Joanna Vargas is the authority when it comes to healthy, radiant skin. Known for her high tech treatment options and signature glow, it’s no mistake the aesthetician is the brains behind many luminous celebrity complexions. But despite her international acclaim, Vargas has still been subjected to the chaos of the pandemic, forcing her to temporarily close down her NYC and Los Angeles clinics and withdraw from the usual award season circuit. But amidst it all, Vargas still managed to launch her eponymous skincare line into Sephora Australia (cue excitement); a move that’s been on her beauty bucket list for quite some time.

So to celebrate the launch, we spoke exclusively to Vargas via Zoom (from day one of her quarantine, no less) to talk all things skincare, exfoliation, DIY face masks and keeping a business built on touch afloat during a pandemic.

Keep reading for the interview.  

GRAZIA: Congratulations on launching Joanna Vargas skincare into Sephora Australia! What’s that been like for you? 

Joanna: Launching in Sephora is the biggest dream come true. I’m just so happy and excited. I remember when Sephora first became a thing – I was still a a club kid in New York! One of my closest friends got a job there as a makeup artist when we were younger, and ever since it’s been such a big part of the beauty industry. To be a part of it as a brand is really incredible.

grazia: but on the flip side from this, the last 18 months would have been really difficult for you, especially as a practicing aesthetician with bicoastal treatment clinics. What’s been a big takeaway for you?

Joanna: I think it’s important for people to understand that no matter what has gone on in the world lately, people still want to be cared for. And people still want services. But in all honesty, it’s been the most awful, most challenging time.

But really I just want everyone to know that I’m still here! In regards to the Joanna Vargas skincare brand though, it’s been slightly more optimistic. I think many people have really realised the importance of taking care of themselves, and the role it can play in your overall wellbeing.

grazia: it’s nice to hear there’s at least some small silver lining. 

Joanna: Exactly! I like that we’re realising that self care doesn’t have to be all about indulgence. If it really helps you unwind in some way or feel better about yourself, that’s all I really want. That, and having more time to spend with my own family has been invaluable.

grazia: on the topic of growth and change, where do you see skincare going over the next 12 months? Any trends or insights you can share?

Joanna: There’s going to be more gadgets and tools for at-home use. It’s already happening, but I think the technology and innovation in this space is only going to expand exponentially because people do want access to these things at home. It might be in between treatments or just an addition to existing skincare routines, but it can make a world of difference.

I think people are also really going to keep looking towards clinical ingredients that really make a visible change in their skin. I feel we’re going to see more with epidermal growth factor in particular (from natural sources, such as fruit), along with the traditional ingredients that have persisted in skincare, such as retinols and lactic acid.

Pairing epidermal growth factors with retinol is actually one of the best ways to get collagen production into high gear, so watch this space!

grazia: let’s switch gears to awards season. You’ve always been Hollywood’s go-to for red carpet skin prep, so what’s that been like given major ceremonies have scaled back, or been held virtually?

Joanna: I still have my clientele that are nominated for awards and coming in for treatments, but we’ve more or less decided to step back from red carpet prep content just because it doesn’t feel right. We do what we can safely, but it’s certainly been different. The Twilight facial is definitely still a celebrity favourite, because the results are so noticeable. It’s all about micro needling and high frequency, so it boosts collagen production, tightens the skin and corrects surface damage. It’s minimally invasive but leaves the skin looking so healthy and fresh.

grazia: if someone wanted to try and emulate a similar vargas glow at home, what would you recommend? 

Joanna: I’d suggest a simple DIY face scrub for starters! I’d mix up honey, brown sugar and maybe an oil. It smells delicious and feels really good on the skin. You could take it into the shower and use it all over the body as well. Nothing brings the glow better than a little quick exfoliation.

Exfoliating also helps your products penetrate better, so be sure to follow it up with something really hydrating and beautiful – that way it will really absorb. In terms of masking, you could do a yogurt honey and avocado mask, which really is really soothing.

grazia: I have to ask – you’re in favour of physical exfoliation?

Joanna: Sometimes people can be really scared of scrubs, I feel like they’ve got a bit of a bad rap because there are some abrasive ones out there. Look, acids are great – I obviously believe in them and use them in my own products and treatments. But I think at a certain point, a lot of people need to physically slough off the dead skin cells.

And I think if blackheads are a challenge, the physical scrubbing of the t-zone is really helpful. I wouldn’t recommend a physical exfoliant if your skin was super sensitive or if you were struggling with acne because you could end up spreading bacteria from pore to pore, but if you’re normal to oily, gentle scrubs can be really effective.

grazia: are there any ingredients or trends to come out of recent months you feel are a bit over-hyped?

Joanna: I think what’s more over-hyped is that you need every ingredient on your face all the time in order to have good skin. It’s not so much that I think ‘vitamin C is overrated’, but I do think that not every ingredient works for everyone. So when we have these trends of super ingredients that everybody goes nuts over, it can be a little damaging for certain people.

When I first became an aesthetician, the big ingredient at the time was glycolic acid, believe it or not. Which sounds so funny now! I mean, people still love glycolic acid, but it’s strong and needs to treated with respect. In those days people were using it all day, every day. Now, it’s used much more sparingly! I see this happening all the time, so my advice would be to talk to a professional about your own skin.

Shop the edit here: 

Joanna Vargas daily serum, $133. shop now Joanna Vargas rescue serum, $232. shop now

JOANNA VARGAS Euphoria Face Mask, $116. shop now