Introducing our new series: Intimate conversations about skincare and beyond with beauty experts, insiders and people who inspire us to do more…with less.
If you have a rose quartz roller in your beauty arsenal, odds are you owe it to Angela Caglia. The celebrity esthetician (she's worked with Chrissy Teigen, Helena Christensen, Yolanda Hadid, Rosanna Arquette and Minnie Driver, to name a few) and skincare guru is also a fearless risk-taker who’s led an adventurous life. You can find her eponymous, certified organic and natural skincare line at Violet Grey, Net-a-Porter, Lane Crawford and Saks Fifth Avenue. Angela Caglia Skincare
stands out not only for popularizing a face tool that looks as lovely on your vanity as it is benefiting to your skin but for creating a formula with patented Lipid-Lock Technology that protects the skin from water loss and nourishes with fatty acids.
We sat down with the master facialist to talk about cultivating a ritual over a routine, seeing the world through rose-colored glasses (hint: such optimism inspired her La Vie En Rose Face Roller), rightfully earning the nickname “Hollywood Glow Girl” and why, yes, less is more.
How did you get your start in skincare and as a celebrity esthetician? How did it all begin?
As a young girl, I grew up in the Central Valley in California, My grandfather was a big farmer. He farmed apricots, nectarines, grapes, plums. Instead of eating them, I was constantly making pastes and putting them on my face—at eight and nine years old. I was obsessed with skincare and doing things to my face, which was weird. I’ve always loved the art of skincare: the textures and smells and making masks.
But it really started in college. I was a francophile, and my first trip out of the Central Valley was to Paris. I studied French at the Sorbonne in my twenties. It was there where I discovered facials. My first facial was really a coming-of-age moment. I noticed how French women cared for their skin and how beautiful they were with very little makeup. They were proud of their skin: just a little red lipstick and mascara. They even had a few wrinkles and they were still proud of the way they looked. I was intrigued with their elegance. It was a contrast to when I was growing up in the eighties and my mom was just packing on the makeup.
When I came back from studying, I was living in Carmel and a salon popped up. It happened to be a training institute for Yon-Ka Paris, one of the first botanical skincare lines. I said, “Listen, I want to work at your front desk. But I want become an esthetician.” At that time, no one knew what an esthetician was. There was no real spa business in the US at that time.
After a few years in New York fast forward to coming back to LA, where I worked at the spa at Equinox in West Hollywood, but only because it was next door to Ole Henricksen where I really wanted to work. After bugging them for a couple years, I ended up being their top seller. I was creating protocols they weren’t doing there at the time (this is after Ole had sold the salon) and they didn’t like that: I knew I had to open my own spa.
What inspired you to start your own skincare line?
During that time, I went to give Barbra Streisand a facial at her home in Malibu. I grew up loving her and there was a moment during this two-hour facial when I said, “When I was a little girl, my mom told me how amazing you are and she had me watch Yentl because you were the first female writer-director-star of a film.” She responded, “It’s a shame women haven’t moved farther in Hollywood since then. I was forty when I did that,” and then she said, “How old are you?” And I said, “Forty!” She looked up at me and replied, “Well, what’s your dream?” At that moment, I thought, Oh, god. I was working at Ole Henricksen, going through a divorce, petering along. But I said, “To have a skincare line.”
After the facial, she invited me into her bathroom and asked what she should be using. I put together a regimen for her. I left so empowered, I was ready to start my line, even though I didn’t have any money. When I finally found a lab, I started making the formulas and putting them in little plastic jars, sending them out to Helena Christensen, Sting, people like that, and getting feedback. Luckily, one big celebrity gave me a loan to help me open my spa so I could have my own line, asking I pay it back when it seemed like a small amount of money to me. It was 10 thousand dollars and it was enough to get a studio in Bel Air. The clients followed. And I launched the skincare line at Violet Grey only three years ago.
What sets your line apart from others?
There were so many products on the market. I had always been told you need to sell, sell, sell. When I started to find out about the ingredients, I realized I was selling things to my clients that were overpriced and not good for their skin. They had colors in them, they weren’t natural and moreover, they had ingredients that weren’t helping their skin. That’s what I really cared about.
You emphasize the importance of creating a self-care ritual, as opposed to just going through a routine. What advice would you give for people trying to get out of their routine and into a ritual?
I think it goes back to self-love. Just knowing you need to take these moments. That’s why I incorporated my rose quartz tools when I launched. I was the first to launch with a rose quartz roller, and now everyone has one. I wanted to create something that would make women feel better when they were using it. When I would give facials, I always countered the high-powered machines with a cooling jade roller afterwards and noticed people loved it. I created it because I knew they would use it—and it’s easy.
I chose rose quartz not just because it’s pretty, but it’s the densest of any stone. It’s naturally colder than jade or amethyst, so you don’t have to store it in the refrigerator.
What do you think is people’s biggest misconception about skincare?
That they have to use too many products. The shelfie ruined it for everyone because people think they need all those products. Less is more. I don’t wash my face in the morning. I keep it simple, and I get the best results. I use my rose quartz to make it a ritual
: You don’t have to roll for very long to get lymphatic drainage going (which you should do below your ear because that’s where your lymph node is). I don’t roll for more than four minutes.
I think women are over-exfoliating, which really strips the lipid barrier. When I first used U Beauty, I loved how I could smell a little bit of aloe vera. It was very soothing for my skin, which is a nice treat. I find how gentle the Resurfacing Compound
is to be very unique. When I put my U Beauty on, I wait a few minutes and apply my own Soufflé Moisturizer
on top and then I’ll roll for a few minutes.
Any surprising skincare secrets you’re willing to divulge?
Don’t believe everything you read. There’s not a lot of regulation in the US from the FDA. For example, a label
can say green tea cleanser,
and you buy it and you realize the green tea is at the very back of marketing levels, at one percent or less. There’s some deception out there.
And just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it’s better. I tend to be skeptical if a product is insanely expensive. Many contain fillers, toxins and fragrances. The performance and efficacy isn't there, even though the price tag is high and they have an expensive build-out in a department store.
When do you feel most confident?
When I’m giving a masterclass and I’m talking about my skincare line. When I have a microphone in hand! I love answering questions.
What’s your take on fillers and Botox?
It’s an individual choice. Whatever makes you feel beautiful. But when it comes to chasing youth, a lot of women overdo it and it makes them look older than they should. I personally want then to be proud of that smile line.
What are a few simple things you can’t live without?
Something rose quartz, obviously, whether it’s my roller or eye mask for the calming love-inducing energy of it. I’m obsessed with anything rose, so I drink this amazing rose-chamomile tea. Anything infused with rose calms me. Also, cheese. I’m kidding…well, I’m actually getting into vegan cheese because cheese is terrible for you.
So much has changed in the past several months. What’s been the most dramatic change for you personally?
I’ve started doing weird things around the house, like put things on my husband’s face. I’ve been massaging my dog’s face! It’s always therapeutic for me to give a facial. When I give facials, it’s really relaxing for me, as well: the touch, the intimacy, the energy I give to them. I miss how they make me feel, too.
What do you love most about you do?
What I love most about it is that I know I’m filling a void. When I create products, I don’t look at the competition. I use my background and my clients to create the need of what I think needs to be filled. I still give facials—obviously not right now because of the pandemic—because I know I’m helping women. It’s an intimate thing. Feeling like I’m doing something really good for women is what motivates me every day.