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Save for dermatologists, there are seldom folks who are as knowledgeable about the inner workings of our epidermis as aestheticians. Like doctors, they’ve seen it all: acne, hyperpigmentation, scarring, and rosacea. The main difference is you’re probably not going to book a facial if you’re having an eczema flare-up. While facialists certainly see their fair share of skin concerns, it’s their job not to prescribe drugs, but rather to provide treatments that help soothe and transform the skin over time. What’s more: Said treatments are usually super tranquil and administered on a sleep-inducing spa table.
Aside from the relaxation factor, another tempting reason to see a facialist (interchangeably called aesthetician), is the personalized approach. Most of the time these complexion caregivers work by meticulously examining your skin and treating it with whatever it needs, whether it’s a heavy dose of hydration, uncomfortable extractions, or a dose of LED light therapy. Celebrities, bloggers, and beauty editors (not to mention everyday folks who crave a clear complexion) rely on aestheticians for balanced, soothed skin that glows — without the highlighter.
But, I wonder: How do these skin whisperers care for their own complexions? Because I couldn’t shake the curiosity, I decided to ask. Ahead, find the skin-care routines and secrets of seven top facialists.
Before heading to her cozy skin-care studio on the Lower East Side, facialist Sofie Pavitt wakes up her skin with a splash of toner — and that’s that. “My skin is quite dry so I don’t wash my face in the morning — instead, I go straight to toning. I’m a big fan of the Circumference Active Botanical Refining Toner, which is hydrating,” she says.
Straight after toner, she slathers on a vitamin C serum — and just like so many skin-care devotees, SkinCeuticals’s C E Ferulic Serum is her chosen one. “It’s an OG classic because it’s so effective without being irritating,” says Pavitt. Post-serum, she layers on Soleil Toujours’ Organic Daily Sunless Tanning Serum to warm up her winter complexion. “Like everyone, my skin can look a little dull in the winter and this helps brighten it up,” she says. “I add a couple of drops to my face a few days a week which gives me a nice glow.”
Sunscreen is the last and most important step in Pavitt’s skin-care regimen. “SPF is always in my daily routine and right now I’m loving Tatcha’s Silken Pore-Perfecting Sunscreen because the texture is so amazing,” she says. “It really blurs your pores and imperfections while providing great sun protection.”
As her last step, Pavitt applies a dime-sized amount of Dr. Jart’s+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45 to even out any redness and further protect her skin from the sun.
After a long day of tending to other people’s skin, Pavitt treats her own complexion to a thorough cleanse, starting with Tatcha’s The Deep Cleanse, which landed an Allure Best of Beauty award in 2019. After an initial cleanse, she then uses the brand’s best-selling Rice Polish for a gentle exfoliation. “These work so well together for a double cleanse and take everything off for me,” says Pavitt.
Next up on the agenda is serum. Her current favorite is iS Clinical’s Active Serum, as it targets several different skin concerns, such as redness, free-radical damage, and fine lines and wrinkles. “This serum is so amazing that I come back to it time and time again,” says Pavitt. “My skin looks amazing after using this regularly.”
As far as moisturizer is concerned, Pavitt has been going the heavy-duty route and using thick, balm-oil formulas to protect her skin from the dry winter elements. “With the weather being so cold and dry out right now, I’ve been using lots of oils — the three I’m currently rotating are Shiffa’s Healing Balm for when my skin feels too winterized and sensitive, Supernal’s Cosmic Glow Oil, and Saint Jane’s Luxury CBD Beauty Serum,” she says. “These are so protective and nourishing in the winter.”
After applying a generous layer of oil or balm to her skin, it’s officially time for Pavitt to get some shut-eye.
Two to three days a week, Pavitt reaches for Dr. Dennis Gross’s famed Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel Pads to get a deeper exfoliation. “I’m completely obsessed with these — they’re the best because they’re gentle, yet strong enough to be the only exfoliator in your routine,” she says.
When it comes to the skin below her neck, Pavitt waxes poetic about Mutha’s Body Butter, which is chock-full of skin-softening ingredients, such as shea butter, coconut oil, and avocado oil. “On top of the amazing scent, the formula is so rich that my skin feels completely hydrated and silky after one use,” she says.
The Hollywood-based facialist and founder of Angela Caglia Skincare prides herself on being a green-beauty expert and follows a skin-care-meets-self-love approach whenever she can.
“Every day I wake up and go to my fridge to take out my rose quartz roller, which I love to gently roll on my face to stimulate blood flow and assist with lymphatic drainage. It instantly alleviates puffiness and dark circles,” she says of the first step to her morning routine. “The energy of the rose quartz is the perfect self-love ritual to start my busy day.”
Next up, Caglia rinses her face with not warm or tepid, but cold water to further refresh her complexion — no cleanser needed. “Usually then I’ll just apply Suntegrity Moisturizer or I also love the French pharmacy brand La-Roche Posay’s Anthelious AC; they’re both light and make my skin happy, while being protected,” she says. (Spoiler alert: She says she’s working on an SPF formulation for her own line as we speak.)
Believe it or not, Caglia’s p.m. skin-care routine is just as streamlined as her a.m. regimen. She generally sticks to removing any makeup and grime from the day with her Power Cleansing Balm, which she says she uses as a cleanser, mask, and moisturizer as she specifically created it to be a multifunctional product. When her skin requires some extra TLC, she turns to Glam Glow’s YouthMud for a deep exfoliation prior to moisturizing. And when she has the time, she loves to give herself high-tech facials and treatments like LED light therapy. “Usually I’m so busy doing all of my clients, but I try to do it every few weeks,” she says.
Caglia is a fervent believer that what you put into your body shows up on your skin. “I love to eat and drink foods that are great for your skin, so I’ll snack on blueberries for the antioxidants, which help protect and brighten my skin, salmon because it’s high in omegas and helps keep my skin glow-y, and a daily green drink to keep it clear.”
Melissa Haloossim, aka Kim Kardashian West’s late-night skin savior, follows a no-fuss approach in the a.m. too. She starts by rinsing her
face with cool water before applying SkinMedica’s HA5 Serum, which supports the skin’s own ability to replenish hyaluronic acid. She’s another no-cleanser-in-the-morning advocate, as she says doing this too often can dry the skin.
After serum, it’s on to sunscreen. She relies on Allure Best of Beauty winner, EltaMD’s UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46, before applying Bare Minerals Original Powder Foundation because it also contains a small dose of sun protection. And that’s that.
Come evening, the Skin Thesis founder removes makeup and washes her face with a gentle cleanser, followed by the same SkinMedica serum. Then she finishes off with a light moisturizer.
Wondering why Haloossim doesn’t dish any brand names when it comes to cleanser and moisturizer? That would be because she’s currently in the process of developing her own product line (!) and has been testing the samples to ensure their effectiveness. “I also exfoliate once a week and use my Clarisonic Brush to make sure I remove all residue on the skin,” she adds.
Haloossim’s go-to treatment is her laser facial, which happens to be a Kim KW favorite. “It’s an instant rejuvenation, and my skin looks plump and healthy afterward,” she says. “It’s a must once a month for improvement and prevention.”
Like Caglia, she’s also a firm believer that what you eat and drink will be reflected on your skin. “I try to avoid dairy products, processed and fried foods, and refined sugar at all costs,” she says. “[Good skin] is all about maintenance and balance. It’s important to have the right lifestyle and be proactive rather than reactive.”
When it comes to caring for your skin, the celebrity facialist and creator of the GLOPulse and GLOLite devices says there are no days off. “I select my skin-care cocktail depending on how my skin feels each day and usually layer up to three serums,” she says.
Once her serums have had time to sink in, she likes to use her GLOPulse device in conjunction with a sheet mask to help the product penetrate deeper into her skin. “I finish my routine with my Vital Finishing Serum and Dr. Barbara Sturm Sun Drops,” she says, adding, “I never, ever leave the house without sunscreen.”
At night, or when her skin is feeling worse for wear, she likes to use an LED mask with Biologique Recherche’s Crème Masque Vernix, which she says puts the glow back into her skin. She’s also a huge fan of Environ’s 24K Derma-Roller, which she tries to do every night because she says you see the biggest changes in your skin from the constant rejuvenation.
When she fancies a really relaxing skin-care treatment, she relies on her Lift and Sculpt Butterfly Stone, which she uses to gently massage her skin with whatever facial oil she’s feeling that day.
Despite being a celebrity aesthetician and founder of her own spa and skin-care range, Joanna Vargas keeps it pretty straightforward when it comes to her own regimen. “It’s pretty simple: cleanse at night, then I apply my Super Nova Serum, a retinol, to help encourage more cell turnover followed by my Rejuvenating Serum to help my skin repair itself from a day of stress and pollution,” she says. Then, if she feels like she could use more hydration, she locks the aforementioned products in with a dollop of her Daily Hydrating Cream. “The serum oxygenates and makes my skin glow while the cream helps keep me feeling hydrated all day,” she says.
After a long day, Vargas likes to use her famous Vitamin C Face Wash to remove makeup and any lingering debris. “I hate feeling like my skin is dirty so I can’t live without it,” she says. She follows up with the serums from her a.m. routine, and when she feels she needs it, she’ll use her lactic-acid-packed Exfoliating Mask and the Eden Instant Lift Mask, (the latter works to repair environmental damage).
Vargas says she loves an at-home lymphatic drainage massage, which she says helps to keep the skin clear, de-puffed, and glowing. “It’s a lost art and certainly a tool that anyone can use to make the face look rejuvenated,” she says.
Her directions: “For dry skin, massage the skin in circular motions upward, starting at the base of the neck on the sides where your arteries are. Then massage in gentle circles upward, toward the jaw, up the sides of the face and around the eyes,” she explains. “You want to do the opposite motion and start on the top of the face by the eyes if you are prone to breakouts, because this will draw the waste away.”
Another skin-care method Vargas swears by is dry brushing. She says it increases elasticity and is a great form of exfoliation that enhances circulation. “Try it before you get into the shower in the morning, and you will see a difference in your skin quality in days,” she says.
Unlike some of her peers, aesthetician and skin-care brand consultant Joanna Czech has a more comprehensive routine that includes cleansing, toning, serum, and moisturizing, as well as eye care and lip care too. Because she suffers from rosacea, she relies on gentle products that help soothe, repair, and protect her fragile complexion.
In the a.m., this means reaching for Biologique Recherche’s Eau Micellaire Biosensible, which she uses with one of her own washcloths. Then to tone her skin she uses Tammy Fender’s Roman Chamomile Tonic, which contains a blend of chamomile flower water and oil to hydrate and calm distressed skin. Post-tone, she moisturizes with Biologique Recherche’s Serum Extraits Tissulaires and follows that with Medik8’s CE Thione, Biologique Recherche’s Colostrum mixed with Augustinus Bader’s Rich Cream.
For Czech, her nighttime routine is the most important because she says the skin is at rest and able to absorb products better, which increases their efficacy. “For cleansing, I alternate between Biologique Recherche Lait E.V and Meder’s Gel Net-Apex Cleanser using a Joanna Czech Linen Washcloth for mild exfoliation,” she says. She then tones with Biologique Recherche P50 400, which, she says, is a must.
For her p.m. serums, she mixes the same brand’s Quintessential Serums, depending on what her skin is craving that day. “I use Serum Extraits Tissulaires for balance and hydration and Serum Placenta for healing, brightening, and increasing elasticity,” she says.
Once she’s applied her serums, she uses her Joanna Czech Facial Massager to help push the products into the skin and increase blood flow. “Two to three times a week, I also use Environ’s C-Quence Serum 1 for vitamin A and mask with 111Skin’s Rose Gold Brightening Treatment Mask followed by the Deesse LED Mask,” she says.
She finishes with a few drops of the Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum added to either Biologique Recherche’s Masque Vernix or the Augustinus Bader Rich Cream.
And when her rosacea is flaring up, she says she pares down her routine to four simple products: Meder’s Gel Net-Apex Cleanser, Tammy Fender’s Roman Chamomile Tonic, and Vintner’s Daughter Serum mixed with Biologique Recherche’s Creme Masque Vernix.
Celebrity facialist and creator of Shani Darden Skin Care starts her mornings off by masking with the same Deesse LED Mask that Czech favors.
After 20 minutes, she applies a toner and vitamin C serum for antioxidant protection (she prefers iS Clinical’s GeneXC), followed by the iS Clinical Youth Eye Complex, which has peptides and hyaluronic acid to plump up and brighten the undereye area.
“Next, I use Dr. Nigma’s Hyaluronic Acid Serum No. 1 for a boost of moisture, followed by an oil-free sunscreen,” she says. “Wearing sunscreen every day is nonnegotiable!”
After attending to her clients all day, Darden comes home and starts her routine with a thorough cleanse using iS Clinical’s Cleansing Complex, which contains skin-loving ingredients like vitamins C and E.
“After gently drying my skin, I apply my toner, followed by Texture Reform, which is my new gentle retinol serum,” she says. “I then follow this up with Youth Eye Complex and Serum No. 1, and if my skin is on the drier side, I might use iS Clinical’s Reparative Moisture Emulsion.”
“One of my little tricks is to exfoliate my lips with a wet toothbrush and apply a lip mask; shedding that dead skin on the surface of my lips allows for the mask to absorb super well,” she says of her favorite lip-smoothing treatment.
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Originally Appeared on Allure