Live Purely with Joanna Vargas
Live Purely with Joanna Vargas

"Beauty is not cookie cutter. What works for one person is definitely not the case for everyone. You just have to listen to your body and observe what’s going on in order to figure out what’s best for you." 

- Joanna Vargas

Joanna Vargas: Top Celebrity Facialist Shares Secrets and Tips for Glowing From the Inside Out

This week, Elizabeth sits down with renowned skincare expert Joanna Vargas, the brilliant mind behind the popular Joanna Vargas skincare collection. With a dedicated focus on achieving beautiful skin, Joanna seamlessly combines her love for plant-based ingredients with her deep understanding of scientific advancements. As one of the most sought-after estheticians in the industry, Joanna shares her personal journey and the origins of her passion for skincare, and how it has evolved through her exploration of diet and lifestyle. Joanna imparts a few expert tips for achieving a radiant glow. From her favorite anti-aging technologies like Morpheus8 and radiofrequency to her own skincare routine, Joanna reveals it all while also sharing her secrets for maintaining balance and wellness. And if you happen to be in LA or New York, don't miss the chance to visit Joanna's spa, a true oasis for relaxation and pampering.

Podcast transcript below:

Elizabeth Stein 00:00
Hi, everyone. I'm Elizabeth Stein, founder and CEO of purely Elizabeth. And this is live purely with Elizabeth, featuring candid conversations about how to thrive on your wellness journey. This week's guest is Joanna Vargas recognized skincare expert and founder of her Joanna Vargas skincare collection focused on one thing beautiful skin. Combining her commitment to plant based ingredients and her passion for science Joanna's nature meets technology approach has made her one of the most sought out estheticians and experts in the beauty industry today. In this episode, Joanna shares about her passion for skincare which began at a young age and has been greatly influenced by her interest in diet and lifestyle. We talk about her skincare philosophy, top tips and foods for glowing skin, her favorite anti aging skincare technologies like Morpheus eight and radiofrequency, her personal skincare routine and ways that she feels balanced, present and her best. This episode is filled with so many great tips for the skin and more. Keep listening to learn all about Joanna. And if you happen to be in LA or New York, you must go visit her spa enjoy. If you haven't had the chance to try our grain free granolas yet, head on over to Walmart to now find them and the gluten free Healthy Living aisle in select Walmart locations are grain free granola is have crunchy clusters of nuts, super fruit seeds and creamy nut butters all baked with organic coconut oil and sweetened with coconut sugar. They are gluten free paleo and keto certified. Use the link in the notes section to find Purely Elizabeth products at a Walmart store near you. Joanna, welcome to the podcast. I'm so excited to have you on today. I've been such a huge fan of your brand and excited to pick your brain here, what inspired you and what's inspiring you today.
Joanna Vargas 02:09
Oh, thank you for having me. I'm such a big fan of yours as well. This is such a pleasure to be here.
Elizabeth Stein 02:15
So let's start with your own personal journey. And really, first of all, what led you to become an esthetician? Is that something that you always wanted to do? Where did that start and then ultimately, what led you to begin and start your brand?
Joanna Vargas 02:29
You know, I when I look back at my childhood, I was always obsessed with beauty beauty products, I was the girl in school that would teach all the other little girls how to use skincare and how to do makeup and stuff. So I was born to do this
Elizabeth Stein 02:47
was that a big influence from your mom or that was just something that you
Joanna Vargas 02:51
my grandma was really into beauty and was like always gifting 1000s of like, you know, bubble baths and creams and powders and you know, all of that stuff. So I had the most lip, lip smackers of any girl in grade school. And, you know, she always smelled beautiful, but she also had very sensitive skin. And so from the time I was four or five years old, we would play she would let me give her facials or put makeup on her. But it was always this isn't right for my skin, this would be okay for you. And so I think she was my first educator on, you know that beauty is not cookie cutter, what works for one person is definitely, you know, not the case for every people. You just kind of have to listen to your body, and observe what's going on in order to figure out what's best for you. But I didn't really get into beauty, I moved to New York to be a fashion photographer. And, you know, I just wasn't cut out for that type of career. And so going to esthetics school was sort of like, well, maybe I'll be a makeup artist or something. And I fell in love with doing facials and taking care of people and figuring out the puzzle of their skin. And, you know, making people feel happy in their skin and restoring confidence to them.
Elizabeth Stein 04:14
I love that. It's interesting also, and obviously I'm not as close into skincare as I am food but hearing you say that you know what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for all and that's so much how we think about diet today, right is that it's not it should not be a one size fits all approach where it's really the same thing with skincare is framing it up in that same way that we're all so different and unique and what works best. So there's no one perfect advice.
Joanna Vargas 04:43
Totally. And I think also, you know, when I started there was no social media and now there's so much information available to clients. I think it can be confusing with diet, wellness and with beauty. So kind of like I don't think people listen into their bodies enough, or pay attention to the signs that maybe something that you've eaten doesn't agree with you to something I just put on my face maybe shouldn't be burning right now.
Elizabeth Stein 05:11
And they're truly also connected. Because maybe, you know, if you're eating something that doesn't work for you, that's gonna show up. And you know, dairy, for example, that's going to show up in your skin, and be conflicting with something that you're putting on your skin. So, so interconnected.
Joanna Vargas 05:27
Absolutely. And I don't think, you know, I started this career so many years ago. And now gut health is such a big topic. And I think it's, it's welcome in my mind, because finally, people are putting the pieces together that, you know, making healthier choices throughout the day, is going to make you feel better about yourself, in general, you don't have to be perfect, but be mindful that your body does need to rest your body needs to de stress, you know, that you need to have like, be making some good choices on the plate as well.
Elizabeth Stein 06:00
So after you go to school, then what were the steps, ultimately starting the brand, and really evolving to becoming known as a celebrity facialist. And your success,
Joanna Vargas 06:14
I started my business with my husband, when we were first married, so that I could have more of a work life balance, we had just had a baby, and I just really focused on trying to give you the best facial possible so that you would have to go home and call your sister or your mom, or your brother or your best friend and tell them how awesome I was. And tell them how good you felt. And so I built the salon off of you know, doing groups, friend groups, family groups, all these different kinds of people coming in at the same time, because they were just happy with their skin and happy with the results. And you know, I think there's a lot of value and like sending like happy clients out into the world and speaking on your behalf. And that was really how we grew the business from being just me doing facials alone in a room to, you know, having bicoastal spas and, and an a brand a skincare brand.
Elizabeth Stein 07:18
And then when did you launch your line of skincare?
Joanna Vargas 07:22
I launched 11 years ago, right when my daughter was born. And really I had started working on it many years prior trying to perfect what I wanted to put in those bottles. And really ultimately, when you start to build out your own salon, I mean I I just wanted to create everything for my client, every experience that they were going to have with their skin, I wanted to be a part of that creation. So having a skincare line was just It came natural to focus on that. And actually, my first product was inspired by some advice that a nutritionist gave me about, you know, taking chlorophyll shots every day to kind of detox, oxygenate, you know, get some, like healthy minerals in my system stimulate the lymphatic system. So my first product was the daily serum, which is my chlorophyll hyaluronic acid serum. Again, it was just one of those wellness tips that really stayed with me and informed how I how I gave advice to clients. I love that.
Elizabeth Stein 08:31
So how would you describe your skincare philosophy? And has that changed over the years or really stayed the same? Since you started? Because obviously so much has evolved.
Joanna Vargas 08:45
Totally. You know, I would, I would hope that all of us focus on how we can be better versions of ourselves every day and evolve. In everything that we do. I definitely became mindful of new the gut nutrition connection to skin more when I was pregnant with my son who's about to turn 18 And just seeing clients, you know, breaking out a lot. Well, what are you eating every day? Or what are your habits every day, and really the habits that I was being told, you know, or the lifestyle that they were leading, you know, their body couldn't accommodate all of those imbalances, and that's why they were breaking out. So certainly I'd become more sophisticated and what I know I even went to school for nu for nutrition for a year to become a certified health coach again, just more from my own knowledge.
Elizabeth Stein 09:38
Did you go to IIN?
Joanna Vargas 09:38
Yeah!
Elizabeth Stein 09:40
I did the program as well.
Joanna Vargas 09:41
You did That's so cool. I loved it. It was amazing. Except in weeks where I had so much going on and I was like I have more homework to do. But I kind of evolved to recommending nutritionists to my clients are saying Getting them to doctors to get blood work done because I'm not a doctor. And, you know, we all have to kind of look at the body as a whole and not just be like, I don't like what's happening, you know, with these crow's feet, or I don't know what I don't like what's happening on my cheeks. The skin is an organ. It's connected deeply to the gut and to the immune system. So let's try to figure that out.
Elizabeth Stein 10:22
Yeah, absolutely. So this kind of dive into then areas of maybe starting with glowing skin because I feel like ultimately, there's certainly consensus that we all want like beautiful glowing skin is I don't know if that's the most well, first, it's asked this question like what's the most requested when people come and say I have an issue or I want this when they come to see you? Is the commonality I want to come out of here with glowing skin or is it acne, sun damage? Aging? What is what is the number one
Joanna Vargas 10:59
number one is glow? Yeah, people want to glow, my skin just doesn't glow, I look dull and I want to glow. They use that word over and over and over again. And then you know, the minutiae of it is like, you know, Okay, well we're breaking out let's address that acute condition first, and then let's dive into making sure that your routine is good. But if you you know, if you're struggling with dullness, in general, like vitamin C, and antioxidants in your routine are really important. Obviously, that's a big generalization, a huge category in skincare. But having antioxidants in your routine for daytime is really important because it helps protect your skin again some damage and damage you know from the environment. You know, hopefully you're wearing sunscreen over it and antioxidants can help boost the efficacy of your sunscreen. And then you know a counterpoint to that is at night, no matter what kind of skin type you have or skin tone. Using a retinol even once or twice a week will make a huge difference in monthly or weekly breakouts. Because it reduces inflammation, you'll see a reduction of fine lines, it will make you glow when you wake up in the morning because it helps the body repair itself overnight. So those are like two big ones with the of course I'm going to assume that everybody listening is wearing sunscreen every day. Yeah. And in winter.
Elizabeth Stein 12:33
What are others some of your other top favorites for getting glowing skin top tips.
Joanna Vargas 12:39
You know, I think also generally speaking people either over exfoliate, or don't exfoliate at all. So exfoliation is important because you want to get rid of the dead skin cells that are on the surface of the skin so all your products can penetrate better. Also, you're removing, you know, you're keeping your pores clean by exfoliation, your evening out your skin's texture and skin tone, if you have any unevenness in the skin. And again, exfoliation will help prevent breakouts if you don't have anything that's kind of clogging the pores, it just sort of sitting there. So exfoliation in the warmer months, I would say twice a week is very healthy, and once a week in winter, just because it's drier and your skin is more sensitive. So that's another one that's really important. Also, washing your face twice a day is super important. A lot of people don't wash their face in the morning.
Elizabeth Stein 13:36
Sometimes I'm guilty of that, I have to admit.
Joanna Vargas 13:39
You want to wash off as you know what you've used your nighttime routine, you want to get it off your face, and then switch over to a good daytime routine. And so washing your face, you know, certainly when you come home from work, or even if you're working from home, just at the end of the day, getting all the impurities off your skin is super important. And that will help your body repair itself overnight as well.
Elizabeth Stein 14:04
So as you think about what you first said of vitamin C and antioxidants, I'm curious to hear any of your favorite foods maybe that you incorporate into your diet, as you're thinking about glowing skin and feeling like you're just skin is on fire the best.
Joanna Vargas 14:24
Yeah, so my favorite thing to drink throughout the day is I'm friendly with a nutrition expert named Kimberly Snyder. Do you know who that? Really Yeah, So Kimberly has written many, many books and if you are an esthetician in either of my salons in New York or LA Her books are required reading because I think that she is just very smart and has a lot of good. She's got a good brain for thinking about nutrition but one of my favorite things that she that she recommends is her glowing green smoothie, which is a whole bunch of greens. It's like romaine, spinach, kale, celery, all this different stuff. And it's a smoothie, it's not a juice. So you're you're getting the fiber. And I actually just drink a whole giant, I actually have it here with me right now, I have a whole giant thing of it every day. And I just sip on it throughout the day while I'm working. And it's just very life giving. For me personally, greens is excellent for your gut health. I also really like there's a company called activated you from California that has a great probiotic, but they also have a prebiotic green powder called Morning complete. So I throw a scoop of that into my glowing green smoothie. And I don't know, it just gives me energy. I feel like my skin is really on point while I'm drinking it. And it you know, I don't let myself get hungry throughout the day while I'm having that. So that's one of my favorite things, honestly.
Elizabeth Stein 16:02
That's a great tip. I love that. We'll definitely have to check that out. So along with glowing skin, we touched on acne, and it'd be great to talk about maybe some tips for again, it's not one size fits all. And there can be many reasons right that we get acne, hormonally things that we're eating, etc. But what tips do you have around really treating the skin, the best for acne.
Joanna Vargas 16:27
So, first you if you are struggling with acne or just getting breakouts, you want to make sure that you're absolutely washing your face, morning and night just to get everything off your skin. And starting fresh with your nighttime routine and your morning routine and night, you should be using retinol retinol will help prevent breakouts, it'll help heal your skin faster. So that's really important. You need to be changing your pillowcase every day while you're breaking out quite as much. And the reason for that is you get bacteria on your pillowcase at night while you're sleeping if you're breaking out, and you're just redepositing the bacteria nightly on your face if you're not changing out your pillowcase, when you wash your face, morning and night, instead of using your bath towel or the same hand towel to dry your face over and over again, use a paper towel or something that you can throw away for the same reason, the bacteria will just kind of live on your towel, and you could spread your acne to your back area or just redeposit it every morning on your face. And really you have to be careful with that kind of thing while you're trying to make the acne go away. I would also look just treatment wise you can get at home LED light therapy, you know those masks those light masks that we always see on Instagram. So blue and red light is very healing for acne, blue light kills bacteria, and the red light reduces inflammation so the body can heal itself. And I would do light treatments twice a week on somebody with acne.
Elizabeth Stein 18:06
How long do you need to sit under that light for
Joanna Vargas 18:09
so it's very, very specific to the device you buy the device that I like the best, I don't sell them or or have any affiliation with them professionally. I just like it. It's a company called current body they have a really nice face mask that it's silicone instead of like a hard plastic shell. So it really fits to your face. And it works so incredibly well. And I think the it's a preloaded session is like I think it's like 10 minutes, you're under the light. And then you know clean the inside, wipe it down with like a antibacterial hand wipe or something like that so that it's clean every time you use it. And that's really helpful as well.
Elizabeth Stein 18:50
We'll be right back. Since the beginning purely Elizabeth has been committed to the healing power of food. We believe there's a direct connection between the health of our farms and soil and the health of our food. That is why I'm so excited to announce our newest product launching our number one selling our original ancient grain granola is now available in an 18 ounce value size made with regenerative organic certified coconut oil and coconut sugar. For those who are not familiar with regenerative agriculture, it focuses on improving soil health, which is known to help improve crop yields, biodiversity, carbon emissions and water conservation. You can find our value size at your local Whole Foods Market or on our website at purely elizabeth.com. If you're interested in learning more about our sustainability journey and how it impacts the delicious food you enjoy, please visit purelyelizabeth.com/journey Enjoy. So on the topic of those led masks is perfect segue into different skincare technologies and I know that If you're certainly into those, I'd love to hear about maybe some of your favorites. And while we're still talking about the LED masks, because yes, we do see them all over Instagram. Is that not from an acne perspective, but just from a glowing skin or anti aging? Like, is that great for us? And then again, my question of how often should you be sitting under it to get the benefits and duration?
Joanna Vargas 20:25
So in terms of your question about led, yes, led red and near infrared light is amazing for getting your glow going. It's good for anti aging, it increases collagen production. I actually in New York and LA have an LED bed that I have the patent on. So more than 10 years ago, I patented the bed so that you get a naked your whole body because your whole body needs collagen building your whole body wants, you know, you kind of want to address the whole thing not look like amazing up to your chin. So LED light once or twice a week is amazing for anybody and super helpful in terms of skin health and maintaining anti aging in general. In terms of other technologies that I'm obsessed with. I'm super, super into hyperbaric oxygen therapy. So we do hyperbaric oxygen in the facials that we do in New York and LA. But I also have hyperbaric Pogs in New York City that you can lay inside of and like breathe in purified oxygen for an hour which is incredible for skin really makes you glowy de stresses you it lowers your cortisol levels, it oxygenates brain, your brain so you can think more clearly. It's distressing. It's amazing.
Elizabeth Stein 21:55
I've gotten a couple of times to one here in Boulder and it is amazing. And I feel like I instantly fall asleep it's just like
Joanna Vargas 22:03
yeah, totally. Yeah, we give people noise cancelling headphones in iPad, but honestly I'm out like 10 minutes and I never nap I'm always go on the go, but that one's a good one. And then in terms of just like face stuff, radio frequency is amazing Radio Frequency radio frequency is a is considered a non invasive technology. It's basically combines heat plus radio waves to do two things. It increases collagen production by nearly about like 18% in the skin when you do it in a series. And it also just it kind of pushes back together your collagen fibers because they spread as we get older. So it really lifts everything up. But I can't stress enough non invasive technologies need to be doing done regularly. Radio Frequency needs to be done once a week for eight weeks. And then you know you go on a maintenance program. microcurrent is another one that I love. It's a mild electric current that drains out excess puffiness tightens the muscle and tightens the skin. So it's kind of like going to the gym for the face. Super popular for red carpet. And if if non invasive is your jam, then you will look great all the time. You just have to come very, very regularly to see a consistent result and then moving into like kind of more minimally invasive techniques. I do love Morpheus eight. Yeah, some people...
Elizabeth Stein 23:33
I'm so excited to hear what you think about this.
Joanna Vargas 23:36
I'm obsessed with it. So I do it in New York City in California, you have to see a doctor to do it. But Morpheus eight for people who don't know, is a combination of micro needling. So we put needles into the skin via a machine. And then once the needles are in your face, we shoot radiofrequency through the needles into all the layers of skin. So instead of treating your skin with radiofrequency from the surface of the skin, it's going into the skin and that does a couple of things that control damage triggers collagen production right away, so does the radiofrequency but those two things combined, really remould your collagen, it can erase lines, even deep lines in the face, not with one session but with multiple sessions. It can really lift and tighten everything and it doesn't change the look of your face, you will still be you just like a sort of a refreshed you. I'm obsessed with it and it's honestly to me, one of the best anti aging tools that I have in my arsenal as a facialist because it doesn't, it's not trying to change you to look like something else. You know, and then the you know, the third style of facial services is invasive which is what you go to the DERM or a plastic surgeon for it's Botox. It's filler and it's surgery.
Elizabeth Stein 25:01
So let's talk a little bit more about Morpheus eight. So the thing I've heard about is that it hurts. Is that true? Not true? And then like, what's the downtime? And how often should you go and get it?
Joanna Vargas 25:15
So first of all, when what I do in New York is because I'm a spa, I changed, I have made it into a spa session. So you're in my office for two hours. Yeah, I do not you, but you're not dead. So it does hurt, you know, like you do, you will feel pain in certain spots, and you'll feel nothing in other spots is very, very particular to the person. But the entire Morpheus eight part of that two hours is about 10 minutes long, you could do anything for 10 minutes, you know, and then, you know, following that I do cryotherapy on your face, which I love, and make you go on my LED bed. And I make you also do hyperbaric oxygen so that by the time you leave all your inflammation is addressed, as much as we can address it for one day. And you might leave, like anywhere from like, fairly read to not read at all, depending on your skin type and all of that.
Elizabeth Stein 26:19
Would you want to go out to dinner that night?
Joanna Vargas 26:21
No.
Elizabeth Stein 26:23
How about the next night?
Joanna Vargas 26:24
Yes. Next night you're good.
Elizabeth Stein 26:26
That's pretty fast then
Joanna Vargas 26:28
Some people walk out looking like a facial angel. And some people walk out like, Oh, you're red, but you're fine. So the downtime is really like that day, the next day, the average person will see more redness on their neck than they will on the face, the neck is more sensitive, the skin is thinner, takes a little bit longer to heal. But it's coverable if you if you want that, I do a lot of actors, as you know. And when I do Morpheus on an actor, I asked them to give me a week of not being in front of people, like professionally, just so that we have a proper length of time for for healing and, and, and all of that there are obviously a ton of Contra indications. So if you're considering doing Morpheus, you have to consult a real professional to find out you know, if, for example, if you have a chronic illness or something like that you won't be a candidate. There's a lot of different things that go into that. So you just have to find out if it's right for you.
Elizabeth Stein 27:33
Well, I love that you combine the other healing modalities of the red light and the cryo and the hyperbaric to really like calm that inflammation, which must be so good for the skin and really lower that downtime that if you were getting it elsewhere might be a totally different downtime amount afterwards.
Joanna Vargas 27:53
It's so true. I mean, at the end of the day, I'm a facialist and you know, if you go to get Morpheus with a doctor, they'll hand you two ice packs and send you home and I wanted to just do things my way right so of course I'm going to spend a lot of time caring for you in your in your post and you walk out of my salon with epidermal growth factor masks the Twilight mask and you do a mask every day on yourself as part of that, you know, week long of like care and nurturing and you know, the results are really amazing for for somebody considering it I would say be prepared to do a minimum of three sessions at at a cadence of once a month because I'm older I'm I'm turning 53 This year, I tend to do it you know, I do it throughout the year. But on any of my actor clients, I don't I don't have that kind of time. So we just do it once or twice a year we do three and that's it.
Elizabeth Stein 28:54
So what is your most requested facial?
Joanna Vargas 29:00
The most talked about requested facial right now is the Morpheus facial, which is called the Twilight facial. But the most popular facial by far on both coasts is the Triple Crown facial which is my microcurrent microdermabrasion and oxygen facial which is I started the salon with that one and that is still like the OG it's what I do on all the celebs when they come for red carpet. So it's still gonna always be the most popular of all time, I'm sure.
Elizabeth Stein 29:34
I love that. Well, I can't wait to come in. Yeah, in my head. I was just like, No, I'm coming to New York soon I could get the morpheus.
Joanna Vargas 29:41
You gotta you gotta hit me up.
Elizabeth Stein 29:44
All right, let's just talk a little bit about your daily skincare routine and what that looks like. And then if you could only use one product of yours what would it be?
Joanna Vargas 29:55
Um, so for my one product, it would be my rejuvenating serum which is my antioxidant face oil. It's argan oil. It's got neroli and rose hips to bring out your glow. It's got olive oil and jojoba oil which are soothing and hold hydration in your skin. But that product I kind of created with my grandmother in my head. And so it reminds me of her and the way she used to smell. And because she always smelled beautiful. And I think of her when I put it on in the morning plus, like, if I only had one thing to put on, it would have to be a face oil because my skin is so dry. In terms of my own skincare routine. At night, I use a retinol serum of mine called the supernova serum. And I alternate that with my two epidermal growth factor products. So every other night, I'll use supernova. And then the odd nights, I'll use my twilight serum and Twilight cream, which I quite like all all that repair and addressing fine lines and wrinkles for at night really works for me. And the

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