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Interview

Beauty Toaster’s Podcast with French Skincare Legend, Joëlle Ciocco with Beauty Toaster Podcast

Joëlle clues us into everything from facial massage techniques to skin science and lifestyle philosophies. J’adore!

Podcasts are pleasantly conversational sources of buzz-worthy news. Without spending so much time looking at a screen, you can listen to podcasts to cram useful information into your morning, your commute, or your run on the treadmill. This broadcasting trend is growing by the minute, so there is an overwhelming number of podcasts to choose from. True Crime? Daily news? History lessons? Guided meditation? Instead of listening to the first five seconds of every podcast you can find on Spotify, get a taste of one our favorite beauty podcasts below!

BWB loves Chantal Soutarson’s podcast, Beauty Toaster, because she maintains such a strong network of young entrepreneurs, new brands, and wellness experts. While all of her interviews are in French, we have a special treat for our English-speaking audience: a transcript of Chantal’s groundbreaking interview with Parisian epidermologist, Joëlle Ciocco. This anti-aging guru clues us into everything from facial massage techniques and clean products to skin science and lifestyle philosophies. J’adore!

You are not a dermatologist or an aesthetician; you are an “epidermologist,” which is a specialization you have created yourself. Can you explain what an epidermologist is and tell us about your passion for skincare?

I am a biochemist by training and I became interested in the skin very early on. The skin is just extraordinary; it is matter with a psychological component. Genetics, history, and present state form the identity of the skin, and you have to take these three things into account in order to treat to skin properly. The genetics part cannot be changed. The history is the trajectory from birth until now. Then, there is the present: where you live, what line of work you are in, etc. This information gives me an idea of the “biodiversity” of the skin, and this is what I have been working on since the eighties.

Following this logic, it doesn’t really matter if the skin is “dry” or “oily,” as I discover more extraordinary things about each client. The skin has a natural coating – a sort of shield or membrane. Through the three main approaches (genetics, history and present), you can understand the biodiversity and microbiota in order to adapt a cosmetic preparation that complements without substituting. At present, my role is to take care of the membrane, which is the fundamental natural element of the skin. If you are well-balanced, you feel good – or as we say in French: “vous êtes bien dans votre peau” (you feel well in your own skin).

Can you talk about the protocols you have created for skincare?

Hygiene comes first. I have tested many cleansing methods and products. Respect of the microbiome is critical. It does not matter if you buy the best products, but rather the ways you use them and clean your skin. You have to clean your skin twice, period! I have repeated this simple yet essential statement for over 40 years, and for a long time no one listened. Then one day, some marketing appeal involving two products instead of one probably came along, so the whole world started listening!

When you use sunscreen and then apply makeup, I have noticed you need to remove the make-up (step 1) and then you need to remove the sunscreen (step 2). A skin treatment will not work if you don’t work on a clean surface. No need to buy the most expensive serums if your skin is not ready to receive them. If you double-cleanse your skin every day and night for a minimum of three months, you are going to see a huge difference and rediscover the natural membrane.

Quality does matter.

In a way, cosmetics are like ingredients for cooking. In my lab, I prepare the ingredients and formulations with the help of my husband, who trained at the School of Cosmetology. It is a long process to get the formulation right, with lots of trials and errors. Quality does matter. You cannot get results if you use poor quality ingredients, and this is unfortunately only possible on a small scale as it is not compatible with mass production. If I give my formulations to a vendor for industrial production, the product will have nothing to do with the one I have created as it will be packed with preservatives and co-emulsifying, co-stabilizing chemicals.

How many products have you created yourself?

About thirty!

And you are about to reformulate them?

Yes. It is a very difficult task. Because sensuality of texture and smell is so important for me, I want my products to smell good and feel good. You don’t want the product to start “turning” after three months, but this is difficult to achieve with natural ingredients and few additives or chemical preservatives. I have to find a balance, but I don’t want to become too radical about it. For example, it would be ideal to use natural fragrances for all of the formulas but it is not feasible so we need some flexibility.

We have about 17 layers of epithelial cells, and with the aging process we lose them gradually.

It seems obvious but it is important to remember that every type of skin is different. There are so many factors to consider. Americans tend to do a lot, such as dermabrasion, laser treatments, exfoliating and peeling. I would do ten times less than what they do as far as skincare is concerned. These instant results often unfortunately cause long-term damage. With these procedures, the skin gets thinner and more fragile, so it doesn’t have a chance to regenerate. The skin loses its protective virtue, becomes inflamed, and puts you at risk of depigmentation. We have about 17 layers of epithelial cells, and with the aging process we lose them gradually. Think about what these aggressive treatments can do to these layers.

Oil and wax are very important and they play a huge role in hydration. When people tell me that they have an issue with dry skin, I often ask if it is due to a lack of water or oil, and they look confused. Oil protects the humidity of the skin. If you use a hydrating cream, the oil it contains will protect the skin and maintain its internal moisture. To summarize: first comes hygiene, then oil and wax which are a component of the creams you use. Also, I want to point out a very important fact that people tend to ignore: do not mix brands of products. If you are using a serum X, you need to use the cream X. If you use a cleansing product Y, use the lotion Y. Each brand has its own chemical formulation that your skin recognizes. When you start using a specific product, try to use it for at least three months.

Nowadays the treatments are getting simpler.

All you really need is one or two good products and the right approach.

Yes, and less is more. I had the privilege to work with major brands and it is insane to see the number of products women use. All you really need is one or two good products and the right approach. When I say approach, I am also referring to the application gestures and the massaging motions used to increase the penetration of the product. You are not going to slap your face, right? It is a natural thing to know how to treat your face. The act of massaging your face is fundamental and you can certainly develop your own technique. Relaxing your face muscles and jaw and breathing deeply helps to work on the myofibers and decongest the lymph.

Thirty years ago, I designed two types of massage with phenomenal results of stunning facial contour. My “sculpture” massage focuses on the joints and muscles of the face, while my “buccal” massage focuses on the external/internal aspect of the muscles. It is a very unique experience worth trying at least once in your life—but it is not a one-time session. There are several stages, and only trained professionals with a good understanding of the anatomy can do it properly.

What are the factors that contribute to the aging of the skin?

Sun exposure. We know we need to protect our skin from the sun and a sunscreen only works if it has SPF 50 or more. It should also be purchased in a pharmacy, preferably over the counter. Pollution is also an important factor, which brings us back to hygiene and double-cleansing! Stress plays an important role, too – particularly new stress linked to technology and mobile phones. There is even a condition we call “le penseur de Rodin” (Rodin’s The Thinker sculpture), which describes the way people hold their phones with the head tilted. If you maintain this position for a while, you do strain your muscles! The main ways one can achieve well-being is by loving your skin, respecting it, and listening to your needs. Age gracefully! Do not forget the spiritual and psychological sides of well-being. Your state of mind always plays a bigger part than you think in your overall well-being.

Thank you to Beauty Toaster podcast for conducting the interview! 

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