It’s Saturday morning, and I’ve been sitting in the back of a cab far longer than I’d care to. Finally, somewhere in the Upper West Side, the car stops in front of an unmarked building on a side street by the water. I pay and scurry to the inconspicuous facade; the one that, according to my GPS, leads to one of New York City’s most coveted skincare destinations.
“JE’DERM Skin Atelier?” I ask a doorman behind a desk. He motions me to an elevator and instructs me to head to the basement and hang a right. The entrance of the atelier is almost as low-profile as the building’s exterior: a wooden door, a doormat, and not much else. I ring the doorbell and wait, feeling more like an empty-handed party guest than a patron seeking a skincare treatment.
Eliana, one of the atelier’s two co-founders, answers the door. My lingering uneasiness dissipates the moment she invites me in; not only is Eliana incredibly warm, but the space itself feels like a home. Albeit an extraordinary home, reminiscent of a posh pied-a-terre.
Furthermore, unlike virtually every other corner of New York City, there’s a healthy person-to-square-footage ratio. With the exception of a woman exiting as I enter, the entire space seems reserved for me and me alone. In many cases, such scarcity may suggest business is struggling. For JE’DERM, however, it simply speaks to the exclusivity of the place. The atelier has thrived on this A-lister aura (and attracted actual stars) for a solid seven years, and it took me almost as long to snag an appointment.
Founders Eliana Restrepo and Judit Galambosi have earned their stripes in the skincare world. The duo met while working at Erno Laszlo®, where they bonded over similarities in their skincare philosophies. “We both believe that beautiful and healthy skin requires commitment,” Eliana says.
So, tandem with its delightful décor, JE’DERM serves a diligent, meticulous approach to its facials. Technically, the atelier only offers one treatment — the Bespokesm Facial Treatment ($260 for 75 minutes). But, as the name implies, it’s far from formulaic. Instead, the Bespoke Facial is a series of treatments customized and selected specifically for your skin. Personalization is part of JE’DERM’s DNA. “Every [person’s] skin is unique and requires individual attention,” Eliana explains. The ultimate goal is to establish a facial routine that can be toggled and monitored, as opposed to choosing your own skincare treatment from a menu of what you think you might need.
Eliana leads me to a velvet emerald couch, where she offers me water and a questionnaire. The form reminds me of something I might fill out at my doctor’s office, with questions about the minutiae of my routine to the medications and supplements I’m taking. The form is followed by a conversation with Eliana. She asks about my skin type (dry) and my long term skin goals (maximum hydration), and I sense that she is hanging on to every word. She nods before pausing to peruse the answers from my questionnaire, a pensive expression crossing her face.
After the seated skin assessment, I follow Eliana into my treatment room. Once I’m cozy on the bed (read: sinking into a marshmallow-soft abyss), she performs a visual assessment. Apparently, I can benefit from a bevy of treatments.
We begin with microdermabrasion. This popular exfoliating treatment acts as a prep step of sorts. It uses a rotating metal tip to buff away the outermost layer of dead, dull skin, allowing subsequent treatments to work more effectively). Microdermabrasion in itself is not uncommon, but I’ve never experienced the treatment over my decollete, down my arms, and over my hands. Most facials forgo these areas, Eliana notes, but they shouldn’t: the skin on the chest and hands is thin and prone to rapid aging.
Next, she applies a gentle lactic acid peel to dissolve any additional buildup. It tingles slightly, but no more than some of my favorite at-home peels. Then, I feel a tickle of fabric across my face. Eliana has placed gauze over my skin in preparation for a treatment she calls “high frequency.” Puzzled, I watch as she produces a glass, wandlike tool. Essentially, the device emits a high frequency electrical current, which kills acne-causing bacteria. “It also encourages lymphatic drainage and improves skincare absorption,” she adds. Futuristic as it sounds, high frequency has been used for decades. Eliana waves the wand over my face a few times. It doesn’t feel like much, but it produces a slight buzzing and crackling sound, as if it’s literally frying off the impurities on my skin.
She then moves onto a light-based treatment called the Bioptron® Light Therapy. It works by targeting fibroblasts — i.e. the cells responsible for producing collagen and elastin. “It’s a polarized light that stimulat[es] blood circulation and tissue regeneration, while also reducing inflammation,” Eliana explains. I slip on a pair of protective goggles and close my eyes as the light washes over my face. The warmth feels similar to sunshine (though rest assured — there are no harmful UV rays involved). I bask in the lamp for five minutes or so before Eliana returns to deliver the facial’s final step.
Unlike the previous phases, this last step does not involve any sort of tech gadget; instead, it’s a good old-fashioned face mask. Dubbed the White Rose Alginate Mask, it’s a soothing concoction designed to reduce inflammation and fine lines, Eliana explains.
“Are you claustrophobic?” she asks before applying the product.
I tell her I am not (though the question gives me pause). Then, she applies the mask in thick layers over my entire face. When she’s done, my nostrils are the only thing exposed (hence the claustrophobia question). I lie in this sensory deprivation for a good five minutes as the mask cools and hydrates. Eliana returns and wipes it away. I look in the mirror and see a glowier, more hydrated face staring back at me.
A week or so later, Eliana emails me to check in on my skin. Her continued interest in my face is just the type of lovely, personalized touch that makes JE’DERM truly unparalleled. My glow has certainly dimmed since my Bespoke Treatment, yet my skin remains somehow bouncier; more nourished, as if I’ve been drinking more water than usual. Whether it was the microdermabrasion, those mysterious blue currents, or a combination of treatments I received, one thing is clear: JE’DERM and I are on our way to achieving my skincare goals, one Bespoke Facial at a time.
Complimentary service was provided to the author for the purpose of writing this article.