When Victoria Tsai met a group of geisha on a trip to Japan in 2009, she was awed by their luminous skin.
"Without their stage makeup on, their skin is so clear and smooth, whether they're 20 or 80," she says. "My first thought was: 'I'll have what you're having.'"
A Harvard MBA taking a break from her career in marketing, Tsai spent the next three years finding out exactly what the geisha's secret was. She ultimately launched Tatcha, a line of seven cleansers and moisturizers rich in the antioxidants -- red algae, rice bran and green tea -- that the geisha use in their (surprisingly simple) skincare routine. We asked Tsai to share some of her own beauty wisdom.
What is the first beauty product you ever owned?
Hello Kitty blotting tissues. In America, when teens start to get oily, they reach for Noxzema or Oxy. In Asia, where my mom is from, they buy their first blotting tissues.
What's the easiest thing you've done to improve your looks?
A good friend who's a makeup artist told me recently that my brownish berry lipstick was aging me. He suggested I make my lips a touch lighter than my natural color instead. I switched to By Terry Rouge Terrybly Lipstick in Terrybly Nude, and I look so much fresher. I don't know why he didn't tell me sooner!
You live in San Francisco and make frequent trips to Japan. What's in your cosmetics bag when you travel?
Sleep is important to looking good, so I always pack ReBloom Natural Sleep Drinks; They help me adjust to a new time zone. Visine lets me fake sparkly eyes, and Luna Bars are a beauty essential, because if I'm hungry, there's a scowl on my face! To keep my skin soft, I bring our Luminous Dewy Skin Mist and Aquaphor for my lips.
What will you teach your daughter about skincare?
Less is more -- use just a few simple products. And avoid the sun. I literally run from it, zigzagging from one side of the street to the other to stay in the shade.
Mix Tatcha's Polished Rice Enzyme Powder with a few drops of water to create a milky cleanser that also exfoliates. $65, Tatcha.com
Rich in the emollient squalane, Luminous Dewy Skin Mist refreshes dull skin; spray it under or over makeup. $48, Tatcha.com
Aburatorigami Japanese Blotting Papers absorb oil without disturbing makeup. $12, Tatcha.com