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We know you have questions, coming from the YÜLI chapter. We thought this interview with our founder on Ayla might be a good starting point:

YÜLI was always a brand that was somewhat shrouded in mystery. Its founders were, relative to others, almost reclusive. (Press interviews? Never. Selfies on Instagram? Nope. TikTok videos? Please.) Their products also had a whiff of mystique to them. (Did we ever figure out why Ambrosia did what it did? Not really.) But the mystique worked, the brand developed a deeply loyal following — and then, just like that, it was gone.

At that point, we started to get many variations on this note: “I am so sad that YÜLI’s gone. I was devoted to [Ambrosia / Halcyon / Cocoon / M.E. Skin Fuel]! What shall I do? Where shall I go?” It was all very Gone With The Wind. And we understood: when you’re devoted to a product, and you can no longer get it, panic ensues. Sometimes, desperation.

But thankfully, our friends at YÜLI gave a damn, and your favorites are back — with upgrades that we can definitively say make them better than ever. Eddie, one of YÜLI’s co-founders, has brought the brand’s best-sellers to life under a new brand, Gentlerist: read all about it in his interview with Dara below.

***

Dara: To start with, I'm sure some of your fans would love some closure: what happened with YÜLI?

EDDIE: I started YÜLI over 12 years ago with my former partner who loved skincare, but didn’t love the business side. It’s not for everyone. As YÜLI continued to grow, there was an increasing lack of joy. Having been friends since we were 12, and gone through so many important life events together, it was hard to call an end, but we had an honest conversation about our path together at YÜLI, and our future outside of YÜLI. Because we started the YÜLI chapter together, it felt right to close it with the two of us. There’s nothing riveting, just people aging into different joys and interests.

 

Dara: We're thrilled to see it brought to life in a new form as Gentlerist. Tell us what inspired you to start fresh with this new brand.

EDDIE: Skincare is deeply personal to me, and it’s one of the only businesses I did without a big investor because I didn’t want to be beholden to outsiders, and deviate from the ultimate vision of creating unparalleled skincare that didn’t exist.

When I was in college, there were multiple nights when I called my mom at 3AM, absolutely hopeless at what I was going to do about my skin. Even the lady who worked at the cafeteria told me that I needed to do something about my skin. When I was beginning my career, I was told that my skin would keep me from advancement opportunities. That led me to getting on Accutane multiple times, which was extraordinarily damaging and did more harm than good. 

I know firsthand the hope we put into skincare, and the way a beautiful product not only transforms the skin, but also our self-image and how we move through the world. On a very personal level, if I were to leave the industry, I can’t say there is a line that makes anything I’d be compelled to use. With all my experiences at YÜLI and in the industry as a whole, I still had so many ideas and things I wanted to do; I just wasn’t done.

When we decided to close the YÜLI chapter, I thought about what the next chapter meant and what the metamorphosis would look like. The raw DNA of YÜLI is still in everything we do, simply because I had my hand in everything at YÜLI, but I also thought about what I wanted to say and knew I wanted Gentlerist to be my forever home. From there, everything became about time. I wanted to make products that withstood time and offered a sustainable solution to the frivolous nature of trends, I wanted the messaging to move past buzzwords, and more so, I wanted to build a space for the big picture of radical self-care, which I feel is centered on the idea being gentle toward oneself. All self-care is rooted in the idea of being gentle toward oneself.

At the same time, I was looking at the industry, and what I noticed was an increasing disconnect. We spend more time on the rhetoric with terms like “clean” or “anti-aging,” picking them (and each other) apart, rather than focusing on good product. I had many conversations with aestheticians in Paris and London who would say only American and Russian clients would ask for the strong acids and retinols because their media trains them to believe they need to “tackle” and “tame” their skin so they think that feeling pain means something is working.

I feel we’re in a collective fatigue, and the way forward is to take a step back and see the big picture, toward a gentler future. Gentlerist is both an antidote to our modern trend-driven culture, and a re-centering on the importance of skincare in the broader context of our self-care, which is so lacking right now. I want to put this energy into the world that every time someone picks up a bottle from Gentlerist and experiences the magic inside, it instills in them the reminder to practice gentleness as they move through the world. I feel strongly in this as the overarching message for now and the future.

 

Dara: We love that philosophy. We're also thrilled to see that some of our favorite YÜLI formulas have come back, with a few improvements! Can you tell us what your goal was with the formula changes for each of the products?

EDDIE: We know there is much love for the products, so of course we wanted to honor that connection by bringing them back, and providing reassurance that they live on. However, the formulas hadn’t been updated in over a decade, which is virtually unheard of in this industry. There were things I had wanted to improve for a long time, primarily modernizing the formulas with new technologies and possibilities. We also had over a decade of customer feedback that I wanted to incorporate to make the products the dream product. The point was to take the things that worked, addressing the areas for improvement, with the years of feedback to fine-tune the imperfections. We did this while retaining the character of the original that made people fall in love in the first place, so it’s still familiar.

- Halcyon: I know some customers loved the Halcyon Rose limited edition, while some were diehards for the original version. This combines the best parts of both, because I wanted this to be a love letter to the customers who stuck with us. We addressed perhaps the biggest complaint, which was that the original formula was too runny. It’s now a beautiful true gel emulsion thanks to rose mucilage tissue, and bamboo-derived cellulose. If you look at the ingredients list, you’ll see a lot more advanced ingredients like multiple plant peptides, as well as a higher concentration of actives. Basically, I call it a study of serum-as-a-cleanser, and the fulfillment of my vision of the ultimate high-tech cleansing botanical gel emulsion.

- Cocoon Dew: Contrary to the name, this actually isn’t an update to Cocoon Elixir. The concept is a face mist that takes the best parts of all of our elixirs to form a super-elixir. As we were making it, we really explored the idea of what the perfect face mist is, because I don’t think anyone’s really cracked that code. Cocoon Dew though, is the realization of that. It’s a deeply hydrating juice, loaded with biomimetic humectants that work better than anything else for skin hydration, concentrated with probiotics that optimize the skin microbiome and barrier function, and topped with our minerals complex of true bioavailable, clinical skin-beautifying minerals like magnesium, copper, selenium, zinc, and calcium, all vital for healthy skin. I feel like face mists are still seen by many as non-essential, and basically, we reinvented the category here to change that perception.

- Ambrosia Beauty Nectar: We didn’t want to touch this one too much because it’s already so well loved. It was also our last product, so the formula is much more recent, and there wasn’t too much I wanted to change. I did listen to customer feedback, and although most people loved it, there were some who felt the old formula felt nonexistent and disappeared too quickly. The solution was to broaden the hyaluronic acid complex further to hydrate the surface layers more fully. You’ll feel more moisturization from this deep hydration serum. We also better supported our pharmaceutical antioxidant complex with the inclusion of superoxide dismutase, which is a bioidentical skin enzyme antioxidant. In addition to its skin benefits, it has a ‘booster’ effect on the other antioxidants as well.

- Gold Drops: Similar to our face mist, I went back to square one here — with endless iterations of face oils, what would the ultimate face oil look like? I didn’t have to look too far since that was our wheelhouse at YÜLI. I streamlined our oils into Gold Drops, taking the skin optimizing multivitamin cocktail nature of M.E. Skin Fuel, with the high-ORAC value antioxidant powerhouse benefits of Liquid Courage, and combined it with the skin rejuvenating and structural support of Modern Alchemist. From there, I again, looked conceptually at over a decade of experience in this industry, to figure out what the perfect face oil should do. The base contains incredible carrier oils, but made in a specific ratio to replicate the skin’s natural lipid composition for ultimate synergy. It’s going to absorb quickly, deeply, and fully, more than other oils you’ve likely experienced. We also made sure this oil contained best-in-class actives yet suitable for daily use as a foundational product. So instead of Vitamin C, we have Astaxanthin, instead of retinol - Bakuchiol. The idea is to pack really impactful and clinical ingredients that are also well tolerated for the skin to function well as a daily product.

 

Dara: Thank you for going into that detail — I’m sure it will be really helpful for your original fans. What else would you like everyone to know about Gentlerist right now?

EDDIE: First and foremost, I want to thank the community for coming along for the next chapter, it truly means a lot to me. As someone who has been empowered by the transformative nature of these products, I don’t take the relationship one develops with their favorite products lightly.

Right now, we’ve just launched what I call the ‘core four,’ an incredibly streamlined, ultra-high performance, multi-beneficial ritual that’s meant to be foundational pieces in the skincare ritual. A lot of people were concerned that they didn’t see favorites like Liquid Courage, Cell Perfecto PM, or Pure Mask return, but I can confirm we’re working on them too. I’m really excited about where we’re going with these products. There are also new products and categories that I’m excited to share. I’ve always envisioned Gentlerist, with its focus on radical self-care, as being skincare-forward, yet expanding the conversation.

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