5 Holiday Glow-Getting Tips from Celebrity Esthetician Joanna Vargas
Updated: Jan 16
Make pale and pasty a distant memory.
It's no secret that my favorite spa in Los Angeles is The Spa by Joanna Vargas at the Sunset Tower Hotel. Not only does the renowned esthetician have her own natural skincare line and a star-studded roster of clientele, but the beautiful facility features some of the most cutting-edge treatments in the beauty industry.
From the LED light bed with skin-healing, collagen-stimulating infrared light, to her contouring micro-current treatments, and even plumping radio-frequency treatments, you have access to science-backed skincare treatments that still espouse a holistic, anti-inflammatory treatment philosophy. These are literally the treatments that prepare A-listers for the red carpet, so when you become a regular at the spa, you're getting the best of what Hollywood has to offer to its most glamorous, high-profile residents.
Even more exciting for skincare fanatics? Joanna Vargas' New York location just began offering two treatments that go beyond the traditional scope of a high end spa: the Clear + Brilliant Rejuvenation Facial, and a body-toning EMSCULPT treatment.
Clear + Brilliant Skin Rejuvenation Facial, $750
Clear + Brilliant is a mild fractional laser treatment with no downtime that I previously got from my dermatologist in LA at Rebecca Fitzgerald MD. The treatment lasts about 20 minutes, but after a series of 2-3 treatments, your complexion will be resurfaced, flawless, and smoothed. It drastically promotes cell turnover to the point that fine lines are diminished, and I've required more exfoliation than usual in my regimen ever since due to heightened cell turnover. In plain English, this means my skin is acting younger — it’s growing faster than before, fending off the thinning skin and decreased collagen/elastin production that occurs as we age. (Reverse aging? Maybe.)
Joanna's Clear + Brilliant facial, which costs $750, is extra-special because she uses her state-of-the-art treatments to follow-up with healing infrared light, reducing inflammation and drastically promoting healing times. Usually after Clear + Brilliant, I use a soothing mask by SkinCeuticals (I normally shun the line but they have it at my derm’s office), then slather on ingredients like CBD, phyto-EGF, or phyto-collagen to help my skin rebuild. It’s not pleasant, but it’s such a mellow resurfacing treatment compared to my past forays into laser skincare that to me, it’s a breeze.
After the 20-30 minute session with the ”baby fraxel“ laser, you'll receive cryotherapy, an oxygen treatment, and the LED light bed mentioned above, all of which soothe, calm, and speed up the regrowth of skin cells. Without her equipment, it takes 2-3 days for your skin to feel normal again; I will absolutely try this out when I move back to New York City so that I can compare the difference. (In fact, it was her lead facialist in LA, Sora, who recommended I look into Clear + Brilliant in the first place!)
EMSCULPT, $3,500 for 4 sessions
This next offering should be on your radar if you're looking to sculpt or tone your body.
The FDA-cleared device is a non-invasive, 30-minute treatment that uses electromagnetic energy to induce 20,000 muscle contractions. It increases muscle mass by 16% and reduces fat by 19% on the butt, legs, and abs. Your body will be sore after the treatment, as if you've had an intense workout at the gym.
Considering how her micro-current treatments are like a work-out for the face, I can only imagine that this is like a little electric "gym" for the body. I am so curious that I will probably try it out one day, although I don't typically spend cash on body treatments. I ran it by my boyfriend, Tom, who is super into fitness, and he is curious about the merits of this new technology.
Until then, here are 5 holiday glow-getting skincare tips from the lovely woman behind this skin magic: celebrity esthetician, Joanna Vargas.
Super Nova Facial, $295
This facial was first launched in connection with her gentle retinol serum, Super Nova. The treatment was the first time I experienced the incredible effects of micro-current, and ever since, I was hooked. I also know that the blogger behind Kangthropologie — who has gorgeous skin — is a fan of this serum.
"My favorite facial for the season," Vargas states. "We use a combination of micro current, cryotherapy, and a medical-grade gold collagen mask to hydrate, sculpt, and lift the skin. You will glow for days!"
Chamomile Tea Bags
If you're on a budget, you will appreciate this DIY tip. In fact, Vargas often shares mini treatment masks that you can make from natural ingredients at home — one of which I've shared on Brit + Co.
"It's super important to give extra TLC in the eye area," she begins. "My favorite at-home DIY is to boil two chamomile tea bags, let them cool down, then place one over each eye."
Vargas explains that the tea bags will help de-puff, hydrate, and soothe the extra dry, thin skin of the eye area, and help you feel refreshed.
Rejuvenating Serum, $100
The winter climate can wreak havoc on our moisture barrier, as the harsh elements and extreme change in humidity and temperature puts our skin under stress. Because of this, a little extra hydration can go a long way — and hyaluronic acid (which is 15 times as moisturizing as water) plumps the skin, too.
As Vargas explains, "I like to apply my Rejuvenating Serum throughout the day when winter skin is super dry. Plump one to two drops on fingertips and apply on [your] cheekbones to highlight, and around the eye area to keep crepiness at bay."
Glow to Go Mask Set, $75 for 5
The sheet masks offered by the line are some of my favorites. In addition to a gently exfoliating Mandelic acid formula, my favorite is the Twilight face mask which features epidermal growth factor, or EGF. When you buy one of these glow-getting variety packs, you can treat your skin to what it needs without purchasing an entire jar of the formula. It is actually an incredible way to sample the line before committing to your favorite products.
"I love this mask set because it allows you to prescribe to your skincare concerns moment-to-moment," Vargas elaborates. "I always use a mask before a big event to hydrate and give my skin fresh nutrients before applying makeup."
Golden Glow Sunless Tan, $175
Depending on where you live, sun — and vitamin D — can be hard to come by in the winter months. Other than putting us at risk of seasonal affective mood changes, this can result in looking vampire-level pale (i.e. pasty). But rather than visiting a damaging tanning salon, definitely opt for an organic treatment and tan instead at the NYC spa.
As Vargas explains, "During the holiday season, I recommend an organic spray tan to instantly add one or two shades of bronze to your complexion. Your skin will appear warmer, fresher, and hydrated thanks to the all-natural ingredients in our sunless tan solution."
In case you ever doubted that this world-class spa has it all, now you know that Vargas truly has a solution for everything. After all, there's a reason the skincare guru is a go-to among celebs.
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