Facialists have seen it all. If there is a product abuzz in the mainstream, your facialist has probably been using it for months and likely already has a very pragmatic opinion on it. Personally, I trust the opinion and thoughts of an expert facialist more than a dermatologist (key word being ‘expert’ here)… honestly, I really do. A facialist is staring at, touching, and examining your skin for 30, 60, or even 90 minutes. Whereas with a dermatologist, you’re lucky if you get 30, 60, or 90 seconds with them in most offices. No, a facialist is there for you, to analyze your skincare regime, your eating habits, and maybe even your boyfriend troubles. They are skin-deep with you, trying to make sense of how your skin is reacting to things (and why that boy isn’t calling you back, darnit!).
Beyond just an expert facialist, an expert celebrity facialist is really worth her salt. Not just because she gets to perfect someone like Christy Turlington’s skin—although that’s undeniably pretty rad—but because she has even more access to interesting products, procedures, and tricks… mostly from brands wanting her thoughts and opinions. Yep, facialists may have seen it all, but celeb facialists have actually tried it all. Which got me thinking, wow, I wonder what product or two these experts couldn’t live without—either personally or professionally? I went to the best of the best to find out. And, gosh, I learned a lot along the way.
A facial from Joanna Czech is pretty life-changing. Not only does she have jokes worthy of a Comedy Cellar stand-up routine, she is an expert on the actual biology of skin. Every single product she uses and procedure she does is meant to completely revive your skin, from your ears to your collarbone to your cheekbones. And Czech has seen a lot in her 30+ years in the business, so for something to impress her, it has to be good.
Her desert island musts are two products that she uses together, from brands known for their quality and effectiveness. She takes Biologique Recherche’s Creme Masque Vernix, which she calls “hydrating, healing, protecting, and nourishing”, and mixes it with her favorite all-in-one serum, Vintner’s Daughter ($185), which is known for its “boosting, brightening, hydrating, and healing” qualities, she says. Together, they boost skin’s moisture and healing levels. “I use this as a moisturizer on my face, neck, and décolleté, and any excess goes on my hands,” says Czech. (Consider them already purchased, Czech!)
For celeb facialist Georgia Louise, science is the basis of good skincare—just look at her newly launched at-home GLOPulse device ($165) that is already upending the skincare industry with its clever galvanic technology. “When used in combination with my special conductive cotton sheet masks, this wearable beauty tech device helps to drive ingredients into the skin, while stimulating circulation for a noticeable glow,” says Louise.
Wanna take this glow to another step? Louise always recommends that her clients add a supplement to their daily lives. “One of my favorites is fish oil, as it contains fatty acids to combat inflammation and support skin hydration,” she says.
New York-based Joanna Vargas is the celebrity facialist and founder of her eponymous skincare collection. As you might imagine, she’s quite partial to her own line, and as are a handful of her actress clients, too.
If you forced her to pick her very favorite product (and we did, folks!), she’d have to say the cult-favorite Daily Serum ($85), which is organic, and packed full of vital greens—it was literally inspired by Vargas’ love of green juices. Why does she love it so? Well, it packs a major punch. “It contains my favorite ingredient, galactoarabinan, derived from the larch tree,” says Vargas. “It causes more cell turnover than a glycolic, but it’s also anti-inflammatory, so it doesn’t cause irritation, even in sensitive skin. It also contains oat grass juice for the lymphatic system, chlorophyll for oxygenation, vitamins A,C,E and F found in leafy greens, and hyaluronic acid.” All that, in one small bottle.
We also asked Vargas if she has any cheap musts. And she turned us on to a new favorite—Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Oil with Coconut & Argan Oil ($15.99). She loves a cleansing oil to take off makeup (Us too, Vargas, we have so much in common! Should we hang out?!) and thinks this version is great for anyone, even those with sensitive skin. “It’s soothing, hydrating, and doesn’t have harmful chemicals in it.”
Beloved facialist Shani Darden counts Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Chrissy Teigen as clients, to name just a few. The LA facialist also has a small line of products, and one that’s specifically known in the beauty world as one of the greatest retinols ever—literally, ever. Her Texture Reform ($95) is by far her favorite product (as well as pretty much every beauty editor’s, too). It’s so powerful, yet is great for almost all skin types—even sensitive ones, thanks to the mix of aloe (for soothing) and Coffea Arabica Fruit Extract (for antioxidant protection). “It boosts collagen in the skin, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, and it will smooth the texture of your skin,” says Darden. “It helps with acne, too.”
Looking for a cheap thrill too? Of course you are. Darden also loves Garnier’s Micellar Cleansing Water ($6.99), saying it’s gentle and effective at removing all makeup. “It’s great because you don’t have to rely on a harsh cleanser or tug at the delicate eye area to remove eye makeup,” she says.
K-Beauty expert and Peach & Lily founder Alicia Yoon (expert isn’t even a strong enough word—how about ‘ace’ or ‘authority’?) is known for her ability to discover and champion Korean skincare, but she’s actually a licensed facialist, too. And an excellent one at that. She also has probably tried more products than anyone else in this story, which is saying a lot.
From all that testing, Yoon has created Peach & Lily’s skincare line, which can’t seem to stay in stock for more than a few days at a time. And perhaps the shining star, if we were forced to pick one, is the Glass Skin Refining Serum ($39), which is, yep, currently out of stock, but will be back soon! Why is this do-all serum Yoon’s favorite? “It essentially gives you skin that looks like glass—poreless, translucent, smooth, illuminated, and firmed up,” says Yoon. No ingredient is a filler in this serum; everything is clinically-proven. “Results are visible right away, and after just around a week of continued use, people are leaving reviews that they see pores disappear, small bumps clear up, redness go away, and skin generally looking profoundly more radiant, refined and firm,” says Yoon.
A facialist favorite can come right from the aisles of Sephora, according to model-favorite facialist Angela Caglia (who also has her own line of extraordinary products, by the way). Her all-time favorite product is one you’re probably very familiar with: Thirsty Mud by Glamglow ($59). “It’s basically a facial in a jar,” she says.
Caglia applies it on clean skin, leaves it on for 20 minutes, and swears that her skin is super dewy and plump afterwards. Beyond just using it as a weekly mask, she’s even used it as a sleeping mask (“I wake up with happy glowing, hydrated skin!”), an airplane mask (“…it’s a beauty lifesaver.”), and even a moisturizer when her skin is extra dry. “It has glycerin, ginger root extract, coconut fruit extract, and olive leaf powder,” says Caglia. And bonus points: it apparently smells like a tropical vacation.
Another Caglia favorite, on the cheap? Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask ($2.47). “I’ve been using it since I was 11 for spot treatment for breakouts,” she says. “It’s made of green kaolin clay and sulphur.” She used it when she was a teenager, applying it to just pimples overnight and rinsing in the morning, a trick she still recommends for some teenager clients today. “It’s a great mask or spot treatment to clarify, brighten, and treat acne prone skin.”
London-based facialist Emma Hardie is well known across the pond for her extraordinarily gentle cleansing balm. The award-winning Moringa Cleansing Balm ($60) is her very favorite product because of its ‘spa in a jar’ capabilities. “A small amount massaged into my face is a daily ritual—extracts from the moringa seed oil and wild fennel, vitamin E, and essential oils are rich in antioxidants which are incredibly detoxifying, helping to reduce any inflammation caused by pollution, dirt and grime, makeup, or stress,” says Hardie.
Not only does it deep cleanse, it also helps to rebalance and hydrate skin. Also, the balm (and Hardie) promote a very special daily facial massage (which Hardie provides a detailed diagram of with the product), which increases lymphatic flow to remove toxins and inflammation from your face. “If you combine your daily cleansing routine with our unique ‘lines not circles’ self-massage technique, which can be easily practised at home, it will help give you a more youthful, toned, lifted face,” says Hardie.
Wanna go clean? So does CAP Beauty facialist Amity Spiegel. CAP and Spiegel have proven effective, glowy skin can come as a result of using clean skincare. And Spiegel is a huge fan of ethical but extremely powerful brand Marie Veronique, which is a top seller at CAP. She couldn’t quite narrow down which Veronique was her very favorite, so she gave us two (well, actually three).
Marie Veronique Gentle Retinol Serum ($110) is a favorite because of its ability to be both super gentle and super effective at minimizing pores, blackheads, breakouts, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation. “Gentle enough for people who have never had success with other retinols, yet also extremely effective,” she explains.
Another favorite is the Marie Veronique Treatment Oil ($80), which Spiegel recommends as the last step in hydrating and protecting skin. “Clarifying and calming inflammation, [it’s] good for anyone wanting to reduce breakouts,” she says. Plus, she swears it doesn’t irritate or overdry the skin, making it even good for acne-prone, oily, or combination skin.
She also gives an honorable mention to the Marie Veronique Barrier Restore Serum ($110).
Speaking of clean beauty, non-toxic product pioneer May Lindstrom has proven that effective skincare and clean ingredients are not mutually exclusive. Her synonymous skincare line is full of brilliant products, but when pushed to pick just one, she chooses The Blue Cocoon ($180). “It has quite literally changed my life, and that of thousands of others,” says Lindstrom. “It’s our global bestseller by a landslide, and we could run a sustainable company on this product alone” (yeah, it really is that good).
It’s a facial oil (the “most beautiful facial oil you’ve ever experienced”, per Lindstrom) that is solid in the jar, and turns into an oil on your fingers. It’s a daily hydrator, but also a special treatment for inflamed, damaged, irritated, or even acneic skin. The Blue Cocoon’s hero ingredient is blue tansy, which calms and relieves inflammation. “It’s like a meditation and spa vacation for your skin—in aromatherapy, blue tansy is used to reduce anxiety, heal sleep disorders, and soften the feeling of being out of control,” says Lindstrom. It can also double as an effective eye and lip treatment.
Well, there you have it: straight from these incredible experts, their very favorites. Hopefully, you found a new favorite or two in this list as well.