Traveling to the Greek isle of Skyros is not as simple as going from A to B. Your long-haul flight is typically followed by a three-hour drive to the island of Evia, before a two-and-a-half-hour ferry ride takes you over the crystalline Aegean Sea. Locals (and the expats who descend on the area every summer) get to shortcut the ordeal, of course; designer Gabriela Hearst could make the journey by boat from nearby Milos, where she has a summer home, should she want to visit Macrene Alexiades, MD, the cosmetic dermatologist and laser surgeon with Greek parentage and three Harvard degrees. “Being there is like stepping back in time,” says Alexiades, who has just completed construction on a split-level Skyrian retreat that includes a private treatment room overlooking the beach of Kalamitsa.
Alexiades’s pretty, prewar Park Avenue office is a fairly easy commute in contrast—if you can get an appointment. Dressed in a simple Alaïa black bodysuit and high-waisted jeans, Alexiades is wistful for her biannual escape when we connect in New York early last fall. On her Skyros property, she has begun harvesting medicinal herbs that grow wild on the island—anti-inflammatory lemon verbena, antibacterial lemon balm, and skin-tightening linden—for the latest addition to Macrene Actives, the skin care range she began in 2009. This month, Alexiades will expand into body care with the Skyros High Performance Body Cream and Body Lotion, welcome companions to the complexion products that have become staples with her clients, including Sienna Miller, Brooke Shields, and the makeup artist Gucci Westman.
Buoyant and youthful at 55, Alexiades embodies the minimal-intervention approach she takes both with her patients and the bucolic property, where the local farmer tasked with maintaining the land employs biodynamic techniques and lets curious wild goats and hares roam freely. “Macrene’s focus is incremental positive change,” says Shields. “She helps me look like I have never been in the sun,” adds the actor, perhaps forever in our minds as the radiant and shipwrecked teenager from The Blue Lagoon. “Her formulas are focused on replacing procedures to treat the skin in ways I never imagined,” adds Miller, who has just left Alexiades’s office when we speak.
“Sienna validates my theories that it is possible to restore the skin to the way it was before it starts to degenerate, which is roughly at 25,” Alexiades explains, detailing the importance of combining UV-damage-reversing devices, such as the Picosecond fractionated laser, and a good skin care routine. (Alexiades’s Skyrian extracts will be just as effective above the neck, she concedes, hinting at a future reformulation of her entire nine-piece line.)
As three more clients assemble in her waiting room, the kind of slow-living intentionality Alexiades has cultivated in Skyros—and bottled in New York—appears to offer a respite from the chaotic pace of post-pandemic life. On the island, Alexiades tells me, she typically winds down with a sunset bath using her homemade olive oil soap, while the day’s herb harvest dries on hand-hewn wooden racks next to her Cycladic-inspired clinic. It’s a no-rush ritual made better by company: “I then meditatively apply the body lotion to the lower legs, feet, and arms—and if I have an extra pair of loving hands, I’ll ask them to massage it onto my back.” Get me to the Greek, I say.