Skin Care specialist to the stars Sophie Carbonari wasn’t looking to become a wellness guru. Nevertheless when you have got a calling, you have just got to embrace it and take it as far as you can. And that is what this young Frenchwoman is currently doing as she works between London and Paris on some of the world’s most beautiful faces, including fashion icon Caroline de Maigret, super model Maria Borges, jewelry designer Charlotte Chesnais and fashion journalist Camille Charriere.
⏤ But, like all “overnight” success stories, Carbonari put in the years building her craft, her unique face massage technique and her line of organic, all natural face creams and scrubs. Twelve years ago, after being open for only a year, the enterprising Carbonari had to close her first signature boutique in the south of France. This setback early in her career made her take stock and realize that the way she had originally been trained to do beauty treatments was not what she felt would truly help women get better skin. “I started to explore the muscular, and physiological aspects of the face, what was going on underneath the surface,” explained Carbonari. “And as I began to look into this I discovered the ways Japanese and Asian cultures work on the skin was more in line with the sort of deep tissue treatment philosophy I wanted to learn more about,” she added.
⏤ To make a real break from her early misfortune, Carbonari, who didn’t speak much English at the time made the bold choice to move to London. There she took her future into her own hands and went straight to a well-known Japanese spa in Marylebone and flat out asked the owner to hire her. “They loved the initiative, even though they were surprised. The manager said ‘we are all Japanese in here and we have different techniques’ and I said ‘I know! That’s why I want to be here.’ They like strong hands. They made me do a training on them, I did my best, and they said it was perfect so I was hired immediately to work at the spa,” recounted Carbonari. After two years honing her skills at the spa in Marylebone Carbonari gradually came up with her own unique approach to skin treatments. One that is a hybrid mix that blends Kobido and Cosmo Japanese massage techniques that promote blood circulation, remove toxins and facial impurities and rejuvenate and enhance the skin’s elasticity along with gestures designed to help with lymphatic drainage. “I felt like just putting cream on a face was not enough. It wasn’t really going to make fundamental changes to how a person’s skin looked and felt,” said Carbonari. And her firsthand experience with her own skin issues (she has an oxygenation problem) made here even more determined to help others achieve good skin by working from the inside out.
⏤ Like many entrepreneurs her age Carbonari used social media to get her business off the ground. “I DM every person that I liked on Instagram. Nobody answered to me but then one day, out of the blue Caroline happened to be in London, and at like 10PM, she answered me saying ‘Ok, I can do 2PM tomorrow’ and I said ‘hell yeah!’ That’s how we met. She liked my facial and posted about it – twice – on her feed and that alone got me interest from PRs and it just has taken off from there,” related Carbonari.
All of which is to say that to truly understand what the fuss is all about it was important to test out one of Carbonari’s signature facials. And after a never ending season of fashion weeks I decided to do exactly that. The day after my final haute couture show I booked an appointment with her at the renowned Hotel de Berri, right off of the Champs Elysees. At the hotel she has become a sort of facialist in residency whenever she comes to France to treat her Paris based clientele. There, in a suite with a wall to wall window looking out onto a lush garden of greenery, Carbonari sits down with her clients to check in with them about how their skin is doing.
⏤ “After that, I have my clients lay down in front of me and I will start touching their skin without any make-up. It’s visual but also a question of touch,” she explained about her process. “Different types of skin don’t have the same feel under the finger. I have to touch and see how the skin reacts. I make the analysis and then proceed to the treatment with products. I test the skin each time. I don’t like to get stuck in one protocol so I develop my own. I have three different cleanser: I test the first one, see how the skin reacts, and so it goes,” she added.
⏤ In person you wouldn’t know that Carbonari has any skin issues whatsoever. She doesn’t wear a lick of makeup and her skin literally radiates a healthy glow. A quick hand on her bare shoulder, while leaning in for a kiss on the cheek to say hello, confirms that her skin is a silky smooth as they come. But that isn’t the only reason why people want to refer to her as a wellness guru. She also emanates an overall feeling of positivity, is prone to fits of joyful and infectious laughter and is an open book when it comes to her own struggles with skin issues.
As for the treatment itself, it was a revelation.
Over the past 25 years I have done facials all over the world and nothing even came close to the instant and long lasting results I had from just one of Carbonari’s signature treatments. Between the all-natural products that she uses and mixes herself in her own kitchen (include everything from rose water and orange blossoms to rice and silk proteins) and the facial massage, my skin never looked plumper, firmer or more healthy. It was almost as if I was a lump of clay on her table, that she sculpted into my face via a unique massage technique that felt like a fluttering combination of the skin being simultaneously rolled and gently squeezed that result in it feeling like it was humming or vibrating with energy by the end of the treatment. And Carbonari gets bonus points for doing a deep scalp massage while the exfoliating or toning face masks set.
⏤ “I want to create a space where women just come in and just let everything go,” said Carbonari of the goal she wants to achieve with her work. “I want them to feel like all of the pressure is off their shoulders. I want to create a space where my clients say ‘I’ll come back next week because I feel so good in here”.