Ayla: Brighter Beauty, Part II (aka The Pregnancy Acne Project)


On Thursday, I covered the story behind Ayla, one of my favorite Clean online retailers.  One of things that makes this company so special is the superior customer service.  Whether you are dealing with sudden skin issues or you are trying to make the switch to an all-Clean routine, the Ayla one-on-one skincare consultation is heaven-sent.  I thought I would share my own experience with you.  Below is my questionnaire from this past summer.

Generally speaking, how can Ayla be most helpful to you? What are your most pressing skincare-related questions? Hi! I am accustomed to using Clean skincare products, but I have had a hard time finding a regimen that suits me while I am expecting. I tend to have combination skin and never a zit, but ever since I’ve been pregnant, I have hormonal acne, and it’s not pretty!  I’ve heard good things about thyme as well as tea tree oil (which I use directly on zits), but nothing seems to be working for me 🙁 Also, the acne is leaving discoloration behind.
Where would you say your skin falls on this spectrum? Oily in some spots
How concerned are you about the signs of aging in your skin? Just want to keep my skin in great shape for my age
How concerned are you about acne? I have moderate to severe acne, so it’s a big concern
Has it been an issue for a long time? Have you used any prescriptions to address it, either recently or in the past? The last time I had acne, I was a teen and it was light to moderate. A prescription of differin/cleacin cleared it up nicely. I haven’t had acne in my adult life until my pregnancy, and I’m trying to use only natural Clean products and I obviously cannot use prescriptions currently.
When you try a new skincare product, how often does your skin get irritated or break out? Rarely or never
Do you experience any of the following on your face?
  • Clogged pores
  • Dullness
Are you pregnant or nursing?
  • Yes
Do you have any other skin concerns or questions that we should know about? I do love glycolic acid for its anti-aging and exfoliation benefits. (I’m 31, so anti-aging is a bit of a concern, but the acne is #1.) Also, if I use a manual exfoliant (like a scrub) it tends to break me out more, unless it is a very fine texture or happens to be extremely expensive, ha!
What products are you currently using on your skin? * Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Oil Castile Soap to wash off makeup at night and Vered Botanicals Herbal Toner to “cleanse” in the morning. Most nights, I use REN AHA Concentrate under Jurlique Calendula Cream. During the day, I use REN Satin Perfection BB Cream. I use Acure Eye Cream morning and night.
Are you satisfied with these products? Which ones do you like best, and why? At this point, my acne has improved, but I’m still not where I want to be. I like all the products I’m using, but I may be able to do better. I especially like the REN AHA concentrate; I feel like my skin reacts very well to it and other glycolic acid serums, etc.
Do you wear makeup on a regular basis? If so, what do you use? Yes, on most days, but not everyday. I use the entire RMS line and for a base I use REN Satin Perfection BB Cream w. SPF 15. I use Josie Maran mascara and W3LL People eyeliner.
What type of skincare routine are you looking for? I want to keep it streamlined while addressing all of my concerns: I’m willing to add a serum or eye cream to my routine
Feel free to share details about what you want in your skincare routine. I like to use a cleanser, acid/serum, moisturizer (w/ SPF for day, w/o SPF for night), eye cream and maybe one other necessary product or so. I never end up using a mask when I purchase it, just fyi!
How much product guidance are you looking for? I’m skincare savvy, but I’d still like to know what you suggest
Are you looking for any specific types of products? (For instance, are you going to run out of your moisturizer soon?) *
  • Cleanser
  • Moisturizer
  • Targeted treatment / serum
  • Eye cream
How old are you? 25-34
Your name * Jessica Morse
Your email address * [email protected]

Is that thorough, or what???

Then, Nora, my new BFF, contacted me with what I should be expecting in the mail as well as some tips.  It took two tries for me to find a perfect match for eye cream and night cream, but the acne-focused products were so perfect, I purchased them immediately.

Here are my clear winners that I will definitely be keeping around:

Naturopathica Aloe Cleansing Gel

This cleanser is incredible.  It lathers just enough to remove the day’s makeup.  It is very gentle and does not dry out my skin; this cleanser is best for normal, combination, or oily complexions.  (Side note: At the end of the day, I double-cleanse.  First, I apply coconut oil all over my face to loosen my makeup, then I rub it off with a muslin cloth or cotton pad.  Then, I use a dime-size dollop of this cleanser with warm water.  Not a trace of makeup is left behind on my white towels.)  Cost: about $28 for 5 oz.  Purchase it here.

Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice*, Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Glycerin, Lauryl Glucoside, Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate, Cocoamidopropyl Betaine, Coco-Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Xylitylglucoside, Anhydroxylitol, Xylitol, Sclerotium Gum, Cananga Odorata (Ylang Ylang) Flower Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Oil*, Rosa Damascena (Rose) Flower Oil*, Citric Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzyl Alcohol.  *Ingredient from organic farming.  99% of the total ingredients are from natural origin.  51.51% of the total ingredients are from organic farming.

Luzern Labs Serum Absolut Au Vin

This is, hands-down, the most effective product I’ve tried in a while, and it’s worth every penny.  Back in my less-Clean days, I was obsessed with Dr. Dennis Gross and/or Cane & Austin glycolic exfoliating pads.  I used them religiously until I realized they were poisoning my bloodstream with ingredients like Acetone – yes, what is used to remove nail polish, so gross.  Anyway, I love the results of gentler retinols and AHA’s.  They improve everything from fine lines to acne, skin texture, tone, pore size, the list goes on.  I’ve had trouble finding a Clean version that was super-effective, until now.  Nora promised it would fight both anti-aging and acne battles; she was right.  I saw results after one use.  I’m hooked.  (Side note: I only use this at night.)  Cost: about $85 for 1 oz.  Purchase it here.

Ingredients: Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Purified Water, Malic Acid, Lactic Acid, Acidophilus/Grape Ferment, Hyaluronic Acid, Pichia, Resveratrol Ferment Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Organic Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Extract, Lactoperoxidase, Xantham Gum, Glucose, Glucose Oxidase.

The Organic Pharmacy Manuka Face Cream

This no-SPF moisturizer makes a great lightweight night cream for those with oily or acne-prone skin.  Ingredients like manuka, lavender, echinacea, and cedarwood make it naturally antiseptic, soothing and balancing.  (Side note: I apply this after the Au Vin serum most nights.)  Cost: about $76 for 1.7 oz.  Purchase it here.

Ingredients: Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis), Rye Alcohol, Phospholipids , Rose Geranium (Perlagonium Graveolens) ,Rose Hip (Rosa Canina) Oil, Shea Butter (Butyrospermum Parkii), St Johns Wort (Hypericum Perforatum), Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia) , Vitamin E (Tocopherol) , Aqua (Water) , Water Cress (Nasturtium Officinale), Xanthan Gum, Behenyl Alcohol , Sodium Lactate , Coconut Oil (Cocos Nucifera) , Soybean Sterols (Glycine Soya), Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), Bilberry (Vaccinum Myrtillus),Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica), Ceteryl Alcohol, Glycerin (vegetable), Glyceryl Stearate, Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica), Grapefruit Seed Extract (Citrus Grandis), Honey (Mel), Honeysuckle (Lonicera Japonica), Jojoba (Simmondsia Chinensis) Oil, Manuka (Leptospermum Scoparium), Marigold (Calendula Officinalis) Extract, Sesame Seed Oil (Sesamum Indicum).

Kahina Giving Beauty Eye Cream

The skin around my eyes is so sensitive (I’m guessing most people’s is).  Most eye creams sting either my skin or my eyes and leave me frustrated and temporarily blind.  Not this one.  Kahina Giving Beauty eye cream is rich without being greasy, thanks to gentle, effective ingredients like argan oil, green and white tea extract, and sea fennel.  (Side note: I use it day and night and it is great under makeup.)  Cost: about $65 for .4 oz.  Purchase it here.

Ingredients: aqua, argania spinosa (argan) kernel oil*, caprylic/capric triglyceride, cetearyl olivate, sorbitan olivate, glycerin, populus tremuloides (aspen) bark extract, betaine, cetyl palmitate, xanthan gum, p-anisic acid, sodium hyaluronate, hexapeptide-11, aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice*, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract*, helianthus annuss (sunflower) seed oil*, crithmum maritimum (sea fennel) extract, oryza sativa (rice) seed extract*, camellia sinensis leaf extract, olea europea (olive) leaf extract, saccharomyces cerevisiae extract, rhodiola rosea root extract, aroma.  *Ingredient from Organic Farming.  99.90% of the total ingredients are from natural origin; 74.32% of the total ingredients are from Organic Farming

The Organic Pharmacy Blemish Gel

What’s worse than pregnancy acne?  Being told that you are forbidden to use salicylic acid, retinoids, or benzoyl peroxide (you really shouldn’t be using any of them anyway, as they are all terrible for your health, but I know that desperate times call for desperate measures when you are not pregnant.)  To the rescue: one of the only spot treatments that doesn’t contain any of the forbidden stuff!  The Organic Pharmacy Blemish Gel is effective, but gentle, and never drying or irritating.  Besides abbreviating the lifespan of a zit, it definitely heals and calms inflamed skin.  Cost: about $33 for .3 oz.  Purchase it here.

Ingredients: Algin, Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis), Rye Alcohol, Propolis Cera, Rose Hip (Rosa Canina) Oil, St Johns Wort (Hypericum Perforatum), Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia) , Vitamin C (Ascorbyl Palmitate) , Vitamin E (Tocopherol) , Aqua (Water) , Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), Carageenan, Carrot (Daucus Carrota) ,Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica), Echinacea (Echinacea Angustifolia and Purpurea), Glycerin (vegetable),Grapefruit (Citrus Grandis), Grapeseed Extract (Vitis Vinifera), Lactic acid, Lecithin, Lemon (Citrus Limonum), Manuka (Leptospermum Scoparium).

The Organic Pharmacy Purifying Seaweed Clay Mask

I am usually very lazy when it comes to masks, but I am trying to do whatever it takes to clear up my skin, so if I have to walk around at night looking like I fell face-first into pluff mud, then so be it.  Unlike most clay masks, this one doesn’t leave my skin too dry or tight and it seems to be working on decongesting my pores.  Cost: about $70 for 1.3 oz.  Purchase it here.

Ingredients: Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis), Pycnogenol (Pinus Sylvestris), Sage (Salvia Officinalis) , Spirulina, Stearic Acid, Vitamin C (Ascorbyl Palmitate) , Vitamin E (Tocopherol) , Aqua (Water) , Limonene , Maltodextrin,Sorbitan Stearate , Kaolin , Sodium Hydroxide, Bentonite Clay , Ceteryl Alcohol, Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Globus), Glycerin (vegetable), Glyceryl Stearate, Lavender (Lavandula Officinalis), Linalool.

While I am convinced that pregnancy acne is impossible to “cure”, these products have really helped my skin over the last two plus months.  But, don’t take my word for it.  Whatever, your skin concerns, try Ayla’s $20 consultation and samples for yourself.  I think you will be glad you did.  🙂