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Joanna Vargas: Star Facialist

The esthetician behind Michelle Williams’ glow shares her beauty secrets (like the skin fix that’s in your kitchen)

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New York-based esthetician Joanna Vargas, pictured left, knows a thing or two about skincare. After 15 years in the business, she has gained a cult following thanks to her organic facial treatments and her eponymous all-natural skin-care line. As a facialist to celebrities like Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts, Sofia Coppola and more, we asked Vargas for tips on getting perfect skin.

What is something that you can incorporate into your daily routine to improve skin health?
One thing I encourage my clients to do instead of having a coffee at 4:00, when you’ve crashed and need a pick-me-up, is drink a green juice—I like to mix romaine, celery, cucumber, spinach, apple and ginger. It will oxygenate the skin and give you just as big of a kick as caffeine, but with the added benefit of glowing, beautiful skin.

What is a common skin care mistake that you often encounter?
Exfoliation – women either over-exfoliate or skip it entirely. Over-exfoliating is a nightmare for me because it thins the skin out, which happens as you age anyway, so you’re just speeding up the ageing process. When you under-exfoliate, you really are making the skin so suffocated and in need of oxygen that nothing penetrates and it looks chalky and dull. I recommend exfoliating once to twice a week, depending on your skin type. You can do it at home and it’s like having a mini-facial.

You are an advocate for non-invasive skincare procedures, how did this come about?
Frankly, fillers and Botox violate my own sense of aesthetics. As far as invasive treatments go I know people do them, and will continue to do them, but we’ve seen over and over again that it’s not the magic wand that we want it to be. When I see a beautiful woman it has to do with not knowing what made her beautiful, just that she looks vibrant and healthy. And when you use Botox you can tell you’ve had work done, and I don’t think that’s a beautiful thing for people to be thinking about anybody.

What are some of the benefits of natural skincare?
Natural products assimilate into the skin better and that guarantees that you’re feeding the skin all the correct vitamins and nutrients. When you have a product that has a lot of chemicals you’re triggering the body’s immune system so your body tries to defend itself against it.

How do you get skin red-carpet ready?
I recommend sleeping in my exfoliating mask – it evens out pigment and reduces inflammation. I also like beauty masks using kitchen ingredients like honey; the meat of a plum; yogurt, which is a natural anti-inflammatory; and a bit avocado oil, which is especially hydrating after a long plane ride. I recently recommended it to Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz after their press tours for Oz The Great and Powerful. Masks work so well for the skin, you’d be really surprised. And it’s really fun to do if you have time. I always have yogurt in the fridge of the spa because you can always fix your mistakes with a bit of yogurt on the face.