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Celebrity beautician to Sofia Coppola, Naomi Watts and Greta Gerwig brings facials to Hong Kong and gives her winter skincare tips – meet Joanna Vargas

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As with many success stories, celebrity beauty therapist Joanna Vargas’ love of her chosen career was seeded by her grandmother.

“My grandma was super into beauty,” she says. “She got me interested in taking care of yourself as a way of being, sort of like giving yourself a little honour and respect.

“Her vanity was full of powders, body sprays and bubble baths, and my love of product and taking care of myself really came from her.”

Vargas is a beauty icon with her own salons in New York and Los Angeles, a product line, and even patented technology for her burgeoning beauty empire.

Joanna Vargas sheet mask, serum and moisturiser. Photo: The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong

She boasts A-list clients including Hollywood stars Rachel Brosnahan, Sofia Coppola, Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal, Keri Russell, and Naomi Watts. But becoming a beautician wasn’t her first choice.

“When I moved to New York after university, I thought perhaps I’d become a fashion photographer. But I just wasn’t suited for that kind of freelance life. Putting yourself out there and the atmosphere of a set wasn’t really my vibe,” she says.

“So I went to aesthetic school thinking maybe I’ll be a make-up artist and then I just fell in love with beauty. I really liked taking care of somebody and figuring out the puzzle of their skin.”

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Vargas once had a client who said she had had acne her whole life, with pimples a constant feature of her face since she hit puberty at 11.

Vargas sent her client to get some blood work done to make sure she didn’t have any food allergies or dietary issues; she eventually figured out that the client suffered from stress and was also using the wrong products on her face.

“I made her come to use our LED bed once a week and six weeks in, she had clear skin and no more pimples,” she says.

Vargas’ Triple Crown facial is like “going to the gym for the face”, she says. Photo: The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong

Vargas’ LED bed is a patented machine that she invented.

“LED red light reduces inflammation and speeds the healing of the body by 300 per cent. It also increases collagen production, so it really makes the skin healthier,” she says.

“People lie in it for 20 minutes and you can really see an improvement in breakouts, and it’s really good for general inflammation.”

Joanna Vargas products. Photo: The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong

After aesthetic school, Vargas navigated the world of beauty and tried out different philosophies. She worked for an organic day spa and then a dermatologist, before coming to a surprise revelation.

“I found that everybody was kind of doing the same facial over and over again, switching out

, but the same steps to everything. It was very cookie cutter and I thought there just had to be more to it than that.”

Vargas then delved into scientific studies on dermatology and eventually came up with what would become her signature Triple Crown facial. The facial’s core treatment involves microcurrent, which “reduces inflammation and puffiness, increases muscle tone, and boosts natural collagen production”, giving a visible lift to the face.

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“It’s kind of like going to the gym for the face,” Vargas says. “It’s completely non-invasive. So it works whether you’re 25 or 85, and the results are cumulative.

“So let’s say you have to go to a big event and want to come every day for a week, you would see a difference every single day on your face.”

Vargas says her most popular treatment during awards season is her Supernova facial – which ends with cryotherapy – with fans including actress and film producer Elisabeth Moss, and Barbie director Greta Gerwig.

“It’s a super hydrating facial that everybody loves. I think people gravitate towards the results – they like the fact that I’m offering cutting-edge services that are not invasive.”

Vargas has salons in New York and Los Angeles. Photo: The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong

Vargas recently extended her services to The Spa at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, where clients can choose between her signature Triple Crown, Forever and Supernova facials.

Vargas has a couple of tips for people living in Hong Kong as the winter months begin, apart from staying hydrated with her treatments.

“I always say to layer. Serums first, such as hyaluronic acid serum. [For] the second layer, use an oil-based serum, and then [a] third layer, a moisturiser, to lock it in so that you’re not evaporating throughout the day with the dry weather or the windy weather,” she explains.

“Another tip is to put a humidifier on your nightstand while you sleep so that you can get a little bit of humidity in the air while you’re sleeping – night time is your body’s time to repair itself.”



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