Supermodels have a lot of things in common: genetically gifted features, wind machine–worthy hair, and mile-long legs. But there’s something—or rather, someone—else they share: that would be Ildi Pekar, NYC’s supermodel skin whisperer. Originally trained in her native city of Budapest, Hungary, Pekar soon brought her extensive skincare experience to Manhattan, where these days she treats every Victoria’s Secret Angel before they walk down the runway, as well as top models like Irina Shayk, Lindsay Ellingson, and the ever-glowing Miranda Kerr. In the off-chance you don’t reside in New York or aren’t able to squeeze in an appointment—models flock to Pekar in droves—don’t despair. In the name of good skin for all, we caught up with Pekar and asked her all our pressing skin questions, from the biggest mistakes we may unknowingly be making to the foods we should eat for skin like Kerr’s. Consider this your virtual one-on-one consultation with Pekar—something to hold you over until you’re able to visit her chic Manhattan office yourself…
Keep scrolling to read this top facialist’s most important skincare advice!
On the #1 skincare mistake:
“The biggest mistake I see clients do is either overdoing or underdoing it when it comes to skincare. It’s rare where I see a client providing themselves with a balanced skincare routine and products.
“I often see women who are doing a number of treatments per week that can sometimes be totally unnecessary to their skin in repetitive forms; sometimes doing too much on the skin can irritate it more. I also see women who come in who aren't taking the right steps to maintain or prevent some skin issues that their skin will start to show later on.
“The best way is to start by seeing a skin specialist. They will be able to provide you with the necessary products and skin regimen your skin will need to get you on track. Researching things yourself can only take you so far!”
Advice for oily skin and dry skin:
“Oily and dry skin have the same common problem: The pH in the skin is not balanced. By eating an alkaline diet and using the right products, you will be able to deliver the nutrients your skin needs in order to balance.”
Advice for aging skin:
“Starting at the right age is key. If you are looking to slow down aging, we recommend starting in your 30s. Beauty today has so many unique techniques and technologies that can help slow down accelerated aging. I would recommend starting early with natural treatments and products before opting out for treatments that are irreversible during those desperate moments.”
On the skincare regimen she prescribes her model clients:
“Everyone’s skin type is different, so therefore the regimens are different. If I’m working with a normal skin type with no skin issues, I would say the typical skincare regimen is to get a facial once a month for basic cleansing and aging prevention, and a basic skincare routine: cleanser, exfoliator, moisturizer, and eye cream. Keeping a simple yet effective routine works wonders for your skin!”
On treating your skin the way a supermodel would:
“I always believe if you focus on something with the intention to love it, it will heal and grow gracefully. Taking out 20 minutes once a week to give your skin some love with a simple mask and a five-minute stimulating massage gives your skin the attention it needs between visits to your skincare specialist.”
“Women should incorporate retinols to their skincare routines in their 30s. I would only recommend any time earlier if you are experiencing harsh skin concerns like breakouts and pigmentation. Retinols do have a lot of power, so I always recommend it in moderation, and only if needed.”
On the most important skincare ingredients every woman should use:
“Honey! Not only is it my favorite ingredient, but it’s one of the best ingredients I have seen great results from. Between its healing abilities and revealing your lovely luster, this is a beneficial natural ingredient to add in your skincare regimen.
“Another great ingredient is vitamin C. You may not know this, but Hungarians are the ones who discovered it in the 1930s; it was a Hungarian doctor by the name of Albert Szent-Györgyi. We always highlighted the importance of vitamin C in healthcare, which always led to skincare issues. Deficiencies of this ingredient are easily shown on the skin, as it may appear dull and dehydrated.
“Hyaluronic acid is great to add to your skincare routine. This is a naturally occurring ingredient in our bodies; they are moisture bonds in between our skin that keep it hydrated and full of youth! As we get older, we don’t produce enough of this ingredient, which results in dull and dehydrated skin. Topical hyaluronic is great! I would also recommend my hyaluronic treatment, which focuses on penetrating this ingredient deeper into the skin for longer-lasting results.”
On beautiful skin starting within:
“Skin problems are not stop signs—they are guidelines. Your body is so smart and talks to you every day. Feeling and seeing symptoms on your skin are signs of communication from within. It's important to take the time to read what your body is trying to show you—that’s the key to fixing the solution. As people, we have to know that skincare is healthcare, and it’s an inside-out job.”
On the better-skin diet:
“There are so many superfoods to incorporate into your eating lifestyle. I always recommend clean vegetables and fruit, lots of healthy fats, and your choice of protein. Our bodies all respond differently to different diets, so it’s hard to pinpoint the one that would be good for everybody. I recommend seeing a good nutritionist who can deliver the right information on what types of foods to eat to give your body the nutrients it needs.
“If you are not allergic, my choices in healthy foods to feed the skin are raw honey, avocado, nuts (almond is my favorite), parsley, and berries. I’m also big on supplements! Our food is very deficient is vitamins and minerals, so you need to make sure you are getting your recommended daily intake for them.”
On the whole drinking water–skincare connection:
“I can’t preach enough how much water benefits your skin. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! We need water to help expel toxins in our bodies and keep us hydrated and circulated. Drinking a cup of green or matcha tea a maximum of two times a day delivers skin-beneficial antioxidants, and it also has healing benefits.”
On dealing with acne:
“If you have acne, please have patience! I have too many clients who come to me after they have done a number of lasers, prescriptions, and peels that actually irritate your skin, resulting in the delayed process of healing. I would recommend starting out with a natural approach to heal the acne before anything else.”
On keeping things simple:
“Not every regimen needs to be expanded. I preach a simple routine that does not overstimulate your skin. Keep it simple and clean. Your body is so smart—it knows how to heal itself. Don’t confuse it, because it will only get angrier. Keep it happy and healthy with simple yet powerful ingredients that work together in the healing process.”
Click here to find out why models always skip this essential skincare step.