How To Practice Natural Skincare

We like skincare done the natural way, and we also like to celebrate sisters on National Sibling Day. That’s why we hung out with the adorable Chantecaille sisters – Alex and Olivia – for a little P & P: Product and pressed juices. Foundation, foods they love and hate, and French fare…it’s all here for your Friday. Sorry, we’re feeling the alliteration thing this morning…

From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?

Alex: Cottage cheese with honey and berries – so 1982 of me – but I recently discovered this at a place in Greenwich Village near me and it’s delicious; I feel so virtuous eating it! Im sure it’s a ton of calories but think of all that calcium. Then French Press coffee with a dash of sugar. For lunch, zucchini soup, avocado toast with Maldon Salt and a squeeze of lemon, a mache or baby greens salad from the Union Square Market with lemon and great quality olive oil with sliced radishes. A couple of tangerines or clementines as a snack. Pre-dinner – this of course means I’m on vacation or just live in France – brebis cheese, a few slices of saucisson, green butter olives, and lambrusco. For dinner, lightly cooked greens with tofu in a ginger/soy sauce, and a glass of chablis or a Negro Modelo.

Olivia: I like to begin the morning with English breakfast tea with raw honey, then a fruit smoothie or Greek yogurt with fresh jam from Beth’s Farm and fresh fruit like papaya and berries. If I don’t have a lot of time, I love the smoothies from Siggy’s on Elizabeth Street. They have one with raw almond butter and fruit that is amazing. If I feel a lull mid-morning, I may grab a green juice from the Juice Press. Lunch in the winter has to be warm food for me. My favorite is the zucchini soup from Bottega Falai, a delicious Italian panini shop near my office on Lafayette. If my sister said the same thing, then you know we are related! With that, I love a mix of root vegetables and grains or a fresh salad with avocado and parmesan. After, I could have a chai tea or a decaf latte with a piece of dark chocolate. For dinner, I prefer eating fresh, seasonal vegetables with grains or sustainable fish like black cod. I’m obsessed with butternut squash; I think my skin might turn orange. Finally, I’m not afraid of a little dessert. My favorite is a flourless chocolate cake with ice cream. It never fails to make me happy!

How do you practice beauty from the inside out?

Alex: I try to sweat it out a few times a week, either with yoga, the elliptical and weights, or under water in the pool. I get as much sleep as possible, and I constantly have a glass of water by my side. I think good thoughts; it sounds cheesy, but if you’re always stressed and unhappy it shows on your face. Plus, people around you can feel it and a cranky person is not very beautiful.

Olivia: I try to begin my day with a glass of water with lemon to alkalize my system. I’m not a chia seed and flax kind of girl, probably because I’m too French. I love to eat fresh fruit and vegetables and drink coconut water and aloe water. My favorite coconut water is Nirvana; it tastes clean and fresh and it’s made of all natural ingredients. Also, I take a lot of vitamins, especially antioxidants and vitamin D and fortunately I prefer water to wine. I try to drink a lot of water. I just got an incredible water purifier, Aquaovo, so I can avoid plastic bottles and harmful phthalates.

How does your beauty routine differ from your sister’s?

Alex: She doesn’t drink! And I eat steak. She also shuns all sun, whereas I love it but wear a lot of SPF and hats.

Olivia: We have different skin so we use different products. I love our Future Skin gel foundation and she uses our Just Skin tinted moisturizer. At night, I am busy putting my baby to bed and finishing emails, so I cut corners and end up using sleep-in face masks. It’s wonderful; I wake up looking like magic elves gave me a facial while I was sleeping. My sister takes a bath with her mask on.

A beauty tip you’ve taken from your sister you now love…

Alex: Wash your face in the morning too. Of course I always wash it at night, but never thought this was necessary first thing. Now I feel like I’m extra clean in the morning and ready to absorb the skincare that much better.

Olivia: Believe it or not, my sister actually taught me how to tweeze my eyebrows. I am blessed with thick brows but they definitely needed some grooming while I was a teen. Alex was quick to the rescue! She’s an expert brow-shaper.

Do you cook together? What do you like to cook?

Alex: Not often unless we’re making something for her daughter Delphina together – but I’d like to more. We used to bake a lot as kids, especially on rainy summer weekends. I cook for myself (and my dog!) at home in New York. I make a bowl for her and a plate for me! A lot of freshly seared chicken – the trick is to add a healthy pat of butter to the oil to get a great seared crust – with sautéed greens (like a spinach) and carrots or zucchini with a touch of water and butter, and a whole grain like a quinoa or brown rice. We’re French. Our secret weapon is butter!

Olivia: We have fun cooking together when we are at the beach at my parent’s home. We all gather in the kitchen with music, the dog, and my baby and everyone contributes. It feels like more of a party than a chore. We typically cook fish in the oven with local vegetables such as zucchini, butternut squash and carrots. My mother can also make the most amazing cheese soufflé. She whips it up in no time and it has the perfect golden top. I still need to master that recipe!

Food your sister hated as a kid that you loved…

Alex: The truth is, she is always right. I fought it for a while, but I too dislike red and green peppers! Tough when you’re force-fed ratatouille as a child in a French household. I eat burgers and she won’t touch them. This affords a special bond between her husband and I, who can discuss the finer points of medium to medium rare, cheese variety, and the pure pleasure derived from a mayonnaise/ketchup/Dijon mélange…

Olivia: Pretty much anything, as my sister went through a phase of only eating bread and butter sandwiches, which had my parents very worried. I thought it was funny. But of course it passed and now she has a very varied palette.

Where do you travel for inspiration and what won’t you travel without?

Alex: I love wherever I can be outdoors, to hike, swim, surf, and scuba ideally. So that can be Bali or Big Sur. I am actually kind of obsessed with the Pacific Northwest/Northern California. I find our Rosewater and Lip Potion are no longer luxuries but essentials. And a bathing suit – you never know if there’s a great pool in your hotel!

Olivia: I want to go everywhere as long as I can sleep in a comfortable bed at the end of the day. I get ideas for new products and colors from anywhere and everywhere. I sound more adventurous than I really am. I love warm tropical places at heart, from the Maldives to St Barths where I was married. If I didn’t dislike flying so much I would be traveling all of the time. I love studying how people live in different cities from Rome to Hong Kong. I can’t travel without my Jasmine and Lily Healing Emulsion made to keep my skin hydrated and balanced, my Pure Rosewater that I spray constantly, a cashmere wrap from Brunello Cucinelli, and a good probiotic to help my system adapt to different countries.

How do you divide and conquer in terms of work?

Alex: It’s simple. Olivia (along with our Mom) makes it and I sell it. That’s a bit simplistic but that is basically the division of our roles. I head up sales and they’re the creative part of the team.

Olivia: I create the products with my mother and oversee public relations, social media and advertising. My sister oversees all the domestic sales and promotions. We work together but never step on each other’s toes. It’s fun and a great balance. I truly feel blessed to work with my family every day.

How are your personal styles different? How are they similar? 

Alex: I think they’re different when we take risks. I will try lots of different styles; I literally can have a different look going every day of the week whereas Olivia has a work uniform – leggings, boots, a silk shirt, and a thick cardigan (for winter). I also have massive fails and Olivia seems to never teeter. She must have a better mirror than me at home! We’re both rather classic and like good jewelry – although Olivia’s jewelry collection is on a considerably different level than mine (she’s married after all!). We both appreciate gorgeous but non-flashy pieces.

Olivia: My sister is more creative with her outfits and plays with color more than I do. She is a bit more adventurous and tries new trends. Now that I have a baby, I don’t have as much time to play in my closet. I have a uniform that works for me to look pulled together for work and then allows me to get down on the ground at the end of the day to play with my daughter. In the winter, I love leather leggings with Derek Lam blouses, Brunello Cucinelli sweaters and Gianvito Rossi boots. During the summer, I live in Giambattista Valli, Peter Pilotto and Stella McCartney dresses paired with Lanvin flats. I think our styles meld when we go on a beach vacation. We both love colorful bikinis and fun, bright beach dresses and sarongs. I love Eres for bikinis, and beach dresses from Thakoon and Poupette in St Barth.

Advice to women applying makeup in the morning…

Alex: Wear some – you can’t wear none! But not so much. Thats easy to follow, right?! Finding your correct foundation shade is one of perhaps the biggest challenges, but if you get it right it will set you free in the sense that your foundation will be (practically) imperceptible and you will just look like a better, smoother and less-red version of yourself. Bronzer cannot replace blush. Blush is meant to represent natural blood flow (think pinching your cheeks to bring a healthy flush to your face). You can live without sun, but you can’t live without blood. So don’t skip the blush and only apply bronzer – it will look odd and unnatural.

Olivia: The most important thing is good lighting, that way you can see the true color of your skin and makeup. You want it to match perfectly so that it disappears. It’s very important that it’s all blended in – no streaks along the jawline. If you wear eye makeup, then I suggest putting on your foundation after in case any powder drops onto your face. I like to begin the day with light makeup and then I can add more during the day if needed. If I’m going out at night, I will apply mascara and a bolder lip.

What are you favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?

Alex: I constantly keep a list of restaurants I must go to throughout the world – especially in the U.S. as I travel a lot for work.

In San Francisco, Zuni Café is a classic for the healthy food movement, and I love the Embarcadero Farmer’s Market. There is a great little place called Bio, run by this beautiful Tunisian woman who makes the best vegan food, crepes, homemade kombucha and pressed watermelon juice. I am always hoping she’ll open an outpost in NYC!

In Austin, Uchi has insane sushi. Skip the BBQ in this city.

In Paris, I really like the chill cafés in the Marais. There is nothing better than a Chevre Chaud Salad in Paris and Chinese food – it’s somehow better there. I don’t love fancy restaurants in Paris; I think because the basic food is just so good, and reminds me of how my aunts and grandmothers cook.

I’m dying to go to Nashville for Jonathan Waxman’s Adele’s and Rolf and Daughters.

In Charleston, I love FIG, The Ordinary and Husk. You could roll out of Charleston easily. I once organized a girl’s weekend there purely based on food I wanted to eat!

And I would do a 24-hour trip to L.A. just to go to Alma in Downtown.

In Seattle, The Walrus and the Carpenter and How To Cook A wolf. These are also beautifully designed restaurants. I wish I could work in one of these just to be able to spend more time in their setting. Seattle’s peaches are insane in the summer. I bring them home fresh from local farmer’s markets on the plane with me.

And Vancouver for the oysters, fresh produce and fish at Yew.

Olivia: My favorite city for food is Sydney, Australia. It’s everything I love. The food is fresh, creatively prepared and healthy. They focus on sustainable seafood which is very important to me. A few wonderful spots are Catalina Rose Bay, Boathouse Balmoral and Nomad. Also a great breakfast spot in Bondi is Porch and Parlour.

What are you coveting right now?

Alex: I’m thinking about oysters and butter right now! I’m really into beautiful and functional bottle openers…I just got my dad a brass one from Fort Standard that I wish was mine. I also found a great gold one from Umbra Shift that reminds me of a Robert Lee Morris cuff. And I am desperate for a humungous banana tree for my apartment. I want to live in a jungle. I’m also really into Stella McCartney lingerie. It’s amazingly well made, super chic, and sexy. It’s true what they say about wearing good underpinnings: They keep you well-pinned!

Olivia: A quick romantic getaway with my husband is on my list. We would love a beach getaway or somewhere sunny. Hermitage Bay in Antigua or Amangiri in Southern Utah would be dream escapes. But honestly a night at The Mark would be heaven as well!

I love jewelry. I love to discover new brands or jewelry stores. I love bracelets and rings because they are easy to put on when I’m running out the door, but a great necklace can dress up any outfit and brighten my face. A few of my favorite places to look at jewelry are Barneys, Ted Muehling, De Vera and Broken English.

One item you’d like to steal from your sister’s wardrobe…

Alex: Just one? Her party dresses. She has a wildly beautiful and girly collection of Valentino lace dresses and Alaïa cut-out dresses that give you the best shape! Those – I want those in the will.

Olivia: My sister has some beautiful, delicate earrings that I could happily wear! Don’t tell her…

In the same vein as what is the new black in fashion, what’s ‘the new potato’ in beauty? 

Alex: Naturals, but that’s not new for Chantecaille. It’s what we’ve based our company on: Formulas with the highest concentration of botanicals and naturals. Customers want to know what they’re putting on their face – just like they want to know what they’re cleaning their house and body with and what they’re eating. I think our bodies crave natural aromas and ingredients. We respond better to them, and they’re easier to absorb. Much like food!

Olivia: For us, it’s plant stem cells. Our line is based on the power of plants and science to treat the skin in the most potent and safe way possible. Plant stem cells work the most harmoniously with our own cells; they can work on a deep cellular level, creating true change without causing any irritation. It’s very exciting to see what we can achieve today compared to when I first started in the business.

*Alex and Olivia Chantecaille, photographed at Claudette in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann. Get the recipe for their Cheese Soufflé here.