An esthetician for nearly two decades, Joanna Vargas is an internationally-recognized skin care guru and one of the top celebrity facialists in New York City. She has treated countless supermodels and celebrities, having come a long way from her first job as an esthetician at Tribeca’s Ula Day Spa. Now, beyond her private clients, Joanna has the Joanna Vargas Skin Care salons in New York and Los Angeles and a line of retail-sold products.
Joanna spoke to Downtown about her thriving business, how everyday people can take better care of their skin, and what else is coming up for her. Her blog, products, salon info and much more can be found at www.joannavargas.com.
How did Jessica Alba find out about your brand?
Joanna Vargas: She came in for a facial. We have mutual friends and her Honor Beauty team are clients of the salon.
What do you feel is the first step someone should take towards having healthy, great-looking skin?
JV: The first step in having great skin is realizing that skin is just a window for what is going on in the body. If you can’t digest something, it comes out in the skin. If you don’t sleep or do anything that compromises your health, your skin will reflect that. I always recommend the basics to start: wash your face before bed, wear sunscreen and a great healthy diet.
You have been a New York State Licensed Esthetician for 17 years with clients all over the world. How did you decide to make your own products? Was there a particular event that inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
JV: I think the birth of my son was my defining moment. Becoming a mom made me so conscious of what I was doing and how I was doing it. I wanted to only use products that were healthy for him to be around and I wanted to be able to create a life that I would be proud to show him. Being a mom who is satisfied and engaged in a career, friends AND my kids I think is the best example I can be for them both.
Where are most of your clients? Do you find specific parts of the world more receptive to facial treatments?
JV: Well, I do have clients that come from all over the world to see me. New Yorkers are used to this town being the meeting point for so many different types of people. Obviously most of my clients live in New York, since I’m based here, but I have a ton of clients in Los Angeles as well. I think people are so much more health-conscious globally now more than ever, so we find that clients share that similarity no matter where they are from.
What makes your masks different from similar face mask products?
JV: I’m an esthetician — I have been doing facials for thousands and thousands of hours. My perspective comes from sitting in that chair. I think I know more about skin and ingredients than most people for that reason. It also makes me focused on results more than anything. My face masks are popular because you can SEE a difference in your skin. It’s that simple.
Where are the masks made?
JV: I have a manufacturer in Asia. The woman who runs it is actually a friend and that’s how we came to do business together. She and I have a mutual obsession with excellence and she takes care of my brand with that in mind.
Your namesake salon is on Fifth Avenue. Does all of your work and planning happen in Manhattan?
JV: That’s right. I think most people are kind of shocked to see me here every day. I think some clients of my girls assume I’m off somewhere, but I’m here daily doing facials in the AM and meetings in the afternoon.
What else is coming up for you and your brand? Any plans for a book?
JV: A book is in the works, yes. Ever since I started my blog 10 years ago, I knew I would one day write a book. Time is a commodity for me so it hasn’t quite happened, but now that I have incredible women running the New York City salon and Los Angeles is open, I have more time to devote to it. We also plan on expanding the skincare line very soon with some exciting products. I can’t wait to share them with everyone!
When not busy with work, how do you like to spend your free time?
JV: My free time is spent with my kids, for the most part. We travel a lot. I also love to read. I feel like that enhances my own creativity a lot. I love to draw. Additionally, my daughter and I are learning to play piano together. My son just got certified in scuba this spring, so that is my next project.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in New York?
JV: For lunch everyday I like Juice Generation. It’s right by my office and I love the Supa Dupa Green Juice for my skin! Also, EN Japanese Brasserie restaurant downtown. It’s beautiful inside and the food is spectacular!
Finally, Joanna, any last words for the kids?
JV: Life is a winding road — try to enjoy the ride!