Just in time for the Oscars, New York-based celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas — whose clients include Sofia Coppola, Naomi Watts and Julianne Moore — has opened a chic salon in the Sunset Tower Hotel.
“It was my home away from home for years,” says Vargas, who spends the last week of each month in Los Angeles tending to her West Coast clients, of the iconic L.A. landmark. “I would do awards seasons there, and I always dreamt about being there permanently.
Vargas opened her first L.A. outpost, an unlisted address in West Hollywood, in 2016. The ultra-secretive salon proved so popular, she soon outgrew the space. “The demand was just too great,” Vargas says of the “smaller, more intimate” location. “Having a bit of a wait list is one thing; it’s less chic when you can’t even fit regulars in.”
Vargas readied Greta Gerwig, Elisabeth Moss, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dakota Johnson, Emma Roberts, Mandy Moore, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing and Ever Carradine for the Golden Globes. Vargas is working with “about 30” clients for the Oscars.
“We start with nominees long before the big day, planning out what services we want to accomplish by what date,” says Vargas, who says her most popular facial by far this season is the new Supernova introduced before the Globes. “When a star explodes, the event increases luminosity by as much as 20 magnitudes,” says Vargas of the inspiration for the treatment, which includes an aqua peel, microcurrent, medical-grade collagen mask and cryotherapy. “It’s become the treatment to get this awards season. Resurfacing, cell turnover, deep hydration, increased metabolism of the skin cells and oxygenation are all a part of what makes it magic.”
Another popular pre-Oscars prep is the Rub, a full-body microdermabrasion. “Bright glowing skin on the red carpet is a must,” says Vargas, who arrives in L.A. about eight days before the big event. “I have a team in place in Los Angeles who are incredible — four aestheticians and one master massage therapist. They help with the treatments and yes, I work from quite early in the mornings till very late. Usually people will book four facials total, once a week for two weeks and then two the week of.”
Since many of her clients are based in N.Y., and already see Vargas, founder of the eponymous salons and skincare collection, monthly, they have a head start.
“However, once we get an idea of things when the first nominations come out, we see some people weekly, if possible,” says Vargas, who likes to work right up to the penultimate hour. “I like to see everyone either the day of or the day before, but it really depends on the clients’ schedules. It’s important for me not to add stress to the equation. So many moving parts are involved in getting ready, including a busy event schedule leading up to the Oscars.”
For those who can’t make it in on March 4, Vargas recommends sleeping in her exfoliating mask the night before. “It evens out pigment, takes down inflammation and, after a night’s sleep in it, you wake up fresh faced like you’ve just had a facial.”
Since the Oscars mark the culmination of months-long succession of red carpets, does faking fresh skin present a challenge? “Yes! My clients are super dehydrated from travel and certainly stressed from all the running around. However, if they’ve been in my care already, it’s pretty easy to get the skin feeling happy again.”