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Travel Tips

Tatcha Founder Victoria Tsai Chats with JS About All-Things Beauty and Travel

This week, JS contributor Chelsea Stuart got to chat with Victoria Tsai, the beauty guru behind Tatcha— a holistic skincare line inspired by ancient Japanese traditions. Splitting her time between San Francisco and Kyoto, the founder and CEO knows a thing or two about travel. From how to manage your skincare routine on the road to must-see sights in Golden Gate Park, here's everything Tsai had to say.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

See recent posts by Chelsea Stuart

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What inspired you to create your skincare line?

Tatcha was born out of my own need. I had always been blessed with good skin, until in my 20s when I developed acute dermatitis. I went traveling in search of a simpler, more authentic approach to beauty and life, and found myself in Kyoto. There, a chance encounter with a modern-day geisha led me to classical Japanese beauty rituals and ingredients. Their less-is-more approach not only gave me my skin back, but it also healed my soul.

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You now split your time between Japan and San Francisco—what are your favorite things to do in each destination?

In San Francisco, I love visiting the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. It’s such a quiet, tranquil place to be. On a sunny day, my daughter and I will paddleboat in nearby Stowe Lake. I also save time to browse Ito-ya, a 100-year-old stationary shop (it’s the only location outside of Japan). They have a wonderful supply of paper goods, travel goods, and small items perfect for gifting.

I don’t get to spend many weekends in San Francisco anymore but whenever I do, my daughter Alea and I love to stargaze over the ocean. The Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay is my favorite place for this as it’s perched on a beautiful, oceanfront crescent. Happily, the Tatcha Signature Facial is also available there, so I love treating myself to a facial when I visit.

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In Kyoto, my first stop is usually the Nishiki Fish Market. The 400-meter-long bustling marketplace has been a culinary hub for more than 400 years, and is filled with vendors selling every kind of food—fish, spices, candy, teas, and other delights. Many also serve samples of their specialties which is a wonderful way to try new things. I also love Kennin-ji Temple, the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto which honors the founder of the green tea ceremony. It’s a beautiful place for meditation and exploring. Before I head home, I stop at Toraya— a famous confectionary shop (on the west side of the Imperial Palace) where seasonal teas and sweets are always as exceptional as the garden views.

We’re always looking to experts for travel tips—how do you manage your skincare routine on the road?

Travel-size everything! I keep a separate set that’s always packed and ready to go. Match your skincare to the environment you are going to, whether it is dry, humid, or polluted. Airplanes dehydrate skin, so I always travel with a four-pack of Luminous Deep Hydration Lifting Masks. I also bring our Akari Gold Massager because flights also cause water retention which leads to puffy skin. Lastly, I always bring my own silk pillowcase as the detergents hotels use can be harsh on skin.

What are your must-have items for your carry-on?

Our Luminous Dewy Skin Mist to rehydrate the skin, the Petal Fresh Original Aburatorigami Beauty Paper to lift away excess oil, Goldspun Camellia Lip Balm (I coat on a heavy layer for the flight), floss, and a good book. I just finished Shoe Dog, by Nike founder Phil Knight.

What are the destinations on your radar now?

Tatcha currently has a partnership with Room to Read, an incredible organization that supports world change through girls’ literacy and education. I have been fortunate enough to visit their schools and students in Cambodia and India, and would love to travel to Nepal, where they originated.

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Do you have a favorite hotel in the world?

Hoshinoya Kyoto, for sure. The traditional Japanese-style hotel in Arashiyama is accessible only by boat, and tranquil zen gardens take the place of televisions. It’s a truly rejuvenating experience.

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You can follow Tatcha Beauty on Instagram at @tatcha. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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