SEPHORiA Masterclass Tour with Tatcha in Houston, TX

By 10 min read

On Saturday, July 13th, 2019 Sephora Beauty Community in Houston, TX came together to meet Victoria Tsai, the founder of Tatcha, that came exclusively to our sun-kissed town to share Japanese approach to skincare and life in her 45-minute Masterclass Tour presented by Sephora. In this post, I’ll share with you all the details about the event and everything I’ve learned during this masterclass.

Sephora Beauty Community Sephoria Tatcha Masterclass Tour in Houston, Tx

The masterclass took place in Queensbury Theatre in Houston, TX. The event was well arranged by Sephora, from the window decals and a cute set-up for photos, to food and drinks served before the masterclass.

Sephora Beauty Community enjoyed Tatcha Matcha Tea Shots, violet Lemonade (in a shade of Tatcha), champagne, delicious finger food and conversations.

drinks at the event

One of the servers was wearing lipstick in the violet shade, matching the main color for the event, as well as the deserts served.

I couldn’t pass by this cute set up, so here I am, sitting with my new companion – Nikon D850 and enjoying a glass of champagne before the event.

Apart from food and drinks, Sephora treated us with swag bags with so many cute things inside!

Each of the attendees received Sephora train case in the mint shade with goodies from Sephora and Tatcha, including Victoria Tsai’s Pure Skin book, a pack of Aburatorigami blotting papers and the new Satin Skin Mist, both from Tatcha.

Victoria Tsai Pure Skin Book
Pure Skin by Victoria Tsai
Sephoria Masterclass Tour swag bag
Sephoria Masterclass Tour with Tatcha swag bag

The Masterclass

After a while, we were invited to be seated at the theater. Jeffrey English, the Beauty Director at Sephora, greeted us on stage, sharing his excitement to be back to Texas. He talked about the new SEPHORiA Masterclass Tour concept that we were about to experience. He also mentioned that this is just a sneak peek to what will be happening at the Sephoria event in LA this coming September.

After a short speech, he introduced us to Victoria Tsai, who entered the stage in a gorgeous pink crepe gown and her favorite YSL beige Tributes.

Victoria Tsai Sephoria Tatcha Masterclass Tour in Houston, TX

Victoria started her presentation by sharing a vulnerable and yet inspiring story of her life and how Tatcha was born. I find stories like this very important to share as they outline the values of the company, and help to learn more about the products.

Tatcha Story

Life changing trip

Ten years ago, Victoria Tsai, a woman in her early thirties, living in San Francisco and burn out from corporate life, decided to change her life for good. She quit her job and set off traveling East searching for beauty in the world. Her wanderlust lead her to Kyoto, Japan, where Victoria met a real geisha for the first time in her life. Victoria, as a person fighting her acute dermatitis for years, was amazed by the beautiful porcelain-like face of geisha. When Vicky had a chance, she asked geisha about her beauty rituals. This is when Victoria, was introduced to the Japanese skincare philosophy, that “focuses on having the best skin of their lives at any age“ without a wish to stop the clock.

Victoria Tsai Sephoria Tatcha Masterclass Tour in Houston, TX

 Victoria traveled back home to San Francisco with a few bottles of potent skincare from a traditional geisha apothecary that she discovered during her travel to Kyoto. Within the first four weeks, her skin slowly started to heal. Two months later and half of the content of the bottles gone, Victoria could finally embrace her smooth and glowing skin. Remarkably happy with her skin, Victoria was trying to find alternatives to these phenomenal products in the US, but her search didn’t lead her anywhere.

It’s interesting to note that before meeting with geisha, Victoria was already familiar with Aburatorigami – Japanese beauty blotting papers, created by gold-leaf artisans in Japan. She wished to bring them to the US and to introduce them to women in the western world. While Tatcha’s first product to launch was Aburatorigami papers, little did she knew, that the life-altering meeting would guide to the origination of a completely new for the western world skincare line.

From ideas to actions

At that very time, Victoria was expecting her baby-girl. Her first pregnancy made her concerned about the toxic ingredients used in the skincare formulas by both American and Japanese manufacturers. Needless to say, Victoria’s concerns were quite reasonable. She mentioned the recent research, that outlines how bioaccumulative fat-soluble toxins, stored in a woman’s body fat, are being transferred to the baby through bloodstream or breastfeeding.

However, Victoria imagined something different for her skincare line. With the “clean beauty” in mind, Victoria Tsai took Tatcha back to basics. She was determined to do everything from scratch, starting from planting the raw materials and harvesting them, to extracting key ingredients and creating clean potent formulas at Tatcha Institute of Tokyo that she also founded in Japan.

Did you know?

Tatcha is harvesting algae for their products from Okinawa, the Southern island of Japan known as a Blue Zone – a place with the highest number of centenarians on Earth.

Taking this approach requires a lot of testing and patience: it took Tatcha seven years to create the Essence and four years for formulating Silk Canvas. Victoria mentioned that she tests all of the formulas on herself.

Japanese Beauty Heritage

While in Japan, Victoria was introduced to Japanese beauty book, called “Capital Beauty and Style Handbook”, written back in 1813. This book is considered the first and the oldest documented source of Japanese wisdom about beauty. This extensive three-volume tome outlines the complete beauty philosophy that has been passed on verbally from one generation to another over centuries in Japan. It’s important to note that in many ways, Tatcha’s formulas were inspired by the findings in this book.

Victoria highlighted, that the first chapter of this sacred handbook talks about the importance of clear and smooth complexion, and therefore, focuses on skincare, which in turn, is leaning towards simplicity. A small number of steps and a minimum number of ingredients in skincare underline the philosophy of Japanese beauty culture: the less is more.

Speaking of the key ingredients used in the Japanese beauty regimen, Victoria mentioned that they already exist in traditional Japanese kitchen. As you may know, Japanese cuisine consists of such powerful antioxidants as green tea, rice, and seaweed. These three power foods make Tatcha’s famous Hadasei-3 formula created for Tatcha Essence – one of Tatcha’s best-sellers, and used in almost every Tatcha product.

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Have you ever had kombucha, miso or sauerkraut? Those foods are fermented, which is why they are so good for you—fermenting foods unlocks their active ingredients and can amplify their health benefits. We hoped to do the same with our core ingredients of green tea, rice and algae, to maximize their bioavailability to the skin. The challenge is that typically, fermenting ingredients yields alcohol, like wine or sake. Over seven years, our skincare scientists partnered with food science experts to experiment with 200+ different strains of yeast and tweak the fermentation process. The result is a beautiful superfluid of 98.7% Hadasei-3 (a complex of Green Tea, Rice and Seaweed), naturally rich in amino acids and lactic acid. They sent it to me as a raw material to test out and it has forever changed how i feel about my skin. It felt like water as I pressed it in, but the next morning, my skin felt like a baby’s. I was delighted and immediately told our scientists that I wished we could give it to clients—a bottle of pure actives. They laughed and said, “That’s an essence!” We ran a clinical study, in which 100% of women saw an increase of hydration of their skin by an average of 148% within 5 minutes. Even now we're trying to understand what makes it so effective. Kobe University is studying it; they have found over 250 actives that naturally come out of the double fermentation of our Okinawa algae, Akita Rice and Uji Green tea. If you took everything from Tatcha away from me and I could only have one thing left, I would choose this one.

A post shared by Vicky Tsai (@vickytsai) on

Skincare Philosophy: the less is more

I find it really important to mention, that the essence of the Japanese culture is within Tacha’s DNA. The name ‘Tatcha’ is derived from a Japanese word for a form of a minimalist floral art called ‘Tachibana’, that translates as a ‘standalone flower’, paying the tribute to Japanese appreciation of beauty in simplicity.

But the name is not the only thread that connects Tatcha to Japan. Following the ‘less is more’ approach, Tatcha products contain a limited number of ingredients and are ultra-concentrated to deliver potency. Moreover, such formula ensures that each Tatcha product will last you up to 6 months!

Victoria Tsai Sephoria Tatcha Masterclass Tour in Houston, TX

In addition to this, Tatcha simplifies the skincare ritual, offering only four steps in a skincare routine, which is far less that one would expect, compared to sophisticated 10-step K-beauty. Victoria mentioned that it takes her only 1 minute in the morning and 2 minutes at night to complete her Tatcha ritual:

  1. Makeup removal with oil cleanser
  2. Polish skin like a jewel every day” for skin renewal
  3. Plump the skin with the Essence
  4. Nourish with the moisturizer to seal all the goodness in your skin

Did I already mention how gorgeous Victoria looks in her skin? In fact, she doesn’t do any cosmetic procedures, including botox, and encourages others who seek cosmetic procedures to start with skincare. As she explained, in most cases skincare can address a majority of the skin issues.

Nevertheless, simplicity is not the only approach that differentiates Japanese beauty rituals from those in the Western world.

Skin care is self-care

In Japan, a good skincare day starts with mindfulness. Taking into account the fact that skin is the largest organ, Victoria discussed how precious the skin is, as it separates our inner world from the exterior and protects us in so many ways.

Victoria Tsai Sephoria Tatcha Masterclass Tour in Houston, TX

Listen to your skin, it is talking to you“

Victoria shared about her eczema flare up on her neck, that usually appears if she is not taking care of herself, in particular, working crazy hours, worrying a lot or not eating well. This personal example is living evidence that skin problems are usually our mental problem. She pointed out that our skin is a reminder that we need to change something about our life, not something we should fight with.

Furthermore, Victoria highlighted that skincare ritual is the perfect moment for checking with ourselves and recommended practicing gratitude exercise while massaging the skin.

Victoria Tsai Sephoria Tatcha Masterclass Tour in Houston, TX

Aging is a gift

In addition to this, Victoria spoke about aging and beauty. She said that in Asia, it is believed that beauty as something that we gain over the years not something that we lose, highlighting that aging is a gift not everyone receives. In that regard, anti-aging philosophy lies in how to get the best skin in your life at any age, rather than trying to look like twenty-years-old in your 40s.

Victoria Tsai Sephoria Tatcha Masterclass Tour in Houston, TX

Apart from being kinder and more attentive to our skin, the skincare expert shared additional recommendations.

Wash your face

Washing the face is an important step in keeping the skin healthy and youthful, as makeup is said to age the skin. 

If it burns it’s bad

Victoria changed our perception regarding the “working ingredients” in the skincare. “The only thing that is good when it burns, is when you do the squads“. She explained, that in other cases, our skin is trying to say that it doesn’t like the product that we put on our face. In Tatcha, she added, everything is all about gentle care, even the products with strong ingredients cause tingling, not burning sensations. I tried their Violet-C serum with Vitamin C and AHA and I can confirm that their formula with such active ingredients didn’t irritate my sensitive skin.

Sunscreen is not an option, it’s a must.

Vicky mentioned the importance of the sunscreen on a daily basis all year round. Sunscreen has to be broadspectrum as UVA rays can cause aging, while UVB can be burning. She highlighted, that if the sun doesn’t burn your skin, it still might age your skin or what is worse, can cause cancer. If you want to know more about sunscreens and sun exposure, please refer to my guide here.

Tatcha beyond Skincare

If you ever purchased anything from Tatcha, you probably know that Tatcha partnered with Room To Read, a non-profit organization, that improves children literacy and girl’s education. When purchasing a full-size product from Tatcha, you send girls in remote villages in Africa and Asia to school for a day. “Statistically speaking, if you educate a generation of girls, they will lift the entire community out of poverty within two generations“.

As of today, Tatcha has contributed to over 3 millions of days of school for girls – a milestone for the company and achievement for the humanity that is worth celebrating!

Work and Life balance

During the Q&A session, Victoria was asked about her work and life balance and how she handles it. She admitted that sometimes she has to skip the weekends working without days off for several weeks in a row. However, she highlighted that everything she does makes her feel “happy and whole“.
Furthermore, she added that she considers this as a chance to show her daughter that “she doesn’t have to choose between being a mother and being a leader”. In addition to this, for her ten-year-old daughter, Victoria is a role model and she supports her mom in everything she does.

Sephoria Masterclass with Tatcha founder Vicky Tsai

Meeting Victoria Tsai personally

At the end of the masterclass, all attendees were invited to take a photo with Victoria and get the book signed. I was so touched and inspired by her story, that when I had a chance to talk to Victoria, I asked her a question: “What is the one thing that you can advise as a woman in entrepreneurship to another woman who has just started.” Victoria paused for a second before giving me very straightforward and sincere advice. “Find the right people. Good ideas are great, but you need to find the right people to execute them. Do not ever give up. And remember, everyone can do it“.

Victoria Tsai and Farah Gasimzade at Sephoria Tatcha Masterclass Tour in Houston, Tx

And she really meant it. This is the message that Victoria Tsai left for me in the book.

Victoria Tsai Pure Skin Book

I have to admit, this masterclass changed my perspective on skincare, and many things make more sense to me now. Overall, I’m fascinated by the Japanese culture, and learning more about their beauty approach makes it even more interesting for me.

It took me a while to digest everything that I’ve learned at this short and yet intense masterclass. I’m always moved by the stories of successful women in business, and they inspire me to continue chasing my dreams. I’ve shared another story of Anastasia Soare, the founder of Anastasia Beverly Hills, so you might want to learn more about that in the linked post.

Sephora Beauty Community Sephoria Tatcha Masterclass Tour in Houston, Tx

By the way, Sun Kissed Blush is coming to SEPHORiA this year! I’ve already got my tickets and I’ll be covering this event for you, so expect more exciting stories soon!

Now a question to you: have you ever tried anything from Tatcha? Tell me about your favorite product in the comments down below.

Acknowledgment: I would like to thank Sephora Beauty Community and Tatcha, in particular Jeffrey English and Victoria Tsai, for organizing this amazing event in Houston, TX.

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SEPHORiA Masterclass Tour with Tatcha in Houston, TX