Harper

Kō Denmark Jasmine + Neroli Organic Perfume

Before I jump into this perfume, I'll quickly make a detour into the Danish etymological phenomenon, hygge.
According to the website, Hyggehouse"the Danish word hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a feeling or mood that comes from taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary everyday things simply extraordinary; whether it’s making coffee a verb by lingering over a cup to a cosy evening in with friends to lighting a candle with every meal." It's warmth, simplicity, contentment, and being fully invested in the moment at hand.  For further exploration, NPR has some stunning photographs to illustrate the concept.
After reading a book that touched on the concept, I've been obsessed, asking friends and colleagues who've spent time in Denmark to explain what this word means to them and how to extrapolate its benefits to us. While we don't experience Scandinavian winters, the Pacific Northwest is no stranger to stark, chilly weather. Clearing the clutter, and lighting a candle in the morning while getting ready or upon returning home are good places to start. It's the combination of coziness and minimalism that resonates.
Kō Denmark's perfume roll has been, for me, the olfactory equivalent. It's a cozy floral suspended in a fractionated coconut oil base. (Most perfume is alcohol based; you'll get a heady blast of top notes like citrus and flowers upon first spray, and after dry down a couple hours later, a completely different fragrance, often a combination of woods, amber and/or vanilla.) Oil based fragrances, however, don't morph nearly as much, and tend to simmer on the skin all day long. Plus they're generally easier to make without veering into toxic or shady ingredients with little research behind them. Your wrists at 5:00pm may have a fainter scent than at 8:00am, but any shift has more to do with your own oil production and skin's chemistry than the essential oils themselves.
This gorgeous glass vial (which travels well, by the way) smoothly rolls out a glistening strip of oil that easily absorbs. Upon first whiff, it's a soapy and powdery blanket of Indian Jasmine and Ylang Ylang, than the Tunisian Neroli (orange blossom) comes through, lending it an aquatic sparkle. The Damascus Rose binds the three, deepening the cocktail, giving it a romantic, almost musky quality. Folks seeking a non-toxic alternative to D&G Feminine, Donna Karen Cashmere Mist, or Flower by Kenzo may find this to be their new classic.

coconut oil, indian jasmine absolute oil, tunisian neroli (orange blossom) oil, bulgarian rose damascena absolute oil, essential oils.

$45 / kodenmark.com