Insider Interviews: Joanna Vargas: Facialist & Skincare Founder
Vargas has been tending to the skin of the US glitterati for over two decades. With a best-selling skincare line and award-winning spas in NYC & LA, she's THE person to see for red-carpet worthy skin. Here we find out how her career started, the products she loves and her own go-to beauty addresses.
Famous For: I’m known for vetting technologies and bringing in the best of the best, so I can curate a specific protocol for each individual. The Triple Crown Facial is my signature facial and still my number one requested service. I use a mild electric current to drain puffiness, tone muscle, tighten skin and reshape the face. By the end of the first treatment, the jawline will be more defined, cheekbones more pronounced and eyes will look younger and refreshed. There is no downtime, the results are instant and the effects are cumulative! Since I designed this treatment myself, it is only available in my salon.
Years in the Industry: I became a licensed esthetician in 1998.
Clients/Fans Include: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Rachel Brosnahan, Julianne Moore, Sofia Coppola, Naomi Watts and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
I have been obsessed with beauty products since I was a child. I can remember having so many different lotions and potions as a young child! As I grew up, I started out wanting to be a photographer, then a makeup artist. I went to esthetics school for makeup, but really fell in love with skincare and taking care of people one-on-one, and that was that. I gave myself a year once I got licensed to see how it would be and I never looked back.
My big break came after I first opened my salon in 2006. I was working 7 days a week and doing 8 facials a day. The first article ever written about me was a story in Daily Candy, which was huge in NYC at the time. It was my first big break for sure. I also won their first ever Sweetest Touch award in 2007. That was huge too.
The flawless skin we see in photographs and on the red carpet requires three things – hydration, soothing and exfoliation.
I think ever since I became an esthetician in the 90’s there has always been a push towards aggressive treatments. When I opened my own salon in 2006, I knew that I wanted to focus on teaching women we could strive to be the best version of ourselves by doing things in a non-invasive way. I wanted the facials to be so special that my clients would leave their treatments so happy that they would tell their friends about it. My focus has always been about using beauty technology and results-driven treatments.
In my opinion, the best aesthetic procedure for improving the look of skin is My Twilight Facial, which is a combination of radiofrequency and microneedling. It’s as close to a face lift and skin rejuvenation that I’ve ever seen in my life. I tend to get microneedling done to my face monthly just for skin tightening and pore refining. If you have acne scars, maybe you do three of those treatments a year or a little more. But you do see a result immediately which is exciting!
I think over exfoliating is the worst mistake I see repeatedly. Somehow women have got the impression that the more they use retinols, glycolics and scrubs the better their skin will be. It’s important to exfoliate regularly (see my Golden Rules below) however, we really need to understand that the skin can only take so much.
My 5 golden rules for truly great skin:
- Exfoliate! Exfoliation usually acts as a mini facial and it will bring our glow back immediately. I encourage my clients to sleep in my Exfoliating Mask. It evens out pigment, takes down inflammation and after a good night’s sleep in it, you wake up fresh faced like you have just had a facial!
- My go-to treatment is LED light therapy. LED light therapy uses red and infrared light to reduce inflammation, build collagen and speed the healing of the body by 300%. In my salon, we do several different treatments that involve LED light, but by far the most popular is my patented RevitaLight Bed, which gives a client a full-body LED treatment in just 20 minutes. The bed covers the entire body with red and infrared light, reducing cellulite, lines, wrinkles, sun damage, acne scars and stretch marks to give a smoother and more even skin tone – all over!
- If you aren’t wearing a hat and sunscreen daily, you need to start now. Sunscreen needs to happen every day, even in the winter, because you’re going to start seeing the effects of the sun if you don’t. The sun causes cell mutation (i.e. wrinkles, sunspots and fine lines) so you have to protect it!
- Eating healthily is obviously good for many things, but if you want glowing skin, it is more important than you think to have a good diet. I find that the best skin diet is one that involves eating veggies of different colors for every meal and a green juice every day. There is really no substitute and it works on everyone! One of my best tips is to start by eating a bit of avocado every day as part of your salad, or even throwing a half of an avocado into your morning smoothie. Avocado supplies the skin with healthy fats and phytonutrients to hydrate from the inside out and bring back your glow. I love an all greens juice with romaine, celery, cucumber, spinach, parsley, kale and apple with a dash of lemon and ginger. A green juice instantly hydrates the skin while encouraging lymphatic drainage, so you are de-puffed and glowing! If I have a client who doesn’t eat salad or drink green juices, I tell them to go and buy liquid chlorophyll. It tastes like mint, it oxygenates the skin, keeps skin clean and works from the inside out, you’ll see a huge difference in your skin in a matter of days.
- Lymphatic massage is one of my favorite ways to help reduce puffiness, eliminate dark circles under my eyes, and lessen the frequency of breakouts. You can do it when you’re applying skincare products in the morning or at night.
My book “Glow from Within” is about my nutrition advice, key ingredients, finding a key routine, what you can do to change the appearance of your skin, and much more!
- My Vitamin C Face Wash because it’s foaming and a little bit exfoliating. It can remove all makeup and it gets the days dirt off in one minute.
- I like my Exfoliating Mask for women of all skin types because it’s gentle, but will calm breakouts and resurface the skin. I love to advise clients to sleep in it. You wake up glowing!
- My Daily Serum is my green juice for the skin. It has hyaluronic acid, and oat grass in it. It helps depuff and is hydrating without being heavy.
- My Super Nova Serum. It is a retinol to help control the oiliness of the skin while gently addressing aging. You can use this around the eye area as well which is important so they feel they are addressing fine lines around that area.
- My favorite anti-aging serum is my own Rejuvenating Serum. The combination of the olive oil and argan oil eliminates fine lines around the face while jojoba oil keeps the skin moist. Neroli and rosehips oils are great for circulation and offer protection against sun damage and pollution.
Hairdresser: Glenn Ellis
Blow-dry go-to/hair treatment: a blow out from Val or Jacob (above)
Dermatologist/Skin Doctor: Anetta Reszko
Workout Spot/Exercise Class: iconoclast Fitness
Masseuse: Camilla from Joanna Vargas NYC Salon
Facialist: I try to get facials every three weeks. And usually one of the masters, or senior esthetician here in LA give them to me. I love my team! They’re super talented and all amazing facialists.
Favorite Spa Destination: Joanna Vargas Salons