“How would you like to try a new facial Mandy Moore just got this —?” “Yes, absolutely, I’m in,” I said to my editor, before she could even finish. Apparently, hours before stepping onto the Golden Globes red carpet, the This Is Us actor visited Joanna Vargas‘ Los Angeles-based salon for a pre-award show glow via the aesthetician’s brand-new, not-yet-available-to-the-public treatment, the Super Nova Facial, and we had an opportunity to try the treatment like a real VIP. Hearing all of this, how could I possibly turn down my chance to glow like a celebrity? Short answer: I couldn’t. (And I didn’t.)
Fast forward to a few weeks later, where I’m cozily wrapped up into a facial bed in Vargas’ New York City salon, which overlooks Bryant Park. “I’m so excited for you to try the Super Nova,” Sarah, my aesthetician, says to me, as she tucks me into the sheets. “Mandy Moore did it that day, right before the Golden Globes. There was no downtime.” (She’s not lying. But more on that later.)
Vargas, the mastermind behind the Super Nova Facial (cue Oasis’ moody “Champagne Supernova” playing in the background), designed the treatment to “increase the skin’s hydration level exponentially,” she tells Allure. This is done via a number of moisturizers, masks, and machines — all in a one-hour appointment. But unlike Vargas’ previous treatments, the Super Nova was specifically crafted for celebrities, as the facial can be given literally minutes before hitting the red carpet. (OK, fine. Maybe not minutes, but you get the point.)
When it was time to start my facial, my aesthetician jumped head-first into the exfoliating process — skipping cleansing completely. “We start off by peeling the skin with my latest tool, the Aqua Peel,” says Vargas. “It uses an oxygenating formula of nutrients, saline, and glycolic acid to smooth out dry skin to prep it for red-carpet makeup.” Or, in my case, New York City rain, which I was heading into post-treatment.
Following the microdermabrasion-like machine, Sarah then set the steamer directly into my face to soften and “open” my pores. (Am I the only one who has trouble with steam? It makes me feel so….claustrophobic.) During the steam session, she also applied a pineapple enzyme-rich mask to my face to both exfoliate and brighten my (sometimes sensitive) skin. “Lit-from-within skin, here I come,” I thought, while trying to catch my breath from the steam. (It wasn’t that bad, I’m just being dramatic.)
For the next step in the Super Nova, I’d like for you to forget everything I just said about claustrophobia. Just wait until you see what happened following the steam: a triple-layer collagen mask. Before Sarah could even start the treatment, which, according to Vargas is a three-layer, medical-grade collagen mask infused with thermal clay, she asked me once more about how I felt being wrapped up in small, confined spaces. “Uh….not good?”
Luckily, the mask didn’t cover my entire face — just, you know, my eyes, mouth, cheeks, forehead. Basically everything but my nose. It was…interesting. As Sarah painted on the mask’s numerous layers, I was reminded of the super-mesmerizing Korean beauty rubber masks all over Instagram. (You can see the mask in action, below.)
While the treatment dried, Sarah massaged my arms (thank you!), and took the mask off after about 10 minutes. It came off in one fell-swoop, which was kind of weird to see, but I was into it. She followed up the collagen portion of the treatment with micro-current and a new-to-the-salon cryotherapy machine, which Vargas says “increases circulation, oxygenation, and lymphatic drainage while providing anti-inflammatory benefits.” I can’t tell you if all that happened in the minute the machine was used on me, but I can say it was very cold and felt very refreshing after being all wrapped up in a rubber mask.
As for the grand finale? Oxygen! Fans of Vargas’ Triple Crown Facial know all about the oxygen infusion portion of the facial — which blasts bursts of oxygen into the skin for added hydration — but I appreciate that she tacked it on to the end of the Super Nova. Following the oxygen, I checked out my reflection in my phone’s camera and immediately noticed my skin was visibly brighter, glowier, and so plump. It’s as if my cheeks were magically lifted — sans needles.
“Everyone who’s tried it can’t stay away from the mirror,” Vargas tells me. And you know, what? She’s right. Since Saturday, I’ve caught myself staring at my reflection more than a few times. I guess you could say I’m ready for my closeup.
For those in the New York City or Los Angeles areas, you can book an appointment to try the Super Nova in one of Vargas’ salons — no matter if you’re heading to the Oscars or not. The one-hour treatment ranges from $325 with a senior aesthetician to $375 with master aesthetician. (Gratuity is not included.)
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