celebrity met gala skin prep

Amal Clooney & Katy Perry Had an Intense De-Puffing Facial Massage Before the Met Gala

Behind the scenes with the fashion industry’s go-to same-day facialist, Thuyen Nguyen.

By: Dena Silver

When celebs lie down for a facial with Thuyen Nguyen, they know they’re about to enjoy one last hour of relaxation before the craziness of hair, makeup, and wardrobe ensues. Nguyen, who has become a go-to for Michelle Williams, Jennifer Aniston, and Uma Thurman, and is known for turning hotel beds into impromptu spas—so his clients often nap while he massages their faces for their red carpet debut.

At this year’s Met Gala, the former masseuse turned skin magician was tasked with de-puffing the visage of co-chair Amal Clooney, in addition to Katy Perry and Cindy Crawford…and a few others. Here, Nguyen took us behind the scenes as he ran from one Upper East Side hotel to the next to give Hollywood’s best a heavenly glow.


“The Met Gala is three days of madness. It started on Saturday, when I left my oasis in the Hamptons for my first appointment of the week with Amal.

“This year I had the most bookings on Sunday—it was a 13-hour day of hopping from town houses to hotels. I mostly worked on Vogue editors, donors of the Met, and Uma Thurman. I usually do Uma on the day of the Met, but she had a wardrobe malfunction and needed to deal with that, so she moved her appointment.”

“What I do is universal—my clients range from 15 to 93 years old. My FaceXercise approach is very much centered around the same physiological benefits that working out has on keeping the body youthful.

“Because of water retention, clients come in and a lot of the times are unrecognizable; they have no cheekbones, and their faces are round. So for the red carpet I do a very intense lymphatic drainage to clean out the skin and to get rid of the puffiness. Then I do a very rigorous workout type facial that I developed to tone all the muscles. I do this back and forth with my skin-care line that was created to work with my method.

“I’ve worked with the most sensitive skin in Hollywood, from Michelle Williams to Natalie Portman. But I have a no-breakout record, which is very unusual for facialists.”

“On the day of the Met Gala, my first client was Katy Perry’s stylist, Jamie Mizrahi. She had to style two last-minute things, so I accommodated a 7:00 AM appointment for her. Then I worked on Natasha Poonawalla, an Indian billionaire. She was staying at the Baccarat hotel and had booked the whole floor, including six suites.”

“I had to ship some skin-care products to clients in L.A., because they were flying to Asia, so I literally ran to the closest FedEx and then cabbed it up to The Surrey for Cindy. I met her years ago through Uma Thurman’s makeup artist, Hung Vanngo.

“Because Cindy’s based in Malibu, I work with her once a month, but she always catches me for fashion week or if she has a big event in New York. I’ve given Kaia a sample just once. She’s only 16 and can barely be pinned down!”

“Cindy has a very strong bone structure, and with her it’s the tone we’re looking to define. She doesn’t do fillers and doesn’t want to, but her face does need a lot of toning. By now she’s used to me, and she likes the rigorous massage.

“We always talk a lot during her treatment, usually about her family and where she’s going on vacation. She also talks a lot about her daughter; she’s just like a regular mom!”

“At 11:00 AM, I went to see Amal at The Carlyle. On Saturday, right after she flew in, I focused on draining the lymph system and doing things that wouldn’t trigger breakouts. Stress is such a big factor in these events, and it’s going to trigger skin issues, so I stick with what’s going to calm the skin down as much as possible.

“On the day of, it’s more about toning the muscle and contouring the face. For Amal, I used the Alkaline Charcoal & Rooibos Tea Facial Masque and the Multi-Vitamin Nourish Serum. Because she’s a new mom and isn’t sleeping a lot, I also circulate the eye area with Complete Eye Care, which is my oil-free eye gel.

“Her twins were in the suite with us, and even with the nanny there, Amal was aware of the kids the whole time, so she’s never fully rested!”

“Katy was scheduled for noon, but she needed a little extra time, so I went to grab a Mister Softee cone from an ice cream truck on the street. I usually don’t eat between appointments, because I’m all about getting the job done. If I eat I’ll just get tired, so I just bang it out, like a marathon.

“Katy’s on tour until August; that poor thing just goes and goes. But one thing I love about Katy is that even if she has a whole entourage of assistants, she always asks if I’m hungry. Katy is so grounded. She’s not one of those who gets lost in the pressure or the craziness. I credit that to her meditation.

“I use the Pro-7 Age Defying Serum on her a lot. And the Smooth Out Wrinkle & Frown Line Cream, because she gets really dehydrated from flying.

“A lot of time there are so many dresses: the red carpet dress, the inside-the-Met dress, and the after-party dress. It’s confusing, and I never know exactly which one my clients are wearing. Jamie was telling me that Katy had some kind of big wings and how they got a Rolls Royce to carry them in, separate of Katy. They had to figure out a way for her to get the wings on before her arrival time on the red carpet.”

“My last appointment was Riley Keough at 1:45 PM at The Mark. The lobby was insanity, because so many stars were staying there. There were tons of people waiting outside watching, but waiting for the elevators was the most stressful part! At one point I was waiting almost for 15 minutes.

“After that I got a little bit of sushi to go and ran home to walk my dog, Wally. Balmain invited me to their party at the Boom Boom Room, but I never go to the after-parties! I just want to go home and sleep!”