A Beloved Celebrity Facialist Shares Her Top Tips for Caring for Skin at Age 40+

When I say that I’ve never had a positive skincare journey quite like the one I’ve had ever since I turned 40, I’m not exaggerating. During my teenage years, and even in my 20s, I had some pretty tough moments dealing with acne. (I’ll never forget the giant cystic zit on my nose come picture day during 9th grade.) But after decades of only being half-serious about my skincare, I finally put in the work to ensure my complexion is its best. Now, I am absolutely privileged, as I’d never be able to test the products I do if I weren’t a beauty editor. I am extremely lucky and will never forget it! 


(Image credit: @amy_lawrenson)

Another privilege is having access to skin experts, including dermatologists and estheticians, who can give me tips on what to do for my skin. It's even better when it's an expert like Joanna Vargas, the celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skin Care. Vargas also authored Glow From Within, a book on how to get glowing skin. Even though I've been pretty happy with my current skincare routine, I wanted her expert advice for caring for your skin at age 40 and older. Vargas, who counts Greta Gerwig, Sofia Coppola, and Mindy Kaling among her clients, says that women in their 40s really need to understand that it takes work for skin to look how they want it to. Below, she's sharing all of her best tips. Keep scrolling!

Tip #1: Exfoliate Every Other Day

Vargas tells her 40-year-old or older clients to exfoliate without fail every other day to keep some cell turnover going and to do fruit acid peels monthly. "At this time, we tend to see all of our sun damage emerging, and exfoliation and resurfacing the skin are the best ways to address it," says Vargas. She recommends her Exfoliating Mask ($75), which you can also sleep in.

"The formula will stimulate collagen production, remove dead skin cells, brighten the skin, and products will penetrate better into the skin," she says. "It contains clay to help physically cleanse the skin. It also contains galactoarabinan [that is] naturally derived from the larch tree. It causes amazing cell turnover and serves as an anti-inflammatory."

Tip #2: The Hype for Retinol is Real—Use It

Another tip Vargas tells her clients is to incorporate a retinol, like her Super Nova Hydrating Retinol Serum ($295), which can be used once or twice a week depending on your skin type and sensitivity.

"It’s important to follow the days after with a moisturizing and reparative routine, especially at night. My new Twilight Night Serum ($195) and Night Cream ($145) are great for this as they can be used in conjunction with retinol, but also on the days you are taking a break. Formulated with Epidermal Growth Factor, this duo replenishes and nourishes the skin barrier so you can wake up with glowing and moisturized skin.”

Tip #3: Consider Getting Regular Facials (with Microcurrent!)

I was lucky enough to get a facial from Vargas, and it was everything I dreamed of and more. I have never seen results quite like the ones I got with her Triple Crown Royale Facial, which uses microcurrent to lift and tone the skin. After Vargas was done using microcurrent on one side of my face, she gently pinched my cheek, showing me the difference between the sides in the mirror. Even without the pinching, you could see how my cheek and mouth were higher and more lifted on one side. I couldn't believe it. "I use electricity to drain out excess water, tighten the muscle and tighten the skin to make the jaw and cheeks look tight, lifted, and youthful," she says. "Although it's a non-invasive treatment, microcurrent is like going to the gym for the face." Most of her clients like to get the treatment every three to four weeks to get the maximum benefits. "Long term, just like the gym, you get a real lift and can ultimately replace a facelift," she says.

Tip #4: Don't Sleep on LED Light Therapy

After my facial, Vargas had me do a 20-minute Power Nap session in her patented full-body Revitalight LED bed, which is one of her favorite weapons for fighting aging signs. "It is a proven technology that literally works on everyone. LED Light is proven to not only delay wrinkles, but it can improve the depth of wrinkles with repeated sessions," she says. "Collagen production starts to slow down, and LED light has been shown to build collagen in quantifiable percentages, which translates into better elasticity." (I may have fallen asleep during my session in the LED bed and was woken up by my own snoring.)


(Image credit: @marielodiandreakos)

Tip #5: Washing Your Face Is Even More Important Than You Think

I wanted to get the low-down when it came to common skin mistakes because I'm not 100 percent perfect when it comes to my skincare (though I'm much better than I was a few years ago). I want to know if anybody else messes up, too.

"I think a lot of people don't realize the importance of washing your face before you go to sleep at night. A lot of women skip washing their face because they think they don't have time or they're tired," says Vargas. "It's the most important thing you can do. Nighttime is the time for the skin to repair itself from the pollution and sun we put it through all day. Leaving grime, dirt, and makeup on the skin will cause the skin to become inflamed and break out more easily. It will be susceptible to wrinkles because it won't be healthy."

Vargas likes products that multitask, like her Vitamin C Face Wash. "I have an exfoliating ingredient in it, as well as an anti-inflammatory to get the makeup off and increase cell turnover, so it's great to use daily," she says. When I tried digging for more celebrity skin secrets, she gave the best one: "The skin is a window into what's happening on the inside. Taking walks to de-stress, healthy choices at dinner, getting enough rest, and focusing on making yourself feel happy are all just as important for your skin as the type of serum you use." Now, that is some advice I seriously need to take!

My Facial Before and Afters


(Image credit: @marielodiandreakos)


(Image credit: @marielodiandreakos)
Marie Lodi
Freelance Beauty and Fashion Writer/Editor

Marie has covered beauty, fashion, and lifestyle for almost 15 years. She contributes to the beauty section here at Who What Wear. Previously, she was the Looks Editor for Bust Magazine, built the beauty vertical at HelloGiggles as its beauty editor, and was a founding staff writer at Rookie mag, giving fashion advice to teens. Her bylines have appeared in The Cut, Allure, Glamour, The Hollywood Reporter, and more. She was born and raised in Southern California and is based in L.A. Marie is a self-proclaimed costume design nerd and a co-host of Makeover Montage, a podcast about fashion in film and costume design. You'll see her writing about her beauty obsessions: red lipstick, winged eyeliner, pink hair, nail art, and skincare for people over 40. When she's not working, she's playing with her dog, Gnocchi, and writing her style newsletter, Overdressed.