You know she’s done facials for Kim Kardashian, right?” “Have you heard she was Cate Blanchett’s go-to girl when she lived in New York?” All of the questions my friends asked me after finding out that I had a highly coveted appointment with Joanna Czech swirled in my head as I entered the aesthetician’s eponymous 1,700-square-foot studio in Dallas’s Victory Park. The receptionist whisked me into one of two treatment rooms, where Czech, a petite blonde whose blue eyes were set off by one of her many pairs of large designer glasses, was waiting with her assistant. Behind Czech, dozens of bottles of creams, cleansers, serums, and moisturizers were arranged in uniform rows on a white marble counter. Aside from deep-set dimples, the 54-year-old’s face was free of any major visible lines—she could easily be mistaken for one of her celebrity clients.
After a brief chat with Czech about my skin (I felt the need to confess that I really don’t do much at all. I moisturize … sometimes), I was soon enjoying a deep-tissue facial massage from the woman who gave Vogue editor Anna Wintour a facial or a manicure/pedicure two to three times a week for a decade and who now has Dallasites fighting for appointments. Bookings for her $850 ninety-minute facials are completely full through June 2019. Facial massage is a signature element of her treatments, because she believes it helps slow down the aging process. “Deep-tissue massages are basically a workout for your facial muscles,” she says with authority, in her Polish accent (she moved to the U.S. when she was 25), as she rapidly taps on my face while her assistant kneads my hands with a subtle- yet expensive-smelling lotion.
At first it all feels like a throwback to a simpler time in skincare, before the world of lasers, Botox, and fillers. But then the futuristic equipment comes out: an LED red light, which helps reduce signs of aging, is placed over my hands while Czech turns on the diamond-tip exfoliator, which looks like a fine ballpoint pen but with an opening at the end encircled by diamond grit, and methodically moves it across my face to remove dry skin. The best part of the whole experience, though, is soaking up her words of beauty wisdom: “Never do what your girlfriend does to her skin” (everyone is different, she stresses) and “For women, thirty-eight is a peak time; that’s when we feel our most confident, most comfortable, [and is when] we usually can afford some treatments” (something for me to look forward to in two years!). I had already come across a few of her sayings before the appointment, via her popular Instagram feed, which is peppered with photos of Czech and her celebrity clients, many accompanied by the hashtag “#Czeched.”
“I don’t like referring to my work as antiaging, because if you don’t age, [it means] you are gone!” says Czech, who opened her Dallas studio in 2015; after working for 23 years in New York City, she moved here in 2012 because of her husband’s job. She caught her big break while doing waxing and facials at New York’s Reebok Sports Club in 1995; celebs like Christy Turlington, Edward Burns, and Sting became regulars. Although having a client list packed with A-listers like Kim Kardashian and Chrissy Teigen seems glamorous, it can be a little nutty, she tells me. Once, she was whisked away to Long Island at midnight to give Kate Winslet a facial on the set of Mildred Pierce. She’s received late-night “emergency calls” to go to clients’ homes for Brazilian waxes. When Uma Thurman wanted a full-service treatment but had to catch a plane, Czech gave her a pedicure in Manhattan and then followed her to the Bahamas to give her a facial; a three-hour appointment turned into a ten-day vacation in the islands. Czech travels for work often, calling her route between New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas “the Bermuda Triangle of beauty.”
Czech—an avid researcher of physiology who was premed before deciding to study skincare—focuses on a handful of techniques in her practice: ultrasound to tighten the skin, micro-current LED red-light therapy to boost the production of collagen, and cryotherapy (bursts of air at temperatures of around minus 43 degrees Celsius) to reduce inflammation. What you won’t find on her facial menu are Botox and laser treatments, much to the surprise of some of her clientele. “In Dallas, all of a sudden I have these twenty-one-year-old girls who are doing Botox preventively. This is unacceptable, in my opinion,” she says, adding that it doesn’t make sense for people to eat cleanly and exercise, only to put this neuron-paralyzing agent into their system. “I want to change the idea of what it means to take care of yourself.”
During the ninety-minute treatment, Czech surprises me with each step; a toner cooled to icy temperatures is then followed by a comforting mask. This is no typical facial routine. She seldom gives any of her clients the same treatment twice. “I am doing the facial based on what I see today,” she says. “If I saw you in three weeks, it might be a very different story. We could be using different temperatures, making different decisions.”
Only a few minutes after I walked out of her dimly lit treatment room, past the products for sale in the common area—like the $1,727 Liquid Surgery Serum, a concoction that claims to reduce the appearance of scars—I got the first enthusiastic text from a friend. “How was it? Do you look 10 years younger?” I flipped down my car mirror to better take in my posttreatment glow. My face, which felt super-hydrated, looked smoother and brighter than it had two hours earlier. I texted back my friend: “I’ve been Czeched.”
This article originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “The Aesthetician to the Stars.” Subscribe today.