Beauty with Mi, hosted by Refinery29's beauty writer Mi-Anne Chan, explores the coolest new trends, treatments, products, and subcultures in the beauty world. Follow along on her wild beauty adventures here.
Joanna Vargas is a bicoastal facialist who has long been responsible for the skin of some of Hollywood's biggest stars. Her hands are so trusted that a host of celebs, like Mandy Moore, Elisabeth Moss, Mindy Kaling, and Dakota Johnson, turn to her to minimise their breakouts, depuff their faces, and brighten their complexions before some of the biggest nights of their lives. Just ask Greta Gerwig, who saw Vargas hours before walking the Oscars red carpet as a first-time nominee for Best Director.
So what's all the hype about? To find out, I plopped down onto Vargas' table to experience a new treatment she's been doling out to La La Land's A-listers firsthand: The Supernova Facial.
Since most of Vargas' celebs clients are going straight from her spa to a makeup chair, her treatment is designed to brighten, clear, and lift the skin with zero recovery time. Translation: You won't experience any redness or irritation post-facial. While Vargas uses a slew of common facial technologies (aqua peels, microcurrents, and an oxygen machine) it's the rubber mask and the cryotherapy device that had me most excited.
After cleansing and exfoliating my skin, Vargas placed a collagen-soaked sheet mask over my face and followed up with a rubber mask. A rubber mask works by locking in the product that came before it — a bit like a facial oil you'd put on top of your serum and moisturisers at home, but more intense. It serves as an occlusive barrier, Vargas explains, to seal in all the ingredients from the mask. It also reduces evaporation, which helps keep the mask underneath active.
This wasn't my first run-in with a rubber mask, but this was the first time I'd ever been totally encased by one (eyes, lips, neck — the whole shebang). It made for a pretty relaxing experience considering I had no choice but to spend the following 20 minutes sitting in a speechless, meditative state. Then came the cryotherapy-inspired portion, which, unlike actual cryotherapy, does not involve sticking your face into a walk-in freezer. Instead, Vargas' cryo machine felt almost like an ultrasound device (another popular facial tool). She ran the ice-cold metal device over my face to calm my skin and reduce puffiness. (Tip: You can get a similar result at home with facial massage using a couple of chilled metal spoons does the trick, too.)
At close to $400 a pop, Vargas' treatments aren't the most budget-friendly options. However, for a special occasion I can see this being a really effective way to pamper yourself. After all, if it's good enough for Mandy, Mindy, and Elisabeth, it's good enough for me.