If you live in New York City and you possess a healthy bit of skin-care fanaticism, it’s likely you’ve heard of Danuta Mieloch, the Polish-born, French-trained esthetician and founder of beauty-editor-beloved Rescue Spa. Located on a bustling section of East 19th street in Manhattan, the salon (which also has a sister location in Philadelphia) is widely known as a destination for anyone looking to experience a luxurious, meticulous facial that leaves skin looking as plump and supple as a Japanese mochi ball. It’s also no accident that Mieloch is the go-to facialist for industry heavyweights like Eva Chen, Naomi Campbell and Amber Valletta. In short, the woman has a way with epidermis.
Mieloch is famous for her vocal devotion to Biologique Recherche (her technique for incorporating the infamous P50 toner into her facials is the stuff of legends), and Rescue Spa stocks some of the beauty world’s most renowned products, from brands like Environ, Augustinus Bader, Future Cosmetics and more. So I was surprised to hear that she had recently developed her own skin-care brand, called Danucera.
Nowadays, a beauty launch is typically accompanied with a level of fanfare that you’d expect to find at a celebrity’s first-born child’s birthday party. (Read: over-the-top and flooding social media feeds for days.) Mieloch, however, is ready to let her new duo of products do the talking.
“I’ve done thousands of facials,” she tells me over Zoom (after complimenting me on my skin’s glow, like a consummate beauty professional). “[Danucera] is a way to get a bit of me if you can’t come into the spa.”
As a pioneer of the trademarked Bio-Lift facial, it’s true that Mieloch’s signature technique yields a lens-busting radiance, but she claims that her new D22 Tonic and Cerabalm (which retail for $88 and $55, respectively) are the ideal combination of products to achieve that same kind of healthy skin luminosity at home.
“I would always mix products and become my own mixologist in the treatment room,” she says. “I always wanted to create a line inspired by the best products on the market. The dedication I had doing those thousands of facials, you have to devote the same amount of time and energy to create an amazing skin-care line.”
Never one to shy away from testing a new skin-care product (especially one developed by a woman who blesses my face with a facial every few months), I eagerly incorporated Danucera into my routine to see if it would live up to the hype and my own high expectations.
First up: the balm, a multipurpose formula with a honey-like texture devoid of any fragrance, parabens or silicones. As Mieloch explains: “Technique matters with the balm. You massage it in and add a bit of water to get the milky texture. It encourages people to really take time to cleanse the skin. It’s gentle enough for everyone to use, and the skin [is left] clean, but not overly dry.”
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Although Cerabalm can also be used as a mask or spot treatment for dry areas, I decided to try it as a cleanser to remove makeup and reset my chronically dehydrated skin in the evening. I applied a dime-sized dab to my dry face, massaging with my knuckles for 60 seconds to break up any stagnant lymphatic fluid, and using gentle pressure around my eyes to remove my waterproof mascara. Next, I splashed a bit of lukewarm water on my face to activate the oils (like sea buckthorn, meadowfoam, apricot kernel and hibiscus), working the milky texture around my face and neck before using a clean washcloth to remove it — a suggestion from Mieloch herself. As promised, my skin didn’t feel like it was crying out for moisture within seconds of patting it dry, but I did find that I needed a swipe of micellar water to get rid of a few lingering mascara flakes.
Then came the D22 Tonic, a product that I couldn’t help but equate to the Biologique Recherche P50 toner for which Mieloch is so well known. “The tonic is about hydrating and exfoliating,” she says. “It’s also tightening and firming,” noting that it’s her “clean” beauty answer to any and all anti-aging needs in terms of skin regeneration. (To note: Biologique is not a self-proclaimed “clean” beauty brand.)
Right off the bat, the biggest difference I noticed between the Biologique formula and Danucera’s was the smell. If you’ve used the French brand’s toner, you absolutely know what I’m talking about: If the scent of P50 is comparable to a rancid garbage bag laced with vinegar, D22 is your used salad bowl after rinsing it in the sink — a barely perceptible tang, with just a tinge of earthiness. There was also no tell-tale afterburn once I applied the Danucera tonic with a cotton round post-cleansing, even though it contains a combination of glycolic and lactic acids.
After 10 days of use, the blend of grape flower cell extract (for a boost of protective antioxidants), hydrating glycerin and purifying birch juice had left my pores looking less noticeable, with my complexion appearing brighter and any texture issues appearing notably diminished. And any potential irritation or reaction from trying a new product (as can occasionally happen)? Zero to be found, much to my delight.
“We’ve seen amazing results from our studies,” says Mieloch, who conducted clinical testing on both products before bringing them to market, focusing on brightness and hydration results. And because she recognizes that a cleanser and toner are only part of a well-rounded skin-care routine, she’s also currently undergoing development with her French cosmetic chemist for a serum and moisturizer, but without the typical rush to get the products on store shelves as quickly as possible.
“My goal was not to do a huge line,” she says. “We’re in this cosmetics buffet, and I wanted to bring it down to the basics. [Danucera products are] good basics that you keep going back to. It’s like your capsule wardrobe, but for your skin.”
So, while I won’t yet cancel my semi-regular Rescue Spa appointments in favor of a DIY facial, I’m grateful that maintaining a bright, healthy complexion won’t be such a challenge while I wait to visit Mieloch again. Consider me — and my skin — Danucera’s newest loyal fans.