April Gargiulo, Founder, Vintner's Daughter


“The first thing to know about me is I don’t come from the world of beauty—I come from Napa Valley, from wines. I think coming from wines, I have this old world idea of what luxury is—the finest ingredients, made by the finest craftsmen, in super time-honored, methodical ways. Vintner’s Daughter is built on the same philosophical foundation as fine wine making. I did what I knew. Most [other beauty] products are made within hours—Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum takes three weeks. That is unheard of. I kept being told, over and over again, ‘You can’t make products like that—no one makes products like that.’ But remember, it’s all context. Where I was coming from, a bottle of wine takes three years. I was just like, ‘What are you guys talking about? It’s the greatest thing in the world, and we’re going to make it in three weeks. Let’s do this!’

For me, self-care is not what skincare is about. I've had cystic acne my whole life. I've used Retin-A since I was 19, I did Accutane, I did lasers… I always carried around this mantle of ‘I have bad skin.’ I was using super expensive products that made my skin OK for a couple weeks, but then everything would go haywire. If you think about it, the idea that you need five or six or seven different products to get results is ludicrous. I wanted the one product that was effective, multi-correctional, 100-percent active, and totally safe. And making something that was universal was really important to me, because I had acne-prone skin. My acne really ended once I had Active Botanical Serum. That was the thing—that’s how I knew it worked. I sent an email to 130 friends and family, and that was the launch. Every ounce of growth we’ve had since has been a sister telling a sister, a girlfriend telling a girlfriend, a daughter telling a mother—people getting stopped on the street and being asked, ‘Oh my God, what are you doing to your skin?’

When you have a product like Active Botanical Serum that has become so beloved, the beauty playbook says to come out with Active Botanical Serum for eye, Active Botanical Serum for body, for hair, for your elbow, for your ear—but when you’re driven by revenue, you’re not driven by the best product. Active Treatment Essence is our first new product in five years, and it’s the yin to the yang. In nature, nutrients are either oil-soluble or water-soluble. With the Serum, we’re giving you everything oil-soluble that’s good for your skin. The Essence is all the water-soluble nutrition to compliment the oil-soluble nutrition in the serum. When used together, the two of them form this complete lock of moisture on your skin. I struggled with my skin for so long that being able to make products that actually offer transformational results is an honor. It’s something I’m very grateful to do.

I only use natural beauty—I have retailers that I trust like Follain, Detox Market, and Cap Beauty, and I know their standards. I don’t believe in preaching about it, because I get that you’re so nervous about changing your routine when it works for you. I’ve been there. For so long, I was willing to clean up everything else in my life, but not my skincare. So, it’s really something people have to come to on their own. I don’t cleanse with anything in the morning, I just splash cool water on my face and dry my skin with a clean towel. I like a gentle, milky cleanser that doesn’t strip for nighttime. I have one from Alpyn Beauty, and I like the one from Beautycounter. Then I apply the Essence by quickly patting and pressing it into the skin for maybe 10 seconds. Your hands are the best things to apply with, because they’re clean. While my skin is still damp with the Essence, I apply the Serum and press it in for 30 to 40 seconds. And every once in a while I use the Goop Instant Facial Mask—you hardcore feel it. That’s literally it. Well, I put sunscreen on. I’m pretty diligent about sunscreen, and I also wear a lot of hats. I heard about this sunscreen, Julissus, from my friend Terri Lawton who’s a facialist. Or I’ll put on Dew Skin, which is tinted and has SPF in it.

At night, I do all my devices. I’ve tried all the tools, and these are the ones that have made the cut. I like performance—that is critical to me. I do microcurrent and red light every day. I don’t know about the red light yet, truth be told—I think it’s super cumulative. But the NuFace is visibly lifting. I do it every night, on the highest setting. I just use it with purified water because I don’t like the gel. I use an Environ microneedler that I bought from Joanna Czech—I love to do that with the Essence. I put the Essence on, I microneedle, and then I put the Essence on again. If I’m ever puffy, I use these facial cups I bought on Amazon. They’re awesome.

My hair is naturally kind of wavy and can get frizzy sometimes, so I’ll use this Milk from Garrett Markenson. I just squeeze a little bit in the palm of my hand and apply. It’s basically foolproof—I can’t mess it up. For shampoo and conditioner, I love International Orange. It’s a nice scent, totally clean, and your hair feels so healthy and full, but not weighed down. I also travel with their body wash, but at home I use Dr. Bronner’s. I use exfoliating cloths in the shower—I literally buy them in Koreatown—and I love dry brushing. And then after I shower I like the Goop body oil, it has nice ingredients. I want to treat my body the same way I treat my face. I want all the results, I want all the actives, everything. When you turn 44, you’ve got to rev up the engine a little bit more, you know?

Before natural deodorant existed, I used to just not use deodorant. I’ve been trying No. Green from Corpus lately, and I like it. With natural deodorant, you don’t smell but you don’t stop sweating. I don’t think it’s right to not sweat—you don’t want to shut down those glands. And for oral hygiene, the best dental floss on the planet Earth is Coco Floss. I went to the dentist recently, and the she was like, ‘Wow, this looks different.’ I had started using this new floss.

I take vitamin D every day, but that’s because I have a deficiency. I was so tired, and I would go to the doctor like, ‘What’s going on with me? I’m exhausted.’ And then we figured out that my body just doesn’t store vitamin D, so I have to take it as a supplement. I’m a really conscious eater, and I don’t eat a lot of sugar because if I do, the next day I’m going to have a breakout. I know I’m getting nutrients from my food, but I take a multivitamin from Ritual anyway. I like that it smells like peppermint. My friend’s company, Juna, makes these Nude CBD Drops. I like to take them when I’m traveling. For a workout, I love Pilates Pro Works. It’s basically Navy Seals Pilates. If I go once a week I’m very happy—if I go two times a week, it’s the greatest week ever.

I’ve never been a makeup person. Even when I had acne, I wasn’t covering it up really—I was like, yes I hate this, but whatever, moving on. I don’t use foundation or concealer. If I had a huge event and I got a zit, I would probably go to a store and be like, ‘What can you do about this for me?’ The last time I was in New York I hadn’t been sleeping for like three nights, and I had crazy undereye circles. I went to Space NK, and the salesperson told me, ‘You have to use apricot colored concealer, because apricot is what really covers up dark circles.’ They know more than I do, that’s for sure. And I like blush because it makes me look awake. I’ve got two little kids at home, and that is not always the case. I like Kosas blush—it’s creamy, and it has a kind of lit quality to it.

Rodin lip oil in Narcissus is really nice. Do you remember Clinique Black Honey? It’s like that color. When it comes to my eyebrows, I get them shaped by Michele Holmes, and she also founded Rye Beauty. They have this incredible brow gel. It’s clean, it’s not flaky, it has a nice hold, and, this is weird, but it smells really good. And my friend Laney has a new mascara coming out that’s super lengthening, which is perfect for me because I’ve got lots of eyelashes. To me, this feels like a darker eye—a little bit of shadow, and a bit of liner for definition. I have greenish eyes, so I use warm liner to bring out the green. It just feels more dramatic.

In wine, you’re not allowed to have scent, so I never used fragrance. But I just bought the In Fiore Violette collab, and it’s really beautiful. It smells like jasmine and it’s a solid, so I can travel with it. I also bring this Cap Beauty Energy Mist when I’m traveling. You know how sometimes you get into a hotel room and it has a weird smell? This takes that away.”

—as told to ITG

April Gargiulo photographed by Tom Newton in New York on March 7, 2019.