Life as a beauty editor typically involves testing every youth-revealing serum, wacky makeup trend, and face cream made with the latest wonder ingredient, all in the name of journalism — so you'd assume that their makeup kits and skincare rituals have been perfected to a 'T', right? For Los Angeles-based editor and writer Allison McNamara, the responsibilities of the job revealed that she'd yet to discover a face oil that addressed her skincare concerns, so she did what anyone with a DIY spirit and passion for problem solving would do: Create her own product.
Rather than whipping up a homemade jar of face oil for her personal stash, McNamara set out to build a new beauty brand from the ground — no, make that the ocean floor — up. Enter MARA, a new LA-bred line of non-toxic, cruelty-free, and vegan face oils that harness the power of algae. Available as of today, the label is launching with the Universal Face Oil ($72), a versatile hydrating product that works for all skin types and can be used any time of day. Ingredients like moringa, bilberry, and baobab oils help reduce signs of aging and leave the skin glowing, while a blend of algae helps fight free radicals and smooth the skin's texture.
"As a beauty editor, I've had the privilege of trying just about every brand on the market and still hadn't found a face oil that met my standards — they were either too oily, didn't provide long-term hydration, or were full of fragrance or essential oils," McNamara tells us. "Being able to try so many different products and brands allowed me to hone my preferences and figure out ingredients that delivered the best results. I'm first and foremost a beauty fan and love and support brands from indie to mainstream, [so I] knew that if I was going to create something, it had to be different to ensure I was delivering something new to the beauty community."
We sat down with McNamara to find out how a family vacation inspired her to pursue creating MARA, why one particular "miracle" ingredient is key in her line, what her skincare ritual looks like, and more; read on below, then shop the brand online here.
Can you describe the "a-ha moment" that inspired you to pursue the idea of the brand?
I have been an avid face oil user for a decade and back in 2015, I noticed a void in the marketplace of algae-infused facial oils. I also noticed that most of the same ingredients were being repeatedly used in quality skincare oils. I was on a family vacation in Istanbul, Turkey the summer of that year and we were on the Sea of Marmara and it all came together for me — I was instantly inspired to develop a line of algae oils called MARA, which also means "sea" in Gaelic (I'm an Irish citizen) and is the last four letters of my name. For our signature algae blend that is used across the line, we sourced algae from all over the world, including Irish Wakame.
As an editor and beauty expert, what stood out to you about the ingredients that the brand is focused on?
The ocean is an amazing resource filled with life nutrients like plankton, algae, and seaweed that have been around for millions of years and offer miraculous skin and health benefits. We sourced the ocean's fountain of youth, creating our own signature algae blend comprised of alaria esculenta extracts — also called Irish Wakame — and microalgae extracts sourced off the coasts of Ireland, the British channel, and Brittany, France. Our proprietary blend is used throughout the line and helps stimulate natural hyaluronic acid synthesis, is high in omegas 3, 6, and 9 that fight free radicals and smooths skin texture making it look and feel baby soft.
In addition, I also built moringa oil in as a key ingredient — it's actually the first ingredient in my first product. Moringa, called the Miracle Tree, is quite literally that — it has an insane nutrient profile loaded with 46 antioxidants and has seven times the vitamin C of oranges, four times the vitamin A of carrots, three times the potassium of bananas, and twice the amount of protein of yogurt (and none of the calories, ha) making it a perfect base for our line.
What's your personal skincare ritual when using the line?
I believe in simple, effective skincare. I use my Algae and Moringa Universal Face Oil for all my hydration needs. It's the last step in my skincare routine (morning and night) and if I'm in a hurry, it's all I use besides sunscreen. I don't really believe in eye creams, I just dab a little extra Universal Face Oil near my crows feet morning and night. I like to let my oil really soak in for five to 10 minutes before applying sunscreen or makeup. I also mix my Universal Face Oil in with my concealer or BB cream for a really natural finish. Lastly, I use it midday as a pick-me-up by applying it to my cheek bones and nose for a natural, dewy look.
Where do you see Mara Beauty in five years?
I would love to see a full line of about 10 to 15 skincare products as well as a line of color cosmetics and maybe even dabbling in hair or body!