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Dr. Natalie Lindner saw a need for high-quality, science-focused body care products that are as rich in active ingredients as high-end facial serums. As she told us, “Our body accounts for 95% of the surface area of our skin, which is an important organ; what you put on your body matters, too.” We agree, and we’re so proud to be Natalie’s first retail partner in the US. Read on to learn more about this unique brand from Munich in Natalie's interview with Dara.
Dara: You recently graduated from medical school in Germany, and your training can be seen in your evidence-based reasoning as a product developer — you tend to look for ingredients with strong studies to back them up, for example, and you can provide those studies on demand. What made you decide not to pursue a career in medicine in the end?
NATALIE: I did my thesis in pediatric surgery and wound healing, which I thought was super interesting. I enjoyed working with children because, with children in particular, you really have to look at the full spectrum of conditions — even more than the typical doctor would. You have to consider their history of allergies, for example, and how that impacts the work that you do. But I realized that pediatric surgery really wasn’t my passion.
I was interested in wound healing, as I mentioned, and the skin had always fascinated me — I loved learning about skin cancer and sun damage — but I wasn’t motivated to do my residency in dermatology, either. During my training, I observed that so many kids already struggle with psoriasis and eczema, and other skin conditions, but when they visit a dermatologist, all they get is a prescription for cortisone. It isn’t viewed from a holistic perspective, at least in Germany. For example, if you visit a dermatologist about acne, you’ll often hear something like, “Don’t be so vain! It’s going to go away,” but so many people suffer from it psychologically.
So as I was thinking about all of this, my fiancé (an entrepreneur) suggested, “Why don’t you do something on your own in skincare? You’re so passionate about it. Don’t finish your residency — do your own thing.” So I did!
I began working on it during medical school, actually. My friends inspired me to continue — I told them about the idea, too — and I found an amazing chemist to work on lab samples for me…and so it began.
Dara: We love your mission to create body care that is “as powerful as a high-end face serum.” Many established brands have avoided creating powerful formulas for the body due to the costs involved; what made you decide to tackle this?
NATALIE: It’s funny — loads of investors told me not to do it. “People won’t spend as much money on their face,” “It’ll cost you so much to make it,” etc. But sometimes you have to follow through on things and show that it’s a good idea. So I ended up starting this business on my own, without outside capital.
Mainly, I saw a need for this. For so many skin conditions, it’s about giving your body the right amount of moisture: people tend to dry everything out and they’re way too harsh with their skin treatments, especially on their body, instead of thinking about skin barrier and moisture.
And on the other hand, the products that we often see for the body are so thick and filled with mineral oil and other ingredients you would never put on your face. When people first try our Hydration Body Gel, they’ll sometimes think that it’s way too lightweight, but I tell them, “Take your time — give it a month and let your skin reset.” And over time, it’s all they need.
Dara: Do you ever use the Hydration Body Gel and one of your Body Oils together? That’s how I love to use them if I want a little more moisture.
NATALIE: Yes, I do this myself! I describe it as a powerhouse cocktail for the skin, almost like a green smoothie for it. If you love the gel but need a little more moisture, I love either the Calm Oil or the Better Aging Oil, just a few drops mixed into the gel. You get so many amazing botanicals and actives that way.
And I always think it’s important to understand it’s good to apply products on wet skin after showering: the barrier is more permeable then and can absorb products more easily.
Dara: Your products contain fragrance (the oils have a stronger scent, while with the Body Gel, it’s very light); can you tell us more about these scents?
NATALIE: It was such a struggle to decide on this. All the seed oils I wanted to use naturally have a really…not-so-fresh scent. Even though they’re fresh, understandably a lot of people would be irritated by that. So I couldn’t not use a scent of some kind.
On the other hand, I didn’t want to use a regular perfume due to the potential to trigger allergies. I also didn’t want to use essential oils, since about 20% of people tend to experience irritation with them. I really struggled with this!
So I talked to my chemist and asked, “There are certain products that are created for sensitive, eczema-prone skin: what do they use for fragrance?” She found the scent that we use, which is a synthetically made scent derived from apple: it’s a very crisp, fresh, unisex smell. It’s hypoallergenic and normally is used only in prescription and high-end hypoallergenic products made in the EU for very sensitive skin, including children. You can’t even get it in the US, and it’s very expensive! But it’s great: it neutralizes the earthy tones of the oils.
We use the same fragrance in all of our products, but the different oils in each blend impact the way it turns out — it ends up smelling a bit different in each one.
Dara: Anything else you want us to know about your products or your philosophy?
NATALIE: We care so much about the 5% of our skin that’s on our faces, the part that everyone else sees. But my philosophy is that skincare shouldn’t just be for everyone else to see — it’s also for you.
You most likely go to the gym and eat healthy food, for example, not just to look good in a bikini; you do it for your overall health. You do it for you, to feel confident, and good.
And as a woman especially, I find that a good body care routine is a preventative measure for me, a way of taking time every day to look after myself. For example, as you put your gel or oil on your breasts, you can feel for any lumps. As you put it on your limbs, you can check to see if you notice any moles that need to be looked at by a dermatologist. As I’ve been speaking to other doctors, dermatologists in particular, I hear the same thing over and over: “If people took the time to do this, they’d come in much earlier.”
It's a shift in thinking, but it’s truly worth it to use a quality product on your body. Many people forget that skin is an organ: it’s there to detoxify. But if you seal your skin with cement-like products that contain ingredients like mineral oil, you can’t sweat properly; you can’t remove salts or other buildups. You can’t shed dead skin cells as efficiently.
Your body accounts for 95% of the surface area of your skin, so I think it should at least get half of what you’re spending on your face. What you put on your body matters, too. And when your body care is good enough for your face, and can work for multiple people and multiple uses, you can simplify — you just need a few products that you love.
Check out Natalie's collection at Ayla here. (We adore the Hydration Body Gel in particular: we don't have anything else like it.)