Justyna Sroka, Senior Operations Manager, Juice Press

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“I came to New York six years ago from Poland to study film, media, and political science at Hunter College and to learn English. I was working at Cafe Gitane to pay my tuition and my bills, as a waitress at first, then I became a floor manager, and then the general manager. It felt like home there—it was such a neighborhood place. I made all of my friends and met my boyfriend, Albert [Hammond, Jr.], there.

Now I work in operations at Juice Press. A while ago, I did a 10-day cleanse and felt so great...although I’ll admit I was a bitch to everyone for those 10 days. [Laughs] But after that, I stopped eating meat—only fish—and it became hard for me to eat at Gitane, so I would go get a chia pudding or a juice every day at Juice Press down the street. Their owner eventually asked me if I wanted to be the area manager, which meant being in charge of stores and helping develop everything. They've been growing really fast, so it was an exciting opportunity.

Juice changed my life. You don’t worry about calories and you have so much more energy. The cold-pressed kind is the best because it has the most vitamins and enzymes. I balance my diet with juice and solid food. Albert and I buy a week’s worth of food from local farmers to cook at home. I quit eating cheese, and then I stopped eating these bagels that I was addicted to from Olive’s. Your body just gets used to it, and eventually you stop craving it. Sometimes it’s hard for me to drink juice, but I just plug my nose and chug it. It clears you up, and the next day you won’t feel sick or bloated. It’s amazing. And when I do eat things that aren’t great for me, like bread, I get breakouts. I also don’t feel very good. The other day I ate Lay’s chips and I was like, ‘Oh man! These taste so good!’ But after, I felt so sick. I’ve learned my lesson for a little bit. [Laughs].

When it comes to beauty, I’m really curious. I get to talk to so many people in a day, and I’m always asking everyone at the store, or back at Gitane, what they use—that’s how I’ve found everything I use. I only wear a few products, so I want them to be great. In my everyday life, I prefer to look like I’m not wearing any makeup. I basically just use a little bronzer, some concealer if I need it, and maybe a tinted balm on my lips. I like Nars Bronzer in Laguna because it looks natural, but I don’t need it in the summer. Under my eyes, I use Stila Perfecting Concealer, which I tell everyone about. It has a good consistency, it’s easy to apply and blend, it’s not too sticky or oily, and it really covers blemishes and the dark circles under my eyes. It’s truly great.

On my lips, I love Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Passion to give them a little tint and sun protection—it has SPF. If I decide to put lipstick on, it’s most likely going to be Nars Vesuvio. But I like to mix it with something else to moisturize my lips because it can be drying. But the color suits me—it’s not too orange or too pink; it’s right there in the middle. And I think it brings out my eyes.

For my skin, I use a lot of Mario Badescu. Someone told me to go to their spa, and, since I’ve been using their products, my skin has felt amazing. Albert and I both wash our faces with Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel because it isn’t soapy, and it’s easy to wash off. The Cucumber Cleansing Lotion is basically a toner; it's so good, you don’t even really have to moisturize after you use it. But for moisturizer, I like the Mario Badescu Oil-Free Moisturizer with SPF 17. And, for a refresher during the day, I spray the Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater. I keep it in the fridge so it’s extra refreshing.

My skin is pretty normal, but I get zits here and there. The Mario Badescu Drying Lotion is amazing for when I have some kind of blemish—the zits will be dried up and gone the next day. And their Healing & Soothing Mask is great for breakouts. I also love the Flower & Tonic Mask because it makes my skin so soft, and whenever I use it, Albert tells me, ‘You look so radiant.’ He influences a lot of what I use. [Laughs]

We also share shampoo, the Wen Cleansing Conditioner, which I tried by accident and thought, ‘This is so great.’ It’s all-natural, and makes your hair really shiny and so soft that you don’t need conditioner—it’s all-in-one. You just put it on for five minutes and wait—I use that time to brush my teeth. I have thin hair that gets tangled very easily, but the Wen makes it so much easier to comb through.

It takes me no time to style my hair; I wake up 10 minutes before I have to leave the house. [Laughs] I don’t dry it, so I usually leave the house with it wet. If I want beachy texture, I’ll use a little Evo Salty Dog Cocktail Beach Spray. And in the summertime, when I know I’ll be outside, I spray in Sun-In for extra highlights—sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m not really sure what’s natural—just from my hair being in the sun—and what’s from the Sun-In. I also like Bumble and bumble Styling Lotion, because you can use a little bit and still have your hair looking natural.

In the shower, Flying Fox from Lush is my favorite body wash. And the best exfoliator I have ever used is Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish. The oil in it really absorbs into your skin and leaves it feeling so soft.

I’m also really big on steams. I did one yesterday. I was looking at products at Whole Foods and a lady told me to try Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath Salts because they’re good for your bones, joints, and muscles. They really relax me. Sometimes we’ll go to the Russian Baths on 10th street and spend, like, three hours there. We'll take vitamin B3 and Niacin, which is a mood elevator, to increase blood flow—you'll feel warm from your head to your toes. When you take it in higher doses, it pushes out toxins and makes you sweat. You have to drink a lot of water, but everything comes out in a long steam.

I just changed my perfume for the first time since I was 15. I used to wear Eternity by Calvin Klein, which I stole it from my aunt. Everyone wore it back then; I loved it. People would always tell me my perfume reminded them of something, because they probably used to wear it, too. But, recently, I just wanted something different, so I’ve been trying Diptyque Eau Rose.”

—as told to ITG

Justyna Sroka photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on October 10, 2013.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Kasia

    Yet another lovely Pole on Into the Gloss! I'm really proud :)

    • denisa7

      that is so great that you, Polish are so supporting of each other! It is a very nice comment! Thank you

  • Ona_in_Barcelona

    Jesus christ - if juicing will give me a complexion like hers, count me in.

  • Noor

    This is one of the best yet! Maybe she can finally be the one to tell us where the girls at Gitane get their uniform dresses! Am I right or am I crazy?

  • Restless Blonde

    Great TopShelf. And I am soo proud of another Polish girl here :) we rock!

    http://restlessblonde.blogspot.com/

  • Ivy

    I feel strange whenever they talk about the amazing benefits of juice cleanse. Growing up in Hong Kong, we have juice shops everywhere and drinking juice is just a part of our lives that we don't really need to talk about it.

    http://www.mykindofchic.com

  • dover

    ahh! i remember you justyna from cafe gitane. you were always really nice...even when it was packed! i left new york a year ago and i miss that place so much! coffee and chocolate sqaures forever! hope all is well lady!

  • Abby

    I get so excited when I see a new Top Shelf!

    She is adorable! I love Mario Badescu too! Really great stuff, but that Drying Lotion never worked for me =/. I love juices too, but they're so expensive to buy everyday so I usually make them instead.

  • Chantel

    Nice article and thanks for sharing these great products!

  • Katherine

    Wow thank you ITG, you have read my mind! Lovely post :)

  • bluesky557

    I share her love for Mario Badescu's Enzyme Cleansing Gel. It's such a great product.

  • AA

    does anyone know where her pants are from?

  • softy

    she is drop dead gorgeous, has a great job, a famous boyfriend, beautiful complexion and a killer bod...and you feel sorry for her because she doesn't like to eat bread?

    • Alexandra

      Softy <3

      • softy

        @disqus_DJ8aVdtcVQ:disqus <3 too.

        @bc47a1f99a78de26f1ecb6850850933b:disqus i can't respond to your comment, so i'll respond here.

        how do you know she is not happy? i guess you're good friends with her and she confides in you.
        what is normal and healthy? everyone likes to eat different foods and different things work for different people. i probably eat very differently than you, but that's my normal and it makes me feel great. so she doesn't like to eat bread? some people don't like to eat vegetables. some people, like me, don't like to eat chocolate croissants (i prefer pain aux raisins in case i'm going to be accused of being borderline anorexic, too). do you feel sorry for them because they don't subscribe to your standard of what is supposed to taste good?

        also, how can you say she is not healthy? she doesn't say she lives only on juices. do you know how many other thousands of things she could be eating in addition to drinking juices? chicken, beef, eggs - i won't go on, obviously.

        i didn't judge her worth based on the fact that she has a famous boyfriend and that she is beautiful. in fact, i knew that would be brought up in a counterpoint and i shouldn't have mentioned that. but everyone needs to stop freaking out every time someone praises a way of eating or living that is different from theirs. she's not forcing you to juice or give up bread. she's just telling us what works for her. this is a beauty website and diet is very much a part of that for some people. i don't want to stop hearing about what works for the people that are interviewed just because for some reason, people just can't stand hearing about a person who likes to do something they don't.

        i think i have a pretty solid grip on whatever it is you're telling me to get a grip on. you kinda need to chill.

  • yogasometimes

    Denisa I think Mady means it in a nice way - like shes so gorgeous she COULD be a model, but no shes just an 'average polish girl'. Its a joke (a nice spirited one).

    • Mady

      yes, of course! thank you :)

      • denisa7

        oh, I apologize for being thick.

  • Kristy

    Beautiful girl.

    But I don't care how good you feel after a juice and how bad you feel after eating bread, I will never see juice as anything more than a drink, and go through life never indulging in the beauty of a crusty baguette or medium-rare steak.

    Eat your vegetables, people. But food is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

  • Kristy

    what a fortunate career path, indeed.

  • Kristy

    Manhattan casts a spell on the best of us--I think if you're surrounded by people with stick thin bodies shelling out $9 for a juice you just ...get used to it/brainwashed.

    Something about juicing will always feel dirty to me,though. Unless you're making it at home and use the whole fruit, not just the juice.

  • gabrielle

    With all the talk of juicing on ITG, I'd love to see an article about the pros and cons of it. I just found out - thru a diabetes-prone family member taking a diabetic cooking class - how juicing can be detrimental to some people. I think people are aware of how much sugar is in store bought juices like orange or apple, but can gloss over the fact that there is also a good deal of sugar in carrot or beet juice - even if it's fresh pressed.

    We see so many beautiful women on this blog who tout the benefits of juicing as a cure-all but not everyone knows the medicinal uses like Amanda Chantal Bacon..

    Can ITG do an article with some professionals to get various educated opinions on the topic?

    • denisa7

      yes, please!!!! :)

    • Maggie

      I very much agree with you - one should get very educated before jumping on the bandwagon. And why not make smoothies instead of wasting all the fiber in the whole vegetables? Why can't you just add juice to your diet, rather than it replacing entire meals? And if ITG is looking into this, or any of you for that matter, I would recommend the nutritionist Kimberly Snyder. She has immense knowledge and experience, not to mention her smoothie recipe!

    • Maggie

      And might I add that I would LOVE to see Kimberly Snyder featured in a top shelf?! She is lovely and quite a master at yoga.

  • Sasha

    Where are her pants/overall things from? If anyone knows please share. They are awesome!!!

  • Dana

    Church!

  • Beth

    I'm not positive, but from reading the article she comes across as a very nice/ out-going person which I think really gets you pretty far. Never underestimate networking, I'm guessing that she made her passion for juices known and that might be another reason she got the job

  • eva

    oh god, another interview talking about evil bread and dairy, and holy moly juicing. I wish this was true but this is just so wrong!! juice is the worst part you can get from a fruit. Plus solid food is wonderful, especially whole grain breads! why do people just talk about how it makes them sick ? I think it can only happen if you have gluten intolerance or something. Just eat everything in moderate, and appreciate the food. no one says you should eat potato chips but come on...

  • lyz143

    Mario Badescu recently totally saved my life! I tried oil cleansing for a month and my skin did not react well at all, just zits and open sores and painful cystic bumps. I bought the enzyme cleansing gel, cucumber lotion, and buffering lotion, and I could feel my skin healing after two days. Two weeks later and my skin look fantastic!

PRODUCTS MENTIONED

Stila
stila 'perfecting' concealer
Mario Badescu
Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel (Value Size)
Mario Badescu
Mario Badescu Cucumber Cleansing Lotion
Mario Badescu
Mario Badescu Oil-Free Moisturizer SPF 17
Mario Badescu
Mario Badescu Facial Spray
Mario Badescu
Mario Badescu Drying Lotion
Mario Badescu
Mario Badescu Healing & Soothing Mask
Mario Badescu
Mario Badescu Flower & Tonic Mask None
WEN® by Chaz Dean
Wen by Chaz Dean Sweet Almond Mint Cleansing Conditioner
Evo
Evo Salty Dog Cocktail Beach Spray
Sun-In
Sun-In Hair Lightener Lemon
Bumble and bumble
Bumble and bumble Styling Lotion
LUSH
LUSH Flying Fox Shower Gel
Fresh
Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish
Dr. Singha's
Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath Salts
Nature's Bounty
Nature's Bounty Niacin 500 mg Vitamin Supplement Capsules
Calvin Klein
Eternity by Calvin Klein Eau de Parfum Spray
diptyque
Diptyque 'Eau Rose' Eau de Toilette Spray
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