Celebrity Esthetician Joanna Vargas’ Latina Upbringing Has Inspired Her Entire Career
By Johanna Ferreira
Before Joanna Vargas became one of the most sought after estheticians in the industry, she had dreams of becoming a professional photographer. After graduating from the University of Chicago, Vargas who was born and raised in New Jersey, moved to New York to work as a photographer’s assistant. But her love for beauty inspired her to shift gears. She enrolled at the Christine Valmy International School for Esthetics, where she discovered her true calling in skincare.
Vargas, who is of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent, always had a deep love and appreciation for beauty. She was obsessed with makeup as a young girl and credits her Puerto Rican grandmother as one of her biggest beauty inspirations.
“My Hispanic culture has inspired my whole career. I have always said my love of the beauty industry came from my grandmother,” she tells thirteen lune. “She was the most glamorous and always smelled amazing. To me, my grandmother was the ultimate beauty and my earliest memories are of her seeing her do her hair and makeup and her buying me the best smelling bubble baths. She would have loved what my brand has become and I always think of her when I take on a new project. Self-care and ritualizing a routine is something I preach to all my clients and those concepts were born from watching my grandmother doing her routine.”
Vargas’ beauty philosophy “everyone can have great skin, even if you weren’t born with it” has been the foundation behind the Joanna Vargas brand which began with her cozy Midtown spa Joanna Vargas Skin Care in 2006. The spa eventually expanded to a Hollywood location in 2016, then her Joanna Vargas Skin Care line, a 14,000 sq foot Manhattan skin-care clinic which opened in 2018, and her book Glow From Within, published earlier this year, which educates readers on how good skin isn’t just about good genes, it’s about creating the best routine for your skin needs.
Vargas who has a clientele of loyal A-list celebs including Mindy Kaling, Constance Wu, Michelle Williams, and Greta Gerwig, is all about using organic ingredients and innovative technology to leave one with healthy, luminous, youthful-looking skin. She’s not about changing her client’s appearance. Instead her focus is on enhancing what they already have while bringing out their natural glow.
After years of celebrity clients and beauty editors raving about her Triple Crown Facials often coupled with LED light therapy, it came as no surprise when she launched a new beauty device smack in the middle of a pandemic. With so many of us unable to get professional facials, her Magic Glow Wand, an-at home Facial Massage Tool, couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Self-care and ritualizing a routine is something I preach to all my clients and those concepts were born from watching my grandmother doing her routine.”
Get to Know – Johanna Vargas
What was the impetus to start the Joanna Vargas product line?
I started my product line after years of seeing clients daily in my spas. I was having trouble finding a line that was clean yet still effective, that would quickly address common issues people were having in real life. To this day, I still create new products as solutions to skin concerns I’m seeing with clients in my spas.
What has been the biggest learning for you since launching the first product (s) until now?
Teaching my team to listen to our clients and customers, finding what’s best for them to use at home, and being able to create a product or service that truly benefits them.
Where are you from originally? Where do you live now?
I’m from north New Jersey and still live in New Jersey, close to New York City. I’ll always be a New Yorker at heart.
What inspires you most about the beauty landscape and industry today?
I’ve always been a fan of non-invasive technology and I’m loving the growth of this sector of our industry. Specifically, all the great-at home tools that give spa quality results, like my new Magic Glow Wand.
What has been the biggest challenge in starting your business?
Apart from the normal problems new businesses face, like raising capital, team building. etc., I would say the biggest challenge was balancing raising a family and raising a business. I had my two children in the early stages of my company and I definitely don’t miss those long, multi-tasking sleepless days and nights.
What has been the biggest win thus far?
So many wins to be thankful for, but I really loved expanding into a 14,000-square-foot location for my Manhattan spa last year. It’s the physical representation of everything I’ve worked so hard to accomplish.
What would you like to see more of in the beauty industry when it comes to diversity and inclusivity?
As I was coming up in the industry, I felt that I wanted to see workplaces reflect the world that I lived in. I am very proud of the diversity of my company, and all we did was hire the most qualified men and women as we grew. My husband and I have always made a point to grow our company from within the organization, so people who were hired as reception years ago are now a part of our executive team. As Latinos, we have always felt that education and opportunity are the keys to the success of the individual. For us, it’s a company mantra.