Tatcha founder Vicky Tsai on traveling to Japan, creating a skincare line, and self-care during COVID-19.

By Elizabeth Rhodes
May 16, 2020
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Courtesy of Tatcha

During a trip to Japan, Vicky Tsai encountered traditional beauty rituals that inspired the creation of her own clean skincare brand. In 2009, she founded Tatcha, a luxury brand that combines Japanese self-care customs with advanced formulations created by scientists (using their proprietary complex, Hadasei-3) at the Tatcha Institute. For Vicky, skincare goes beyond products in pretty packaging (although Tatcha’s packaging is absolutely stunning); it’s about the intentional ritual of caring for your skin.

At a time when taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally seems more important than ever, we wanted to get Vicky’s input to understand how she uses skincare as self-care. We interviewed the Tatcha founder all about her past travels and how they informed the creation of her brand and the wellness practices she’s used while spending more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Travel + Leisure: How has travel informed your beauty routine and the creation of Tatcha?

Vicky Tsai: “In 2008, I started traveling to find myself. I was burned out on corporate life and wanted to know if there was still beauty and goodness in the world. I also had persistent acute dermatitis — a painful blistering on my entire face, including my lips and eyelids, that I had to use steroids and antibiotics to keep under control. My travels took me to Kyoto. The experiences I had there healed me from skin to soul. I created Tatcha to share the transformative, inspiring beauty rituals and philosophies that I learned from my journeys to Japan.”

What wellness tips have you learned during your travels, and how do you integrate them into your daily life?

“Life in Japan is carried out in a series of rituals that bring meaning to the mundane within our days, as well as bring structure and intention to our lives and help us move forward. I apply this approach to every aspect of my daily life, whether it be my skincare or my morning cup of tea. I study with a zen monk in Kyoto who teaches me about the mind-body connection and mindfulness practices. It has made me realize that skincare is truly self-care and that intentions can turn a routine into a ritual.”

Are you using any at-home rituals (skincare-related and otherwise) to stay healthy and balanced during quarantine?

“Before COVID, I would spend nearly 200 days a year traveling, so being home with my family for the past two months was an unexpected, yet welcome, change of pace. To help break up the days, I have a series of four meditations that I do in the evening as I’m going through the steps of my skincare ritual. While it may be only for a few minutes, it allows me to set my intentions, reset my mind, and get ready for bed so that I can approach the next day with an open and clear mind.

  1. Purifying with the Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil: I close my eyes to think of anything in the day that stuck to me, and imagine it melting away along with my makeup and the physical residue of the day.
  2. Polishing with The Rice Polish Classic: I think about anything during the day that I didn’t hit the mark on and remind myself that I can always begin again. With our skin, as with ourselves, we can always shed the old and start anew.
  3. Applying The Essence: As I press the Essence in and replenish my skin, I think about replenishing my energy. As women, we spend so much of our time taking care of others that we can deplete ourselves. It’s my reminder to give back to yourself as much as you give to others.
  4. Nourishing with The Dewy Skin Cream: As I seal in moisture for my last step, I envision also sealing myself into a cocoon of care that’s given to me by the people in my life. This reminds me that for all I give throughout the day, there are always people who are caring for me in return.”

 How does skincare play into self-care during stressful times?

“Skincare is self-care — they are one in the same.”

Get Vicky Tsai’s Skincare Routine

Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil

Courtesy of Tatcha

To buy: sephora.com, tatcha.com, $48

The Rice Polish Classic

Courtesy of Tatcha

To buy: sephora.com, tatcha.com, $65

The Essence

Courtesy of Tatcha

To buy: sephora.com, tatcha.com, $95

The Dewy Skin Cream

Courtesy of Tatcha

To buy: sephora.com, tatcha.com, $68