Pop Culture

How Top Facialists Navigate the High-Touch, High-Tech Divide

“If giving a facial was a movie…it would be ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once,’ ” Joanna Czech wrote on the eve of the Oscars, alongside an Instagram post of her Beverly Hills pop-up. It was a scene befitting the soon-to-be best-picture winner: glowing red panels and multipronged machines framing the model Anja Rubik, as the Polish-born facialist toggled between modalities. Czech, who tends to Jennifer Aniston and Hailey Bieber, works with LED, ultrasound, and microcurrent, but her signature moves hew closer to martial arts. Kinetic yet precise, she is known for her slapping (the good kind) and vigorous kneading, the better to awaken the skin with blood flow and oxygen. “The first technology,” she says from her Dallas home, “is my hands.”

As the aesthetic pendulum swings from filled cheeks to chiseled angles, it seems that every familiar face has a skin guru. “We’re in direct competition with the dermatology office now,” says Lord Gavin McLeod-Valentine (the title is by way of Scotland). A self-described “celebrity facial masseur” who counts Sharon Stone as a regular, he finds that the “hands-on, sensorial, connective expression between client and practitioner is key”—while still making room for such tools as the Opatra LED dome (good for collagen stimulation). 

Iván Pol, who developed his finesse with radio frequency at a top Miami derm practice, is synonymous with his trademark facial: a sculpting, machine-led service called the Beauty Sandwich. “I feel very grateful for technology—not only the technology of my devices, but the technology of phones and Instagram and social media,” says Pol, who has Ana de Armas sharing glimpses inside his treatment room.

BlackBerry, a new movie about the rise and fall of the early smartphone, highlights the image-centric course we’ve taken since. For facialist Sofie Pavitt, who looks after the New York creative set, clients’ before-and-after photos illustrate her prowess in clearing acne-prone skin. But the latest magnet for mid-facial selfies is Lyma’s cold laser, cleared for home use and woven into Crystal Greene’s sessions in SoHo. “Prior to Lyma, I didn’t rely on any technology,” says Greene, whose work is rooted in meditative massage. Two months of testing—witnessing a shift in hyperpigmentation and fine lines—made her an off-hours devotee: “It’s just a great therapeutic way for me to unwind.”

Skin Whisperers

Known for her magic hands and Thierry Lasry glasses, she is an industry force, with a product line and spas in Dallas and New York. A wall at the SoHo outpost declares “Nipples Up”: her reminder that skin care is not just for the face.

This under-the-radar facialist (with a closet full of Phoebe Philo–era Céline from her time in fashion retail) brings a holistic ethos to her treatments, with bespoke blended serums. Her one-woman studio is a grounding experience. 

An ambassador for the beauty brand Augustinus Bader, he advises on the facial method for its Skin Lab at New York’s The Webster. His high-profile clients get a muscular treatment that doubles as a mental reset.  

After working in fashion, Pavitt shifted to aesthetics with a focus on healing problematic skin. She runs a busy studio in Lower Manhattan (Zendaya and Lorde are clients) and launched her first product, a mandelic acid serum, this spring. 

The red-carpet favorite has a location in Pacific Palisades but also regularly brings his cheekbone-popping facials to Miami and New York. His Secret Sauce, a plush formula created with Annee de Mamiel, spells more to come. 

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