I Tried The Joanna Vargas Skincare Line So You Don't Have To, Although You Really, Really Should
"Julianne Moore came in today,” my roommate casually mentioned as we engaged in after-work hummus chats, "She’s such a sweetheart.” As a full-time writer who works mostly from home, my visitors are rarely so glamorous — sometimes, the UPS man comes and I have to decide whether or not to put on pants to greet him; my roommate, however, works for celebrity celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas, a New York City-based skin care superstar. Vargas is known for providing luxury facials to stars like Karlie Kloss, Michelle Williams, Dakota Johnson, and Beautiful Angel Queen of My Heart Julianne Moore.
Vargas is sought out by clientele for her facials, particularly the Triple Crown facial, a regal-sounding three-step treatment that includes exfoliation, microcurrent treatment, and an oxygen bath for the face.
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The facial promises to reduce the signs of aging, add vibrancy to the skin, and even tighten the look of your face for a younger, fresher visage. If it all sounds a little bit to too rich for your blood, that’s because it probably is. A facial with Vargas can be as much $550 (other facialists at Vargas' salon have lower rates), and most of her clientele is exclusive.
However, for those who want to work a little bit of Vargas’ magic in their own living rooms, she also has a five-product skin care line, which is exactly what my roommate tried to convince me to use.
“I’ll bring home the product line for you to try,” she said, with a satisfied smile that only crosses the faces of those who have been lucky enough to feast their eyes upon Divine Being Julianne. “You can try it for 10 days, and then you can write about it.”
So here's my full disclosure: I was given these products for free with the understanding that I’d be writing a completely honest, totally transparent review. All opinions expressed below are my own, and I will not lead you astray: Not just because I am an honest human being, but because this stuff is pricey. My skeptical mind assumed that the results wouldn't be worth the price tag for the average customer. However, since I have the chance, I'm going to figure that out so you don't have to risk it.
First, let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of Vargas’ line. There are five products total, but I only used four — I'll explain further down.
- Vitamin C Face Wash, $40, Joanna Vargas: Removes makeup, cleanses the skin surface, stimulates cell turnover, evens pigmentation, resurfaces skin. Ingredients include acai and goji berry, grapefruit, orange, and hyaluronic acid.
- Exfoliating Mask, $75, Joanna Vargas: Relieves congested skin, exfoliates uneven skin, and evens out pigment. Ingredients include kaolin clay, volcanic rock, sugar cane, pineapple enzymes, and fruit extracts.
- Daily Serum, $85, Joanna Vargas: Oxygenates the skin, deeply hydrates, supplies high levels of vitamins to the skin. Vargas has called it green juice for your skin. Ingredients include Vitamins A, C, E, & F, oat grass juice, and chlorophyll.
- Rejuvenation Serum , $100, Joanna Vargas: Helps to control free radicals, reduces signs of aging, regenerates skin while softening and resurfacing. Ingredients include argan oil, neroli oil, olive oil, rosehip oil, and jojoba oil.
- Daily Hydrating Cream , $75, Joanna Vargas : Helps increase collagen production, improves skin town, and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Ingredients include jojoba oil, she butter, avocado oil, and zinc oxide.
I decided to do a 10-day treatment, using the Vitamin C wash, mask, daily serum, and daily hydrating cream morning and night. I didn't use the rejuvenation serum because I am prone to breakouts and I was worried it would be a little bit too rich. In fact, Vargas recommends this product for super dehydrated and mature skin types only. Here's what I looked like at the beginning. Please do not be alarmed by my unsettling gaze.
As you can see, my skin is uneven and prone to redness. My forehead is a variety of different textures due to teenage acne scarring, and my cheeks aren't smooth either. You can't really see it in this photo, but I have dry patches on my chin near my mouth, and other dry spots on my forehead. All of this is to say that after taking these pictures I suddenly realized that I am 29 and now I need to start being very cautious about how I take care of my skin. Apparently, washing with a bar of soap, swiping a Stridex pad over my face, and gobbing on some grocery store oil just isn't going to cut it anymore.
The first morning, I washed my face with the Vitamin C cleanser.The cleanser smells like citrus and my skin felt softer immediately after the first use. I followed with the exfoliating mask. The granules are super fine and meant to be gently massaged on your face, then left on for about 10 minutes. After rinsing, I patted a few drops of the daily serum onto my damp skin, followed by a dab of the moisturizing cream (which also contains SPF).
I repeated this routine (except for the mask, which should only be used twice a week). Here's how I looked on Day 5.
Innnteresting. As you can see, much of the redness on my skin has disappeared, but not all of it. At this point in the process, I've learned two things. First of all, I could actually feel my skin thanking me when I used the products. Like, it had the actual feeling of nourishment, as if it was saying to me, "Don't worry about the fact that you used to smoke cigarettes and forget your sunscreen like a scumbag, the important thing is that you're trying to repair our relationship now." Secondly, I realized that my usual "more is more" philosophy about all things in life wasn't going to work here: If you don't use the daily serum or the hydrating cream sparingly, your face will turn into an oil slick — and at those prices, you're better off conserving as much as you can.
Pleased with the overall results, I set forth to finish out the remaining five days of this skin care routine. And, because I have nothing if not my horrendously bad timing, I also got an enormous pimple on my chin. Now, bear in mind that this pimple has nothing to do with Joanna Vargas' skin care products and everything to do with the fact that I get the same exact pimple in the same exact place on the same exact day of the month, and I always over-pick it in the same exact way. Thank you, Aunt Flo and compulsive face picking tendencies. Nevertheless, here I am, on the last day (today!) in all of my glory.
If you can peel your eyes away from the heinous skin malfeasance on my chin, you will notice that the rest of my skin looks fresh, hydrated, and gorgeous. Due to the disappointing constraints of modern technology, you can't feel my face, but it is smooth, feels supple, and a lot of the annoying bumps and ridges across my cheeks and forehead have subsided. It is truly a miracle.
Now, I understand that these products are wicked expensive for plebs like you and me. Julianne might not have an issue pulling her AmEx out of her (let's face it, probably exquisite) handbag, but the rest of us have to actually have money to eat meals and clothe our babies and/or dogs. Because these products are so, so worth it, I will tell you this: Take an inventory of your skin issues and decide which products are most pertinent to your needs.
If you have oily skin, I would suggest purchasing the serum and not the hydrating cream. If brightness and moisture are your primary desire, spring for the exfoliant and the hydrating cream, or do a little research on the rejuvenating serum, which I haven't tried. If I had to pick two, I'd probably go for the cleanser (which is amazing and should be in every bathroom) and the serum. Also, know that the small recommended usage amounts means this stuff lasts forever — or hopefully at least long enough to make your skin feel spiritually and emotionally connected to Julianne.
Images: Amanda Richards; Joanna Vargas/ Instagram