The Face Oil To End All Face Oils

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I wouldn’t characterize myself as a great sharer. I’ve been known to protectively label my favorite foods “DO NOT TOUCH” in my fridge at home (I have four brothers who are essentially human garbage disposals). And when friends ask to borrow clothes, I often out-and-out lie to them, claiming that the dress in question is at the dry cleaner's or otherwise out of commission. But as far as beauty products are concerned, I’ve actually always been a giver. Until I found Vintner’s Daughter.

The first time I used Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum was on a random Tuesday night. I washed my face and then, following the directions on the bottle, massaged the oil into my skin for about 30 seconds. It quickly soaked in, at which point I hopped into bed and thought nothing of it. Until I woke up to look in the mirror and found a perfectly smooth and unblemished face staring back. I didn’t even recognize my own skin. Needless to say, I have been using the serum every day and night since. I squeeze out the requisite one-third of a dropper into my palm like it’s liquid gold and then hide the bottle behind my hordes of other products, lest anyone steal a single drop from my precious cache. Full disclosure: It could be the $185 price tag on this little bottle that has me treasuring every drop, but if the number of people who have complimented me on my glowing skin recently are any indication, it’s worth every penny.

Curious as to what exactly went into making this apparent miracle worker, I subjected Vintner’s Daughter founder April Gargiulo to a full court press. Gargiulo’s family has been in the wine business for years, so she grew up in and around Napa. Before starting Vintner’s Daughter, she was running her family’s vineyard for about ten years. After getting pregnant with her first child, she started looking into what products were and weren’t safe to use, and she learned that pretty much everything she was using fell on the decidedly unsafe side of the spectrum. “I have struggled with my skin for my whole life, so I had a lot of intense products,” she described. “I really had my head in the sand. Everything I ate was organic, and I only cleaned my house with chemical-free cleaners, but my bathroom drawers were filled with every kind of toxin imaginable.”

It's a familiar premise, to be sure. The rest of the story goes like this: She dumped everything on the spot and started looking for all-natural alternatives that actually worked. She came up with…absolutely nothing. Some products said toxin-free and actually were, but they didn’t work for her. Others said toxin-free but when she looked closely at the labels, they had preservatives or other things that she just wasn’t on board with. Instead, she gathered a team of natural beauty veterans and started formulating her own product.

“I wanted to address all of the issues I had with my own skin,” she said, “including hormonal breakouts, discoloration, restoring elasticity and radiance, and just bringing back a general youthfulness to my face.” Her team started with a base of grapeseed oil. “It’s incredibly powerful and good for your skin, but it also has a very small particle size which makes it a great carrier for other oils and means it can really penetrate deep into your skin,” she said. Plus, with her connections in Napa, she was certain that she could get the best-quality stuff.

After that, each additional ingredient really informed the next, Gargiulo explains. “There are a lot of synergies within the formulation,” she said. For example, cypress and frankincense. On its own, cypress is amazing because it can activate cells underneath the skin and help them to heal. From there, she found frankincense, which creates a super powerful microcirculatory effect and brings fresh, oxygenated blood to the skin’s surface. Together, the pair work to restore and renew skin cells (and are especially good at clearing up skin prone to cystic acne). “You really couldn’t have one without the other,” she said. In the end, the serum they created has 22 of the world’s most active botanicals from hazelnut to carrot to evening primrose—and at some of the highest allowable percentages too. “Nothing on the ingredient list is there for show,” she explained. “Everything in our product is there in an amount that is effective.”

As for Gargiulo, she doesn’t get a single breakout anymore. “My husband thinks it’s hilarious because everywhere we go, people stop me to compliment my skin,” she said. “It really sells itself.”

Its founder will be the first to tell you that Vintner’s Daughter is for the woman who has tried all the trends and is ready to settle down with one product that really works. “At 19, I could improve my skin with a good night’s sleep. Now it needs a little more help!” she said with a laugh. Up next, she hopes to develop a serum for the body that is as active and effective as her version for the face. “I only have time for three or four products max,” she confided. “So they have to be the very best.”

Of course, as far as clear skin is concerned, it doesn’t hurt that she follows a dairy-free, gluten-free, all-organic diet and lives a pretty idyllic Napa lifestyle too. “I’m very healthy,” Gargiulo admitted. “But wine is still allowed! It’s all about the balance, right?” Spoken like a true vintner’s daughter.

—Victoria Lewis

Photographed by Tom Newton.

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