In our column That One Product, we tell the story of how your favorite beauty brand’s cult-classic products came to be—and why we can't stop buying them.
Exfoliating is a scary word for people with sensitive skin. While the act of regularly clearing the dead skin from your complexion can minimize dryness, dark spots, acne, and uneven texture, many physical (that's scrubs to you and me) and chemical exfoliators can be too abrasive and irritating.
Tatcha's Rice Enzyme Powder ($65; Sepohra.com) is the one product that's converted sensitive skin types into exfoiliating enthusiasts and the proof is in the water-activated creamy foam it turns into. Since it launched in March 2012 as one of the original products in Tatcha's collection, the Rice Powder has gained a cult following and even counts Duchess Meghan Markle among its fans.
"It was hard to know the effect it would have when we launched it," says Tacha founder and CEO Victoria Tsai. "On the one hand, gentle daily exfoliation is truly one of the most efficacious things you can do for your skin. On the other, we have such a strong perception in the U.S. of exfoliants as a weekly abrasive scrub—we weren’t sure they would be open to the idea of exfoliating daily, or an exfoliant that doesn’t feel like it’s scratching the skin. We really wanted to teach women that exfoliation doesn’t need to scratch or burn."
When Tsai began developing the enzyme powder in 2008, everyone told her that the Western world had no interest in Japanese or Eastern beauty because they only wanted technology where they could "feel the burn" on their skin. Ten years later, and Tatcha's proved naysayers wrong with a now-permanent place in the beauty landscape in the U.S.
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Generally when you land on a hit, you don't change anything, which is why the core of the Enzyme Powder has stayed the same in the six years since it first launched. That being said, fans of the product will be excited to hear that their favorite exfoliator is going to get even better soon. "In Japan, there is a beautiful philosophy called kaizen, which means to make small, constant changes in the pursuit of perfection," Tsai explains. "A new and wonderful version of The Rice Polish in all four flavors is actually launching on July 31. It will include our new fermented Hadasei-3 Complex, it's pH neutral, and uses an ultra-fine grind of rice bran to make it even foamier and creamier."