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I’ve been obsessed with beauty products for a bizarrely long time. I tried to develop my first blockbuster skincare product when I was in the second grade: morning dew, packaged in jam jars, which — when harvested on May 1 — would give women a beautiful complexion for life, according to New England colonial legend. Much to my chagrin, my harvesting methods were primitive even by colonial standards, and it didn’t work out.
But fortunately, I eventually got into the industry. I was the global skincare brand development manager at Elizabeth Arden, where I launched a variety of products including a whitening line in Asia and the Prevage brand; I helped Marcia Kilgore, founder of Bliss, launch Soap & Glory Cosmetics in the UK; and I was the director of marketing (and first non-scientist to join the team) at Living Proof. Researching and testing every product I came across was actually part of my job, and I had the information I needed to understand which products really worked, and why.
Despite my childhood (mis)adventures, the entrepreneurial voice inside my head only grew louder over the years, so I decided to step outside of the beauty industry to experience the world of skincare and beauty as a regular shopper and figure out what I could contribute. I quickly found that shopping for beauty products, especially skincare, is often overwhelming and rarely fun. Facing a wall full of products and talking to someone who you think just wants to sell you a bundle of expensive stuff can leave you feeling frustrated and helpless. But shouldn’t that shopping experience, along with the products we use, make us feel great?
And, importantly: shouldn't those products actually work — without potentially harming us? Many practices in the mainstream beauty world ran counter to my own interest in health and wellness. I began practicing yoga on a regular basis about 15 years ago, and as I became healthier in general and noticed how much better I felt as a result, I took greater responsibility for the choices I made every day — from what I put into my body to what I put on it. I wanted to share my passion for clean beauty products with others in a way that was fact-based, results-oriented, and not fearmongering.
Ayla really started as a hobby: many of my friends ask me what to do about their skin, and I love helping them sort through the information they’ve heard, putting together lists of products to try, and checking in to see how it’s all working out. I can proudly say that they get carded into their thirties and forties. But what I love most is witnessing the sense of comfort they get from this information and the confidence that results from using products that truly work for them. That confidence is beautiful to see, and it’s what inspired me to extend this hobby to everyone who visits aylabeauty.com and our studio in San Francisco. I promise to be as honest with you as I am with the friends I’ve known since even before my second-grade experiment.
Beauty will always fascinate me because we tend to have a complicated relationship with it — skincare and haircare in particular. I have many, many more moments than I’d like to admit during which I feel far from beautiful for what are, at the end of the day, fairly small reasons, like humidity-induced frizz or poorly-timed breakouts. Nice skin and great hair alone won't make you feel completely confident and beautiful, but they can help remind you of your unique inner radiance and beauty.
It’s my sincere hope that Ayla, which means “bearer of light,” will help you let that radiance glow.