The Beauty Law Of The Land, According To Facialist Isabelle Bellis
Two hours is the length of a feature film, a train ride to Philadelphia and—wait for it—a treatment with Isabelle Bellis. A session with the French facialist—who has become best known in beauty circles for her practice of the Buccal technique, wherein a patient’s mouth is massaged from the inside to reduce wrinkle-causing tension on the outside—officially clocks in as the longest service I have ever had in my many years as a beauty editor. It’s so lengthy, in fact, that at multiple points over the course of the thorough, one-hundred-and-twenty minute affair I thought, “it has to be over now, right?”, all the while secretly hoping that I was dead wrong and Bellis would continue on with her wizardry just a bit longer. (I was, and she did). Facial massage—and a vigorous one at that—is at the heart of the Joelle Ciocco-trained epidermologist’s treatments, which takes some getting used to as its not something most American facial-getting women are accustomed to. But they should get accustom to it—particularly if the result of its continued practice is skin like Bellis’; the slight, flaxen-haired, Brittany-born beauty may just be her own best advertisement. Besides leaving her chicly outfitted penthouse studio with a complexion that was ridiculously dewy, glowing, and so taut I thought she had given me a mini brow lift during one of the few instances I dozed off—I also gleaned a bit of skincare wisdom on a recent visit. Below, Bellis reveals her five commandments for looking and feeling beautiful, which include some very honest opinions on wearing sunscreen, drinking water and why you don’t need to be in the lotus position to meditate effectively.
I. Sunscreen, But Not All The Time
“About ten years ago people started to use products with a lot more acid, and started doing a lot of peeling and [microdermabrasion], so their complexions weren’t as protected. To be safe, experts were saying to put sunscreen on all the time to preserve the skin, because it was more bare than ever. But if you aren’t doing harsh treatments you don’t need to wear it every second of the day. Obviously we do need sunscreen on the beach, on a sunny day, and especially if you have sensitive skin, but for people who are in an office all day there is no need. Your skin needs a break, and continued use of [SPF products] can just make your skin more sensitized. It should also never be used instead of a moisturizer; your skin needs something to penetrate into it before the sunscreen is put on. And if you are wearing sunscreen, it’s very important to clean your skin thoroughly at night. It’s sticky like glue, and any toxins we receive during the day get stuck [to it].”
II. Massage, Always
“I’m a strong believer in massage to improve circulation and to help relieve tension, then I use manual lymph drainage to rid the body of toxins. It’s all very relaxing and you are basically working with the nervous system and following the anatomy. And you can get the benefits of massage at home. Women need to be aware of how they apply products, massaging from the inside to the outside gently—and enjoying it! You should please yourself. I always like to say to women that the best advice is for you to be your own best friend; women can be very rude to themselves.”
III. A Good Treatment Always Starts At The Feet
“I start my treatments by applying a mix of plant oils to the feet because that’s where everything starts, and it helps to bring all the blood up. We put all the tension in our feet at the end of the day so the blood is really stuck there. If you have marks on your feet from your socks that means the circulation has started to weaken; massaging in the plant oils brings the flow back.”
IV. Healthy Eating Is Not The Same For Everybody
“I follow Aryuvedic principles and personality matters. If you are a very fiery person and you eat a lot of ‘fire’ foods you will break out because the stomach will be upset and you will have trouble digesting. No element is bad; it’s just a question of balance. Whenever I ask people if they eat healthy, they say, yes, and when I go further and ask if they eat salad, they say yes all the time. But sometimes eating too much salad affects your digestive tract. It’s very hard to eat raw food if you have trouble digesting. And if you are nervous or stressed you can really overwhelm your system and create more fire, and that reflects on the skin. Also it is possible to over-drink water. For some, too much water can be bad because it weakens the kidneys; you go to the bathroom all the time and lose the good elements.”
V. Everyone Should Meditate
“Meditation can be many things. You can walk, you can take a bath, you can smell flowers; it’s not only yoga. It’s just to put your mind in another place and let it rest. Most importantly it’s a chance to be present with yourself.”
Isabelle Bellis, 60 East 66 street PH, NYC; 212-966-3262.
Photo: Courtesy of Isabelle Bellis