Friday, May 1, 2015

Alexandra Wagner - The Art Of Skincare

One of my favorite people to run into around the neighborhood is Alexandra Wagner, usually seen out walking her darling dog, Mylo. After talking about it for literally years, I finally made an appointment to have Wagner work her facial magic on me at her Abbot Kinney studio, Alexandra Wagner Skincare.

We jumped into the facial before the chat, and I settled in to her bright, airy treatment room, where we pretty much chatted the whole time anyway. Wagner was born and raised in Philadelphia, and that down to earth Philly style is ever-present in this gal. She has always been an artist, and after getting her BFA from UC- Boulder, Wagner made the move to New York, where she began a painting business. While she always painted her art, her business was more like painting rooms on scaffolding painting. This type of work takes a toll on one's body, so Wagner would get weekly massages, and really began to appreciate the art of making people feel good. Then one day a well-intentioned friend asked Wagner what she used to moisturize her face, because she could write the word "Dry" in it (this was New York, remember). That small comment wound up changing the direction of Wagner's life, when she began to get facials, loved them, and started thinking she might like to work in an area that made people feel beautiful, inside and out.

Wagner got her esthetician start working at Jurlique in New York, but the Southern California weather started looking real good to her, and she transferred to Jurlique out here. After a short time on Montana Avenue, Wagner needed some flavor. It was too clean over there ... but Venice was perfect. She rented space at the now gone Tree House, and then had a space located above (also now gone) Culcha. Now you can find Alexandra Wagner Skincare in the Beauty Bungalows at 1636 Abbot Kinney (along with Lavish Tan, Kelley Baker Brows and Stephanie Hobgood Hair - a wonderful, one-stop beauty mecca) in her lovely space, complete with a deck overlooking the boulevard.

The signature facial I received was pure bliss (aside from those always gnarly but necessary extractions, but Wagner made even those very tolerable). Everything smelled good, it felt great, and I emerged from the room like I'd been in a time machine ... I think Wagner may have shaved a good 10 years off of my face! The best part was when my face was kind of stinging from the extractions, suddenly a wonderful, soothing wave of liquid calm was applied, and just as I was about to say "What is that, it feels amazing!", Wagner said, "Oh, and this is my new White Tiger serum."

The White Tiger Serum. Wow. I'd attended Wagner's launch party for the new product a couple months ago, but as the party was so packed (and fun), the samples of the serum were already gone. I can't really explain how good it felt when she applied it to my freshly buffed out face, so you should really check it out for yourself. It contains white turmeric and tiger grass stem cells, hence the White Tiger name, and I don't really know about the science of it all, just that it felt like nothing I've had on my face before. Sublime (and soon there will also be White Tiger cleanser, etc...).

I felt even better about that facial when I learned that with every signature facial Wagner gives, she also gives back. As a fine artist, Wagner loves to share that gift. When a doctor friend invited her along on a trip to Cambodia in 2008 she brought along $2000 of art supplies to give to needy children there. She painted with kids afflicted by HIV there, and said the experience was so intense and beautiful, that she wanted to bring that feeling back with her to Los Angeles. Once back, she decided that with every facial, she would give an art kit to a child in need. Since then, kits have been delivered to homeless kids in Hawai'i, kids in Kenya, and recently 100 kits were donated to Grandview Elementary right here in L.A. ... so it's a facial you can feel REALLY good about.

The fine art part of Wagner's life also continues, as she paints as often as she can in her home studio. She had a great art show at the now long-gone Epoxy Box space on Venice Boulevard (remember that fun?), and hopes to launch another one as soon as her time permits ... which, with all she's got going on, could be a minute, but will certainly be well worth the wait.

Wagner loves to walk the block or so to work every day with Mylo ... and loves walking to dinner, walking to a friend's house, walking to the beach ... living in a place where you can walk to it all. I mentioned at the outset that I love seeing her walking, and we both lamented that with all the changes happening in town, you don't really see people as much. Now all the people walking down Abbot Kinney seem to be strangers as all the locals kind of avoid it, especially on the weekends, when you would see everyone out and about. The community is the real reason we all love it here, and I know I'm a broken record about all that, but I don't care. It matters. As Wagner reminded me, "We have to stay positive."

Positive is easy to stay when you're in the company of Wagner. "I want to make people look and feel more beautiful, to encourage them to want to take care of themselves. Giving your skin a little love makes you and I both feel good." That was a true story, because I left there feeling all aglow, inside and out.

But don't just take my word for it, take Vogue's:

And now you can book your own appointment to be - and feel - pretty as a picture.

Alexandra Wagner Skincare
1636 Abbot Kinney Boulevard

*Photos courtesy Alexandra Wagner

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