Isabelle Bellis


On Saturday, I ventured uptown to a quiet, tree-lined block just off of Madison Avenue, for a facial with Isabelle Bellis. She’s the proud occupant of the penthouse in a quaint prewar brownstone—a narrow, well-maintained building with an old-fashioned European-scale elevator. She answered the door and I practically fell in love.The authentic Victorian blouse. The smattering of gold earrings. That hair. I settled into the easy sofa and observed the chicness of her, and the space. “And Emilie, do you have two hours?” she asked, in the tiniest of baby voices but the thickest of French accents (French? Okay: girl crush cemented.) Huh? Two hours? “Um…sure, but, I’m just here for a regular facial.” She just smiled and waited for me to complete the questionnaire, which was three pages long and asked if I lived in the city or country (can’t get more city) and how many caffeinated beverages I drink on a daily basis (more than I cared to admit).

Bellis moved from Paris to New York and began working on skin five or six years ago. Before that, she trained with the legendary biologist-turned-epidermologist Joëlle Ciocco, whose eponymous product line she both uses and sells. And before that, she trained with a gemologist in Belgium and Israel, meticulously grading diamonds. Bellis’ attention to detail and eagle eye in identifying imperfections led her to the beautification business. That, and an inherent drive towards all things wellness-related: she grew up on the coast, in Brittany, with organic-vegetable-growing parents. “I had a beautiful landscape all around me; I like to be surrounded by beauty and nature,” she says. “It’s not only products you apply, it’s what you eat, what you think, your lifestyle. I’ve studied naturopathy, homeopathy, oligotherapy, Ayurveda. I continue to study because it never ends—there’s always something you can incorporate into your practice.”

I’d like to know what she didn’t incorporate into our practice. She began with a lengthy “natural massage,” which was really a guided meditation to calm the mind and scan the body of stress (“Now, go to your knees—the front, the back, and relax,”) and finished with a form of Chinese “cupping,” (“to bring the blood to the surface and just to move everything.”) But the majority of those epic two hours were spent massaging my face. “I am a strong believer in circulation—to fix the stagnation,” she tells me, her hands flying over my forehead at rapid speed. This “sculpting,” as she calls it, works to warm and release the muscles, freeing toxins and—dare I say it—relaxing fine lines and wrinkles. “When you have tension, your muscle becomes dry and this can leave marks,” and on that note, she instructs, “Now, open your mouth, Emilie.” Two latex glove-clad fingers slip beneath my cheek. What? Yeah. But…it actually made me think, dentists should do this as added value during a cleaning. Because it felt really, really good—in that tough-love-massage kind of way, because those muscles are tense! And who’d have thought? Bellis, apparently.

Mouth surprise aside, the entire Bellis experience was thoroughly relaxing and almost transportive—the rhythmic massaging lulled me into a light snooze, which I fought so I could ask, “What’s this mask?” (“Verbena, to soothe,”) or, “What’s that liquid?” (“Magnesium.”) The various layers of product being swept on and off became seamless, and all added up to the “Pow! Luminous!” skin that one beauty editor friend proclaimed I’d have afterward. Yes, it glowed, but more than that, it seemed like I’d had a facelift: my eyes looked alert and my eyebrows arched with new vigor. And, I was less puffy. “I like to make people feel good, and improve, because it’s the image you reflect,” Bellis said. At least for the weekend, I felt like a country girl who drinks nothing but spring water.

Isabelle Bellis, 60 East 66th Street, (212) 966-3262

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  • Dawn

    What a great first read in the morning, again. I knew she's from paris because of the first picture, the hair, the Victorian blouse and the demure smile. I love the simple interior design of her penthouse with all the whiteness. I think French accent is so sophisticated, I was imagining her voice as I read haha, 2 hours?? nice. Her work experience is just "wow." thanks for describing the facial process, it seems so amazing, I wish I could have a facial from Isabelle.

  • Marcela

    I love this post.
    This is exactly the kind of thing that I love. I will take down her details and I will do everything in my power to go there if and when I can. ( God knows when I will visit the states again)
    Love, love the post.
    Oh my! You must have had a really great weekend then.
    Good for you, and now thanks to this post, good for all the people who now know about her.

  • gorete sousa

    Great Post!!!
    love it!!!


  • Copper Etiquette

    You always have great posts

  • Dain

    I'm so glad your previous interview with Lili Barbery-Coulon sparked an interested in Joelle Ciocco's products and method for you. It made me curious, too. I even looked up Isabelle Bellis. And within days you post this... Awesome.

  • The Procrastinator

    Verveine is easily my favourite scent. I could bathe in it and I believe it would only do good things for me!

  • Katja

    This is phenomenal! Would love to know what her personal "Topshelf" routine is.

  • Keely

    “It’s not only products you apply, it’s what you eat, what you think, your lifestyle." ~ so true! I LOVE this post, thank-you.

  • anita

    I love the shelves of product! Bliss!

  • sarah

    add another onto my growing NYC check list. Every time I read a post I'm instantly wishing there was a way to blink myself from LA to NY. Please come to LA and seek out our golden nuggets. I'm having east coast envy/withdrawals! On another note, this was terrifically written, you have a silver tongue to go with that great skin of yours :)

  • Colleen

    I wish we could see a before and after picture of your skin! I've never had a facial before, and now I don't think I want one unless it can be with Isabelle Bellis

  • Tara

    I second the idea of having a "top shelf" article on her skin care routine!

  • Jennifer

    Lovely post. Do you know where I can find someone who is trained in the epidermology method on the west coast?

  • Joy

    Into The Gloss, you're on a roll with these interviews! I love them!

  • Margaret

    I love this post and definitley plan on getting a facial from Isabelle sometime soon (probably after i have my baby). I have been interested in Isabelle and the Joelle Ciocco products since reading about her in Lucky Magazine several months back. I would love to know what nutritional tips and skincare tips she gave you.

  • Damion

    Your writing is enjoyable and I love that you are so giving. This blog is a very holistic read. I always feel inspired after checking it out <3

  • julie

    She looks so lovely and and amazing. I definitely love to see her 'top shelf'. Please ITG!!

  • Devon

    this facial sounds incredible-what is the cost of this magnificent treatment?

  • chic noir

    wow, sounds neet. I read about the "inside mouth message" via Carrine Roitfeld. I am really curious but I'm afraid I may bite Isabelle's finger.

  • Ivana

    Sounds and looks so delightful! Do you know approximately how much she charges? I must try this :)

  • Alyssa Goodwin

    That sounded absolutely amazing! I love to be in that calm state, so peaceful and it sounds like the rhythmic movement of her facial massage really made your skin glow....well and the wonderful products as well. So jealous....nicely written. I will check back again! Alyssa

  • Lisa C

    Reading Into the Gloss makes me feel *almost* as refreshed as if I had gone to Isabelle. (Can you give us a hint on the price? Available to mere mortals? Her website omits this indelicate fact...)

    Like Sarah says, it would be wonderful if you came out to the West Coast and found the most amazing places for LA and SF ladies to try :)

  • cristina

    please interview her again!

  • jackie

    I called her place last week to ask about products. Her manager was very nice. I *think* he said $240.00 for the facial?

  • TheBeautyPhilosopher

    This looks divine! What is that gorgeous ethereal top/dress she has on in the top pic?

  • Diana

    You've been spoiling us this past week with all the amazing posts! I agree with cristina, please interview her again! Or better yet Emily, you could later do a "Top Shelf" follow up of your routine with the Joelle Ciocco products!!

  • cristina

    yes! more isabelle! she wearing orange pants? I love it.

  • Li

    Thank you so much for this post, so far my favourite post!! Would love to know what general nutritional tips and skincare tips (more details) she gave you. Please interview her again, possibly for top shelf !

  • Marysia

    Lovely post and you made we want that facial too. Love your blog and all the insightful writing. thanks

  • vc 0117

    I got some magnesium on my last trip to Europe and it's a yellow liquid .. What color is the liquid magnesium she applied on your face?