Andrea Pierce-Naymon, CEO and Founder of OY-L, a 100% natural luxury skin care brand, is on a mission to make transparency in beauty mainstream. She wants to rid toxins in our beauty products, not only to protect our skin, but also those we love. Meet the force that is Andrea Pierce-Naymon.
Jessa (Nollapelli): OY-L is relatively young as a business, about four years old. Your story of OY-L is a powerful one. How did OY-L come to life?
Andrea: About five years ago, when my daughter was sixteen, she got really sick. She got mono and she had it twice. She’d stand up and faint, and sometimes she would have seizure-like spells. This was a kid who was an athlete, and then all of the sudden, standing up was a problem. We were in and out of the Cleveland Clinic for two years, getting all kinds of testing done. They thought it was a heart problem. They wanted to put a defibrillator in her and I said no. I am a mom who doesn’t think that is what she needs, you [medical professionals] haven’t convinced me that she has a heart problem.
Jessa: I need to absorb your guts as my daughter grows.
Andrea: We got a neurology consultation. They put her through crazier tests. There was one test called the tilt table test. You lay down on a table, strap you in, and they start tilting you. When she got to forty percent of an angle, her heart stopped for eleven seconds. It was okay, but she was diagnosed with POTS, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. It is a form of dysautonomia. When we stand up, we put pressure on our legs, the blood goes through our blood vessels to our heart and our head and we’re okay. When you have dysautonomia, you don’t have enough blood volume to get up to your head and heart. Your heart beats fast and you pass out because it doesn’t get to your head.
The reason OY-L started, all those years and months sitting in the hospital for tests and surgeries, I started looking at labels. I was shocked. I kept a journal. I would write down these words and what they do. I got this app called Think Dirty. Have you heard of this?
Jessa: No, I have not.
Andrea: You can go into any grocery store or drug store and you can scan products or type their name in and the app will tell you how dangerous they are, how toxic they are, how carcinogenic they are. That is what lead me to say I am not going to buy the stuff I used to buy. I turned my kids’ basement into a laboratory. I started researching and experimenting.
I gave my sister-in-law some body butter for Christmas. I was very nervous because she is very high-end, and what is she going to think about this homemade product. She called me two weeks later and said, “What the hell is in that bottle?” It was all plant-based products – avocado, jojoba, hemp seed, which is an amazing non-clogging oil. My sister-in-law had this horrible form of eczema and had been to every dermatologist in Cincinnati. She showed her doctor and they couldn’t believe it. She got off all the topicals and drugs, and now she buys the body butter by the gallon.
Jessa: How did that make you feel?
Andrea: It was the best, most genuine compliment I have ever gotten. I was on the right path. This is needed. The reason they [beauty brands] put chemicals in these products is to keep them on the shelf for years and years. It’s a form of money.
Jessa: There’s a transparency to OY-L. You are dismantling the term “beauty secrets,” talk to us about why that is important.
Andrea: The whole thing with “beauty without secrets” is that when you look at a label, most people can’t read it. They don’t know what those words and ingredients mean. It was like a big secret what these companies were keeping from us. To me, when I first had my labels, I had very simple words – hemp seed oil, jojoba oil – you knew what they were instead of Latin words or the twenty letters to the name of a chemical. There’s no secret to what is in my bottle.
Jessa: What does the word luxury mean to you?
Andrea: When I started this business, there were many products you could use that were simple like coconut oil. I started using coconut oil to get my mascara off instead of using the Clique bottle I used for twenty years.
Jessa: I was a Clique girl too!
Andrea: It was simple, but then I got white dots around my eyes, which were clogged pores. I am going to stop using coconut oil. You can take your mascara off with jojoba oil. To me, those were simple. When I went to make products, I wanted them to be clean, but I wanted to be more luxurious than simply going into Whole Foods for a grocery product. Luxury is richness, creamy, it’s delicious, it’s something you cannot wait to use.
Jessa: What is your favorite ingredient to use?
Andrea: Mānuka honey. It only comes from New Zealand. It is from the bees that pollinate the mānuka bush which is related to the tree tea bush. This honey is considered medical grade honey. It can help heal acne. In New Zealand, Australia and Europe, they use it on post-surgical burn patients. It heals wounds faster, it restores your skin faster because of the anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
The honey you get on the shelf at the store, it pretty much just fructose. There is nothing good about that honey, even to eat. It’s been processed. Processed is when it is heated higher than 120 degrees. All the good stuff goes away. Mānuka honey is raw honey- they filter out all the bee parts, but you’re getting a pure product. Honey is a humectant; it doesn’t try your skin out like other products.
Jessa: Balanced moisture is so important to skin, whether it's sheets or skincare. Growing up I thought I had to exfoliate the crap out of my skin.
Andrea: Oil cleansing balances your skin. Oil will dissolve oil. It is the hardest thing to explain to somebody that having oily skin, you should use an oil cleanser. When you use an SLS [sodium lauryl sulfate], it will foam up and dry you out. Oil cleansing is healing.
Jessa: What oil do you recommend?
Andrea: From the research I did, I would never put coconut on my face or anyone else’s. It’s very clogging. Hemp seed oil is a nice, light oil that has a lot of linoleic acids in it, which is really good for keeping your skin subtle. It has zero comedogenic properties, that means it will not clog skin at all.
Jessa: How important is knowing your skin type when it comes to our skincare routine?
Andrea: It’s good to know what skin type you are to know what will work for you, that is why we put the skin type quiz on our website. Even more important, there are certain oils you shouldn’t use.
Jessa: You are referring to not using coconut oil on your face.
Andrea: Yes. You never want mineral oil in a product because that is petroleum-based oil. Some of the nut oils, like walnut oil, are very comedogenic. Recently, I found this Sacha Inchi from Peru that has a lot of the same qualities as hemp seed oil, only even more moisturizing. It’s so exciting what the Earth can provide for us.
Jessa: How is OY-L sustainable?
Andrea: I only use glass bottles because they are recyclable [OY-L refill program]. There are certain products I will not use, like palm oils. I look at where my ingredients come from and study what their distributors are doing to be sustainable. The one thing I have a real problem with right now is shipping, because I do have glass bottles. I have to use plastic to protect them. I want to explore better options this year.
Jessa: How are sleep and quality skincare linked?
Andrea: Sleep is very restorative. If my back is bothering me, I know that when I wake up in the morning, my body is going to repair itself by getting the proper sleep. I am not the best sleeper in the world, but I know how important it is. You need sleep to control your stress. Stress can cause acne and other skin problems. My moisturizer is like a night mask. Put that on, get some good sleep, and you are going to feel much better about yourself.
Jessa: What is one thing you do for your skin every day?
Andrea: Just one thing? I never go to bed with makeup on, ever. And I drink as much water as possible.