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We love the thoroughly holistic approach that The Organic Pharmacy has always taken towards skincare. When we wanted to offer our customers an organic detox kit for great skin, Margo Marrone and her team were the first people we asked for help — and the exclusive selection of products and tips they put together for us is one of our best selling kits. Below, Margo shares some answers to our customers’ frequently asked questions about detoxifying.

We are always delighted to host Dr. Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, one of the most well-respected dermatologists in the country, at our San Francisco studio; each time, we learn volumes about the latest developments in skincare. During a recent visit, this self-admitted "chemical-phobe" shared her list of top cosmetic ingredients to avoid. Read on for her list of no-nos.

In honor of our 8th birthday, we thought we’d celebrate by sharing a few trends that our founder is particularly excited about in the world of healthy beauty today.

We love M Picaut and the way this Swedish skincare line blends botanicals with hard-hitting peptides into elegant, beautifully-textured formulas. Our founder's family visited the Picaut family in Sweden last summer, and in addition to being gorgeous (Mette and Eric modeled internationally in the 1990s and still model to this day), the Picauts are as lovely as can be. During her visit, Dara remembered was how diligently Mette cared for her skin and health from the inside out as well as the outside in, so we asked her for her secrets to keeping skin, body, and spirit healthy through the cold winter months.

Pedro Català — founder and formulator of TWELVE Beauty — is one of the most thoroughly educated founder-formulators we know; he has not only a pharmacy degree, but also a PhD in Natural Product Formulation. As one beauty editor put it, "What Pedro doesn't know about natural product formulation isn't worth knowing." Here, Pedro shares quick strategies for winter skincare, including what we think of as his "super-moisturizing product sandwich."

What you do to feed and protect your body’s cells as they produce energy — how you feed and protect those cells’ mitochondria, to be exact — can have a profound effect on the energy and overall health of your whole body. This invites a proactive approach to health, not the reactive “problem-solution” approach that we are so used to taking. And this is why we think everyone in the health and wellness world is going to be talking about mitochondria next. (Mitochondria: it’s the new microbiome.)

It also led us to think, “What does this mean for skincare?” Serendipitously, when we were talking recently with the brilliant chemist Marie Veronique about what's new in skincare, she mentioned, “It’s all about the mitochondria.” Dara’s ears perked up at the m word, and she and Marie decided that they had to dig into this topic for Ayla straight away. Because if we can take a proactive approach to our health and energy levels at the cellular level, and ultimately feel better, shouldn’t we do that with skincare, and ultimately look better?

Many of us struggle with dry complexions, especially during the cooler winter months. So who better to ask for tips than our friends at MyHavtorn, who sail through the long Swedish winter with both great aplomb and great skin? Here, Robin and Ingrid (the photogenic duo behind the brand) share their top tips for great winter skin from both outside in and inside out.

We like à la minute DIY face masks: they're a lot of fun. But as founder and formulator Dr. Pedro Català of TWELVE Beauty puts it, “Natural product formulation is a science, not an experiment.” So who better to ask for a perspective on the DIY craze than one of our favorite formulators? Click here for Pedro’s guest blog post on the subject, which includes a list of ingredients to use with caution.

Facial gua sha uses a small, smooth stone tool that is pressed against the skin to gently massage facial fascia, muscles, and skin while stimulating specific energy points. The beautiful rainbow fluorite facial gua sha tool we carry at Ayla is as foolproof as they come and not only easy to use, but also quite versatile. In this tutorial, our Guide and esthetician, Beth, explains the shape of our tool and what each side can be used for. 

Gua sha is a traditional healing technique from China that involves a small, smooth stone board that is pressed against the skin to gently massage facial fascia, muscles, and skin while stimulating specific energy points. This encourages healthy circulation, releases muscular tension, and promotes lymphatic drainage for a more lifted, less puffy look and brighter, healthier looking skin. In this tutorial, Beth demonstrates a simple facial gua sha routine that you can perform on yourself at home. 

In these mini bonus tutorials, our Guide and esthetician, Beth, will show you how to use your gua sha tool to work on puffiness under the eyes and fine lines around the mouth — two areas of concern that we hear about frequently.

To us, leading nutrition consultant Ian Marber represents a voice of reason in the world of nutrition, a realm that can be confusingly contradictory. And, in these times of “is this seriously happening right now?,” that voice of reason is particularly refreshing. So during his visit to our SF studio this summer, we invited Ian to help us reset with a few pieces of advice that everyone can follow — and a peek into what he actually eats on a daily basis.


Want to learn how to use the beautiful Color & Light duos from Kosås? At Ayla's San Francisco studio, makeup artist Melissa McMillan demonstrates the use of these powder and cream based makeup palettes featuring wearable, blendable blush, bronzer, and highlighter colors. 

Posture and movement guru Elizabeth Larkam has been studying and teaching Pilates for over 30 years, building an impressive resume that includes the development of protocols with organizations ranging from Saint Francis Memorial Hospital to Cirque du Soleil, the creation of multiple DVDs and a book, and workshops around the world as a Pilates Master Teacher. We felt there was no better person to go to for an exercise to alleviate tech neck, align the spine, and remind us of the importance of good posture.

Debra Jaliman, MD enlightened us already on the what, why, and how-to-fix-it basics of inflammation. Then we asked, “What about diet and other lifestyle factors – do those make a difference where inflammation is concerned?” Dr. Jaliman’s answer was an enthusiastic “Yes!” Read on to learn which foods and other lifestyle factors can exacerbate inflammation. If redness, sensitivity, or acne is getting under your skin, you’ll want this exclusive info. Spoiler alert: Red wine is on the list. Tragic, we know. You can still have a little.

Pranayama is the yogic exercise of controlling the breath. There are many different pranayama techniques that can be practiced with different goals in mind (calming the mind, cooling the body, building heat in the body, etc.), but overall, breath control can have a profound and positive effect on stress. One of my favorite techniques, Viloma Pranayama, is a simple exercise that can be done at bedtime to achieve a sense of calm and balance.

Laura Rudoe, the UK-based founder of S5 Skincare, has been focused on addressing skin stress and inflammation since the brand’s inception — and her interest in the effect of inflammation on the body has only deepened over time, prompting her to become a certified naturopathic nutritional advisor on the side. We asked her for her top anti-inflammatory lifestyle tips since, as she puts it, it’s all tied together: “The understanding of inflammation and its impact on our health, inside and out, is transforming our understanding of skin and its requirements.”

We fell completely and hopelessly in love with the delicate, health-boosting sea buckthorn leaf tea that our friends at MyHavtorn make from the sea buckthorn trees on their Swedish farm. So we asked them if we could buy all of it. Happily, they agreed, and this was how our first Ayla product collaboration — Happy Tea — came to be. Read on to learn more about the mind-blowingly care filled process behind the creation of this wonder tea.

Tiffany Lester, MD is an internal medicine physician with top-notch training in integrative medicine, medical acupuncture, and functional medicine. She also has a particular passion for sleep — she’s the creator of The Unconscious Workout, an online bootcamp for better sleep. We asked her for a few tips on getting a better night’s sleep to share with our Ayla tribe.

Can you believe it’s already time for the holiday madness to begin? To make shopping easier, we've put together our top 8 gift picks for 2016. What we're really proud of is the fact that these items are not just great gifts; they're great products, period. Because, to us, a sign of a great gift is that you secretly wish someone could get one for you, too.

It’s officially fall, which means that it’s go time — in general, and particularly where skincare routines are concerned. After a freewheeling summer (“Why, yes, I would like to sit by the pool with a margarita and probably not enough sunscreen”), skin can start to look a little, well, weathered. So we asked our favorite New York facialist, Julia March, to help us gracefully nudge our skin into a radiant and healthy autumn.


We caught up with leading nutrition consultant (and founder of The Food Doctor) Ian Marber to find out what supplements we should all be taking.  While Ian generally suggests delving into the world of supplements with a nutritionist’s help — which we agree with wholeheartedly — there are a few things he recommends for general health, especially if you’re 40+. Read on to find out what they are.

We share many clients with Kristina, and it’s amazing to see how much change her treatments can effect. We describe her often as a “skincare detective” — she’s often the first to identify what’s going on with her clients' bodies as a result of what she sees in their skin. We asked her for some universal tips to help us get our skin, and our bodies, in good shape for spring.

It’s no secret that we're fans of sea buckthorn. We’ve delved into the benefits of the "miracle berry" before, but we neglected to tell you about the magic of the sea buckthorn leaves — a key ingredient in MyHavtorn’s Essence. We got the full scoop from Robin, MyHavtorn’s founder.

We asked our favorite San Francisco makeup artist, Melissa McMillan, to share some quick tips to freshen up your look for spring. She also shares some great suggestions about refreshing your makeup after work or at the end of a long day — whether it's spring, summer, fall, or winter — so that you can go straight out to dinner or cocktails and prompt everyone to wonder if you took a side trip to a spa beforehand.

April Gargiulo, the founder of Vintner’s Daughter, splits her time between San Francisco and Napa, so we see her pretty often. And on every occasion, she’s glowing and full of energy despite her crazy life as a business owner and mom of two. Naturally, we’re envious and had to get her secrets.

Our 2015 holiday gift guide is here! We've included a couple of tried-and-true gift items along with a few very exciting new things that we adore. We hope you — and anyone you might be shopping for — might love them, too. Oh, and it all ships for free.

Professional makeup artist Melissa McMillan has spent over 5,000 hours putting color cosmetics on other women’s faces. During that time, she’s learned that for most of us, speed and ease are key — so she’s outlined a non-toxic makeup routine that works for virtually everyone and can be completed in 10 minutes or less.

Oftentimes, we’ll be careful about what we eat—seeking out natural and organic products and avoiding those with lots of preservatives or artificial ingredients—and assume that the products we put on our skin are safe. But a significant amount of what you put on your skin can be absorbed into your bloodstream, and some ingredients can have an unpredictable or negative impact on your health. So at Ayla, we avoid most controversial ingredients because we either know they’re bad for you or suspect they might be.

According to Ian Marber, diet has a significant impact on your skin. In fact, says the top nutritionist from the UK, changes to your diet are often required to improve a given skin condition over the long term. This is particularly true where acne is concerned. Read on for specific tips from this leading nutrition consultant (and the founder of The Food Doctor) to improve acne and clogged pores from the inside out.

We’ve heard a lot about inflammation lately, but it seems like a broad and somewhat murky topic. Since it’s mentioned as a cause of everything from acne to Alzheimer’s, it’s clearly something we should know about. So what is it, exactly? And what do we need to know about it to keep our skin in the best shape possible? We spoke with the lovely and brilliant dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD to find out.

At Ayla, we value healthy, whole food as much as we do non-toxic and natural beauty products. But we do recognize — all too well — the siren song of chocolate truffles and other indulgences. So we were excited to learn that one of our devoted customers, the lovely Pooja Mottl, has written a book all about kicking cravings and cleaning up your diet. The 3-Day Reset , which has been praised by such luminaries as Whole Foods founder John Mackey and Clean author Alejandro Junger, helps you “reset” the way you understand and experience whole food — in just three days. And as an added bonus, you'll probably start to see your skin glow. Oh, and PS: her book includes a recipe for truffles.

We got these great facial self-massage tips from Lisa Trost, a wonderful SF massage therapist whose unique specialties are Neurokinetic Therapy, a technique that uses gentle muscle testing to unravel muscular imbalances, and Oncology Massage. Read on for her quick techniques — and an explanation of why these natural facial treatments work so well.

Much to our delight, we’ve heard more and more dermatologists talking about the skin-lifestyle link. We love finding kindred spirits! Leading skin science expert and former NIH fellow Jeannette Graf, MD is one of the pioneers of this movement. We talked to Dr. Graf to better understand the connection and to learn what steps we can all take for a glowier existence. Here, Dr. Graf tells us all about pH, the major link that she found between naturally radiant skin and a healthy lifestyle.

In our second interview with Jeannette Graf, MD about the link between nutrition and skincare, Dr. Graf talks to us about diet, digestion, and stress – three lifestyle factors with a major impact on skin's natural condition – and simple steps that even the busiest among us can take to get naturally glowing skin.

We’re fascinated by the link between healthy diet and healthy skin. To learn what steps we can all take, nutrition-wise, to support healthy and young-looking skin, we went to Ian Marber. Ian, who’s one of the leading nutritionists in the UK, is always full of clear and sensible advice as well as delicious recipes. We knew he’d have something insightful to share.

Skin issues can certainly be a source of stress—yes, we’re talking about you, large forehead pimple that invited itself along to Saturday night’s festivities. It’s not just about the occasional pimple, though: according to Dr. Amy Wechsler, author of The Mind-Beauty Connection and one of only two doctors in the United States board-certified in both dermatology and psychiatry, stress can have a major impact on the condition of our skin—particularly as we age.

We’re big believers in the link between great skin and a healthy lifestyle: as important as it is to use the best products on your skin, that’s not all there is to it (as you might have noticed if you’ve ever woken up and looked in the mirror after a night of too much stress, too little sleep, and too many glasses of Shiraz). To get three simple steps we all can take to support naturally healthy skin from the inside out, we went to top facialist Julia March.