Let’s Face It: Rio Viera-Newton is clearly everyone’s beauty-obsessed best friend.
If you’ve ever stumbled into skin care Instagram or perused NY Mag’s highly curated beauty and skin care recommendations, you’ve definitely seen some of skin care aficionado Rio Viera-Newton’s work.
She seemingly effortlessly translates all of the science behind skin care and popular products into conversational and super digestible information and product recommendations that you can easily act on.
Rio’s not a dermatologist, just an extremely passionate skin care amateur. Her categoric rise to fame all started with a simple mission: thwarting her own acne.
The honorable breakout squashing quest led her to a plethora of information that she soon turned into a Google Doc- chock full of K-Beauty skin care products, no less. This Google Doc spread like wildfire, soon landing her a job at NY Mag where she now uses her ability to cut through the skin care noise to deliver readers only the best of the best.
This knack inspired Newton to write her debut book, Let’s Face It, where she further uses her talent to make skin care information into something fun and accessible. Let’s Face It feels like a chat with your knowledgeable big sister- one that’ll leave you with healthy, nourished skin, of course.
We chatted with Rio about Let’s Face It, her OG text (the infamous Google Doc), and her favorite skin care saviours. To get in on our convo, read on below.
You’ve inspired a generation of consumers to really get to know their skin, which all started with a google doc packed full of tips and product recommendations. Do you still use any of the products that were listed on that infamous list?
Definitely! Cosrx was my introduction to K-Beauty and is still one of my favorite brands ever. But their Snail Mucin Power Essence, in particular, is one of my real holy grails. You’ll always find a bottle in my medicine cabinet.
In a way, the doc, (that was later picked up by NY Mag), was your first skin care text. What inspired you to write Let’s Face It– and what was the hardest part of creating an entertaining and informational skin care hand-book?
I think all the information on the internet can make shopping and understanding skin care so stressful. So I wanted to create a non intimidating, digestible guidebook that people could refer back to you and rely on anytime skincare felt overwhelming or confusing.
It was really important to me that it never felt like a textbook—I wanted it to read like a friend, with beautiful charts and illustrations that make digesting the information even easier. Honestly, the hardest thing for me was figuring out when to stop! I could have spent ten more months researching and writing.
Your journey started with a ton of research- who have you come across during your time in the skin care world that has completely inspired you?
One of the greatest perks of my job as a beauty writer is the access to brilliant dermatologists and estheticians. With this book in particular, I worked closely with Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, a board certified dermatologist, clinical researcher, and brand founder. We would chat for hours on the phone about research, products, cosmetic chemistry, and ingredients. She’s an incredible teacher and I learned so much from her.
Skin care is a constantly changing world! What’s something you’ve learned while writing Let’s Face It, whether it be a tip or stat, about skin care that you didn’t know before?
Something that really stuck with me is that your moisture barrier (which, put simply, is the outermost layer of your skin that keeps harmful elements out and moisture in) is one of our skin’s defense mechanisms against acne causing bacteria. So, supporting your moisture barrier with wonderful hydrating and nourishing ingredients is actually one step you can take to prevent future breakouts.
Let’s get into products: we know you’re a big vitamin C fan. What are your favorites right now?
I absolutely adore the Good (Skin) Days™ C’s The Day Serum and the COSRX Triple C Lightning Liquid (Editor’s note: this serum was discontinued in July 2020.) I tend to recommend the Good (Skin) Days™ serum to my friends with more sensitive skin, as it’s a lower concentration of ascorbic acid and a bit gentler. It also uses ginseng and mushroom, which are both excellent reparative and soothing ingredients.
What does your beauty routine look like currently? Are there any products in your beauty cabinet that everyone must have?
I’m a big fan of essences. The Olivarrier Dual Moist Toning Lotion (which Charlotte actually recommended to me during our IG Live) is incredible for soothing, calming, and delivering a big surge of moisture to my skin. I’m also forever a fan of the Then I Met You Birch Milk Refining Toner and The Giving Essence. Both are such cosmetically elegant formulas that leave my skin looking brighter, more even toned, and extremely hydrated.
With summer around the corner, can you recommend any seasonal skin care tips?
I think a double cleanse is so important in the summer. Not only is it great for taking off all that sweat and dirt from the sweltering, humid New York heat, it’s also great for removing your sunscreen. When people tell me that sunscreen breaks them out, I always suggest they try double cleansing.
So often, the issue is that they’re not taking their SPF off well enough before bed. I see this all the time with mineral sunscreens, which are absolutely wonderful products but a bit tougher to remove. The Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm is a product I recommend all the time.
Let’s do a little trend predicting. Recently, hanbang and fermented ingredients have had a moment- what do you think will steal the spotlight next?
Hmmmm….Throughout 2020 and into 2021, I’ve definitely noticed a heightened interest in advanced, at-home technology like the Droplette, LED Masks, or the Ziip. These devices used to seem gimmicky to a lot of people, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore— consumers want to be able to create a spa-like experience from the comfort of their own homes. They’re also more willing to invest time and money in skincare that might not show immediate results, but will have long lasting payoff.