I’m sorry to tell you that in person, Amanda Chantal Bacon’s skin looks even better than you might expect. I met the proprietress of the Moon Juice empire on a May morning when she was radiating, as the cliché goes, good health. Her skin looked firm but toned, and the whites of her eyes shined like wedding gown under the lights at Kleinfeld.
Chalk it all up to a mixture of genetics, diet (including a regimented food plan full of adaptogens and activated cashews), and the brand’s new skin-care line. The Cut talked to Chantal Bacon about “clean” acids, why she’s always been turned off by the beauty industry, and how she thinks about getting older.
Why go into skin care now?
So many people have asked us to do skin care over the years, but I never wanted to. It’s partially because I wasn’t using anything myself. I just vainly thought that a bar of soap and some oil here and there was all I was ever going to need. Bless that part of me. Really, a clean diet helped a lot — I wasn’t eating sugar or drinking, which contributed to my skin staying nice and healthy and happy on its own.
Then I hit my mid-30s and started to notice changes in my skin. I wasn’t panicked about it, but I thought if there was any skin care that did work, this might be the time to see. Plus, more than anything, skin is an organ. I’m so in tune with the rest of my body. To see my skin looking so exhausted, it was like, Whoa. Time to step in and do something to help it out.
I asked all the beauty people I know about the one thing they thought that made a difference. Almost everyone said P50. I tried it. It was god-awful. I mean there are some ingredients in it that are outlawed! But I did use it for a week to get the experience — I was strong and healthy enough — and my skin looked a lot better, which made me realize that skin care does work. There are acids that do incredible, shrinking, energizing things to your face, so I just had to figure out how to make that clean. Our Plumping Jelly Serum is made with silver ear mushrooms, reishi, and hyaluronic acid.
How do you make a “clean” version of a chemical exfoliant like P50? What things did you put in it and what did you take out?
We call ours the Exfoliating Acid Potion, which will be available mid-August. It’s a potent AHA and BHA five-acid complex featuring glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids, as well as vitamin B3, reishi, and tocotrienols. It took a long time to get the acid portion to a place where the efficacy felt high enough. Bless our formulator, I’m the most difficult person he’s ever encountered.
I wasn’t afraid of using science and technology. But it is about being fully safe — safe enough that I would use it on my body if I were to be pregnant. Most of it is “naturally” derived. There is one version of acid which is made by science, but it’s safe.
There are some people who don’t believe in skin care. You were one of them, until you found proof that it worked. Where did that skepticism come from?
There was a part of me that felt a little rebellious about skin care in general. Starting from when I was reading Seventeen, the traditional beauty industry never resonated with me. I didn’t like being told I should wear foundation, so I didn’t. (I should also admit that I didn’t have acne.) I felt that it was fear-based. The norm was to identify an issue that could be turned into fear for women and then offer a solution. That set up that vibration being projected to me as a teenager, and I was like No, thank you. That is not my world.
The only thing I used P50 for was to enlighten myself. I found out that there is skin care out there that can dramatically change your skin’s texture. Initially, I didn’t even believe in that. I know you could get facial lasers and do more aggressive things, but I just didn’t believe in things you could do at home. I’m sure I sound like people who don’t believe in supplements or ingestibles who have to have their own experience. I was in that realm — I needed to have an experience that worked. I never thought of acid as being something that could hydrate your skin, retexturize, shrink pores, and plump skin. That really set me on my way to sit with a formulator.
Wellness has been a growing trend in the past few years. Does it surprise you that people finally seem to understand now that what you put into your body has an effect on beauty?
I have to say, Moon Juice has been on this path. I opened a little juice shop in Venice seven years ago. I assumed that the clientele would be mostly freaky healthy people and some normal people. But from the beginning, it’s always been the beauty industry and beauty editors who were interested. I remember editors from Elle calling the second week it opened.
What was funnier was meeting with beauty editors year after year who were asking about Moon Juice, adaptogens, dust, and what was in my beauty routine. And they kept asking me, “What are you using?” I was like, Don’t ask me, you would know more than I would! And they were always the people who were like, Why don’t you make something? It makes sense. Maybe I was deaf, dumb, and blind the whole time.
People (including us) like to poke fun of Moon Juice and what we perceive to be its intensity. How do you react to it all?
Ha! All fair game. My feelings don’t get hurt and it exposes our message to larger and larger groups.
You said that part of the impetus for this was coming into your mid-30s. Aging is a core driver for the beauty industry. How do you think about it?
I’m not into putting things out there in a way that makes people feel bad about themselves. Certainly, as a woman, we’re all aging. I don’t want to hear about how to stop aging. The answer to that is that you stop living. That is the only way to anti-age. Typical talk about anti-aging shuts people down and makes them feel sad about what is happening. The world does not need any more of that.
There is way to take pride in taking care of yourself and care for your skin. I can take care of my thyroid, my brain, and my adrenals. There isn’t a lot of that fear and shame in taking care of those. At the heart of it, we’re trying to bring vitality and enhance their functionality. There isn’t propaganda shoved down our throats like, Your liver is getting old, it means you’re undesirable; no one is going to think you’re sexy with that old liver! Have good healthy conversation about your skin as an organ.
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