For over two decades, Polish-born aesthetician Joanna Czech has been looking after some of the world’s most famous faces. Think Kim Kardashian, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Aniston, Amber Valetta, Bella Hadid… the list goes on. After starting out in New York, she moved to Dallas for love several years ago, but continued to make house calls to her A-list clients the world over. In fact, she’s spent so much time travelling that she frequently compares herself to a flight attendant.
With all this moving around, much of her time was spent decanting her favourite products into travel-sized bottles and moving all her machines back and forth. It also brought the detrimental effects travelling can have on your skin – an issue many of her clients also deal with – into sharper focus for Czech. So much so that another large element of her job was tailoring the perfect skincare routine for the frequent flyer.
When Czech moved back to New York in 2019, and then became grounded by Covid-19, she was finally able to pause and think about her next move. The result is her very own skincare brand, designed for the avid traveller. And not just because of the travel-size bottles, but also the ingredients, which are designed specifically for those who are constantly moving between different climates and temperatures. (Which as we know can wreak havoc on our skin.)
Created with a cosmetic chemist, The Kit comprises a pH-controlling toner; two serums, one that plumps and hydrates with hyaluronic acid, the other an antioxidant that brightens skin with vitamin C; two moisturisers, one water-based and the other a balm, as well as some in-flight essentials: facial wipes and a bio-cellulose hydrating mask. Fresh from the launch of her London pop-up at the new Alex Eagle Sporting Club at 180 Strand, which, yes, involved more travelling, Czech shared with Vogue her ultimate skincare dos and don’ts.
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Don't do lasers
I think lasers should be reserved for extreme circumstances and even then approached with caution. In my 35 years of treating clients, I have seen a lot of skin damaged irreversibly by laser, often used incorrectly or irresponsibly. The two most common side effects I’ve witnessed are hypo-pigmentation (destruction of the melanocyte resulting in permanent white spots), and permanently thinned skin. Lasers create a controlled wound, however the skin may respond by creating scar collagen instead of the healthy, flexible collagen we want. Many people take a casual approach to lasers, and in my opinion most clients are not a good candidate. If you decide to pursue laser treatment however, make sure you’re seeking the most educated, experienced and conservative doctors to perform these types of advanced treatments.
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Microneedling isn't for everyone
Medical microneedling is an excellent method of stimulating healthy collagen production. When the blood vessels are punctured, specific growth factors are released that go on to stimulate the formation of collagen ‘Type 3’, which is important to maintain youthful, supple skin. This is different from nano-needling or needling with home devices – those create microscopic perforations in the top layer of the skin to allow for enhanced product penetration. This can be helpful in getting your active ingredients deeper, but it won’t actively stimulate collagen production the way medical depth needling can. Micro needling may take several sessions to see full results, which can potentially include reduced pore size, reduction of fine lines and wrinkles, firmer and thicker skin, refined texture, and an even and vibrant complexion. Most clients are great candidates for needling, but I wouldn’t advise it for anyone with active acne, prominent blood vessels, or a tendency to develop keloid scars. I recommend clients with very thin or reactive skin to consult their dermatologist or aesthetician about preparing their skin with vitamins A and C to strengthen it before beginning a course of microneedling.
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Focus on your nighttime routine
The nighttime routine is the most important, because when our bodies are in a state of rest and relaxation our skin is better able to absorb the products we have applied. Nighttime is the ideal time for active ingredients that otherwise may cause photosensitivity, such as AHAs and prescription retinoids. Also, never neglect your body. I have a phrase I love to use which helps people remember this: “Don’t bring the streets to your sheets.” If you like to shower in the morning to wake up, that’s perfectly fine, but rinsing away the day is very important for the health of our skin – after all, it’s our largest organ!
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Opt for a pH toner
Maintaining the proper pH of our skin is incredibly important. Skin is naturally acidic – around 5.5 pH. There are many factors that can disrupt our skin’s pH, the most substantial being dramatic changes in temperature, from hot to cold. Other factors can be the foods we eat, the stress we endure, the products we use. When our skin’s pH raises towards alkaline levels it sets off a chain reaction that results in TEWL (trans epidermal water loss), dehydration and eventually inflammation.
I always recommend that my clients use a pH balancing toner immediately after cleansing. The reason for this is because water has a pH of 7, which is neutral. That raises our skin’s pH, and although it will eventually return to the acidic baseline, balancing it quickly will help create the ideal environment for optimum skin health, to better receive the next products that follow.
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Consistency is key
Consistency is one of the most important concepts in skincare. Adhering to a proper daily and nightly routine ensures the skin will receive the nutrients it needs to achieve the results you desire. I compare skincare to exercise, and facials to a personal trainer. You can work out once a week and that’s nice for your mood that day, but in order to see results you have to be consistent.
It’s also important to be consistent with the same products. Some products will provide an immediate effect, but for substantial change you may need to be patient for two or three months. This is especially true of any product intended to increase collagen, refine texture, reduce hyperpigmentation, or clear acne. We have to remember that in the best case, our skin cells turn over once a month. We can’t expect significant change in a short timeframe, or without consistency.
This story was first published on Vogue.co.uk.