For many of us, blotting papers are the unsung heroes of our makeup bags. These handy tissue-like squares live in our purses and backpacks – reliable, unglamorous and always ready to absorb the mid-afternoon oil slick forming on our faces. But for Tatcha founder Vicky Tsai, blotting papers represent the start of her love affair with Japanese beauty and the birth of her brand.
While visiting a town just outside of Kyoto, Japan, Tsai came across local artisans who used abaca plant leaves to protect gold as they hammered it into thin sheets. For hundreds of years, these petal-thin abaca sheets – a byproduct of the gold-leafing process – were collected by local geisha and kabuki performers and used to keep their makeup in place. Enamoured by their delicate simplicity, Tsai was set on bringing these sheets to the United States.
The artisans, not keen on distributing to the west, told Tsai if she really wanted them, she needed to purchase a sizeable amount. Tsai wound up with 10,000 units of the blotting papers at her San Francisco dining room table, with no real plan for distributing them. “I had just given birth and I was three quarters of a million dollars in debt, with 10,000 blotting papers and a business that wasn’t going anywhere,” she tells me over Zoom.
Struggling to find a retailer to carry the papers or a PR agency that would represent her, Tsai turned to editors and artists she admired to spread the word. “I kept coming across Daniel Martin’s work over and over again,” she says. “When he did someone’s makeup, it looked like he left their skin bare, and I loved it.” This look has become Martin’s signature – he was, after all, responsible for Meghan Markle’s beloved, and highly publicized, wedding day makeup.
Tsai approached Martin with the blotting sheets and he took immediate interest. After introducing the Aburatorigami papers at fashion week to models and his clients, word of the delicate paper’s special properties quickly spread. The blotting sheets became the first product offered by Tatcha and started a decade-long friendship between Tsai and Martin. “If there were no Daniel Martin, honestly I don’t think there would have been a Tatcha,” says Tsai. “When we realized it was time for the brand to bring in an official global head of artistry, it was a no brainer that it was going to be Daniel.”
In celebration of the brand’s 10th anniversary and following the announcement of Martin’s appointment as the brand’s first-ever global head of artistry and education, Tatcha is now re-launching their Aburatorigami Beauty Papers in a clutch size (Fun fact: Tsai tells me the reason for this update is that Martin’s clients often couldn’t fit the papers into their clutch bags and had – to her horror – resorted to storing them in Ziploc bags).
Ahead, Martin shares his summer beauty tips for achieving the flawless, skin-first finish that has become synonymous with his work and spirit of Tatcha.
“[I always] assess the state of someone’s skin before I throw anything on top of it,” says Martin. “I’ll do a massage and if the skin becomes red, that inflammation automatically tells me that I can’t do too much. That’s usually someone with combination or oily skin. Drier skin is thirsty for that hydration, so it needs moisture.” Once the texture of the skin is determined, either use a primer or go in with a straight foundation to create a flawless base. “I use the Liquid Silk Canvas Primer ($68) as skincare so it doesn’t create this second barrier between moisturizer and foundation. Less is more, especially if you’re going to have that makeup on your face for a long time.”
AVOID THE CAKEY LOOK
We’ve all been there. Makeup can ball up and “pill” when certain products don’t play well together. If you have dry skin or you’re planning on being outdoors, Martin suggests applying SPF after foundation to get a seamless finish. “I use a spray SPF like a barrier. Depending on the skin type, it sometimes helps set the makeup,” he says. Oily and combination skin types, swap out your setting powder for blotting sheets to get a natural looking finish without packing on the product. “Apply your foundation, and blot the excess moisture out of the out of your skin.” The blotting action removes excess oils in the foundation without disturbing the pigments.
KEEP IT SIMPLE.
Spot-treat imperfections with concealer, then blend it out. “For fine lines around the eyes, you can use something like The Serum Stick ($62) – the moisture in that product creates a beautiful highlight,” he says. “ With lipstick, colour goes a long way. You just need a little, and you look finished.”
THE ULTIMATE PAIRING
“A bare face with SPF and a matte red lip is so chic because you’re playing off of the juxtaposition of texture on your skin,” says Martin. “If you have really radiant skin and a matte lip, it looks balanced. If you have too glossy a lip and too shiny a face, there’s a lot of high texture that looks monochromatic.”
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