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There are only a few people in my life who I'd happily let slap my face. One of them is a woman named Joanna Czech. The New York esthetician is famous for her unique face treatment that celebrities swear by, especially during awards season. "My very first beauty instructor back in Poland told me to treat the skin like a sponge and the muscles like a dough." For this reason, Czech spends a full hour massaging and pummeling one's face, which might seem intense during the moment, but will leave your skin looking and feeling brand new.
As mentioned earlier, Czech's little black book is overflowing with celebrity names. Previous clients include Jennifer Aniston, Bella Hadid, Hailey Bieber and Kim Kardashian, and they all head to her for one thing: their best skin ever. Her signature is intense facial massage to impart a gorgeous glow, as well as going right back to basics.
In Joanna's opinion, you need only a handful of ingredients and techniques to achieve great skin — and they aren't as complicated as you might imagine. She recently partnered with Chanel Beauty as their skincare partner and I had the opportunity to get "Czeched" during awards season in Los Angeles. Here are all the tips and tricks I learned.
Toner isn't useless after all
If you don't include a toner in your skincare routine, you're probably not the only one. But according to Czech, incorporating a face spritz into your AM and PM skincare routine immediately after cleansing and before applying your skincare is necessary. "Toner is the most important step and I can't apply any product without using one," she tells me. Her assistant Raquel agrees. "As soon as water touches your face when washing, you dilute the pH of your skin and it could get a little too close to alkaline level. As a result, bacteria grows beautifully. You want to replenish your skin with a certain level of acidity. Simply mist and press into the skin."
Czech also mentions that applying a toner increases the efficacy of any product you apply on top — and who doesn't want their skincare to work harder? Czech's Skincare Kit (referred to by her chemist as the Rolls-Royce of skin products) features a very fine mist toner that blankets skin evenly.
Skincare doesn't stop at your jawline
"Your face starts with the nipples and stops with the hairline," says Czech. "Don't forget about décolletage and your hands, either. Because there are fewer oil glands in these places, the aging process shows a little more here." She advises pulling your serum and moisturizer down to your neck and chest but a dedicated body product is just as effective at keeping skin moisturized and supple. Try Nécessaire The Body Serum, $45, or if you're on a budget, Cetaphil Body Moisturizer, $16 is just as good.
Lips are also important and Czech loves micro-exfoliation to get rid of dry, chapped skin. "You can do this with a washcloth or a toothbrush combined with a gentle scrub but I like applying a small amount of the exfoliating Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 Exfoliating Toner, $126, on a cotton bud and rolling it over lips, followed by a nourishing ointment or lip balm." That said, any liquid exfoliator you have on hand may also work. As for lip balm, try Chanel Hydra Beauty Nourishing Lip Care, $50 which can soften even the driest skin.
Double cleansing is a myth
"I always say don't bring the streets to your sheets. In other words, make sure you go to bed clean," says Czech. Your skin is more primed to absorb products this way, she adds, otherwise your skincare products will sit on top and not penetrate the skin properly. "Thoroughly removing makeup at night can help keep skin clear, too," says Czech.
Interestingly, she doesn't believe in this popular cleansing hack. "Double cleansing? I don't even understand what double cleansing is. I simply cleanse my skin until the skin is clean. If I wear makeup, I will use a more oily or balm-type cleanser. If I'm not wearing it, I use a gentle gel or a little milky cleanser." And what about the morning? "I recommend removing residue of any product that you applied the night before," Czech says. "That can be splashing your face with lukewarm water and using a washcloth, for example. That's plenty." Czech's rosemary-infused wipes are also great for the morning. "You don't need fussy cleansers at this time," she says.
How to get clear skin
Czech isn't a fan of DIY pore extraction or popping your spots but she understands that it can be difficult to resist. If you must take matters into your own hands, make sure you're using your fingertips. "I would recommend this over tissue paper because you have better control and you're less likely to scrape the skin." When it comes to achieving clear skin, cleansing is key, especially in the evening to remove makeup, daily dirt and excess oil. But Czech likes to go one step further.
"I like to use a pre-cleanse oil twice a week after washing the face," she says. "This softens the skin and works as a decongestant because it softens oil." After rinsing, Joanna suggests applying a hydrating clay mask. "This detaches everything that oil softens and it'll give you a really deep pore cleanse."
Czech also recommends using facial devices at home between appointments to help maintain clear skin. One of them is a gadget called the Lyma laser, the first medical-grade at-home laser device. "When used over time, the innovative cool laser device works to diminish pigmentation, increase collagen production, and brighten the complexion" by combining high-powered LED lights to regenerate skin at cellular level. Czech likes to use the Lyma laser during her facials as well.
Every skincare routine should look like this
"I see so many people over-treating their skin," says Czech, particularly when it comes to exfoliation. The ultimate skincare routine is obviously tailored to your individual skin type but it should be relatively simple, as follows: "After toner, your next product should address any concern you may have. That would be your choice of serum followed by a moisturizer." She says that skin conditions can present as a multitude of things such as breakouts (you might want to use a salicylic acid serum to unclog pores), hyperpigmentation (azelaic acid serums are highly recommended by dermatologists) and dehydrated skin (a serum containing hyaluronic acid is your best bet). Your skin concern will be unique to you so do your research or consult a skin specialist if you're unsure.
If you're confused about where to start, Czech extols the virtues of vitamin C in the morning and vitamin A in the evening to encourage brighter, healthier skin cells. Vitamin A is what retinol is derived from but when it comes to retinol serums, Czech suggests checking the ingredients list for one gentle yet incredibly effective form in particular: retinyl palmitate. She says both products are great for treating hyperpigmentation (red or brown spots), increasing elasticity in the skin and providing a glow.
Why you should consider avoiding Botox
Czech admits to having had Botox in the past but warns her clients off the procedure, especially if they're after youthful-looking skin. "If you keep paralyzing your muscles — especially the frontalis (the muscle which lifts the eyebrows) — it won't work the same over time. Preventative muscle paralysis doesn't work in my language. I don't advise doing it every three months. You need some movement." Instead, Joanna suggests treating slack skin with facial massage. "This is so important," she says. It's a signature step during all of her facials. "Really sculpt your face with your fingers as you apply your skincare," she says. "Moving your blood all around is a good thing as it carries minerals and nutrients, while haemoglobin carries oxygen." She claims this can also help heal breakouts quicker.
Czech suggests trying facial massage during your nighttime routine when applying moisturizer. As for tools, she recommends her Facial Massager, $189, which is so good, it's often sold out. Other massage tools work a treat, too, but you might be using them wrong. "On Instagram I notice many people keep flattening their muscles with things like jade rollers — but my tool really grasps the skin. Instead of pulling your muscles down when massaging, try rolling the tool over your skin at a 45-degree angle and always upwards."
You don't really need to use eye cream
Save your money where eye cream is concerned, says Czech. "I happen not to use eye cream," she says. "If a product like your serum or moisturizer has gone through ocular testing, you can take it up to your eye area and it'll do the same job. I often apply my vitamin A and vitamin C serums (plus everything else) up to my eyes and on my eyelids. This way, you don't need another eye cream."
That said, if you find that your eye area is dehydrated or dull, Czech does like to use one eye cream in particular: the Chanel Sublimage Creme Yeux, $290. "It contains Vanilla Planifolia, [which is] rich in polyketones, which help to repair and regenerate. It also has glycerin and squalene which creates a glowy, hydrated look," Czech says. She loves its whipped consistency, too, describing it as both hydrating and comforting.