I Have Clear, Even-Toned, Blemish-Free Skin
August 30th, 2014
Many years ago, practically when I first started my skincare salon, Vogue did a wonderful piece on why my facials were the best in New York City. I found this article when I was scouring through my press recently and wanted to share it with you all. Although we did not know each other then, she has become a dear friend of mine, the lovely and talented, Christina Han.
by Christina Han
Christina Han is OBSESSED: Facialist Joanna Vargas
Forewarning: I’m going to toot my own horn and say that thanks to great genes from Mom, I have clear, even-toned, blemish-free skin. Only during cold, dry winters does my complexion show signs of (slight) distress, in the form of rosy cheeks and lackluster luminescence. But then this summer, in the middle of July, I spotted a spot. Small but noticeable because of its alarming redness—a pimple. Located just above the upper right corner of my mouth, where my lips turn up when I smile, this unwelcome blemish made its home. Upon further inspection, a cluster of what I’ll call “congested pores” seemed to be spreading across my forehead and dotting my chin.
Feeling frantic, with magnifying mirror in one hand and phone in the other, I quickly dialed in an emergency to the only person I felt qualified to handle this situation: facialist Joanna Vargas. I’d first heard of Vargas from a fellow editor whose mother, sister, and everyone else in her family all swore by. Hamish Bowles, our dapper Editor-at-Large, was also won over by Vargas’ touch: He’d come to the beauty department the day of the Met Costume Institute Gala one year looking for an aesthetician who met the following criteria: close in proximity to Vogue’s Times Square offices (her space is across the street from the New York Public Library), and able to thoroughly clarify the skin without the usual post-facial inflammation. Off to Vargas he’d gone, and an hour later he’d walked ready for the red carpet.
So after a flurry of emergency phone calls and E-mails, an appointment was on the books. I pushed my bangs across my forehead to hide the unsightly, and waited for the hour of my appointment to arrive. Once inside Vargas’s miniature midtown spa—nothing more than a single simple treatment room—I quickly changed into a plush terry-cloth robe and lay down on a table wrapped in the same soft white cloth. Moments later, Vargas entered the room with her own glowing, dewy skin (a sign of things to come), auburn curls neatly tied back, and took a seat at the crown of my head.
Off to work she went, smoothing a coconut-cream cleanser by Eminence (that I have been addicted to ever since) over my face and sending me into a state of complete relaxation—of the eyes-closed, even-breathing variety. My bliss was interrupted, however, by a jarring aroma more likely to be found in an Italian restaurant than on my face: tomatoes and garlic. Every facialist has a secret recipe, but was this really necessary, I pleaded, terrified I would walk out smelling like a bowl of pasta. “I’m pulling out all the stops on you today,” she said in a calm, soothing voice. “Tomatoes are loaded with antioxidants, and the garlic’s antibacterial properties will protect the areas where I’ve done extractions of New York City grime.” Extractions? Because Vargas is so delicate and skilled with the tools of her trade, I barely noticed she’d been poking and prodding with otherwise menacing tweezers and lancets. She followed the tomato mask with a calming wash of chamomile water, an application of a rose-petal-and-peppermint serum, and a dollop of apricot cream. Her finishing touches: sunscreen (the mark of a good facialist) and a swipe of lip balm. Gone were the tomato and garlic; instead I smelled sweet, like apricots (Vargas stayed true to her promise). But a look in the mirror before leaving was the real reason I’ll be going back: perfect, glowing skin without a trace of the blemishes, blackheads, and overall inflammation I’d walked in with.
Joanna Vargas 501 5th Avenue, #1203, 212-949-2350, facials from $250.