Joanna Czech, who counts the Kardashians, the Hiltons, Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet as just a few of her devotees, is a curious person to tap as an emissary for your skin care brand.
She’s insusceptible to marketing, and won’t proliferate it — “I don’t like fake names, if it’s hydrating, it’s hydrating, if it’s brightening, it’s brightening.” She casts aspersions at any products making grandiose claims — “[brands aren’t] coming up with some anti-blue light serum, that means that they have antioxidants” — and she’s a big believer in using a variety of brands when giving a facial, tailored specifically to the individual’s skin.
Additionally, the Dallas- and New York-based skin guru, famous for the “slapping” technique that she employs to sculpt the faces of Hollywood’s elite, launched her own skin care range last year, called Joanna Czech Skincare The Kit. The Kit is comprised of seven skin care products, and retails for $1,320 at places like Bergdorf Goodman, Net-a-porter and d-t-c.
And yet, her straightforward, efficacy-focused approach, as well as her appreciation for and knowledge of skin care science, is exactly why Clé de Peau Beauté went out to Czech, with whom they have an existing 25-year relationship, for their newest ambassadorship.
“With over three decades of experience, Joanna is the go-to skin care expert for some of the most discerning talent in entertainment and fashion. She is the ultimate influencer to some of the biggest influencers today,” said Alessio Rossi, executive vice president Shiseido, Clé de Peau Beauté. “Joanna’s trademark pursuit of cutting-edge science, skin care innovation and beauty philosophy perfectly aligns with Clé de Peau Beauté’s values. Her skin care expertise and authentic passion for the brand make her an ideal ambassador for us. We’ve already been working together for many years and are very excited for the evolution of our long-standing relationship.”
“I got introduced to Clé de Peau in 1997 when I was working at Paul Labrecque [Salon & Skincare Spa in New York City],” Czech said in an interview with Beauty Inc. And it made an impression.
She used Clé de Peau for the only facial she ever offered where she used the same brand from beginning to end, and she said Clé de Peau was also a key inspiration for her own cream, though it is a completely different formulation.
In a world where the vast majority of skin care lines are private label a few are really created from scratch, the Kit falls firmly into the latter category, Czech said.
“It was a moment about 10 or 12 years ago that I was thinking about creating my cream. When you go to the chemist, even though you create your own product, you need to give benchmarks,” she said. “So you need to bring about seven products for various reasons: consistency, scent, how quickly quickly does it absorb, what is the finish that it leaves, and so on. Various products with different characteristics. The original cream that I got introduced to, La Crème, I went and bought for $670 to bring as a benchmark because I loved the consistency. I loved the way the cream penetrates. And I have a great respect for Japanese science.”
Science is crucial to Czech, and she gives credence to the Shiseido-owned legacy brand for their investment in proprietary development. “We are talking about 40 years of science — when I hear science, I salivate,” she says, admitting that she salivates when she hears panettone, too. “It’s supported by many years of studying this organ….Skin types are not changeable, but skin conditions can be addressed.”
But isn’t that what everyone is paying her (or for their $670 cream) to do — change their skin?
“Skin does not change. There is skin pathology, inflammations and all of those things, but mainly we are approaching the physiology and anatomy of the skin, because that’s how we want to address the skin. These do not change,” she explains. “So if somebody is coming up with a collagen cream, it’s not going to do anything with the collagen of your skin. But if somebody has ingredients that stimulate collagen production, which could be essences from many oils or extracts from fruits or sometimes we call them simply vitamin C, the ingredients here make sense.”
She said this mutual understanding of ingredients and how they are engaged is where her admiration for Clé de Peau stems from, and she’ll be using the brand as she prepares her constituency for this month’s Academy Awards — but she remains democratic when discussing entertainment’s biggest night. “I don’t like calling them Oscar facials, I like calling them pre-event facials. Because we all want to look like we’re going to the Oscars, with the jawline and the cheekbones and all of it.”
Czech, whose trademark candor and authenticity (as well as her disarming humor) are a big part of what have scored her her following, is characteristically honest about what makes the relationship between Clé de Peau and The Kit symbiotic.
The Kit is a tight edit of highly effective products meant to work on a breadth of skin types, she says, while Clé de Peau, with manifold stock keeping units and a beauty behemoth for a parent company, has the ability to provide products that target more specific concerns and needs.
“I was the happiest person in December last year when I got seven cleansers from Clé de Peau…I have one serum, but I have 12 cleansers. My skin feels very different in the morning. My skin feels very different at night,” she says of the brand’s offering. (Czech is in the camp that cleanser choice matters, despite many people arguing that they’re relatively low stakes since they aren’t absorbed by the skin.)
“Then obviously there are lotions and essences. I hope that the lotion is within the range 5.5 to 5.9, the ideal human’s pH, but if not, mine is 5.8. If someone is into a brightening program, do I have any particular brightening masks? Absolutely not,” she continues, referring to Clé de Peau’s Brightening Mask Treatment Supreme. “I have a soothing and calming serum particularly for skin with redness and very over-treated skin. But then there’s The Serum [by Clé de Peau] and it’s super-hydrating and strengthening for the skin, with different characteristics. So you choose what you need at the given moment.”
In short, the two play well together — not that Czech has never been one to play by the rules.
She used to sneak in products from her native Poland to use on clients at Paul Labrecque because of their standout performance. “My boss allowed me,” she laughs. “He said, ‘Just don’t show the manager, but do your job.'”