On May 29, 2015, Elle.com published a piece on Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon for its series “The Balance.” The idea behind the series was to spotlight influential women across industries to see what their food and fitness routine looked like. Sounds innocent enough, right?
Usually, yes. But Bacon’s wellness-soaked food diary struck a chord with the Internet, and not in a good way. According to readers, Bacon’s daily diet of vanilla mushroom protein, maca, bee pollen, activated cashews and micro cilantro wasn’t just obnoxious — it was totally inaccessible, costing way more money than the average person can afford to spend on food.
And yet, Moon Juice has prevailed. If you head to the company’s online store, you’ll find a variety of attractively packaged products, but perhaps the most famous are the Moon Dusts: Beauty dust, brain dust, spirit dust, sex dust, the list goes on. These tiny jars of adaptogens — or blends of herbs meant to help with specific ailments in the body — go for $38 a pop, or you can buy a six-pack for $190.
These “dusts” are potent, powdery substances that can be mixed into water, tea or your morning smoothie, and depending on which one you choose, it will supposedly sharpen your brain, improve your sex drive, etc.
So, how did these mighty adaptogenic blends survive the Internet storm spurred by that 2015 Elle profile — or did they?
Amanda Chantal Bacon is doing just fine, thank you very much.
Not only did that profile not kill Bacon, it made her stronger.
“There were key takeaways from the response [to the Elle profile],” Bacon told HuffPost. “The first was a reminder of how important it is to stay grounded in one’s self despite outside critique, whether positive or negative. Self-referral is stability. “
She also said that in putting herself out there, she knew she was opening herself up to both positive and negative feedback — but that negative feedback didn’t shake how she felt about herself.
“By remaining connected to my inner self, I felt safe enough to hear the inquiry in the negative response,” she said. “It’s been valuable to take these learnings and incorporate them into our expansion rather than not hear any of it because they were posed as personal attacks.”
Oh, and that Elle profile led to more Moon Juice money, by the way. “It definitely triggered a spike in sales that hasn’t dipped,” Bacon said.
But how are Moon Juice sales doing these days?
Goop was one of the original online shops that carried Moon Juice products, but of course the website is famous for carrying many controversial products (looking at you, Jade Egg). These days, the Goop shop no longer sells Moon Juice adaptogens (it does carry the Moon Juice cookbook, though).
It’s unclear why this is, but it could have something to do with actress Gwyneth Paltrow getting in a bit of trouble for the not-backed-by-science advertising she was doing for Moon Juice.
Whatever the case, Bacon said Moon Juice is sold in over 500 shops as of 2019, including Sephora, Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters. It’s also expanded its product offerings quite a bit, moving into the skincare space.
“In the past two years, our sales growth has been exponential,” Bacon said. “Over 50% of the business is direct-to-consumer, and our stores are seeing double-digit comp growth. We have a lot of exciting innovation coming up that we can’t wait to launch.”
When asked to provide specific sales figures, Bacon said, “We can’t share any sales numbers or company value at this time.”
Desiree Gruber, CEO of Full Picture and co-founder of DGNL ventures, is one of Bacon’s investors — and she was drawn to her from the beginning.
“As an investor and a lifelong health and wellness enthusiast, it’s amazing to see the sector booming,” she told HuffPost. “I knew Amanda was a special entrepreneur, and Moon Juice a unique proposition, the first time I met her and used the products. Having watched her grow and evolve the brand, especially into skincare, has made me an even stronger believer in her vision.”
When asked why Moon Juice is so successful despite the haters, Bacon has a simple answer: “Because the products are undeniably effective, plain and simple. The focus of the company will always be potency and efficacy.”
There’s not a lot of scientific data to back up those claims, though. According to the site’s FAQs, “each blend [of Moon Dust] is expertly and intentionally formulated by our founder Amanda and her team (including a trained herbalist) to enhance a specific aspect of your life.”
While there’s a lot of information about how the herbs are sourced, the Moon Juice site does not provide any study-based proof of Moon Dust’s effectiveness, instead noting that each dust is created from a base of ancient wisdom.
Here’s what a nutritionist has to say about Moon Juice.
It’s clear that Bacon — and a lot of people in the U.S. — are convinced that these irresistibly-named dusts do quite a bit. But nutritionist Tamar Samuels is skeptical that they’re worth the hype.
“Adaptogens are herbs that have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine to promote well-being,” she said. “Adaptogens help your body ‘adapt’ to stress and have a powerful effect on the HPA axis (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal), the network of glands and hormones that regulate the stress response, particularly adrenaline and cortisol.”
Basically, this means that adaptogens meet you where you are: If you’re stressed out, they’ll help you calm down. If you’re feeling lethargic, they’ll perk you up. But Samuels is skeptical of handing your credit card and low sex drive over to Moon Juice.
“Moon Juice products don’t list the dose of these herbs, making it difficult to know if the amount of adaptogens is enough to have a therapeutic effect,” she said. “The quality of these herbs is also questionable. Although it’s great that a lot of the herbs are organic, it’s important to know how they are processed, as dietary supplements are virtually unregulated in the United States.”
She added that if you aren’t living a healthy lifestyle, you certainly shouldn’t turn to Moon Juice products to “fix” yourself.
“You have to practice good sleep hygiene, eat a balanced and nutritious diet, exercise regularly, manage stress in a healthy way, connect with nature and drink lots of water. If you aren’t doing this, Moon Juice products won’t do much to boost your ‘beauty,’ brain or sex drive.”
Her suggestion? Go for an individualized dose of adaptogens.
“I think most people are better off using a specific blend of medical quality adaptogens and antioxidants that are tailored for their health in the right doses. You can start with the dosage on the package or work with a health care provider (herbalist, acupuncturist, dietitian or functional medicine doctor) to get the proper dosage recommendation for your needs.”
Maybe it’s the packaging that keeps people coming back to Moon Juice over and over again, or maybe it’s Bacon, the ethereal force behind it all. Or hey, maybe these products really are working wonders for people. Whatever the case, it doesn’t look like Moon Juice is going away anytime soon.