The Facialist And The Fashion Stars
There are countless fashion publications out there, this one included, that spend a good amount of time discussing tastemakers’ insider picks: where they vacation, what brands they love, what kind of music they listen to, their favorite things to give fashionable friends. And while all of these tidbits are educational—the treehouse in Viterbo, Italy, that Luisa Orsini and Antonine Peduzi gifted Marc Jacobs in our holiday shopping guide does sound amazing—it’s these individuals’ face savers that we’re most interested in, the underlying theory being: If it’s good enough for Marc, it’s good enough for us. So, where do the most influential people in fashion go to get their skin sloughed, and their facial muscles massaged? Joëlle Ciocco, more often than not. Jacobs swears by her—so does the former First Lady of France, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and John Galliano, who can frequently be spotted at her Place de Madeleine institute in Paris, according to one of Ciocco’s other devotees, street-style star Ulyana Sergeenko. “I visit her only when I come to Paris—four times a year for the collections and Couture,” Sergeenko told us in an interview for Style.com/Print. “She’s so sweet and she has a magic aura. She’s famous for her facial massage”—and for founding the epidermology method, which has earned her an iron-clad group of followers, and most recently a L’Oréal contract (Ciocco was just named L’Oréal Paris’ first global facialist).
The trained biochemist is in Cannes this week to introduce a series of L’Oréal launches—including its Revitalift Triple Power Collection, Youth Code BB Cream Illuminator, and its Sublime Sun Collection—but won’t be working on any of her celebrity clients while she’s there. “The actresses come to our massage center [in Paris],” Ciocco explains—a short but necessary pre-festival pit stop that’s more than worth the layover. With the help of an intrepid translator, we picked Ciocco’s brain on the advent of her nonsurgical facelift and learned about “cosmetic obesity,” which is how the famed facialist refers to the onslaught of environmental and product pollution. (Yes, we obviously wish that we had come up with that term on our own.)
What does your new role with L’Oréal mean to you after over 30 years in the business?
For me it’s a professional recognition—it’s the proof that the profession I have created is valued by a brand that wants my advice for the use of products and [providing] information to the consumer. It’s amazing that I can provide them with this advice. It’s a plus for L’Oréal but is also a plus for me.
What exactly is an epidermologist and how is it different from being a plain old aesthetician?
I would actually define my profession as an in-depth study of skin as an organ. I start with a visual reading of this organ—pretty much skin genetics. The second part is [examining] the memory of the skin, from birth to this day—has it been diseased, do you have allergies, was it burned. And then third element would be the present, which has nothing to do with memory or genetics—what kind of job do you have, do you have children, how do you sleep, how is your skin currently—in order to get in-depth knowledge of the skin to fully understand its personality. I ask myself quite a few questions, which is the psychological part. Then, with all of this information, we are able to optimize this ecosystem, meaning the biodiversity of the skin.
How is this revolutionary in the fairly established field of skin-sloughing and steaming?
When I started working, the skin surface was considered a hydrolipidic film. But I say this is incorrect. Skin is an ecosystem with its own biodiversity that is personal to every single person because of his/her own life. That biodiversity is the first antiaging weapon. And we must take that into account with everything we do. It’s about taking the experience that I have had over my professional life and putting it into relationship with all the new technology out there—cosmetics, dermatology, and surgery.
So what is your general philosophy about skincare?
We need to recondition hygiene. We live in a world of pollution, both cosmetic and industrial—what I would characterize as cosmetic obesity. Cosmetics actually turn into pollution for consumers. Because of all of this, women are lost in the series of gestures that they need to go through because of all of the misconceptions all around us. Women have lost their rationale and it is our responsibility to re-create those values by explaining what the [skin's] ecosystem is and how it should be used. The first thing is no soap and the second part of the protocol is lotion in the morning and at night in order to get rid of the makeup and the pollution. We also need to start using water again. It’s a huge mistake not to use water. If water damages the skin, as we used to say, then babies wouldn’t be washed in [it]. These are the main guidelines that [I am] working in.
…And facial massage, of course. Tales of your precise method have crossed the Atlantic. What’s your technique?
We have a massage where we pull the muscles of the face. We work on the internal and external part of the mouth and all of the joints in the face, which makes it possible to enjoy the lifting effect of a facelift. Massaging the skin stimulates serotonin and it’s like releasing a drug into the muscle that actually relaxes [it] to give you a bit of joy.
Photo: Courtesy of Joëlle Ciocco