Dara Kennedy

Dara Kennedy worked in beauty product development and marketing for more than 10 years before starting Ayla in 2011. A longtime yoga practitioner and mother of 2, she's been a supporter of non-toxic beauty products for years.

Whether you call it clean, nontoxic, green, or — our favorite — healthy, this part of the beauty world has been our sandbox since we launched in 2011. And it’s an endlessly fascinating one to us, because it’s in a state of constant change. It has to be: we’re always learning new things about the safety and efficacy of different ingredients and production methods.

That’s one of the reasons why we don’t put a list of “never” ingredients front and center. Our complete list would include lengthy explanations and notes on exceptions, it would have to take into consideration how the product is being made and by whom, and little tiny things that we obsess over would make us tweak it all the time. In short, just reading it might make you crazy. And we’d like to avoid that.

The other reason is that we have never relished the idea of scaring anyone into buying a product. It’s not that we’re not crazy about ingredient quality and purity; on the contrary, our approach is probably more rigorous than most, and we’ve been committed to it for eight years. But we believe in focusing first on what makes the products that we hand-pick for our shelves so extraordinary — focusing on what’s in them and what they’ll do for you, rather than on what’s not in them and what they won’t do for you. It just seems simpler and more interesting and makes the world seem a little rosier, which we think is always a good thing.

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


Exciting trend #1: An even closer connection between beauty & wellness

When we first opened our virtual doors in 2011, there was already some interest in beauty from the inside out — Dr. Jeannette Graf published a book about it and touted green drinks way ahead of the game — but it’s gone mainstream in the last few years. Now there’s a glut of beauty supplements on the market, some better than others. But what’s particularly exciting to me is that it’s becoming so much more natural for everyone to look towards diet and lifestyle in addition to topical products to solve their skin problems.

And as we’ve become more comfortable with that, we’re not only relying on prepackaged supplements; for example, we’re experimenting with actual food to find out if certain things seem to help our bodies run a little better, we’re trying different types of meditation, and we’re making an effort to sleep a little more. That’s where I think the real evolution happens, and it’s exciting to see. For many, beauty has become a gateway to become more interested in overall health and wellness and to make positive lifestyle changes, and I love that.


Exciting trend #2: A greater focus on sustainability

It bugged me for awhile that “green beauty” didn’t necessarily mean eco-friendly. But I see that tide turning, and to me, some of the most exciting new products out there are ones that are produced and packaged with a real commitment to sustainability. I think we’ll start to see more and more of this over the next couple of years. (By the way, if you're ever wondering about this when you open up one of our shipments — those packing peanuts are all biodegradable, and any bubble wrap that's in there has been reused from shipments we've received ourselves.)


Exciting trend #3: More interest in what’s underneath the skin

You can use the very best products on the market, but if you’re raising your eyebrows or pushing them together all the time, day in and day out, the most effective products in the world can’t be expected to perform complete miracles. That’s why we’re really into practices like Gua Sha, which help you release muscles and fascia while at the same time keeping lymph moving along as it should. It’s exciting to see interest in facial massage techniques taking off now.


Exciting trend #4: Greater emphasis on efficacy

I was talking to a blogger I love about this— she said that when she first started using clean beauty products, she was all about the smell and feel and the simple knowledge that she was using healthier stuff on her skin. And that was enough. But over time, she missed the performance of conventional products. As clean beauty has grown up, we’ve all started to realize that we shouldn’t have to choose between healthfulness and efficacy; products that only exist to look and smell and feel good are almost doing a disservice to the category because they can lead people to believe that clean beauty doesn’t work.


But as clean beauty grows up, I think we’re going to see less of a divide between clean and conventional beauty products. We’re demanding better performance from clean beauty; at the same time, we’re demanding healthier formulas from conventional brands. And I think this is fantastic. I’m hopeful that the beauty category can be one where we see divisions start to smooth out. We are all truly looking for the same thing: products that perform and are good for us, too. And we’re getting there. That’s enormously exciting, especially in our current moment. A smoothing-out of divisions is something we need in general. How great would it be if the beauty business could serve as an example to us all of two sides coming together?