When I met Kát Rudu I was nervous. I had agreed to try a lighter version of her new Venus Viva fractional radio-frequency device (the more in depth requires numbing cream) while visiting Knockout Beauty, but it looked like it hurt a little and those who were post-Viva had pink complexions. Then a few of Kát’s friends/clients showed up, each with the most perfect skin. One look at them and I hopped in the seat. It did sting a little, my face was pink the rest of the evening, but the next day was a Wow! moment when I looked in the mirror. My skin was glowing and there were definitely less fine lines around my eyes. Plus because she couldn’t use numbing cream (for various reasons), I didn’t get a full Viva dose—I can only imagine how much better it might have been. I definitely need more Venus Viva in my life.
Sadly, Kát lives in Venice, CA, where she gives Hollywood’s A-list and others their glow with a variety of treatments at her recently opened bungalow studio. She is starting to come to New York more often and in the meantime, anyone can use her pro-biotic vegan skincare line, which she launched a couple of years ago. Here, she shares the secret Romanian ingredients she adds, her important skincare essentials, and why she believes in lots of tiny pieces of paper. And if you want to sign up for some Kát magic when she’s in NYC/Hamptons in August, email firstname.lastname@example.org. (You can buy her products online at KátRudu.com.)
What was your path to becoming a skin care expert? I’ve been in the skin care business for about 20 plus years. I was brought up in the business in Romania from day one. My mother was in the beauty business, she did facials and hair. My father was a barber. So this passion for skin and beauty and taking care of yourself started at a very, very young age for me.
My mom would mix elixirs for clients–everything was always from chamomile teas, aloe vera, lavender, anything she could get her hands on. It could be baking soda, honey. I would see my mom make a wash out of honey, and it just would be fantastic. That’s why I wanted honey in my papaya cleanser because of its antibacterial factor and the way it cleans the skin.
We came to America when I was eight, I’m an immigrant, and I tried many other things, but throughout all these years, I always went back to my passion, skincare, because it just came so easy to me. So I went and got my aesthetician license. I want to empower women by making them feel beautiful. When I receive emails or my clients come back and say, ‘Kat, you know I don’t really treat myself often, but I read about you and I wanted to try this. My face has never, ever felt like that, and you treated me like I was a star. You changed my skin and I didn’t think that was possible.’
I just love skin care. I love feeding the soul, the body, feeding the skin. I always say, ‘Your beauty is my life.’
When did you open your own place? I have worked with the top dermatologists and surgeons for years as an independent contractor– I’ve always worked with the best. I’d been wanting to open my own studio for years and what made me finally decide to do it is I started to see my skincare collection grow. And I wanted to have more freedom to create treatments. Eight months ago, I opened my studio in Venice. It’s a cute little bungalow. And I love art, so I have art everywhere. It makes me happy every day.
What’s been the most surprising thing you found once you opened? At first, I thought, ‘Are my clients going to follow me or am I going to get clients? I’m not in Beverly Hills anymore.’ The most surprising thing, I found is that I became even busier. I also became stronger and more creative.
Why are your products are vegan and cruelty free? My entire line is based on vegan proteins, and vegan peptides—silk amino acids and hyaluronic acid. I wanted to create something very simple without parabens, synthetics, propylene glycol, fillers, or mineral oils. I didn’t want any synthetic fragrances in my products, and of course, no animal products. I wanted a very potent hyaluronic acid that’s from a vegan angustifolia seed. A lot of hyaluronic acid comes from rooster [combs]. For me, being a vegan, it was very important to create a brand that stood by my living standard. I also wanted it to be clean because we have enough in our world that we do that isn’t clean. And, it actually works deeper and it’s more active. I wanted a product to sink in your skin and feed it so you’re always glowing and plumply. It’s like juicy. I always use that word. I want the face to look juicy.
What are your standout products? Your best sellers? People love my Jet Secret Overnight Cream. It’s like a mask cream and what I mean by that is you can put on a thick layer from eye to neck to décolletage, hands, elbows, knees and sleep with it. You wake up the next morning and it’s like you had a facial. You can use it on more mature skin everyday. Or if you’re living in a climate, say in Colorado, where it’s always dry. It’s excellent for winter. If you’ve been out and had too many glasses of wine or champagne, you put it on your face and it gives it back that moisture. Because we’re constantly dehydrated. And everyone is looking to hydrate their skin.
My second product is my Coco Honey Cleanser. It has papaya enzymes and you can take off makeup with it and it doesn’t sting your eyes. It works for people with acne, even a 14 year old could use it.
Then I would have to say my Dewy Botanical Flower Mist. It’s just a simple flower mist but being Romanian, I added this water called Aqua Carpatica. It’s from springs in Transylvania and it is the clearest spring water. I combined it with a favorite, witch hazel, that has anti-bacteria effects and chamomile flower and rose. I can’t keep it in stock.
My Liquid Lift with amino acids actually put me on the market. It’s a great serum. You put it on and it sinks right in and instantly plumps your skin. You feel that little tingly at first, it’s very active.
Tell us about your treatments: I have the Jet Set Facial, which is a customized a treatment based on what the client’s needs are. I work with a lot of different gadgets and machines. Sometimes it will include eight different steps, some estheticians won’t even go there but I look at a client’s skin and I know the level where I can take it. When someone gets up from my chair and I hand them a mirror I want them to say ‘Wow! What did you do?’
Then of course the Venus Legacy and the Venus Viva that you tried. That combines fractional RF, which is radio frequency, with micro-derma rolling. That’s for going deeper into layers of the skin.
I have a deep pigmentation mask that gets rid of melasma that a lot of women get after they have a baby. Then I do a cupping facial.
And what does cupping do? It increases oxygen and blood circulation and promotes collagen and elasticity production. It lifts and plumps the skin, and it’s for lymphatic drainage. It’s great for migraines and headaches. It’s amazing for TMJ. And it breaks up congestion and sinus pressure. Cupping relaxes the facial muscles and tension of the skin. It’s good for someone who doesn’t want to do a laser or radiofrequency.
What are the important essentials women should do when it comes to skincare? First a woman should definitely cleanse her skin AM and PM. That is crucial. During the day we’re outside, the pollution, the buildup of sebum and bacteria that starts growing on your skin—you need to cleanse that. Then in the morning, you want to wake up with a fresh face. You want to cleanse and exfoliate—it regenerates the collagen.
Try to drink at least ten glasses of water every day. I don’t care if you carry a bottle and you sip on it. Drink your water. If you don’t drink enough water for a week, you can see a difference in the color of your face. You’ll become gray and you’ll see the dehydration and I don’t care what you put on, it won’t help. Take out as much dairy [from your diet] as you can. It’s not doing anything great for anyone. It constipates you, it gives you pimples.
I also think you should take chlorophyll oxygen capsules called ChlorOxygen to build the red blood cells. I’ve been taking them for the last twelve years. I’m addicted. I take a little one every day.
Every six weeks, a woman should get a facial. You get Botox, you go do your hair, you go do your nails, you do all these things but many women are not doing something for their skin. I think it’s really important to brighten up the skin and tone it.
Don’t be afraid to use foundation. I hear all the time that people think foundation clogs your pores. It makes me laugh, because it doesn’t, it actually shields your skin from UV rays and pollution. It keeps the debris from the air and the toxins away. It keeps you from getting hyperpigmentation. You just have to find the right foundation that works. And everybody knows you have to wear sunscreen.
One thing you thing that women get wrong when it comes to skincare? I think what some women get wrong is that they think their face or it’s pH balance will just pop back. Then they wake up and look in the mirror one day and see their face falling apart because they haven’t been taking care of it. They think they can fix it overnight but you actually can’t. You have to take care of your skin.
What’s next? I’m going into a lot more stores. I’m working on a pink gold serum with real gold and a very nice light almond oil. I love almonds and eat them all day long. So I wanted to create a raw almond oil. And I’m about to announce something super that I’m excited about but can’t yet.
Three words that describe you: Passionate, dreamer, strong.
Three words that describe Kát Rudu the brand: Pure, biotic, beauty.
Life goals: I never want to forget where I came from. Where ever life takes me—and I am so appreciative and thankful that my dreams have come true–I never want to forget. And when it comes to my business, I want to become the next Estée Lauder. I love Estée Lauder. I read her autobiography and the way she started, she was hands on like I am. It was such an inspiration to read her story. Maybe I won’t become Estée Lauder but, I hope—that’s what I’m going for.
Daily goals: Every day I have little goals that I want to accomplish and I write them all down. Some days I can’t get to them, but every day when I look at what I’ve written down and what I’ve accomplished, I feel in line. I even write goals for the month, for six months. I believe in mood boards. When I was creating my brand I had so many boards and so many scraps of paper everywhere. It made my husband crazy. But the irony of all of it now my husband says ‘you know every little goal that you had up and your bigger, long term goals–you created all of those.’
I believe in having little piece of papers all over. On my fridge I have ones with all the stores that I admire and would love to be in, I look at the names every day. And I just say it and say it and look at it and look at it. I still do that today. I live by goals and boards, it’s crazy but, I do.
Favorite inspirational/motivational read: The One Thing by Gary Keller. It’s about taking whatever we choose in life and our decisions that we make, big or small, and finding a way to be creative, to not forget about your everyday life and enjoy the small things. I have it in my studio, sometimes I read a little quote to my clients.
Daily rituals: I love burning a candle. It can be a hundred degrees and I’m always burning a candle in the morning. My favorite is Tom Dixon’s Eclectic. I always have a mask on at least four times a week. That’s a ritual for me. And I burn sage. I have this energy complex. If I feel a weird energy, I have to burn sage. I’ve been doing it since I was probably 20 years old. And I’m a clean freak. If my bed is not made properly like a five star hotel room, I feel that everything around me is not organized either. It has to be done because if not, I’ll think about why my bed was not made all day and everything else that day falls apart.
How do you unplug? I live in Venice by the beach, I’m very fortunate and blessed. I like to sit outside and wait for my husband to come home around six thirty and have a glass of wine together and talk. If it’s cold in the winter we sit inside by the fire.
Hidden talent/hobby: I could’ve been a chef. I love cooking. I can do it with my eyes closed. My friends are always asking, ‘When is Kat going to have her next dinner?’
Do you collect anything? I love art. We don’t have room anymore because our house is not that gigantic. One artist I collect is Brittany Segal. She made a piece for my studio. I also collect photos from Africa—lions, elephants and birds from this amazing photographer Annelize Bester, she is the Principal Officer for an organization called Thuto that helps make schools for kids in Botswana. I do events with her, we have one in the fall, where people buy my products and her art and we donate proceeds.
Biggest splurge you don’t regret? Getting married. I waited for so many years while all my friends were married with babies. We’re European and my mom was like ‘You’re 38 what’s wrong with you? You’re going to be a grandma by the time you get married!’
I also don’t regret starting my skin care collection. The negativity from so many people early on surprised me, because we live in a world where it seems like everyone is so supportive— ‘follow your dreams.’ I remember one person said to me, ‘What makes you so special that you’re going be accepted by the beauty world?’ I responded, ‘I don’t know, I don’t think I’m special but I have this great idea and I’m going do something different than anyone else. I’m gonna try. If I fail I’ll get up and do it again.’
Favorite small indulgence: I love vegan chocolate. I’m like a little child. I don’t just take a piece, I open up the whole bar and hold it in my hands and I’ll just start chipping on it.
Album currently on repeat: Frank Sinatra, The Last Concert, I can’t get enough. It’s been on repeat now for the last year, I think my clients are getting sick of it. I’m crazy for him. Before that it was Johnny Cash.
Scent that brings back memories: Vanilla reminds me of cooking and my childhood. And rose, English Rose, one of my products has rose in it, because my mom always made things with roses. And orange, that citrus smell, I love it.
Lucky charm: My tattoo that says “love is life” in cursive. I wanted a tattoo all my life but never thought I was going to get one and then I did right after I met my husband.
Favorite hour of the day: I love it before the sun sets. I think the light is so beautiful. Peter Lindbergh, the photographer, always shoots 15 minutes before the sun sets. It’s my dream to be shot by him.
Follow Kát: Instagram.
portrait by Nic Neumman