Bathing Beauty: Ayla Beauty’s Dara Kennedy
When shopping for beauty products online, half the battle is knowing what actually works. For this, you need to trust your destination — and your curator. Dara Kennedy is a master curator who has taken her passion for natural and organic living and turned it into a one-stop-shop for healthy skin, body, and hair products, all available at Ayla Beauty. Kennedy’s e-commerce beauty destination combines her years of product development and marketing expertise with her astute eye for the lesser-known healthy beauty brands and products. Peruse the site and discover an array of international lines that treat everything from smoker’s skin to hyper pigmentation (many of which are only available stateside through Ayla).
We’ve discovered many a must-haves from Ayla Beauty, so we wanted to know what its founder turns to on a daily basis. Here, Dara answers our pressing beauty questions and offers up her can’t-live-without products, along with a valuable beauty tip for anyone with sensitive skin.
What are your top 5, can’t-live-without products?
1. BioRecept Mousse de Peau ($33) – I think this is the perfect cleanser. It’s purifying, removes every bit of makeup, and provides skin with weightless hydration. It’s truly one of a kind.
2. Biocyte Hyaluronic Forte ($48) – Hyaluronic acid is one of my favorite skincare ingredients, and it provides major benefits when taken internally as well. I’ve noticed a significant difference in my skin’s hydration level, and it helps boost collagen for firmer skin and fewer fine lines. Our customers have told us that it makes their skin feel like velvet and their lips look fuller, too.
3. Luzern La Defense SPF 30 ($45) – This is the first sunscreen that I’ve actually looked forward to wearing every day. Its only sunscreen ingredient is zinc oxide, but there’s no whiteness and no stickiness, and it’s nanoparticle-free. Plus, it smells delicious and not at all sunscreen-y!
4. The Organic Pharmacy’s Organic Glam Mascara ($38) – I have annoyingly sensitive eyes. This is one of the very few mascaras I’ve found that won’t irritate them or the delicate skin around them, and it’s a great all-around formula that curls, lengthens, and conditions lashes. The Organic Pharmacy spent five years working on this product, and you can tell.
5. Boucleme Curl Conditioner ($26) – My hair is wavy, but I use this conditioner designed for curls because it’s super hydrating and weightless — which is hard to find in any conditioner, and nearly impossible in a non-toxic one. It smells amazing (spearmint, citrus, and magnolia leaf) and leaves my hair shiny.
What is your all-time favorite product?
Luzern’s Force de Vie Micro-Gel ($90). I have combination skin that gets dehydrated fairly easily, and this keeps it blemish-free with weightless hydration and a dewy, never-oily glow that always generates compliments — even when I’ve barely slept and been stressed out beyond belief and have been eating horribly and haven’t put on any makeup. It’s magical. It’s the only beauty product I’ve used regularly for the past ten years.
What product do you buy in bulk?
Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega fish oil supplement ($25). I actually have a subscription with Nordic Naturals so that I never run out!
Favorite hair product?
MyHavtorn Organic Hair Oil ($45) is just the thing for my (frizz- and puff-prone, thick, wavy) hair. Unless my hair is completely dry when I leave the house, I swear it seeks out every drop of water in the air — there’s a lot here in SF because of the fog — and soaks it up like a sponge, and not in a pretty way. If I scrunch in some of this oil and let it air dry, all of my frizz/puff problems are solved.
You moisturize your face with…
Luzern Force de Vie Micro-Gel ($90). I also adore MyHavtorn Facial Oil ($50), which is a blend of sea buckthorn, argan, and avocado oils that MyHavtorn makes fresh-to-order for Ayla.
Favorite body product?
I have two, which I alternate depending on the occasion. For everyday use, I love MyHavtorn’s Organic Body Oil ($45). It’s really moisturizing, absorbs easily, boosts skin’s elasticity, and has a fresh, lemongrass-y scent. When I’m going out, I use Ellis Brooklyn’s Verb Body Milk ($55) — which is handy because it’s actually a perfumed body milk, so I can moisturize at the same time. Verb is a bright and fresh scent, too, but it’s more sophisticated; it smells like a fine fragrance. It has mandarin, bergamot, and dragon fruit top notes that are grounded with cedarwood and musks. I always get compliments on both!
Favorite beauty secret you’ve picked up along the way?
Dr. Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas is brilliant and full of great tips. One of the most helpful things I’ve learned from her is to stop washing my face in the shower. I have rosacea, and you should never wash your face with water that hot, especially if you have any tendency towards redness and/or sensitivity — only wash with lukewarm water. Otherwise your face will get – and stay – red and irritated.
Beauty icon you admire?
That’s another tough question: There’s so much to admire about so many people. But as one example, I saw a photograph a few months ago of Jane Birkin at Paris Fashion Week, and I thought she looked fantastic. So cool and at ease with herself. It was inspiring. I hope to look that chic when I’m 68.