Her Skincare Secrets: An Interview with Celebrity Facialist Joanna Vargas

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

The secret to her success goes further than her signature LED and microcurrent facials (offered at the two salons she founded in LA and NYC) to refine and reshape skin. It’s her warming personality and sparkling good humour that makes her such a pleasure to work with.

Starting her own skincare line – Joanna Vargas Skincare Collection – was the next natural step. Loaded with natural extracts like chlorophyll and sweet potato, they help nourish the skin and give it that Hollywood glow.

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But what does she uses on her own skin? In this interview, Joanna Vargas shares her morning and evening skincare routines, the products she can’t live without and the lifestyle hacks that help her achieve flawless skin:

When did you become interested in skincare?

I was obsessed with beauty products since I was a child. I can remember having so many different lotions and potions as a young child! I also was really into perfume- Opium was one of my favorite smells! I also really paid attention to photography, magazine ads and commercials. 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 immediately!

What’s your skincare routine like?

I recommend a minimalist regimen: cleanse at night and apply a serum or a mask for sleeping. In the morning, cleanse or rinse, apply a serum, moisturizer and a sunscreen. I also exfoliate twice a week and do a beauty mask once a week.

Morning: I always wash my face at night, so in the morning I simply rinse my face with tepid water. I don’t like using extreme temperatures on my skin, because this tends to dry it out. I apply my Rejuvenating Serum to my face and neck and follow with Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer. I don’t wear much makeup for work – I think it’s nicer to see clean, fresh skin.

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Night: I never go to bed without washing my face! I use my Vitamin C Face Wash, which is a foaming exfoliating cleanser. I take my makeup off with that as well, because I hate fussing with tons of products. I follow with my Daily Serum – the skin needs greens, and my formula is packed with vital greens for the skin. I apply it all over, even to the eye area. It makes the skin hydrated and lightens and brightens my face for morning. If I have a big event the next day, I will sometimes go to sleep with my Exfoliating Mask on my face. It really brightens and exfoliates for a nice, clean palette in the morning for makeup!

If you could only use three skincare products for the rest of your life, what would they be?

My all-natural, organic Daily Serum is packed with vital greens and is inspired by my love of green juicing. It contains my favorite ingredient, Galactoarabinan, derived from the larch tree. Galactoarabinan causes more cell turnover than a glycolic, but it’s also anti-inflammatory, so it doesn’t cause irritation, even on sensitive skin. It also contains Oat Grass Juice for the lymphatic system, Chlorophyll for oxygenation, Vitamins A,C,E and F found in leafy greens, and Hyaluronic Acid. You will look glowing and fresh, even when you don’t feel it! My celebrity clients use the Daily Serum as their secret weapon to keeping the glow in their skin!

I like my Exfoliating Mask for all skin types because it’s gentle, but will calm breakouts and resurface the skin. I encourage my celebrity clients to sleep in it the night before a red carpet event. 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! It’s awesome for bringing that glow back to the skin, and it will really flatten any breakouts that you might have.

My Super Nova Serum because it is a retinol that is good for all skin types. It has soothing anti-inflammatory ingredients that support the skin, so it won’t get too red or too dry and helps control the oiliness of the skin while, gently addressing aging. This retinol is a clinical strength but is gentle enough to be used around the eye area as well, which is important to address fine lines.

What are your fave skincare brands and why?

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I love my Joanna Vargas Skincare line because my products are made to show instant results and are made to work for everyone. The line is based on my belief that products should provide good nutrition for the skin. Once we have that, we will have glowing skin all the time. I think because I am a facialist, I know what people are looking for and I know how to make a client happy with their skin.

I love my friend Renee Rouleau- her products are genius.

What are your top 3 skincare tips to take care of your skin?

I start any good skincare routine with diet advice: if you are breaking out or if you simply have dull skin, the best solution is adding more greens to your routine. One of my best tips is to start by eating a bit of avocado everyday 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.

Exfoliate! Exfoliation is my secret weapon to having great skin. It’s the most often skipped step in people’s home routine but it really makes a huge difference in the way your skin looks and feels. Think of exfoliation as your way of creating a perfect canvas for your products and your makeup. You could be investing in the most expensive amazing skin care products at home, but if you don’t exfoliate, those ingredients won’t ever penetrate to make any difference at all.

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If your skin is inflamed, red, or breaking out, you should always apply your products in a downwards motion on the face towards the sides of the neck. This encourages lymphatic drainage and brings down redness immediately.

What skincare treatments do you regularly have done?

I always recommend clients have facials once a month. Nothing you do at home can replace a professional exfoliation, extraction and attention!

I recommend LED light therapy, regularly, to help keep the skin calm and restore strength and health to the skin. LED Light Therapy uses red and infrared light to reduce inflammation, build collagen and speed the healing of the body. It’s a great instant glow and the long term benefits are lessening of lines on the face, thickening of the skin and overall healthy glowing skin! 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 Light Therapy treatment.

Microcurrent is absolutely wonderful for lifting and toning the skin long term. I use electricity to drain out excess water, tighten the muscle and tighten the skin to make the jaw and cheeks look tight, lifted and youthful. Although it’s a non-invasive treatment, microcurrent is like going to the gym for the face. Most of my clients like to come every three to four weeks to really get the cumulative benefit. My signature Triple Crown Facial uses microcurrent and is favored by my celebrity clients. Since I designed this treatment myself, it is only available in my salon.

What lifestyle habits do you have that keep your skin in top shape?

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Eating healthy 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! If I have a client who doesn’t eat salad or drink green juices, I tell them to go to Whole Foods and buy liquid chlorophyll, it tastes like mint, it oxygenates the skin, keeps skin clean, works from the inside out see a huge difference in your skin in a matter of days.

I would strongly suggest avoiding sugar, dairy and wheat. All of those things are hard to digest and lead to breakouts even in adult skin! Most people don’t realize that skin directly correlates to our digestive system. If we eat something we can’t digest or have trouble digesting, there are consequences!

Eliminating coffee in the afternoon when you are dragging your feet at work and substituting that with a green juice will do wonders for your face. It will decrease puffiness in the eyes and will even improve dark circles. Green juice will also help to oxygenate the skin, which means the skin will be better able to rid itself of impurities and bring in nutrients.

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