Town & Country (USA)
The PARIS Light
Is that your glow? Or are you already in on the city’s best-kept beauty secret: her.
Why would anyone go to Paris and willingly close their eyes for 90 minutes in the middle of the day? Paris is meant for you to see, wild-eyed and manic, hepped up on all the beauty.
And yet I willingly, blissfully close my eyes for one thing, and that one thing is the Paris facial. For as long as I’ve been seduced by Paris, I’ve succumbed to the seduction of its sui generis facial. I started with the steam and-cream classics at Carita and Sothys, moving on to the well-mannered Biologique Recherche, just off the Champs-Elysées. That’s where I heard a client announce, as she sailed out the door, “A la semaine prochaine!” A weekly facial! Could anything be more French? Yes, actually. At another salon the aesthetician’s tiny dog, whose grooming far surpassed mine, tip-tapped in and out of the room on beautifully pedicured paws.
But the facial that made me happiest was the one from Sophie Carbonari. A French friend tipped me off, because, like many of the finest things, facials in Paris are a
word-of-mouth phenomenon, each with its own cult following. Sophie’s cult includes Naomi Campbell and Caroline de Maigret, and I’m totally fine with that.
You know those facials where the aesthetician starts by examining your pores through a giant magnifying lamp, followed by a long sigh and a terse scolding? That is not a Sophie Carbonari facial. You know the ones where they shoot steam on your face for 20 minutes as if steam were some magic skin transformer? Not Sophie. You know those facials that leave you splotched and greases licked, stumbling out the door in a stupor? This is not that.
You will not find Sophie stern-faced in a starched white lab coat, either. For my appointment she wore a black lace dress, and her laugh sounded like a song. And while she’s laughing and chatting, she’s clocking your skin, your posture, your breathing. “I take in the emotional state of the client,” she says. “You can see if the client is stressed, insecure, and you have to interpret that. If they’re uncomfortable with the treatment, you have to change it.” Beware of encountering Sophie in the world. “I can see even people on the street and know what’s going on with their skin,” she says. “It’s kind of a power.”
Once she intuits what your skin needs, Sophie mixes her products right before your eyes (assuming they’re not closed), combining ayurvedic oils, colloidal silver, rice extracts, vitamins B12 and E, and hyaluronic acid with rose and orange water. She employs Japanese, Korean, and ayurvedic techniques—all of which she learned from experts in Britain and France—with microcurrent, acupressure, shiatsu, and pinching and tapping to enhance the circulation to the skin and reduce inflammation. Things get a little weird when she zeroes in on the fascia, pressing firmly but not painfully to release the tension. The sound is a crack, crack, crack, like Pop Rocks exploding under your skin.“Everybody is surprised about the noise,” she says. Sophie’s hands are so active, so busy that she can do only four facials a day before her fingers start to ache.
There’s an unexpected emotional quality to a Sophie facial, as if you’ve been given a long hug by someone who truly cares about your well-being. It’s unlike any facial I’ve had. As Sophie says, “It’s a little deeper, a little more intimate.”
As I regain consciousness, Sophie tells me that my skin will take about eight hours to show the benefits of her work, and she’s right almost to the minute. I’m less puffy, less wan, and there’s a distinct glow not only on my cheeks but in my eyes, which are now wide open.
Sophie will have a residency in London one week per month beginning in September, in addition to seeing clients in Paris. SOPHIECARBONARI.COM