An hour with the celebrity facialist Joanna Czech defies all modern convention. Just when you begin to expect a blast of hot steam to open your pores, she’ll firmly wipe you down with a swab soaked with ice-cold toner. You think you need a soothing lotion to even your skin out, maybe calm it down? She knows better: a prickly, slightly stinging solution is just the thing. And instead of delicately applying masks and creams, she uses her whole (petite) body to essentially force them into your epidermis — at times politely, yet firmly, slapping them into your face. And so it comes as little surprise that the massage and application techniques she created for La Mer, as the brand’s global skin-care adviser, aren’t designed for a light touch.
A lot has been written about face massage, and the benefits of sculpting the muscles as you would the rest of your body. And the Polish-born, Dallas-based aesthetician is obsessed: She even found clients to come in to her spa religiously, every other day, for 12 back-to-back deep-tissue face massages. “I’m always saying, you know, choosing the right product is like nutrition — that’s 70 percent. And those little tricks of application, that’s your workout, your lifestyle — that’s 30 percent.” (Czech has a knack for making you feel a little silly for not getting this. “I mean, when you work out, what do you do?” she’ll ask. “Do you work out your skin? No. You work out your muscles, and then you are in great shape — and then you put on body moisturizer, right?”)
Her favorite method is not the fanciest, and is easy enough to do at home: what she calls a “press/release” technique, using deep-tissue-level pressure to tone the face’s muscles. Fittingly, she uses the technique especially when applying toner, which is her first step in a skin-care regimen. “I like starting with the toner — always that first hydrating moment, it’s very important. People still forget about the toner and very mistakenly they still use it as a second step of cleansing. What toners really do: They sort of bring balance back to your skin, so they prepare your skin and create healthier PH of the skin, so then automatically your skin absorbs everything so much more easily.”
Her press/release method is like the one that devoted users of the cult, cool-girl Vintner’s Daughter serum have grown to love, similarly called a “push/press technique.” The difference is that the folks at Vintner’s Daughter suggest practicing it after cleansing and toning, with serum-coated hands, so that the 30 seconds of repeatedly pressing the entire face, neck and décolletage will help the skin better absorb the potent, all-natural blend.
Czech recommends incorporating the technique into a nighttime regimen — and says that not having one is one of the worst skin-care offenses (others being over-exfoliating, and adopting beauty products or practices just because they worked for your friend — since you are special and unique). She says that your skin absorbs products 60 percent better when you’re relaxing, and suggests the following before-bed routine:
2. Apply some form of toner. (In addition to La Mer, she recommends Clé de Peau, Biologique Recherche and Environ Skin Care.)
3. Top with moisturizer — whichever type suits you best. (“It could be a moisturizer that covers the eyes and face in one,” she says.)
As for the morning: “You could do easily in the morning, the same, but I wouldn’t use the facial cleanser. I would splash only with water.”