Interview
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Breathing in Beauty with Joëlle Ciocco

Dreaming of a perfect complexion, ageless skin, and a celebrity-inspired glow?

Take a deep breath.

“Everything comes back to breathing and elimination,” says Paris’ resident Queen of Beauty, Joëlle Ciocco.

“That’s the key to staying young – it’s very simple.”

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The woman behind the flawless skin of famous faces like that of Natalie Portman, Juliette Binoche, Catherine Deneuve, and Carla Bruni, has become a cosmetics celebrity in her own right.

Like her job title, Ciocco’s approach to beauty is also multi-dimensional.

Her sophisticated and upscale beauty center in the heart of Paris’ très chic Madeleine District is one of the most sought after rendez-vous in the city as women from all over the world book appointments for Ciocco’s unique- and action-packed! – facials, consultations and crème-de-la-crème of beauty creams.

Like her job title, Ciocco’s approach to beauty is also multi-dimensional. Ciocco refers to herself as an “epidermologist,” a sort of dermatologist, scientist, personal trainer, psychologist, chef, and facialist all rolled into one. “Beauty has partners,” Ciocco explains of her 360-degree approach to skin health, adding: “Cosmetic products aren’t essential – they are part of a whole.” Other partners in this beauty business include, according to Ciocco, the body’s internal function and general hygiene. Her advice? “Work out regularly and work out your brain regularly.”

Before even touching your skin, she conducts an in-depth examination of every detail of your daily life, including what you eat, when you shower, how you brush your teeth and how much stress you feel.

At her HQ, she’s known for her exclusive beauty treatments involving sculpting, picking, prodding, massaging, cleansing, and stretching the skin. What sets Ciocco apart isn’t simply her unique technique, but also the fact that before even touching your skin, she conducts an in-depth examination of every detail of your daily life, including what you eat, when you shower, how you brush your teeth and how much stress you feel. (Note: she’ll likely tell you how much stress you’re feeling after just a few minutes with you.) Her holistic approach takes into account everything that has happened to your skin since birth and how you see yourself.

Most concerns, she insists can be solved with the mindfulness that comes from simple breathing, routine care, and thoughtful eliminations.

While Ciocco is world-renowned for her detailed attention to the surface of the skin, her particular immersion in what’s happening underneath the fragile layers ensures her clients’ promising results. “We take a good look in the mirror together,” Ciocco says of her intimate consultations with clients.

The skin is a mirror – an organ that sends out into the world the light of what’s happening within the body. Your state of health is magnified on your skin.

“Redness, dryness, problem skin—there’s usually a psychological reason for these issues.” There’s no “magic formula” she asserts; “you need to know yourself” and that no one solution is best.

Most concerns, she insists can be solved with the mindfulness that comes from simple breathing, routine care, and thoughtful eliminations. “The skin is a mirror – an organ that sends out into the world the light of what’s happening within the body. Your state of health is magnified on your skin.”

She’s a big fan of all different types of oils – yes, even for women with oily skin. “There are hundreds of oils!” she says with enthusiasm for what she thinks are the best way to heal and to regenerate skin cells.

Her very own crèmes-de-la-crème are filled with skinsational superfoods that sound almost good enough to eat.

Asking her to choose her favorites would be akin to asking someone to choose their favorite children, but Ciocco cites nigella (black seed oil), borage, clove, cinnamon, rice bran, and cumin as some of the chosen few. “Almond oil is anti-inflammatory and softening for the skin,” she explains, before declaring her favorite oil of all, namely Castor oil.

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Like a chef, Ciocco concocts her radiant recipes according to the season and the tastes of each person.

She now sells a line of her own products for both face and body, all of which she makes personally by hand. Her very own crèmes-de-la-crème are filled with skinsational superfoods that sound almost good enough to eat like almond oil, cumin, orange blossom, saffron, rosemary and apricot.

“I consider myself a cook— for the skin,” Ciocco says of her hands-on approach to the art of skincare.

Like a chef, Ciocco concocts her radiant recipes according to the season and the tastes of each person. She explains: “I always say there’s no such thing as a bad product— the question is: what is the right one for you? I adapt accordingly.”

You absolutely need to clean your skin perfectly at night. Twice!

If you remember one thing from Joëlle Ciocco Beauty School, let it be this: Wash your face twice at night, and just rinse it in the morning. “You absolutely need to clean your skin perfectly at night. Twice! The first time is to get rid of the imperfections from the day—pollution, makeup, etc. And the second time is to really clean the skin.” She adds: “You launder your clothes in the washing machine as well as cleaning the skin on your body; your face should be no different. I’m always surprised that people don’t know this when they come to see me.”

Wash your face with water (“mineral water, floral water, any eau you want”), and in the morning, rinse and apply lotion; but DO NOT wash your face. “You need the natural protection that will help you combat daily stressors and maintain balance.”

You really need to want to have beautiful skin and take action yourself. Use sunblock. Take off your makeup every night. Don’t smoke. Don’t let your skin get too cold or too hot. Get some exercise: working out definitely keeps the skin young.

And what happens when we upset this balance? “In my forty-plus years of experience I’ve seen beautiful skin on women who have—how can I say this politely—participated in their own premature aging, whether it’s through bad hygiene, aggressive cosmetics, or sitting in the sun without protection. You really need to want to have beautiful skin and take action yourself. Use sunblock. Take off your makeup every night. Don’t smoke. Don’t let your skin get too cold or too hot. Get some exercise: working out definitely keeps the skin young.”

For those who can’t make it to Paris or who can’t afford seasonal facials, Ciocco has her own product line that anyone can buy. “I use only natural, plant-based ingredients, working directly with the producers. I try to choose the best ingredients and respect the way I cook them so that the skin can take advantage of them as much as possible.”

And what do we do when all else fails? “Smile,” she says. “It’s the best exercise you can do for your face.”

Rebecca Leffler

Rebecca Leffler is a writer, journalist and wellness consultant. She is the author of best-selling French book Green, Glam & Gourmande and follow-up title Green, Glam & Happy. Her book “Très green, très clean, très chic: Eat (and live!) the new French way with plant-based, gluten-free recipes for every season” was released in 2015. Follow Rebecca at Lafleurparisny.com.

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