How Skincare Expert Sonya Dakar Inspired Gwyneth Paltrow and Drew Barrymore to Launch Beauty Brands

Courtesy of Sonya Dakar
Sonya Dakar and Gwyneth Paltrow

Dakar also explained the five hot, new tips for top-notch skin and which five treatments and ingredients are a thing of the past.

For 30 years, skincare master Sonya Dakar has helped Hollywood's A-list drink from the fountain of youth, with clients including Gwyneth Paltrow, Sofia Vergara, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Fergie and Priyanka Chopra. 

In honor of her business' 30th anniversary, Dakar recalls her first-ever Hollywood client in the 1990s, Drew Barrymore. The actress was introduced to Dakar through makeup artist Kimberly Greene, who worked with Barrymore on Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Donnie Darko.

"When she came, I was like 'Oh my god, that's her!'" Dakar tells The Hollywood Reporter. "She came with a backpack, no makeup, like completely clean. She looked like a girl next door."

The first treatment was a facial to remove residue from her movies. "She has really soft, beautiful skin but she was very obsessed with her skin. Like even a small tiny breakout, like very very tiny, like the size of a pin, of a needle, she would not like it at all. She would call me right away and say, 'If you're [not] at the clinic, can I come to your house?' One time I said, 'I don't work Saturday.' She said, 'I'll come to you, don't worry.' That's what's so cute," Dakar says. "She wanted to make sure her skin would be flawless. She was not a makeup girl. ... She loves to have the skin naked without anything." 

Barrymore adored Dakar so much that she shut down production on Charlie's Angels when she needed her skincare goodies, according to Dakar. Her assistant called Dakar and said her products had been stolen, so Dakar had to go at 5 a.m. to the set. "They cannot do anything because Drew did not have the products to put on before makeup," Dakar says. "You should have seen it, when I went to the gate. ... Honestly I felt like I'm the Queen of England. ... Wow, I really feel like this is the VIP." 

Now, of course, Barrymore has her own beauty brand Flower Beauty, Diaz wrote a wellness book called The Longevity Book in 2016 ($11.82) and Paltrow has taken over the lifestyle space with her wellness brand Goop, which offers clean and non-toxic beauty products from cleansers to glow peels to skin superpowders.

Dakar is more than proud and can't help but think she influenced the moguls in a small way. 

"They went all the way and followed the footsteps," Dakar says. "I'm thinking about it, I said, 'Wow, these are my three [original] ones who I started my career with, Drew Barrymore, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz, that's the triangle. And look at them! All of them are involved in beauty and health now."

Ten years prior to the launch of Goop, Dakar encouraged Paltrow to start her own brand. "I used to tell her, 'You know what, you're going to Stella McCartney and you wear her clothes, you're sitting in the first row, and she sold out.' I used to brainwash her, like 'Why don't you open a store?" Dakar says. "I told her I'd be there for her anytime she wants. ... I love her."

They just talked about it a few months ago, when Paltrow came for treatment before her wedding to producer Brad Falchuk, and reminisced on those conversations from a decade prior. Today, The Politician actress still sells Dakar's products on Goop, like the Flash Facial ($95). Among Dakar's other products are 1,000 bottles of a limited edition organic omega booster ($127) to celebrate 30 years in the biz.

Below, the skincare legend writes about the five new treatments that are hot right now in Hollywood, followed by five debunked ingredients and products that are out in the anti-aging world. 

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Five Hot, New Treatments

1. Preventative injections

There's been a huge shift in how women in their 20s look at their faces. I used to see acne as a No. 1 skin concern for my 20-year-old clients. Now it's aging, forming, tightening, sculpting.

While I applaud them for getting ahead of the game, in the sense of preserving their youth, I educate them on the best approach.

Botox only lasts three to six months, yet facial muscles naturally weaken over time and going overboard in a certain area could have unwanted consequences. Your muscles start to become resistant to Botox, and you need more and more. If you do too much Botox on your forehead for many, many years, the muscles will get weaker and start to fall. My advice: Wear sunscreen, don’t smoke, get regular facials and become diligent with a good skincare routine.

2. The liquid facelift

The liquid facelift uses injectables such as fillers and Botox to help plump up, relax and fill in the appearance of facial lines. It is one of the latest anti-aging trends in non-invasive cosmetic procedures. I have always been weary of injections, and getting them done all over your face is something I do not believe in. Liquid facelifts are relatively new and have a short track record, and I want clients to be the best version of themselves.

3. Micro-needling

Micro-needling treatment is a procedure that uses many tiny needles to puncture the very first layer of skin. This process works to rejuvenate your skin by boosting collagen production, which in turn reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, and elevates the overall texture of your skin.

The biggest benefit of micro-needling is its ability to radically enhance the texture of your skin. I see so many clients who are suffer with acne scars and are thrilled with their results. Micro-needling is a collagen-stimulating treatment for pores, acne scars, wrinkles and tightening sagging skin. There can be some downtime for a few days post treatment, so plan for it.

4. Nano-needling

This is a less aggressive, "no-needle" alternative to micro-needling. The nano-infusion process is done with a handheld device or "pen" that moves the nano cartridge up and down onto the surface of the skin. The nano cartridge contains a disc of "needles," each having a diameter equal to about 1/3 of a human hair, which is almost invisible to the naked eye. When these pins gently touch the skin, they form up to 200,000 invisible nano channels. These micro channels in the skin are a direct line to deliver products (nourishing serums) below the skin barrier and stimulate the regenerative processes and collagen production in the skin.

The skin cells rearrange themselves to allow nutrition to pass through the skin barrier in order to help the absorption of skincare products and to effectively feed the skin and stimulate collagen and elastin production. There is no pain, inflammation, bleeding or discomfort and is safe for all skin types and tones. There is no risk of post-traumatic hyperpigmentation.

5. HydraFacial

Think of this as a microdermabrasion with water instead of the aluminum oxide or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) that is typically sprayed on and vacuumed off skin during a microdermabrasion procedure. While I do believe a Hydrafacial is a much better alternative to regular dermabrasion, I prefer the diamond peel to brighten and polish the top layer of skin.

Five Outdated Treatments/Ingredients

1. The vampire facial using platelet-rich plasma

There have been so many advancements and new developments in skincare treatments, and I prefer going with ones that are non invasive and quite honestly safer.

2. Charcoal

Not necessary. The idea of charcoal is that it’s dark, and anything that is black or muddy can get in your pores. Even if it seems like it should be purifying, it’s too harsh for your skin. There are so many better products to use that are more more beneficial to your skin. Instead chose Moroccan red clay or volcanic clay to detox and purge impurities.

3. Sheet masks

All sheet masks are not created equal. Most are basically a baby wipe steeped in serum. Some have great hydrating ingredients and they’re a quick fix. I prefer to use a collagen mask that I blend on the spot in treatment. It’s medical grade, super potent and gives great results.

4. Crystal facial rollers

Some people love gadgets; some don’t. In my opinion the best gadgets are your own hands and learning how to touch your skin with your own fingers — massaging your face, learning your muscles and the attachments is probably more important. There is no harm in it if you like it, I just find it to be foofy and temporary.

5. Placenta facial

It’s hard to tell if it works, but placenta is all protein, like bone broth. Placenta is an old way to treat the skin and help repair it — if you don’t mind the smell and you’re not weirded out by where it’s coming from. I only use plant-based stem cells and HGH.