Real Talk: How 5 Natural Beauty Gurus Care for Their Skin
Courtesy of Amanda Chantal Bacon
There’s a rule of thumb among beauty editors when it comes to skincare: The best advertisement for a product, treatment, or regimen is often the person selling it. It goes both ways, too—whenever we meet anyone with a positively radiant complexion, we’re already sold and want to know every last detail of her routine.
These five industry pros are a testament to that strategy—and to the effectiveness of a holistic, natural approach to beauty. It’s no coincidence that they all consider a healthy, nourishing diet and a balanced lifestyle as central to their skincare regimens as the plant-based products they use, and that they have been able to build thriving businesses around these ideologies. And in our eyes, they’re the proof that it works. (That is, until we personally adopt what they preach and see more evidence in the mirror.)
So with this in mind, we asked these success stories to tell us everything that goes into their glowing skin, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. From oil-pulling to magical oils to one woman’s three-product regimen, keep reading for a wealth of natural beauty inspiration.
As the founder of L.A.’s most celestial health food destination, Moon Juice, Amanda Chantal Bacon has an approach to beauty that some might view as unconventional. But considering the fact that her complexion is just radiant, we’ll seriously have whatever she’s having—lesser-known superfoods, beauty dusts, and all.
Bacon’s strategy is to nourish herself from the inside out, and then “polish the surface,” she says. “My beauty regimen starts with a diet that is based on organic plant material high in enzymes, minerals, and more than 60% raw plant fat. “It’s spiked with adaptogens, probiotics, proteins, and amino acids that come from delicious foods.”
On the outside, she keeps it simple: In addition to a bar soap made of mud from the Dead Sea, she moisturizes and treats her skin with products that she developed in collaboration with (Byrdie-loved) natural serum brand Odacité, called Clare de Lune ($85). “I start with the aloe and rose mist followed by a few drops of pressed French carrot seed oil to deeply nourish and deliver an all-day glow,” she says. “I do this as skin food and instead of makeup.”
Of course, skincare goes beyond the face. “Every week or so, I do a sesame oil treatment on my scalp and hair and wrap it in a towel for an hour,” she says. “You can also go out in the sun to intensify the effects. I also dry-brush my body every day before getting in the shower, since it stimulates the lymphatic system, keeps blood flowing, and helps prevent cellulite. Always brush up toward the heart center.”
Finally, she relies on a homemade exfoliant to keep her skin smooth and soft, by harvesting the pulp from an almond milk recipe.
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Vintner’s Daughter, the cult-loved face oil that beauty editors can’t stop raving about, was designed to tackle a ton of skin issues in one go—which is why it’s understandable that the serum’s creator, April Gargiulo, doesn’t rely on much else in her routine. “Products are just one way to address skincare,” she says. For her, that’s just a cream cleanser, an acid-based toner, and the occasional dose of hyaluronic acid serum. “Together, these steps create pH balance and prepare your skin to receive all of the Active Botanical Serum’s ($185) skin-beautifying goodness.
Aside from that, she maintains her glow by keeping her lifestyle in balance. “Sleep, physical activity, spiritual practice, and diet are just as important,” she says. “For summer, I love making apple cider vinegar drinks: Two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a splash of pomegranate juice, and Pellegrino to top of glass. Maybe a sprig of mint from the garden to make it pretty. This provides excellent skin and whole-body nutrition, and tastes delicious!”
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As the founder of Ayla, San Francisco’s one-stop shop for all things natural beauty, Dara Kennedy has an encyclopedic knowledge of the latest and greatest products—and it comes as no surprise that many of them find their way into her daily regimen. For her face, she swears by BioRecept’s Mousse de Peau ($33), along with Luzern’s Firming Collagen Booster ($140), Vintner’s Daughter ($185), Suntegrity’s BB Cream ($45), and Bottega Organica’s Eye Illuminate ($145) in the morning, before swiping on Axiology’s vegan Lipstick in Reflection ($28). (Don’t be fooled by the bright purple shade—this tube leaves behind a gorgeous, buildable berry stain.) At night, she uses Laxmi’s Almond Oil ($15), Luzern’s Force de Vie Creme Nuit ($175), and Pommade Divine ($35) on her lips before bed.
But while products are central to Kennedy’s routine, they’re not the be-all and end-all. “I’m gluten-free with a focus on vegetables, fruit, and protein—lots of bone broth,” she says. “I’m trying very, very hard to eat less sugar.” She also loves starting and ending the day with meditation and takes daily walks in San Francisco’s Presidio.
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When we spoke to her about her beauty routine last fall, we were blown away by Jessica Richards’s under-the-radar, often internationally sourced product picks—although perhaps we shouldn’t have been so surprised, since the expertly curated selection of natural-minded products at Shen Beauty has made it a can’t-miss destination since Richards opened the storefront in 2010.
But while there’s lots to peruse at Shen, Richards relies on a handful of MVP products at home. “In the morning, I start by splashing lukewarm water on my face,” she says. “I then use Nuori vitamin C ($129)—I love it because it is so concentrated, and it’s the only product I have found that has brightened my skin noticeably after the first use.”
Next up is oil or serum. “I go back and forth between Leland Francis’s Face Oil ($98), May Lindstrom’s Blue Cocoon ($160), Aurelia’s Night Oil ($82) (which I use for day—I love the smell), Pai’s Rosehip Seed Oil ($42), and anything else that I may be trying,” she adds. “Then I add a super-rich cream. I love the new Goop by Juice Beauty night cream ($140) because it’s so thick. I have super-dry skin, so adding hydration and brightening are my main focus.” She says she never walks out the door without a layer of Elta MD’s UV Clear SPF ($29).
Her diet plays a role too. (Are you sensing a theme here?) “This is not to say that I don’t binge and have fries with my kids, but I have recently cut out meat,” she says. “I also try to drink as much water—I was once told that I need to drink my weight in ounces, so that’s what I shoot for. I drink as many green juices as possible and lots of veggies. I also do SoulCycle two to three times a week, not only to sweat out toxins and keep in shape, but for mental clarity. It helps me to stay centered; that 45 minutes is solely about me and no one else.”
As for her favorite unsung beauty tip? “Laugh,” she says.
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Meredith Baird’s luscious Nucifera Balm ($37) might be fresh on the market, but it has quickly and deservedly become a Byrdie favorite already. Crafted with an ultra-nourishing, skin-perfecting blend of plant oils (including coconut, avocado, moringa, borage, and mango), it’s a multitasking salve we’ll put anywhere, from our dry elbows to our flaky cheeks to our split ends. (And we haven’t even mentioned the heavenly scent, which includes notes of lavender, sandalwood, palo santo, and patchouli.)
Needless to say, oils are the backbone of Baird’s very simple routine. “I start off the day with oil pulling,” she says. “I do this almost as soon as I roll out of bed because if I wait too long, it doesn’t happen. I’ll just use coconut oil, or an oil-pulling formula that I’m making as part of my skincare line. It’s a mixture of charcoal, peppermint, and other essential oils that feel and taste amazing—it’ll be released later this summer. I find that this 10 to 20 minutes of silence is also nice and meditative. I’ll oil-pull while I make the bed, feed the cat, and just do the random little morning chores.”
Before showering (“if I’m showering), Baird uses a dry brush for five to 10 minutes. “It’s especially important this time of year to tone your skin for summer, and brush off any excessive dryness from the winter,” she says. “I’ll then take a really quick shower that starts warm but ends freezing cold. Rinsing with cold water is a huge game-changer for your skin. It’s so nice in the morning because it really wakes you up, boosts circulation, and gets you going—I love it.”
Whether she’s showered or not, Baird then slathers herself in Nucifera’s Balm, after warming it in her hands first. “I do Abhyanga, the Ayurvedic practice of self-massage with oil,” she says. “I have very dry skin, and this ritual is crucial to tone and moisturize. It’s much different than just slapping lotion on and going out the door, but really doesn’t take that much longer. I always make sure to massage my face, neck, and chest as this really helps boost collagen and reduce signs of aging. It is such a great way of really checking in with yourself and your body, especially if you don’t have time to do yoga or workout that day—it just kind of helps everything get into flow.”
Her last step before coffee—“an Americano blended with coconut oil and collagen”—is a glass of room-temperature water with lemon. “I don’t ever skip it,” she says. “It’s such an amazing ritual to add in: hydrating, detoxifying, and alkalizing to help break the fast of a full night’s sleep.”
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Feeling inspired? Read our foolproof guide on transitioning to a natural skincare routine.