Tata Harper brings her toxic-free cosmetics and philosophy to Denver

Tata Harper's father was diagnosed with cancer in 2005. During her meetings with doctors, Harper was asked to list all of the different things her father came in contact with on a daily basis. She gathered vitamins, food, lotions and anything else she could think of -- and in doing so, realized that her father was immersed in a toxic environment that she'd never before given a second thought.

That realization was the inspiration behind for Tata Harper Cosmetics. On Saturday, October 12, Harper came to Denver to teach a master class at Neiman Marcus.

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Westword: How long has it been since you visited Denver?

Tata Harper: July of 2012. My products are sold exclusively in Neiman Marcus, so I visited as many stores as possible. I like to keep in touch with those who sell my product.

You told us your inspiration for your cosmetic line was your father's cancer diagnosis in 2005. Can you tell us what about his environment alarmed you?

I began reading the ingredients of the different items he was using at the time and they were names that I couldn't pronounce, a lot of synthetic chemicals. I became obsessed with it all. There had to be a way to provide healthy products to people.

There are a lot of products that claim to be toxic-free. How is Tata Harper different? It took us five years and eight chemists to create a truly pure product. We test the products; we are a very environmentally responsible company. Our products have a third-party certification (from Eco Cert) that rates products according to toxicity. You cannot receive the certification if your products are not pure.

What is the master class about?

We have a wonderful customer base and loyal followers, but we still find that there is confusion when it comes to which product to use in what order -- facial cleanser, toner -- and which products work best for my skin. We hold small classes, six to eleven people, so we can answer questions and connect with our customers.

What message would you like to send to people who do not use your product? Whether they use my products or not, a lot of what is put in cosmetics is not regulated: Read and learn about the ingredients. You get what you pay for. Just because a product makes a certain claim about being toxic-free, you need to verify -- no matter the cost of the product.

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Tracie Keesee