Imee Ong-Maghanoy: A day in the life of a celebrity esthetician

Imee Ong-Maghanoy

One of the perks of living in LA is that you are likely to spot a celebrity at some point. 

Since the Hollywood studios are here, a lot of celebrities live around Southern California. Not to mention, we have our SoCal beaches where they usually (try to) hide out or when they (try to) be “away from it all.” 

And because these celebs could be anywhere, it is easy to come up with some paparazzi-ish ways to be “at right place, at the right time” — like camp out where they usually hang or maybe roam around LAX hoping one of them is flying out somewhere, or keep an ear out on the premiere show schedules and plan a secret stakeout by the Chinese Theater. 

You can do all of the above, or you can follow your heart, be a great esthetician and find yourself rubbing elbows with Paris Hilton and Charlie Sheen at the Golden Globes. Well, such is a day in the life of one celebrity esthetician, Imee Ong-Maghanoy. 

I had a chance to catch up with her last week (one of the perks of being her long-time friend). Allow me to share our brief conversation with you.

Monet: So what is it like to be invited to red carpet events and breathe the same air as James Franco and the like? 

Imee: (laughs) It’s flattering, of course, but mostly, it makes us want to do our job even better. I’ve always believed in quality service and serving regardless of stature or fan base. Believe it or not, we treat our clients equally. Whether you are a celebrity or a common person, we give you the best…It is just fortunate that those in Hollywood caught wind of what we are doing here and heard good reviews so they check our spa out. Since the work we are doing is very personal, imagine us seeing you without makeup and all. What more for celebrities? For them to be able to trust us at their bare or vulnerable state is important. And when there’s trust, a friendship develops as well. So, it’s almost inevitable that we get to be on a first-name basis with them sometimes. Not all though! 

Imee is an established aesthetician for more than 20 years. She is the managing partner for Image Spa MD. and the owner of Image Body Spa and iSkin. Her spa is now one of the most reputable medical spa facility in LA and has branches in Rancho Cucamonga, Encinitas and West Hollywood. 

Imee Ong-Maghanoy regularly attends Hollywood events where she meets several celebrities, including Paris Hilton, Charlie Sheen and James Franco

Monet: How does it feel to be endorsed or highly recommended by such people?

Imee: Modesty aside and in all honesty, I wouldn’t say I am surprised that we get a lot of celebrity clients. In this industry, it is a given that a majority of our clients would come from the entertainment business. Actors, models, TV personalities – they are public figures and they invest in their faces and their bodies. That’s part of being a celebrity! Some would think it is vanity but it’s not really. I believe that appearance plays a huge factor in a person’s overall outlook. 

A classic example of this is in taking care of yourself; i.e. eating healthy, having good personal hygiene, maintaining a skincare regimen. These are lifestyle practices that are good for you. Doing them religiously would result in a pleasing appearance and ultimately, an overall positive outlook. Oftentimes, people mistake “feeling good about yourself” as vanity and they shouldn’t. This has been my advocacy – to change the way we view personal care and overall wellness. As the slogan in our promo video says, “Loving your skin and loving the body you are in.”

Monet: Do you get a lot of clients who ask you “impossible things” like they need to shed 10 pounds in two days because they have to get skinny for a movie project?

Imee: Honestly, with all the medical advancement in cosmetic procedures, “impossible” is not too intimidating anymore. We have different innovative ways like slim shots, which are IM (intramuscular) shots packed with hCG. This is proven to be effective by most celebrities because it’s flexible and sustainable. You do not need to do extensive workout (unless your goal is to gain muscles) or resort to fad diets or a crash diet. You actually maintain a customized meal plan (some of them eat as much as six small meals a day). We customize the protocol/program depending on what suits the client, what’s realistic and what works best for them. This helps them stay in the program with little to no “backsliding” tendencies. 

So as far as weight loss is concerned, I see to it that my clients know that as their coach and medical practitioner, I help them start the process of losing weight but we don’t stop at making them look good. We train them to change their lifestyle and maintain their ideal weight. 

One of my clients who had this particular program was Rachel Donaire, wife of four-division boxing world champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire. Rachel just had a baby so at that time I believe she was about 175 pounds. She started the program at 158 pounds. That was September.  Her target weight was to be at 120 pounds by February. There was this awards show, The Filipino Sports Award that’s happening in February and she wanted to be fit by then. She hit her goal and continued to lose some more.

Monet: What other Hollywood events have you been invited to or participated in?

Imee: There are some events where we are the ones who do the inviting, like the Grand Opening of Image Spa in West Hollywood, where we were graced with 25 celebrities. Then the “Angel Food Project” which we also support. Of course, we’ve been invited to the Golden Globes and other annual events a couple of times. 

Monet: I heard you recently did a rebranding under a new name? And I’ve been to this location, there’s quite a lot of improvements and new machines! 

Imee: Yeah! I am very excited about it. The name is now iSkin Face and Body Spa. And it is on its third year. And in celebration of our third year, we are offering 40% discount on select services such as: laser auto removal, skin rejuvenation, lightening treatment, face  contouring and weight loss and body contouring. We specialize in age-defying treatments and products as well as for acne-prone skin. We always look for potent solutions to improve the skin’s condition.

We have Filipino celebrities who are proud endorsers of our services, one of whom is veteran actress Hilda Koronel. She has been raving about our AQUAGOLD, aka the “super mega facial” and it’s made with 24 Karat gold needles.  It uses skin needling or more commonly known as microneedling. It’s like having your usual facial treatment – only better. It’s painless and with minimal potential for short term redness. We also have post-treatment products available only at iSkin and Image Spa MD that we call our “Needle-Free fillers.” They are enhanced with collagen.

Monet: I’m curious what made you want to start your own TV Beauty segment on TFC (The Filipino Channel) and be a Beauty columnist? We both write for the Asian Journal now!

Imee: Yes, I have a segment on Adobo Nation and the beauty column started about 2 years ago. I want to be able to share my knowledge via every medium possible because I thought it would be an injustice not to impart what I know. Writing about my experience and expertise is like giving back to the community. It is through my column that I wish to inspire my readers and educate them about health and beauty.

Monet: Tell us again how you started you in this profession.

Imee: What started my journey in the medical field is my fascination with medical treatments. It’s probably the reason I took a bachelor’s of science in biology and dentistry in college. Though I graduated with a degree in biology and doctorate in dental medicine, I fell in love with a different career. And it happened when I was seeking treatment for my own skin problems. Having acne as a young woman was not a good feeling. I was determined to do what it takes to get rid of it. When I sought treatments, I was always around dermatologists and skincare specialists. That’s where I became exposed to the practice and got more and more into it as I saw improvements in my own skin. And before I knew it, I was already interviewing for a staff position at the same center who treated my acne. 

Back then, there was no medical spa. The facilities and technologies were outdated compared to what we have now. People would have their pimples extracted and leave with creams and medicated soaps. It sure does the work but the treatment is not as focused and customized as I hoped it to be. Right now, we can customize the treatment plan for each client. It’s very personalized and yields amazing results!

Monet: What’s the best part about being a celebrity esthetician?

Imee: I always tell people that my calling is to help people achieve their health and beauty goals, but what I look forward to every day is seeing them take the first step. We don’t look at clients as a means to earn. Or in this case, for my celebrity clients who are willing to pay to fix their problem areas, I don’t see them as a way to get into the system or on the radar of their contemporaries. I see them as someone who will be part of my crusade in promoting great skin and health. And that is what makes it all worth it.  Anybody can do what I do but what sets our business apart is how we treat our clients. I go above and beyond for my them by formulating a treatment plan that may not be what they initially wanted but what would work best for them. I love being able to do my best because they deserve it – celebrity or not.

Imee is married to Richard Sarte Maghanoy, who is an electronics and communications engineer. He is also the COO of iSkin. They have a daughter named Shannen, who just graduated Nursing at the University of California in Irvine. 

Monet Lu

Monet Lu is a Marikina-born, award-winning celebrity beauty stylist with his own chain of Monet Salon salons across Southern California and Las Vegas, Nevada. Ultimately, Monet is known as an all-around artiste who produces sold-out fashion and awards shows as well as unforgettable marketing campaigns. Monet is also the founder of the revolutionary all-natural beauty products such as Enlighten, your solution to discoloration . To contact Monet, please visit or email him at [email protected].

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