The Secret to Healthy Skin With Beauty Expert Joanna Vargas

Author: Sarah de Brun

Feeling comfortable in your own skin is a goal many of us aspire to, and Joanna Vargas –celebrity facialist, skincare line creator, and founder of two namesake salons – promises that an authentic, gorgeous glow isn't as far-fetched as we may assume. From Los Angeles to New York, she's renowned for creating magic through the use of technology and natural products. For celeb royals like Naomi Watts, Julianne Moore, and  Maggie Gyllenhaal, it's practically a ritual to visit Vargas pre-award season to get their skin in flawless shape. The miracle worker invited us to her salon for the afternoon and gave us tips on how to make the very best of the skin we're in.

When it comes to your work, you keep a perfect balance between natural ingredients and technology. Tell us about your love of science, and the importance of incorporating it into your methods.
I think when I started in this industry, people were very much in an old fashioned frame of existence. We were doing glycolic peels and it was very one-size-fits-all. After the first eight or so years, I really started to get sick of treating clients that way. Opening my salon when I did coincided with a lot of innovation, and I wanted to be on the cutting edge of that. Rather than a magic pill, I think people understand now that a curated system is what yields the best results. Marrying natural with non-invasive was completely logical to me.

You’ve been in the skincare game for quite some time. How have you seen the industry evolve, and how has that evolution helped you to expand your skills and knowledge?
When I became a facialist, clients were looking for the holy grail in a jar. They wanted that fantasy. Like, "use this cream and you will magically look like Julianne Moore." I think now people understand it's not just one thing that creates the result. You have to lead a healthy lifestyle along with great treatments. It's been such an exciting time in skincare because I am constantly researching and looking into new treatments.

You have a gorgeous collection of products that feel healing just by reading the ingredients. With so many skin issues to combat, how did you select which ones to focus on?
My products are made to show instant results.  I think because I am a facialist, I know what women are looking for and I know how to make a woman happy with her skin. My products are designed to give that to everyone who uses them! I think the key is to focus on skin health - what are the basic ingredients that keep skin glowing and functioning the way we want? That is the basis of my product line.

You give off such positive girl power vibes! You studied women’s studies at the University of Chicago, your profession is all about helping women to feel beautiful in their skin, and you’ve spoken highly of the amazing women you work with. As a mom and entrepreneur, what values are important for you to pass down to your kids?
Thank you. I take great pride and care in everything I put out into the world in terms of a woman's image. I think I am most concerned with making them feel beautiful in their own skin and embracing what makes them unique. I think we went through a period of cookie-cutter beauty and I want us to move on from that. My goal with clients is to make them feel confident. So when it comes to my own children, I want them to embrace their uniqueness and to feel free to express their individuality. I recently celebrated the ten year anniversary of my company and I gave a speech to my wonderful staff. I told them that we are constantly breaking the mould for what you are "supposed" to be doing, and I want to create ten more years of that!

You are a big supporter of philanthropic organizations like Applied Scholastics and Wild Aid. Can you tell us more about how you first got involved with them and what this experience has been like for you?
Applied Scholastics is the type of school my kids and nieces go to. It's a type of education system that gives children an opportunity to create their own purpose for learning, and allows them to progress at their own pace. It's an amazing system of learning, but it also educates parents. They do a lot of community tutoring and outreach. Education is the basis of everything in this country, and you are left out of so many opportunities if you can't learn. I got more directly involved some years ago when I started to chair their annual fundraiser. It's a great way to give back.

My son, in particular, wants to be a marine biologist and because of his interest in the environment, we have become more and more active in programs that help provide sanctuary and care to animals that are being decimated by illegal trade.

“I think we went through a period of cookie-cutter beauty and I want us to move on from that. My goal with clients is to make them feel confident."

Your Triple Crown Facial is one of your most famous treatments. What was your inspiration behind creating the TCF, and how did you map out every step included in the treatment?
I was inspired by a friend's mom who was European. She used to do electricity type facials weekly, and I thought it was super chic and very unique. I wanted to put the best technologies together in one service because I hate an upsell during a relaxing facial. It's a great treatment because it works for everyone.

My Triple Crown Facial is an awesome treatment to get before an event, and is favored by my celebrity clients before a shoot or the red carpet. I use a mild electric current to drain puffiness, tone muscle, and tighten skin. There is no downtime, people love the instant effect, and in the long run the effects are cumulative. I usually recommend this facial once a month. For someone in their twenties, a facial once a month is always recommended, but this facial is a great treatment once a month for thirty and up. Since I designed this treatment myself, it is only available in my salon.

The Triple Crown Facial uses three unique steps to re-shape your face and speed up collagen and elastin production to produce dramatic results. Step one, the diamond peel really removes surface dirt and dead cells. I believe a great exfoliation is awesome and can transform the skin. It allows for all the products to penetrate better. Step two, the microcurrent drains puffiness, tightens muscle, and builds collagen. It's like going to the gym for your face . Finally, oxygen is soothing, healing, and collagen building all on its own. It gives anyone an instant glow and gives the skin a much needed boost.

What are some of your own daily healthy skin rituals that you always abide by?
I wash my face nightly and do some sort of hydrating treatment. I exercise a few times a week, I drink a green juice daily, and I never go in the sun. My friends tease me, but my hats are the reason my skin looks so good. Dry brushing is a beauty ritual everyone should do. I do it every morning before getting into the shower. Long strokes upwards towards the heart. It helps with lymphatic drainage and keeping cellulite at bay. You will see results in two weeks; your skin will be tighter and your skin will be glowing all over. I do a beauty mask once a week because the skin needs a mask to help repair and restore. After one month, you will get nonstop compliments.

You seem to be a true believer that healthy skin happens from the inside out, and eating well is a must for a beautiful glow. Any other lifestyle habits you’d suggest for us?
Increase exfoliating to twice a week. This is great for getting rid of that dry winter skin that looks dull and grey. Start dry brushing the body: before you get into the shower, two minutes a day of dry brushing will exfoliate, stimulate collagen, and firm your booty in time for the beach! If you are crashing at your desk in the pm and need caffeine, you should try a green juice instead. It will hydrate and refresh your skin from the inside out. It will also give you a great kick of energy that you won't feel from coffee.  Want to look ready for summer? Eat greens for every meal to manage your weight, cellulite, and skin. It will slim you down, aid digestion so your skin glows, and make you feel healthy!

 As we make our way into Spring, how can we revive our winter worn skin?
After the cold winter months, spring is a great time to think about resetting the skin and getting it ready to look great for summer. Most people have experienced dryness and some form of sensitivity due to the extremes of winter.  My idea is to completely reinvigorate and resurface the skin so you can face brighter days with a brighter complexion. 

Work talk aside - what can we find you doing on a day off?
We are usually doing indoor rock climbing with the kids. My husband and I can both be active and it's a fun activity for the kids. 

 What do you wish clients would do more of, and less of?
I wish clients would love themselves more, and the number one mistake most women tend to make is they skip exfoliation. I encourage women to make exfoliation a priority twice a week so you look like you have just had a facial.

You have salons on both coasts of the country. Do you see a difference between what women on the west coast need for their skin vs. women on the east coast?
I think we are all the same in the sense that we all want to age gracefully.

What are three spots in NYC that you love?
1. EN Japanese Brasserie restaurant downtown. It's beautiful inside and the food is spectacular!

2. I love The Cloisters. I always go there to draw and just chill.

3. I love the promenade in Dumbo. It offers such a great view!

What does MISSBISH mean to you?
To me, not only does it mean staying on top and being cutting edge, but it's also about being a great mentor. That's who I am to my girls and my staff. I am trying to create a space for learning, mentorship, and growth within an industry that badly needed an update. Beauty now is so interesting. I'm so happy for my daughter that she gets to grow up in a world where it's ok to be who she is.

Photos by: Angela Datre

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