Surprising Skin Care Secrets From An Expert Esthetician + A Coconut Oil Facial


I was comfortably stuck in a skin care rut, until I visited Holly Byerly, Hayes Valley Med‘s Clinical Esthetics Manager and Senior Instructor at VMV Hypoallergenics. Holly treated me to an indulgent coconut inspired facial involving diamonds, oxygen masks, and delicious smelling VMV Hypoallergenics products; an all-natural skin care line that places heavy emphasis on coconut oil. I learned some surprising skin care secrets along the way, and realized that I need to shake up my current skin care routine.

A coconut oil inspired facial

Holly welcomed me into the bright, open space at Hayes Valley Med Spa where she practices esthetics in San Francisco. After snuggling under a warm blanket on the treatment table, Holly asked to me explain my skincare routine and examined my skin.

The VMV Hypoallergenics products Holly uses were created by a dermatologist + dermatopathologist who has refined the formulas with over 30 years of experience in clinical trials. Coconut derived ingredients extracts are a staple the main ingredient in most products of the line, and they’re as natural as it comes: no preservatives, allergens, or toxic nasties.

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1. Buff and cleanse with coconut infused products

Holly started out by applying the VMV Skin Buffing Cleansing Scrub and then the Hydra Balance Gentle Cream Cleanser (both of which feature the line’s virgin coconut oil) in circular motions. The facial massage felt amazing, and the coconut smell was energizing but not overpowering.

2. Microdermabrasion

Next, Holly used the DiamondTome microdermabrasion system to resurface my skin. The machine boasts a wand encrusted with real diamonds that gently exfoliates and vacuums the skin’s surface. I’ve had microdermabrasion before, and it really does smooth the texture of your skin without the downtime of a chemical peel.

3. Extractions

This is my least favorite part of every facial, but Holly was gentle and only squeezed me only where absolutely needed. I happened to be having a breakout and I would never squeeze myself, so I was surprised that my spots actually cleared up much faster than usual thanks to the extractions.

4. Oxygen Facial + VMV Clay Face Mask

Next, Holly applied the Coco-Healing VH Coconut Oil Mask made with clay and honey (available in-spa only), and covered my face with an oxygen mask. When exposed to oxygen, masks penetrate deeply into your pores to clean them out, and oxygen is also naturally antibacterial.

5. Leg rub

While my face was being infused with oxygen, Holly treated me to a leg and foot rub. I was so relaxed I almost fell asleep!

6. Stem Cell Energy Boost treatment

One of the facial add-ons that Holly offers is this blast of hyaluronic acid, oxygen, and stem cell growth factors that leaves skin plumped, refreshed, and ready to generate new cells at a fast pace. She uses an airbrush wand attached to an oxygen concentrator to gently spray the mixture over the skin.

7. Id Monolaurin Spot Treatment and SPF application

To finish, Holly applied a spot treatment of VMV anti-acne Id Monolaurin Gel, and then touched me up with VMV Skin Savvy SPF 50 foundation and some concealer and powder from VMV’s hypoallergenic makeup line.

I was positively glowing for the rest of the day, and my skin felt plump and firm. My breakout cleared up quickly, and with nightly use of the VMV Hypoallergenics Know-it-Oil pure virgin coconut oil, the dryness from my Retin-A has disappeared. It absorbs as quickly as lotion, and doesn’t leave greasy residue on my sheets. Full disclosure – haven’t picked up the new retinol yet, but I have been applying Retin-A over the coconut oil which seems to help!

A note on coconut oil

I was surprised to find out that cold pressed, virgin coconut oil is actually non-comedogenic (doesn’t cause breakouts by clogging pores), and is antibacterial thanks to its high content of the fatty acid monolaurin. Monolaurin is as antibacterial as rubbing alcohol and excellent at combating fungus and acne.

But, just like olive oil, not all coconut oil is created equal. VMV Hypoallergenics 100% USDA certified organic virgin coconut oil is cold-1st-pressed (meaning it’s fresh from the tree iff the VMV-owned coconut plantation in the Philippines) resulting in a perfectly clear consistency and extremely high concentrations of monolaurin. Plus they call it Know-It-Oil. How cute is that?

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My old skincare routine

  • Cleanse: Wash with all-natural Alba Bontanica Pineapple Enzyme Cleanser – because it gets the makeup off my face and eyes but doesn’t sting (no need for eye makeup remover!)
  • Nighttime retinol: Apply 0.05% prescription strength retinol three times a week on face, neck, and to under-eye area, and Honest Company’s face and body moisturizer on off-days (or sometimes a mix of both). My eye cream changes all the time, since it’s from the endless stack of Kiehl’s eye cream samples that come when my significant other buys shampoo
  • Daytime SPF: Apply all-natural Bare Republic (by Coola) SPF 30 to face, ears, and around eyes, with Coppertone Clearly Sheer SPF 30 to the rest of my body

Holly’s analysis


  • Holly pointed out that using a gentler retinol cream daily might be more effective than using the 0.05% prescription strength a few times a week. She suggested trying a lower concentration (like 0.02% Renova) – If I wanted to stick with a Retin-A or even an OTC low strength retinol.

Eye Care:

  • While a prescription or OTC retinoid can help reduce wrinkles in the eye area, it was causing dryness. She recommended laying off the pineapple enzyme cleanser and using carrot seed or coconut oil for moisture in the eye area, as well as switching to a more gentle, non-prescription retinoid formulated especially for the eye area.

Sun Care:

  • Holly drew attention to the fact that I could use a higher SPF on a daily basis, and it isn’t just the UV rays that shine through windows, bounce off walls, and cause skin damage indoors. It turns out that compact fluorescent lightbulbs as well as older computer monitors also emit skin damaging UV radiation. All the more reason to be wearing SPF on your face, neck, chest, ears, and hands while you’re inside!

Check out the list of facial services available at Hayes Valley Med here.

Do you use coconut oil on your skin?

XO Jill

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7 thoughts on “Surprising Skin Care Secrets From An Expert Esthetician + A Coconut Oil Facial

    • Totally me neither – I actually just used to use it on my feet in the winter when I lived in NYC, but it was not very good quality and I would never have put it on my face! Thanks doll, I hope you’re having a good weekend!

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