Celebrity aesthetician Joanna Vargas says the Met Gala is 'a totally different ball game' when it comes to getting stars camera-ready

“At the end of the day, skin care for me is all about boosting somebody’s confidence so that they can just be themselves," she says.

Joanna Vargas wants clients to feel confident in their skin. (Courtesy of Joanna Vargas)

Joanna Vargas is no stranger to getting celebrity skin ready for the red carpet.

With nearly two decades in the business, two signature spas to her name and her eponymous skin care brand, Vargas has successfully established herself as a must-see aesthetician to the stars, and she counts Rachel Brosnahan, Greta Gerwig and Keri Russell among her regulars.

Ahead of the Met Gala, she is busy preparing several of her A-list clients for the event. For Vargas, that can mean putting together treatment plans to help address stress or lack of sleep, which can result in what she calls “angry skin.”

“No matter who we are and what we do as a career, we all have very similar concerns for our skin,” she told Yahoo Entertainment. “How to maximize our skin, how to look our best … everybody struggles against their schedules and their lifestyle choices, and that can lead to what we don’t want to see in our skin.”

The state of a certain client’s skin, Vargas said, is partly dependent on the type of event they are preparing for and the time of year the event is taking place. The Oscars, for instance, tend to be the culmination of awards season, and a celebrity’s skin may reflect their busy schedule. Coupled with the fact that it’s still cold in many places leading up to the March awards ceremony, someone’s skin can be stressed and dehydrated.

The Met Gala, however, doesn’t present the same challenges.

“It’s a totally different ball game because it’s that stress-free, ‘This is going to be so much fun’ [mentality],” Vargas said. “[A celebrity isn’t] thinking about anything except how to have the most fun with [their] look, and it’s a little bit warmer out, so we’re focusing more on things like lymphatic drainage, depuffing, sculpting, contouring ... that kind of thing.”

Ensuring that a client is ready for their close-up — at the Met Gala or any other big event — isn’t about only the face but also the body.

“I have found that the red carpet is always a really big story in beauty because you’re often showing more skin even on your body, whether it be an exposed chest, shoulders and arms or a high-cut slit in your dress,” she said.

Celebrities, according to Vargas, prioritize getting “super lift” and “super contour” skin treatments for widely photographed occasions.

For the body, she uses techniques like a hands-free air-compression garment that eliminates excess puffiness and an exfoliation treatment known as “the Rub,” which involves rubbing shredded coconut all over the body to infuse hydration and soothing oils into the skin.

“You really feel like your skin is popping,” she said. “It smells like breakfast when you’re doing it.”

Staying away from heat-based treatments — like radio frequency, for instance — at least one week before a red carpet, Vargas explained, can help keep unwanted (and ill-timed) irritation or breakouts at bay.

In the days leading up to a big event, Vargas also urges her clients to avoid alcohol.

“Alcohol really doesn’t do any good for your face or your body,” she said. “It dehydrates you. It depletes your vitamins. …You sleep less soundly when you drink alcohol. … It also increases your cortisol levels, so you’re going to be more stressed from drinking.”

She recommends going on a nice long walk instead.

“It really goes a long way,” she said.

As a celebrity aesthetician, Vargas is often tasked with helping her clients look their best in a short amount of time. She recalled an experience with a certain celebrity who experienced a severe breakout a week before a red carpet. While the client was told she had acne, Vargas knew right away that wasn’t the culprit for her skin woes.

“Conditions were just really stressful. The life conditions, the working conditions … this person was also traveling a whole bunch…Even though she was breaking out, I knew she didn’t have acne,” Vargas said. “We worked on soothing and calming [her skin using] LED oxygen and lymphatic drainage. I made her come in every other day, and by the time she walked the red carpet, her skin was impeccable.”

Famous or not, Vargas says we can all be the worst critics of our own imperfections.

“I think people’s natural go-to is to be super critical of themselves,” she said. “It was a lesson to me and a lesson to her that all of these outside factors can really change what we’re seeing in the mirror, [but] you can change it back.”

She added, “At the end of the day, skin care for me is all about boosting somebody’s confidence so that they can just be themselves.”