I’ll make a long story short: I had a clear, undemanding complexion until I was 20, when my face imploded. I have never recovered, and am now the proud owner of premature fine lines, redness and sensitivity, hormonal breakouts, and huge pores. Huge!
Recently, I got a brand new magnifying mirror, perfect for emphasizing everything I dislike about my face. I suddenly became more conscious than ever of my, uh, imperfections, because that’s what happens when you look at yourself in a magnifying mirror. I was particularly disturbed by just how clogged my pores are. I could have resigned myself to the inevitability of the situation; it’s just what happens when you live in a dirty, busy city like New York, so if I don’t want clogged pores I should just move to the French countryside, right? Or I can get a facial. I went with the facial, because it is objectively more practical than buying a home in Alsace.
Obviously, I wanted the best of the best, which led me straight to Ildi Pekar. Favored by beautiful people like Miranda Kerr and Lindsay Ellingson, the Hungarian-born aesthetician is, by all accounts, a skin whisperer of sorts. She doesn’t employ the kind of hardcore, chemical-laden peels that some other facialists do; rather, Ildi is an advocate of treating skin with modern machines as well as a natural approach skin care.
Plus, they’re totally customized—Ildi says, “Every facial we do here is tailored to each client’s needs, so they can see the results they’re looking for.” Perfect for someone like me, who both shies away from harsh ingredients and likes to feel like they’re special.
Ildi also knows everything. Once she got a closer look at my face, she immediately identified that the little bumps around my mouth were from dryness, and confirmed my deep conviction that tap water is terrible for your skin. This is a huge part of her practice—that the biggest changes come from within, hinging on what you eat and how you take care of yourself. Below, the three most important things I learned during my hour with Ildi.
1. Soy, dairy, and sugar might just be the worst things for your skin.
“The philosophy I resonate with most is ‘fixing from within,'” she says. “Growing up in Hungary, we were taught to take care of ourselves both inside and out. Nowadays people will flock to a cream that will ‘fix’ the problem, when in reality your body is trying to tell you something.” She believes that a good diet is the key to good skin, and says, “I find that reducing soy, dairy, and sugar will reduce breakouts.” (And it probably would, if only I’d stop eating them.)
2. Your skin doesn’t have to be totally traumatized post-facial for it to make a difference.
My face looked and felt remarkably clean upon leaving Ildi’s penthouse office. I was exfoliated, extracted, masked, and oxygen-misted, and my skin wasn’t even red—very important, considering most facials I’ve had left me with skin so raw and tortured that I’d want to pull a hood over my head and run home. This time, all I left with was clearer skin and straight-up knowledge in the form of Ildi’s parsley mask (and the decidedly less DIY I-Pekar Hungarian Thermal Mud).
3. If you’re not using parsley on your face, you’re missing out.
Who knew! “Parsley contains an impressive amount of Vitamin K, which will reduce redness and promote a plump and healthy glow,” she says. “Just two tablespoons of parsley contains 153-percent of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin K.” To make Ildi’s DIY parsley mask, chop a handful of fresh parsley in a processor or manually and combine it with 2 spoonfuls of organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar and 3 spoonfuls organic plain yogurt. Maybe go the extra mile by adding some 100-percent raw honey, which Ildi also loves. I can’t really promise that you’ll achieve the skin of a Victoria’s Secret Angel, but the closer you get, the better.