Sivan Ayla, a blogger turned beauty brand founder, has effectively mastered filtering her photos to fake a tan. We’re talking a just-off-the-beach, perfectly bronzed, no orange in sight, healthy glow. To transcend the ’gram and make her online filter available IRL, Ayla set out to create the perfect self-tanner — no streaks, no flakes and no smell. Enter +Lux Unfiltered, Ayla’s newly-launched brand serving up attainable luxury. The line’s first product? N￮32, a gradual tanning lotion. Ahead, find out everything from how Ayla balances being a blogger and beauty brand founder to why she loves being her own boss and what’s next for her brand.
Can you give a little background on your career and how it led you to where you are now?
I started in the wholesale industry and the fashion industry in downtown Los Angeles before I actually was a blogger — officially, that is. I was working a very traditional nine-to-five job and was commuting every day. I started my blog on the side. Like most bloggers, I was doing it side-by-side with having a full-time job, which was obviously super tiring. I got to a point where my blog (sivanayla.com) became a full-time job for me. I let go of everything else I had going on. Now, I’ve been blogging full-time for about five years. A couple of years ago, I knew that in order to create longevity in my career, I had to bring something to life. The next natural step was to develop a product. I found that there was a gap in the self-tanning market, so it seemed like the perfect fit for me — it made sense for my brand. All of that combined brought me to the point where I now have a beauty brand.
Did your personal brand play into the vibe you wanted to achieve with your beauty brand?
So my brand’s name is +Lux Unfiltered and that was actually modeled off my blog itself. I branded my blog as a place where you can get attainable, realistic tips on everyday luxury with an unfiltered voice. What that meant to me was how to shake up a really good cocktail at home instead of spending money at the bar. Or how you can style your one pair of Levi jeans 50 different ways to maximize wear. Taking everyday things and showing ways you can have more fun with them, making them more glamorous and luxurious. A lot of people really relate to my life because I'm not living an over the top, expensive, unattainable lifestyle. I always think of myself as aspirational rather than inspirational. It's actual, attainable luxury versus something that's completely out of the world for anyone to achieve. So, that's essentially what I brought into my brand. Plus, the name was perfect. It meant so many different things to me. Obviously the name +Lux Unfiltered has the word “filtered” in it. My little play on words with that for the brand was that you can have this beautiful tan, glowing skin that looks like you have an actual filter on — but it's not. That's where the mindset for that came from.
What sets +Lux Unfiltered N￮32 apart from other self tanners on the market?
N￮32 particularly is an everyday, gradual cream. So unlike most self-tanners, it's actually super hydrating on your skin. It's not going to dry you out. One of the reasons I created the product is that I was noticing that when I was using other self-tanners, not only was the color super orange-y, but the application process was also either messy or sticky. I was hating the way my skin looked a couple of days after using it. I would start to look flaky and very scaly. I'm already a dry person, so I can't afford to have anything drying out my skin even more.
N￮32 is super emollient. It really hydrates your skin while building the color. And because it’s super rich and hydrating, the color is more subtle, which is what I wanted. I didn't want it to be an overnight, extravagantly darker color because that tends to look fake. The colors settle, it's natural, it's buildable and you have a healthier glow. I like to use the word healthy to describe what the product does to your skin because it's not an immediate tan. You look like you just stepped off from vacation. Smell was definitely a priority as well. I think we all know that self-tanners leave you smelling disgusting. I like to call it cat pee! I'm sure you've been there. But my self-tanner smells like Moroccan rose when you first apply it and has a luxurious feeling. The smell does fade. Eventually you won’t smell it, so it doesn't interfere with your perfumes or whatever else you're putting on.
What’s been the biggest challenge for you during the transition from blogger to brand founder?
Definitely the biggest challenge has been the transition of having to structure my day. Between Tan Lines [Ayla’s swimwear line] and +Lux Unfiltered, there really is only me and my husband, Paul. We do have people obviously selling and manufacturing, but we essentially are responsible for everything. So not having an actual team to work with has been really challenging. I have to make a point to be present Monday through Friday, normal business hours. I have to reply to emails in a timely manner. I guess in a roundabout way, my challenge has been time management. On the other side, I'm also learning how to work with others. I've been running my own business solo for seven years at this point. Now I’m at a point where I'm working with my husband; that's been a challenge. I also have other people who I rely on to make our products come to life. So, you know, just trying to figure out the balance of going from working by myself, being in charge of everything and feeling like I have complete control to relinquishing control to others in order to make things happen. That's been my biggest, biggest struggle for sure.
On the other hand, what has been your biggest oh-my-goodness-I-can’t-believe-I-actually-did-this moment?
It was the first time I saw our sample. The bottle was a pinch-me moment. I have a photo on my camera roll. It was the wrong color, the wrong text and everything was wrong about it, but, I was just like holy shit, this is actually going to be a real product that you can purchase! That was amazing. But the best feeling so far has been reading people's messages and reviews telling me that I’ve boosted their confidence and I've made them feel really sexy, that they feel like they can actually show a little bit of skin and not be self conscious. That's something that I really hadn't thought about as impacting anyone. I thought It's nice to be able to have tan skin year-round and look great in photos — the superficial things. But now knowing that it's affected people emotionally as well has been a really, really nice and rewarding feeling.
What’s next for +Lux Unfiltered?
We have a handful of products in the works. I don't want to share too much, but we're working on a face product to kind of complete the full thing. You’ve got your body covered, and the next step will be the face products. That should be launching in 2020.
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I only have ten minutes to get ready, skin care and makeup, so I’m putting on an oil and serum combo to prep my skin and hydrate my skin, do my eyebrows (I can’t leave the house without my eyebrows done — that’s number one), bronzer, mascara and a little lip gloss.
My three desert-island products are mosquito spray (mosquitos love me), Supergoop! Glow Oil SPF 50 (you get the protection and look really glowy) and a visor.
A beauty trend I regret trying is thin eyebrows.
My first memory of beauty is from CVS. There used to be these stackable shimmer eyeshadows, almost like ombré, and I had the purple one. I used to swipe across all the different colors and build it. This was when I first started wearing makeup and my mom was like, “OK, this is how you’re gonna do it?!”
The best part about being my own boss is that I love working in my sweatpants, being home with my baby and not having to report to anybody.
To me, beauty means confidence. As long as you feel confident, it doesn’t matter if you have a full face of makeup on, if you’re pale or tan, whatever it is. I think just feeling confident is a beautiful thing.
My personal brand in five words or less is attainable luxury in an unfiltered voice.