The age old question: How do we achieve and maintain perfect skin? Is it a result of the products we use or the foods that we eat? Is it a matter of luck, or even tougher, genetics?? To these questions, we don’t have the answers. But Joelle Ciocco does.

Joelle, a biochemist by training, has trademarked herself an Epidermologist, meaning she really gets to know the composition and troubles of your skin, as well as the best way to combat them. Her Paris based beauty center works to research and implement the best practices for personalized, balanced skin, as well as develops her line of products, which has embodied her treatments and philosophies for over 20 years. So yes, Joelle knows what she’s talking about.

For the second installation of our French Guru series, in which we ask some of France’s best beauty experts our most pressing questions, Joelle shares her philosophies and techniques surrounding skincare, and reminds us that it’s never too late to pick up good habits.

What’s your beauty philosophy?
My philosophy is to maintain a cosmetic routine that respects the natural make up and function of your skin.

What has been the most surprising or interesting thing you’ve learned about skin in all of your years?
That outer skin truly reflects your inner state.

What is the biggest mistake you see your clients making when it comes to their skin?
The biggest mistake is mixing too many skin care products without taking into consideration the effect they might have on each other. For instance, one product might prevent the effect of another product.

What is the single most important skincare product a person can own?
Any sort of oil, and water. These two elements we can create the basic health of skin by maintaining and protecting it.

Is there a secret to maintaining youthful skin, or are some people just luckier than others?
This is a big question! I’m going to answer philosophically. There are some people who genetically have good skin while others don’t. However most of the time, the person with the good genes doesn’t know that it can change over time so they never spend the time to learn about care and maintenance. On the contrary, people who don’t necessarily have great skin naturally learn to take great care of their skin which can have better results than good genetics. Essentially, education and awareness is very important, regardless of your skin type.

How important are factors like sleep and diet in healthy skin?
Skin builds itself from the inside out, which is why a good diet is very important. Regarding sleep, it’s more important to think about the peripheral nervous system – where an accumulation of stress will deteriorate your endocrine system and hormones – which are all linked to the brain, so sleep and a reduction of stress is very important.

What are the most important diet elements for healthy skin?
This question is personal and depends on each individual, so I am going to take my answer in a different direction. Anything excessive is not good for the skin: smoking isn’t good for the skin, drinking too much alcohol isn’t good for the skin, not exercising isn’t good for the skin and not having good hygiene inside and outside your body is not good for the skin.

It’s all a matter of being sensible! There isn’t one food alone that is vital to the health of your skin, because even if I tell you to drink lots of water, that might be bad advice for you personally, so it all depends on the person.

As an epidermologist, you’re interested in where skin has been and where it is going – is it ever too late to start caring for your skin? Are there certain things that can’t be reversed?
It is never too late. Skin possesses a genetic memory and every day new cells are born. You need to understand that you can’t change the natural function of your skin, but you can listen to and respect it.

Should we protect our skin year round?
If you do, you might end up polluting your skin’s natural protection. Sunscreen can dirty your skin, so I’d say the answer depends on each person. If you are especially sensitive to sunlight or you live in a very sunny area, you really can’t go without it. However, if you are in New York in the winter, for example, I think there are foundations that would provide enough protection.

How often should you do special treatments for your skin?
That’s a very difficult question to answer because when you get a specific treatment, it really depends on the person. In any case, I would say it’s important to create variation with each season.

If you could tell your younger self one thing about skincare, what would it be?
I would tell myself what I tell my young clients now – the solution is not to have magical products that immediately fix problems and make makeup last – it doesn’t exist. It’s the education in skin treatments, good hygiene, and protection that will keep your skin healthy, your pores refined, and your makeup last.

Is there an aspect of your approach that is quintessentially french?
Well, the French pay attention to details in every field: food, art, fragrance. We think that the approach to beauty should be holistic – in this sense, where there is art and detail, there is beauty.

How would you describe the French approach to skincare overall?
The French approach is to be as natural as possible – knowing what to put on their face. They rarely do things like chemical peels or use aggressive products that make their skin more sensitive or red. They aren’t ready to try anything in the name of beauty, and aesthetic surgery is not as possible in French. Everything is more moderate in their approach.

How often should you cleanse and moisturize your skin?
For that, you have to adapt your skin care regimen to the level of pollution where you live. It is essential, of course, to cleanse your skin very carefully each night (wash twice with your cleanser). When you wash your face, you help your skin breathe, which means it gets more oxygen and helps reestablish natural hydration. But it’s winter now as I write this, so I advise using an additional product to nourish your skin at the end of the day.

What other products should you use on a regular basis?
For all skin types, I’m a fan of using oil because there’s an incredibly rich variety out there. Even if you have blemishes, there is a type of oil with a different quality and effects for every skin type.

What is something women should do for their skin every day?
Be aware that the best anti-age treatment is to maintain your skin’s natural functions, letting it breathe and keeping it hydrated morning to night.

Joelle Ciocco | 8 place de la Madeleine 75008 Paris | +33 (0) 1 42 60 58 80