Neither Lady Gaga's longtime fans, nor those who just know her as that singer who wore a meat dress on the red carpet, could have guessed that Gaga would eventually be recognized as much for her flawless skin as she is for her tattoo collection and intimate on-stage performances.
The singer and actress's skin first became a topic of conversation after she told the Los Angeles Times that, during a 2016 screen test for A Star Is Born, her director and co-star Bradley Cooper requested she remove her makeup — no concealer, no mascara, nothing. After a full decade of being known for her boundary-breaking beauty looks and makeup risks (as seen in any red-carpet appearance or music video during her Artpop era), Gaga was about to spend a large portion of the film completely barefaced.
In the end, Gaga as Ally did more than convince the world that she deserved all the awards; she also proved that this woman has really good skin. Like a lot of celebrities, she has a talented skin-care guru to thank for it: esthetician and owner of Faceworks Inc., Joomee Song. We asked Song about how she got Gaga camera-ready for her makeup-free moments in ASIB, the special massage she's since gotten Gaga addicted to, and the products she always recommends to clients. Her answers, ahead.
Let's start from the beginning. Where did you and Gaga first meet?
"The first time I met her was when I helped her prepare for the Oscars in 2014. Before that, I had been teaching and working for 15 years in medical spas and hotels, but I had just decided it was time for me to go out on my own and make house calls for clients. Six months later, I met Lady Gaga, and that's when she asked 'Can you do this every day?' She said, 'Joomee, I've had facials all over the world, but I can say that you are the best one I've ever had.' That gave me chills. All those years of training — I did it for that moment. I have great clients, but coming from her mouth, it was such a rewarding feeling.
"Since then I've been fortunate to work very closely with her and her glam team, including Frederic Aspiras and Sarah Tanno, for the past five years. I worked on her skin for her Sound of Music performance at the 2015 Oscars, American Horror Story, A Star is Born, and more. I am very humbled by the experiences that I’ve had that have brought me 180 degrees in this beauty business."
Gaga's makeup-free look was crucial to her character's development on-screen. How did you get her ready for those moments?
"She had no makeup on. If she was going to have close-ups, I would do a scrub with hyaluronic acid or something that would help reduce redness, because she would have to go on camera immediately after [I saw her]. Instead of acids or granules, I use a piece of gauze as a physical exfoliant and hydrating emollient products to get her glow. Your skin already has the ability to shed its dead skin cells and my goal is to support what your skin can do. So, I massage in a brightening serum and then literally scrape it off with the gauze."
How did you handle discoloration when Gaga had to go on camera?
"I focused on taking that away using the massage method Kaika, which I developed over years of studying, esthetics training, and research. It's a facial massage that stimulates blood flow, releases tension, and reduces water retention. Immediately, this de-puffs, reduces dark circles, and contours the face, so everything looks tighter and brighter. It really helps your body to produce new cells faster so skin is bright and even. This is something your body naturally does, but the facial massaging assists your body in the process, so you can see fast results."
What makes this technique different from traditional facial massages?
"I use my fingers and a Japanese microcurrent machine to release the tension. I'm actually the first person to bring this technology to the U.S. and use it on my clients. When I went back to Japan in 2006, I saw this machine at the place I used to manage, and I thought, Oh my gosh! What is this? It allows me to use my fingers in the same way someone else might use two silver wands to conduct currents during a facial by instead using patches that attach from the machine to me and my client. This microcurrent technology was originally made some time in the '80s and has since been used in Japanese hospitals on chemotherapy patients to promote cell regrowth. It basically recharges the mitochondria in your body to promote production of new cells and, in Kaika's case, relieve tension fast."
If I can't book an appointment with you, how can I try facial massaging?
"I always encourage my clients to massage without being so technical about it. Technicality doesn't matter here; it’s just about taking care of yourself. Give yourself five or 10 minutes when you’re taking a shower to massage around the sinuses, eyes, and jaw, and tell yourself to release the tension. Depending on how much tension you carry, the glow will last you a couple days. But doing it at home won't give you the same results as getting it done by a professional. It's difficult to recreate the same massaging technique on yourself — I can't even do on myself what I can do to another person. But I can advise my clients where to press and release tensions that's specific to them."
If I'm trying it at home, should I use a jade roller or gua sha stone?
"It's totally fine to use a roller or stone, but if you do, you won't feel where the tightness is coming from. When you use your fingers you can feel the tension you're working on and releasing."
What are some of your favorite products to use during and after your treatments?
"I mostly do the massage on bare skin without product, but I always recommend using the Osea Nerve Oil at home in a bath before or after they massage. It helps destress whatever craziness is going on underneath the surface of your skin. I also love Dr. Barbara Sturm's entire skin-care line made for darker skin tones because of its enzymes that quickly break down hyperpigmentation."
Have you gotten Gaga on a strict skin routine?
"I don't use a lot of product at all on her. In general, I do love using May Lindstrom products. Before a red carpet, I like to use Cosmetics 27's Plasma 27 Mask. It's formulated with plant stem cells for calming inflammation and brightening skin."
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