Our KNESKO Visionary series features women of passion, resilience, and excellence and this week’s guest is of the same mold. In this episode, we sit down for a candid one-on-one with one of Hollywoods’ most sought-after facialists, Candace Marino aka “The L.A. Facialist” (@thelafacialist).

After more than a decade of lending her expertise to various beauty and wellness brands, Candace took a leap of faith in 2019, launching her own skin- and self-care business The LA Facialist. Her unique treatment philosophy of offering bespoke, no-two-clients-are-alike skincare solutions soon drew her an A-list clientele, including Kourtney Kardashian, Miranda Kerr, and Chloe Grace Moretz.

CoVID-19 may have seen her go through some challenging months (as did other brick-and-mortar spas), but with her fiery determination and dogged optimism, Candace is now back to enjoying brisk business via virtual consultations and her online shop that carries curated, tried-and-tested skincare products.

Read on for the interview highlights:

Why don’t we begin by you just telling us who you are — for those that haven’t maybe met you or seen you before — and tell us about your passion for skincare and initially how you brought life to The LA Facialist.

I’ve been in skincare, my entire adult life. I started right out of high school. I knew that I wanted to be in this industry and I really honestly like seeing my mom take such good care of her skin and then sending me for facials as a teenager. So, really, when it came down to me thinking about what I wanted to do for a living, I always went back to skin. I got my license and I’ve worked in every arena in skincare: from hotel spas to wellness centers, dermatology, plastic surgery — I’ve done it all. Back in 2019, I was in a job that I hated. And I was like, ‘This doesn’t make sense.’ Like, I love what I do. I need to be doing it for myself and building my own brand instead of building up other people’s brands. So that’s when I was like, ‘Screw this, I’m doing my own thing.’

And I had no plan. I literally quit my job and was like, ‘Holy cow, like, what am I going to do? I don’t have a plan. I don’t know where to go.’ So I called one of my mentors, Olga Lorencin, and I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m in trouble. I have a month’s worth of clients booked out and nowhere to take them, can I rent a room for me?’ And she’s like, ‘Come on in.’ So she was like my little safe haven. She took me in, I saw clients there, and then made the plan to partner with one of my best friends, Dr. [Charles] Galanis, who’s a surgeon, and he and I just built this dope office in Beverly Hills. So yeah, that’s how it all started.

So you took a leap of faith basically and followed your dream, which is amazing. I totally relate. I think taking this step to follow your passion is something that people love to hear us doing, you know?

For sure. And people always ask, ‘What’s your advice?’ I’m like, I don’t have any advice because I did it without a plan. So I don’t recommend people to do that. I just put faith out there. I’m like, ‘I’m going to land on my feet.’ And luckily I did, but you know, it was scary. I quit without a plan. I think that kind of lit the fire to be like, ‘Okay, this is sink-or-swim time. Let’s start to figure it out.’ So here I am, it works.

You have a holistic approach to skincare. What does that actually look like? And what is your philosophy on skincare?

A holistic approach means including everything into that approach. It comes down to lifestyle, diet, products used. A lot of people confuse the word holistic with natural, and that’s not the case. Holistic is taking a full 360 approach to how you address treating the skin. So that’s what I do. I utilize both natural and medical-grade brands and I customize things. So I go in-depth with my clients. I want to know all about their lifestyle. I want to know, do they spend some time outside? What are their hobbies? What do you eat? What’s your daily life like? Do you have stress? I go really in-depth so that I can really have a true understanding of the skin. And from there, I customize my approach for the treatment depending on their needs. And it makes things really special. You know, when people first reach out to me, they’re like, ‘Can I see your menu? And I don’t offer a menu. I find that menus create like a cookie-cutter approach to treating the skin. When you give people a selection, they’re like, ‘Oh, that sounds good.’ And they choose whatever sounds fun, but that doesn’t necessarily benefit them most. So I don’t give anybody options. If you come to me, you just give up all control. And I’m like, ‘This is what we’re doing.’ And I come up with a treatment plan based on how the skin presents at that time. So that’s how I think.

You have a ‘triple cleanse’ method. Can you tell us a little bit about that and what that actually means and why you love it so much?

I came up with the triple cleanse after seeing people come into the clinic early in the morning. And I’m like, ‘You have makeup clearly on your face. Did you wash your face?’ And they’re like, ‘Yes, I double-cleanse.’ And as an aesthetician, we learned double cleansing from the get-go in aesthetician school. It’s been the standard for years. And I found that for makeup wearers, it really isn’t serving them.

The triple cleanse is really intended for makeup wear. So if you wear makeup, I believe that you need to do an initial cleanse — that’s your first cleanse — just to remove makeup. So I love an oil-based cleanser, which really kind of breaks down the makeup and emulsifies everything to rinse clean. From there you’re starting without makeup. So then you go into your next cleanse, which is going to just clean the skin. And then I like my next cleanse to really go in deeper. It’s basically a double cleanse with a makeup-removing step prior, because if you remove your makeup with the first cleanse, you’re just kind of moving it around. It doesn’t really thoroughly come off. So it’s not intended for every single person. Guys, if you don’t wear makeup, you don’t have to do it. But if you’re a makeup wearer, I want you to do your first step with a makeup-removing cleanser and then clean twice, and your skin will benefit. It’ll clear up breakouts and congestion and all of those things. And always get behind the ears. Cause I can’t tell you how many times I see like little creatures back there on people.

Is there a cleanser that you love?

I have a few favorites. Right now I’ve been really into the Augustinus Bader Cleansing Balm. It’s in a tub and it’s this amazing jelly-feeling bomb and it smooths onto the skin and instantly turns into a milky texture, and that’s amazing to remove makeup with, so I love that as my first cleanse. I’m also a big fan of the One Love Organics B Enzyme Cleanser. It’s papain and bromelain, so a papaya-pineapple combination — smells really good and that does a really great job. And then another one that I’m obsessed with is from Fresh. It’s called the Seaberry Cleansing Oil, and it has almost like a tea scent to it. That’s been a staple in my routine for a while, and I love that one.

For those that would like to learn a bit more about skincare, what is one thing that you feel like people get wrong about skincare, or the thing that people get most wrong about skincare?

I think that there are so many different brands and there’s so much information out there and there are so many professionals with their own schools of thought. So I think for consumers, there’s just a lot of uncertainty and there’s a lot of confusion. I guess maybe one thing that I would drive home is, brands really will harp on a certain ingredient. It’ll become like a buzzword for a season. And so they’re like, ‘This is the ingredient’ at the time. They really push an ingredient, and ingredients are not as important as formulations. I think that’s really important for people to understand because people will be like, “My skincare is great. I use this and that.’ And they’re naming all of these really popular buzzword ingredients, which are valuable in a skincare routine, but when it’s not formulated properly and the delivery system isn’t right — and the other supporting ingredients in that product aren’t high quality — really, you’re not doing yourself any favors. So I always tell people, work with a professional who you can trust that will guide you because, otherwise, you’re just going to fall victim to cute flashy marketing. I know so many people will get taken down the rabbit hole and distracted into buying these things that seem like they’re going to be great when maybe they aren’t. When people are really serious about their skin, I say, just put on the blinders, don’t get distracted, and be consistent because that’s where you really will see true results — when you’re really consistent with something.

What does your skincare routine look like?

I have melasma. I don’t have kids. It’s just hormones, heat, sun-related. I’m obviously very fair. So when I pigment, it’s like a hot mess and I have on my feed a before and after of me with before I started a certain skincare routine and then how my skin changed, and it’s crazy how much my skin has lightened and evened out over time. Right now, I’ve been on this phase of being very, very diligent with one routine. And usually I pick and choose and kind of mix and match serums. But right now, outside of my cleansing oil that I use every night, every other thing that I’m using in my morning and nighttime routine, as far as serum and moisturizer go — actually that’s a lie. All the serums are Jan Marini and the retinol is Jan Marini. My skin is really kind of stable, so I can kind of play around with different moisturizers and stuff. But I believe that the serums are like the power products, and I’m having really good results in terms of my melasma. So I’m sticking with it right now. So that’s what I’m doing right now. But I always do a vitamin C serum in the morning and a sunscreen, no matter what. And at night I always do a retinol as pigment inhibitor, no matter what. And outside of that, I can mix and match a little.

Do you have a favorite vitamin C serum?

I have a tie for vitamin C and it depends on the skin type and the client. So my top three are Alto Defense Serum from SkinBetter Science, Pro-Heal from iS Clinical, and C-ESTA Serum from Jan Marini. So it depends on the person, which one I recommend, but those are my top three. I can’t choose, and I use them all myself.

What helps with acne?

There are so many forms of acne, but from my experience, the best thing for acne is to be very consistent with acids and retinoids and benzoyl peroxide. With acne, you want to be consistently resurfacing the skin because that prevents that buildup from dead cells sitting in the pores, opening it up to bacteria growth. So being consistent with the use of exfoliation with chemicals is number one for acne. You want to be preventing that buildup, which will then create lesions and whatnot. So with acne, it really depends on the skin. I can’t give a blanket statement. My clients that have acne are on the Jan Marini system. Benzoyl peroxide can be sensitizing if people are allergic, but if they’re not, there’s a product called Age Intervention Duality. And I’ve really, honestly never seen anything clear acne like this in my life. It’s a two-chamber pump: one side is benzoyl peroxide, the other retinol. And it’s like, ‘Holy cow, you will never see something clear acne faster than this.’

What is your favorite treatment to perform on others or on yourself?

I really neglect myself. I wish I didn’t. I try to do facial massage on myself a couple of times a week. I’m not consistent with that. I do my morning and nighttime routine without fail, but treatments on myself I lack in, and I need to just go and see somebody to take care of me cause I don’t make the time for myself. On other people, my favorite thing to do is massage, and it’s because they love it, it feels good for them. And for me, I’ve always just enjoyed massaging the face. And I feel like when you give somebody that time and energy, they really appreciate it. They look good. They feel better. So that’s my favorite part.

What about devices? Any recommendation?

For like at-home devices? I just recently got into the nuFACE. That’s a microcurrent, so it helps give the skin a workout. It lifts, and you see a difference when you do it. I need to do it more because I’m starting to notice these little ‘jowl’ things happening. I need to be more consistent with it.

I’m also a fan of the Vital Red Light, which is an LED panel. I have one in my house, and it illuminates the entire room. So I’ll get in front of it and close my eyes and meditate, or just chill. Red light, outside of what it does for the skin, is so good for all healing processes of the body. It helps our circadian rhythm, so it helps us achieve better-quality sleep. And it also makes us have more energy for when we’re awake. So I’m a huge fan of that. I try to do it at least ten minutes a day, and I have the light on in my treatment room during my treatments. And everybody says like, ‘Wow, I’ve never had a more relaxing facial,’ even during the extractions. And I truly believe that the light does boost everyone’s energy.

What kind of eyecare helps for fine wrinkles?

I always tell people to start on eye cream before you need it. I think I’ve been using an eye cream since I was like 16 because of my mom. So eye cream is definitely going to be super important. I know a lot of people don’t see the signs of aging around the eyes, so they just don’t use it until they need it. And it’s always, the prevention is more valuable than the cure. So get on one as soon as possible. With the eye area, I just like to use something really nourishing. The under-eye skin doesn’t have the oil glands that the rest of the skin has, so it’s really our job to protect and nourish that area. So there’s tons of eye creams on the market. I have a few favorites. I love the iS Clinical Youth Eye Complex. It’s beautiful, it’s anti-aging, helps with fine lines, wrinkles, texture, all of it. And then one from SENTÉ called Illuminé, which in my opinion is best for people who have dark circles.

What is your approach to dehydrated skin that has also congestion?

Well, that’s very common. That’s very, very common for people. A lot of times, congested skin types and acne-prone skin types are afraid of hydration and afraid of moisturizers because they think that it’s going to exacerbate the acne. And that’s not true. Our skin creates oil, but it doesn’t create water, so it’s our job to topically hydrate. And I could talk forever on the topic of hydration because I know people are like, ‘You need to drink more water.’ But truly water doesn’t impact our skin. It’s obviously good for every process of our body, but the more water you drink, the more water you flush. And since our face is exposed to all of the elements, our face is the last place that will truly benefit from the effects of drinking water. So it’s not to say, ‘Don’t drink water.’ We need water. It’s totally valuable, and you will see a difference when you’re super dehydrated versus when you’re hydrated. But to hydrate the skin, it needs to be done topically. So I recommend hydrating serums. If you’re congested and you need hydration, I would say you need some sort of exfoliation to help resurface the skin, dissolve the buildup in the pores. So definitely getting some acids would be helpful for decongestion. And then you’ll be allowed to absorb your hydrating things because you got through all that dead skin. So if you’re congested and hydrated, get on some glycolics, some salicylic, and get yourself some hydration. I love Hydra-Cool Serum from iS Clinical because it has hyaluronic acid plus botanicals that kill bacteria. So that’s perfect for somebody who’s struggling with both.

What is your version of practicing self-care? At KNESKO, our whole philosophy is rooted in really encouraging our clients to slow down, to really take the time out, to disconnect to me, to honor the gift of time that we all deserve. And I really love hearing different ways of how people do that. What are some ways that you do that for yourself?

I love a good long shower or a bath, depending on my mood. I do that every night, and then I like to put on all my body products so I go to bed all smooth and hydrated. But in a perfect world, my number one favorite way to unwind is massage. I can’t get enough. I will let anybody massage me at any point. It’s my favorite thing. I have a wonderful massage therapist that I’ll have come over and she’ll massage me for like two hours. And then I just like float to my bedroom and go to sleep.