Meet Mara. You’ll Be Glad You Did
When you get to know Allison McNamara, founder of Mara beauty, you will quickly realize that she’s not your ordinary digital beauty influencer.
It’s not often that one meets a young woman who is wise beyond her years, and I am delightfully in awe of what the future may hold for her—a future that she will create for herself with pure stamina and passion. You very well may be following Allison McNamara on Instagram, with a cool following of 45.4K and counting (if you’re not, you should be). She’s a classically redheaded beauty of Irish descent, and “Mara” is derived from her family name.
McNamara is maybe 30 years old (though she looks 23 at the most) and has accomplished quite a bit already. She was a TV personality for a decade, first hosting fashion segments for Fabsugar TV (now known as PopSugar) for six years, but then—given her passion for beauty— moving on to Refinery 29 as their beauty host, where she launched highly beauty-driven platforms such as “Skin Deep.”
But being a TV host came with a price. Heavy on-camera makeup every day can wreak havoc on one’s skin, and that was the case for McNamara. She continually battled breakouts and realized how badly she reacted to synthetic ingredients like silicone, which was quite damaging to her skin. This alone inspired her to move into clean-skin-care space and launch Mara, a natural, non-toxic line of algae-based beauty oils powered by the sea, moringa oil, and plant-rich nutrients. “Beauty was always a part of my life, a part of my identity,” says McNamara. “Whenever I create my vision boards, which I put together beginning of every year in January, beauty is always a big part of it.”
Her very first product, Algae + Moringa Universal Face Oil, took three years to perfect. It became available for consumers precisely a year ago, and in just a few months it developed a cult following through Credo Beauty and even reached international grounds via Cult Beauty (the Sephora of the U.K.) a little later the same year.
After much research and development in the clean-beauty space, McNamara developed proprietary ingredients such as Algae and her favorite component, Moringa oil (known for healing wounds), which is non-comedogenic, easily tolerated (even by oily skin), and balances out oil content naturally. “Did you know that moringa tree is known as the ‘tree for life?’” McNamara asks. “[Arborists] say this tree itself can help solve world hunger, as it needs little to no water to grow, and I source my Moringa oil from Africa and Nicaragua, where it’s sustainable and ethically sourced from fair-trade co-ops. Therefore, it helps to support the planting of more trees through Trees for Life Organization.” McNamara is also a big believer of what this hero ingredient—which is found mostly in nature, with 92 nutrients and 46 antioxidants, to boot, and is housed in a beautiful Aegean Sea–inspired glass bottle—can do for the skin.
Yes, it helps that her father’s career, for most of his life, was in skin care, with big household-name products, from skin-care to makeup, but don’t let that get in the way of McNamara’s starting Mara beauty all by herself. Dad may give a little guidance here and there, and serve as an excellent sounding board, but she is proudly in charge of her own destiny. McNamara is also entirely self-funded, with her latest product, Algae Retinol Face Oil, in hand, along with three more products in the pipeline and set to launch this year. Algae Retinol Face Oil is composed of algae, retinol, and natural sources of vitamin A. She calls it the “vitamin-rich superhero serum,” for its fast turnover, and one can #SeaTheGlow a lot sooner than later. And yes, for the record, all her products are vegan and free of cruelty, gluten, and alcohol and it is made without synthetic fragrances, parabens, phthalates, PEGs, or silicones, that is certified by Leaping Bunny Seal.
McNamara is busy, and she is still very much a one-woman show. While diligently working on her natural-skin-care line, she’s also the editorial director of Mane Addicts, a digital style destination created by the famed hairstylist Jen Atkin, the founder of the runaway hit haircare and styling line, Ouai. But, remember this name—Allison McNamara of Mara beauty—because she is indeed the one to watch.