Tools of Craft

Joanna Vargas

A skincare expert talks beauty essentials.

THE BLUEPRINT FOR IMPECCABLE skin has been defined for the past decade by Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist for the famously beautiful: Julianne Moore and Helena Christensen, Mindy Kaling and Rachel Brosnahan. Now with her own book, “Glow from Within,” and an at-home, all-in-one facial device called the Magic Glow Wand that promises dramatic results, Vargas is bringing her years of expertise to those who may not be able to book an in-person appointment anytime soon. We sat down to chat in between clients about what you’ll need to glow from the inside out — from her go-to skin-fortifying smoothie recipe to an at-home facial as memorable as her signature service. Considering her past life as a fire-eater, her insight on healthy drinks for skin rejuvenation feels hard-won. And the results speak for themselves.

● A green smoothie: “I throw green powders into smoothies for lunch. One green powder I love is Morning Complete from Activated You. I'm obsessed and can't live without it. Another one I like is Green Blend from Amazing Grass. Both of those powders offer two full servings of greens and veggies. If you're struggling with making good choices with your diet, these are an easy way to get greens in your system without going through a lot of chewing. I’m a big fan of shots of chlorophyll as a couple of extra servings of greens in your diet too. I love an all-greens juice with romaine (about four leaves), one stalk of celery, one whole cucumber, a handful of spinach, a handful of parsley, a handful of kale, and one whole apple with a dash of lemon and ginger. Celery, kale, and spinach are great for stimulating the lymphatic system to help de-puff and prevent breakouts in the skin. The lemon and ginger are more for taste and the ginger makes it a little spicy, which I like. A green juice instantly hydrates the skin while encouraging lymphatic drainage, so you are de-puffed and glowing.”

Another Joanna Vargas recipe:

Mrs. Clean
10 celery stalks
1 small bunch of parsley
⅓ medium cucumber
¼ medium apple
Juice of 1 lemon
Grated fresh ginger

One high-tech device: “I created a device called the Magic Glow Wand that mimics every step in a professional facial by breaking it down into four programs. The first program is a heated setting, when you’ll throw an exfoliating or clay mask on, and heat is delivered via the steamer. This helps to keep ingredients activated in the mask that you're using.”

An exfoliating mask: What mask works best with this step in the process? Vargas makes a lactic acid and kaolin clay mask that combines chemical and physical exfoliants together to target cell turnover. She also recommends The Organic Pharmacy Four Acid Peel for its unique combination of glycolic, lactic, citric, and tartaric acids to gently exfoliate using organic and vegan ingredients. “The second setting is heat plus massage. When you're getting a professional facial, they’ll massage your face while the steam is on to stimulate circulation. Once that exfoliating mask comes off your face, the next step is going to be a sheet mask.”

● A vitamin C sheet mask: “No matter your skin type, vitamin C is a naturally soothing ingredient depending on what the formula is, and it's typically very anti-inflammatory. It helps protect your skin against cell mutations from the sun and pollution. I also love mandelic acid, which is an alpha hydroxy acid that's in my Dawn Face Mask with vitamin C combined. It's good for getting brightening going on when you combine it with the benefits of vitamin C.”

“Everybody thinks that your skin just stays the same, but it's constantly changing. It's an organ, its primary function to protect us against the environment. It's going to be reactive to that and you have to kind of respond accordingly. That's why I love sheet masks because you can really diagnose what your skin needs in the moment. And, you know, choose the right one for you at that time.”

● An oil-based serum: The next step after a sheet mask is at-home cryotherapy. “The third setting mimics doing cryotherapy in our salon. Cold against the skin helps to reduce the appearance of redness. It helps to de-puff and tighten. It is so soothing when you do it over a sheet mask. Once the sheet mask comes off, use an oil-based serum just to soothe the skin.” Two she loves: Glass Skin Refining Serum from Peach and Lily and her own Daily Serum. “I call it a green juice for the skin. It contains chlorophyll to de-puff and hyaluronic acid to super-hydrate.”

The final program on the device is cold massage. “This is meant to mimic what it's like to actually get a manual lymphatic drainage massage in the salon. The lymphatic system doesn't have its own pump, so massage is a way of stimulating the system, which helps your immune system.”

Dry brushing: Treating your whole body right is important, from what you put into it to how you care for the skin that isn’t on your face. Vargas suggests all her clients dry brush their bodies every day. “I tell clients that a dry brush is a very low investment for a very high return. You can get a dry brush anywhere. You don't have to just buy mine. Just two minutes a day before you get in the shower, always brushing upwards towards the heart. It's great for your elasticity, your circulation, great for the lymphatic system, and you'll really see the results in a very short period of time.” Vargas’ Ritual Brush is $30, available on her website or at her spas. You can get similar ones at any major retailer for around the same or less; hers happens to have a detachable arm.

● A powerful body balm:
Once you’re thoroughly brushed and cleaned, Vargas loves Jordan Samuel Olio Per Il Corpo Body Oil to moisturize. For areas that get super dry, Burt’s Bees Goodness Glows Miracle Balm is the way to go. “I love this one because I can even use it on my daughter, who gets so dry in winter on her face.”

Our Contributors

Arabelle Sicardi Writer

Arabelle Sicardi is a writer and brand consultant who focuses on the intersection of beauty, technology, and power. They are the author of "Queer Heroes" and the forthcoming "The House of Beauty." Their work has appeared in Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Teen Vogue, the Cut, and Vogue Business.

Gentl and Hyers Photographer

Andrea Gentl and Martin Hyers are the New York–based photography team Gentl and Hyers. They have been working together for over 25 years and are at their happiest when wandering in a far-off land, cameras in hand, exploring and connecting with people.

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