Met Gala Skin Prep
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MET GALA SKIN PREP
Lord Gavin on his custom “The Method Augustinus Bader” facial technique to get clients sculpted, snatched, and positively luminous.
- Written by:
- LENA RAFF
To get a facial appointment with Lord Gavin McLeod-Valentine on Met Gala Monday, you have to be a “genuine icon, or a friend.” Which is not to say he isn’t fully booked all week (Julia Garner, Emily Blunt, Maude Apataow, Kim Petras, Uma Therman, and Alexa Chung all have appointments)—and for good reason. The results of Lord Gavin’s treatments speak for themselves, and if you’ve ever seen a red carpet, you’ve seen his work. In a rare spare moment before the facialist left LA for New York—accompanied by a suitcase bursting with formulas by Agustinus Bader, the brand he swears by for both instant results and long-term optimization of skin, plus a staggering amount of LED and cryotherapy devices—the facialist sat down with VIOLET GREY to let us in on his meticulously developed process for giving skin a glow worthy of the ultimate red carpet.
VIOLET GREY: WHAT MAKES WORKING WITH SKIN FOR THE RED CARPET A SPECIALIZED ART?
Lord Gavin McLeod-Valentine: If you break it down, we’re looking at a solution-based approach for a key event, and it might be different than working with your facialist on a regular basis. There is a common goal that we are trying to achieve for the red carpet, and that is adding luminosity and radiance to the skin, both from a brightening perspective and from a hydration level. Also, we want to sculpt, lift, snatch, and tone the face so that it looks really, really rested and re- architectured—we’re working to punctuate the cheekbones, we’re strengthening the jaw line, lifting the brow, making everything look bright and energized.
VG: WHAT PRODUCTS DO YOU USE TO ACHIEVE THAT EFFECT?
LGMV: I am pretty much a diehard enthusiast and exclusive user of Augustinus Bader, because I really believe it gives an immediate “wow” and then a cumulative transformation. I never like to set a client up with a process that just dies at that moment. I want to onboard and educate them in a way that they can have improved continued refinement of their skin.
VG: CAN YOU WALK US THROUGH A TYPICAL TREATMENT?
LGMV: Every treatment that I approach with a client, I give them something that I created for the brand called “The Method Augustinus Bader.” This is a system by which we layer the skin care strategically so each product amplifies and enhances the one that came before and after to bring about that immediate “wow” and glow. So, I start off with Cleansing Balm. This is my favorite thing to make contact with the skin. What we’ve learned since Covid is that we all want to be touched up. So we want to lay the hands on the skin, make contact with the high points, engage that client in a comfort level with physical touch. And then we want to move the face in such a way that we’re beginning to open up the lymph channels. What we’re trying to do is detox. So I use the Cleansing Balm and bring in, to begin with, a light facial massage. I also bring in, depending on the client’s degree of inflammation or puffiness or what they did the night before, a cryo stick or roller to get things flowing and moving and get tightening action. The whole purpose here is microcirculation, so that whatever I put on next will have more connectivity, there will be more adoption of the products being used. I’ll then melt the balm down with just some water to emulsify and wipe it away with a face cloth. Then I’ll go into the Foaming Cleanser by Augustinus Bader, which I really love. Its use of niacinamide and vitamin C to brighten the skin is just brilliant at illuminating and kicking up that tone. The light play is unbelievable.
VG: REALLY, JUST FROM CLEANSING?
LGMV: Yes, because what we’re doing is removing the debris of the day, we’re removing build up from our pores, getting full access to the skin. That’s why it’s incredibly critical to do a double cleanse in the beginning.
VG: AMAZING. WHAT COMES NEXT?
LGMV: I look at them and determine where they are in the sensitivity scale. Because I don’t want to do anything that will enliven the skin in a negative way. For most people, it’s totally fine and I’ll go into The Essence, which is a three acid exfoliation, which is when we’re addressing neglectful behavior from our parents who didn’t put sunscreen on us as children, deliberate sun damage we did 10 years ago in Ibiza, working on all of those aging processes on the skin in the form of pigmentation. The essence is hydration too, and delivers the proprietary TFC8 to the skin, so you have skin-identical beneficial vitamins, acids, and synthesized molecules. You are already kickstarting the skin’s system of response just with this step, refining the texture, blurring fine lines and wrinkles, and illuminating. Next, I do a professional-level dry algae mask that is really rich in micronutrients, amino acids, and fatty oils. I lay that on the skin and then I bring to it a special serum that Dr. Bader very kindly made for me. It almost mummifies the face— highly occlusive, really moisturizing, basically oxygen facial in a mask in terms of its ability to plump and calm any sensitivity and redness. If I’m not using that sheet mask, I use The Face Cream Mask from Bader to give me enough slippage and I’ll use the Angela Caglia or the Georgia Louise cryo sticks on top of the skin, threading it mainly under the cheek plane so we can make it gaunt and drawn in, almost doing the buccal fat removal. Then we want to amplify the top of the cheek, and to do this I use a device called the Conture Kinetic, a very affordable micro-cupping hand-held device Jessica Alba let me know about, it just suctions. I thread that along the cheek, and put the cryo stick under. When you give a little bit of micro inflammation it will really get the cheeks picked up in volume, and under the cheek comes in, so you get much more dramatic architectural play within the skin. Now, this is where I go into the face oil. And a deep, rhythmic facial massage.
VG: YOU'RE KNOWN FOR THIS MASSAGE, WOULD YOU TELL US MORE ABOU IT AND THE EFFECT IT ACHIEVES?
LGMV: I’m known for my speed but I’m also known for the depth of intensity by which I engage the fascia layer within the skin. When you trigger the fascia layer, it actually sends cellular communication to really amplify and expedite the process of renewal. I was trained by a geisha from Japan who was living in China—her name was Madam Shin, and she had been doing this for 68 years. She would re-architect the faces of the young girls, reworking their faces to make them look more architectural and Western. She taught me her method, which I translated to work on not such a painful level, so I bring that to my clients where I focus on the elevation of the cheek, strengthening of the jaw, elevation of the eyebrow. It’s quite intense and lasts for about 15 minutes. It’s the most direct, intentional process within the facial. What you find is, the heat of the hands, the rapidity, really brings this magnified glow to the skin. I always caution the client at this point, you might be a little red, but don’t worry, if you’re not red, you might be dead. It’s a good thing, we want the blood flow. It will settle in 10-15 minutes, but what is left behind is this brilliance to the skin, this light play, this dynamic cascade of vibrancy that you can’t get from just product.
VG: AFTER THE MASSAGE, DO YOU USE ANY SPECIAL DEVICES?
LGMV: Yes, at this point in the facial, I introduce a couple of devices. First, the Opatra London Synergy Marble Facial Device, it's a handheld radio frequency LED device, and you lay it on the skin. I always start with the red light. I want to propagate my collagen, I want to engage the fibroblasts, I want to tighten the architecture. And then if they have signs of bacteria, they're breaking out, or they've got blackheads, then I will bring the blue light to that in a very condensed way. You can actually clear out the pores with this device without having to do manual extractions, which is something that you want to try to avoid on the day of an event, obviously. Now, after that I'll go in with the Current Face device from the same brand. It’s microcurrent, it's also an LED tool, and it works with sonic vibration, so it buzzes as it goes. I'm literally moving all of the garbage, all of the junk that I've broken down into digestible pieces with the massage and getting it into the various trash cans that they belong to so that the garbage man at the end can come away and take them away.
VG: AMAZING. AND FOR THE FINISHING TOUCH...?
LGMV: I layer The Cream on top, and the'll go into another round of massage, less intense, but more about setting the intention and about grounding them. I always finish every facial with a 10 minute meditation, and I guide them through the intentionality of what's to come. I see this as my job and my responsibility because, if you think about it, I'm the last person to see them before the energy becomes frenetic.When they're in the chair and they have hair and makeup, they're already at the show. The game has begun, the entertainment level, the expectation has begun. So I've got to figure out my responsibility, and what I realized, and why clients come to me, is because I ground them in their inherent deservingness to be there. I elevate their energetic output to meet the expectation of the event or the public. And then I set about on my merry way.