Beauty and skincare have been a formative part of my life since I was a little girl. I used to spend hours watching my grandma Irene pamper her clients at her salon, the Powder Puff Beauty Shoppe. The way I saw her clients’ faces light up when they left a treatment feeling good about themselves really stuck with me and ultimately led me down the path I’m still on today.
I could’ve never imagined all those years ago that I’d end up where I am now—an entrepreneur following in my grandmother’s footsteps, celebrating the 25th anniversary of my very own skincare company! Without her support (she gave me my first dollar along with her first dollar for good luck) and the support from all of you, this never would have been possible. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
In the spirit of the 25th anniversary of Renée Rouleau Skincare, here are the 25 beauty lessons that have shaped how I care for myself and have stuck with me throughout the years. Enjoy!
1. Hang Your Head Upside Down for 2 Minutes Every Night
Since circulation naturally slows down with age, on most nights, I hang my head upside down off the side of my bed to bring blood flow to my face. This helps to increase oxygen and bring fresh blood and new nutrients to the skin cells. It gives an instant boost for an inner glow so my skin appears “lit from within.” Here are 10 more of my tips for bringing a glow to dull-looking skin.
2. Your Clothing Choices Matter
I spend a lot of time in workout clothes since I exercise daily, but I’ll often stay in those clothes throughout the day before I’m able to get a shower in. To avoid having to mess with sunscreen application on the chest area, I avoid wearing tank tops. Instead, I opt for crew neck t-shirts (often long-sleeved) so the clothing material can provide protection from cumulative sun damage. It may seem like a small thing, but every skin decision you make adds up over a lifetime and this will help prevent permanent sun damage on the chest. Remember, preventing daily skin damage is so much easier and less expensive than trying to get rid of it later.
Another thing I pay attention to is the colors of the clothing I buy. When I’m shopping for regular clothes, I’ll often avoid yellow-based colors like mustard, olive green, khaki, bronze, and burnt orange shades. This is because warm, yellow-based colors aren’t compatible with my natural complexion and can leave me looking dull, or sallow. Instead, I’ve noticed that cool-toned colors like pink, light blue, and silver generally enhance my skin’s natural glow and brightness. Of course, different colors work well with different complexions, but I’d suggest taking note of which colors make your skin “pop” and which ones tend to wash it out.
3. Try to Book a Window Seat on an Airplane So You Can Block Out Skin-Damaging UV Rays
On a plane, you’re 30,000 feet closer to the sun than usual and this puts your skin at risk for damage. Remember that harmful UV rays (especially UVA rays) can still penetrate through windows. These UVA rays are the ones that are responsible for damage to your cells’ DNA, so I always choose a window seat when I can. This way, I can close the shade and protect my skin.
4. There Are More Skin Types Than Just Dry, Normal, and Oily
When I was in school training to become an esthetician, we studied the standard dry, normal and oily skin types. Once I got my license and started working hands-on with clients in my practice, I quickly realized each person had very unique concerns and that these skin types were far too limiting. Occasional adult acne with the signs of aging showing up—what skin type is this? What about people dealing with sensitive skin and hyperpigmentation? It was soon after that I determined there were 9 types of skin and that each must have a curated routine exclusively for their unique skin needs. This philosophy would become one of the building blocks of my brands, and I’m proud to say it’s served me (and my customers!) well for 25 years.
5. Wear Foundation Makeup Every Single Day
I started my esthetics career in Boston where women don’t wear much makeup, and when I relocated to Texas where many wear it daily I came upon a great discovery: Southern women overall have fewer visible wrinkles and a smoother texture. I believe it’s because the foundation makeup they’ve worn daily for years has provided additional protection from the sun’s damaging rays. Because of this, I wear foundation makeup or mineral powder every day of the year and encourage my clients to do the same.
Learn more about how makeup can give your skin additional sun protection.
6. Makeup Can Do Wonders—Especially to Give Skin a Glow
Clients always come to me wanting to achieve glowing skin and a smooth texture. Skincare products and treatments are definitely an important building block of healthy-looking skin, but I always tell clients not to discount the magic effects of makeup when it comes to getting that “glow.” This includes pore-minimizing makeup primers, “blurring” foundations, and shimmery powders that allow the skin to reflect light. Read more about the makeup products I use for glowing skin.
7. For Treating Under-Eye Dryness, Don’t Rely Solely on an Eye Cream
To help manage dryness and soften the look of fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes, moisturizing with an eye cream alone won’t cut it. You must gently exfoliate the eye area (this is best done by using a gentle, acid-based serum made for the delicate eye area) to dissolve and remove dry skin cells. When you add in a product like this on a regular basis, your eye cream can work more efficiently to provide better effects.
Not using an under-eye exfoliator is only one of the reasons your eye cream may not be working.
8. To Make a Blemish Go Away Fast, You Must Treat It in Sync With Its Life Cycle
When it comes to blemishes, the goal is to make them go away as fast as possible with the least amount of post-breakout discoloration. The biggest mistake I see people make when treating a blemish is immediately applying a harsh, drying spot treatment the moment it appears. The problem with this strategy is that it creates a barrier of dry skin over the blemish, which can keep the infection trapped under the skin longer than your body intended. This prevents the whitehead from easily being released through the skin’s surface. The longer the infection stays within the skin, the more it stretches out the surrounding tissue and creates melanin activity, leading to a longer-lasting discolored mark. I know it feels like you need to do everything you can to get rid of a blemish fast, but the less you do to it and the more you let it naturally correct itself, the faster the recovery. (This includes no picking!)
9. Don’t Neglect Your Neck
When it comes to applying sunscreen to the face and neck, many people make the mistake of applying it to the face and then using whatever is leftover on their fingers and running it down their neck. I can assure you, the neck will not be adequately protected if you do this because sunscreen must be applied generously in order to be effective. I always apply one generous layer to my face and then squeeze more out of the tube and do another full application to the neck, the sides of the neck, and the ears. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able to tell someone took great care of the skin on their face but neglected their neck—it can definitely give away your age if the two don’t match!
10. Avoid Using Straws or Drinking Out of Narrow Bottles
Just like squinting, repeated facial expressions and movements will break down collagen and elastin fibers over time. When drinking a beverage, I always avoid using straws or drinking out of a narrow bottle to avoid having to purse my lips because this can cause unnecessary lines and wrinkles around the mouth (similar to smoker’s lines). Little lifestyle changes like these can add up and make a difference over the course of a lifetime.
11. Don’t Leave Your Skin Bare for Longer Than 60 Seconds After Cleansing
Skin cells are like fish and need water to live. Without it, your skin’s health is compromised and this is never ideal in the quest for plump, dewy, and bouncy-looking skin. Since we wash our faces twice every day, that’s 730 times a year that you risk the chance of dehydrating your skin during the cleansing process. After washing your face and patting it dry with a towel, your bare skin is at its most vulnerable to dehydration through a process called osmosis. You have a 60-second window before moisture evaporation will occur. To prevent this, immediately apply an alcohol-free toner to deliver water to thirsty cells and then follow it with a serum and moisturizer. Doing so ensures the skin never gets an opportunity to have that tight, dry feeling, which means unnecessary dehydration didn’t occur.
12. Heat (Not Just From the Sun) Can be a Trigger for Hyperpigmentation
For years, it was thought that sunspots were just like the name suggests—spots caused by the sun. We now know that heat also makes pigmentation worse by increasing the activity of melanocytes when the skin’s internal temperature is raised. Aside from being outside on a hot summer day, this could be from a hot stove if you are a cook or chef working in a kitchen, saunas, steam rooms, and exercise (particularly hot yoga). If pigmentation is a concern, try to minimize heat activation in your skin (along with these other tips to prevent summer sunspots).
13. Layering and Mixing Serums Won’t Get You Very Far
Layering and mixing (or “cocktailing”) products, especially serums, has become a popular skincare trend in the last few years, but it’s not an effective strategy. When it comes to layering, the truth is the skin can only absorb so much. At a certain point, you’re just wasting money by dousing your skin thinking you’re getting benefits from each layer. Think of your skin as a sponge in that, at some point, a sponge has absorbed all it can and water starts just pouring over the top. This eventually happens with your skin as well.
As for mixing serums together, you’ll get half the results from each serum because of dilution. In addition, mixing ingredients in your bathroom isn’t the same as mixing them in a lab, and you never know if the ingredients will play well together. Instead, I prefer a rotation strategy when it comes to serums: use one serum at full strength each night so they can give you the full spectrum of intended benefits.
14. Never Interfere With Your Sunscreen
When sunscreen comes out of the tube, you’re getting the exact formula that’s been clinically tested to determine the Sun Protection Factor (SPF). One common mistake I see is that people will mix their sunscreen with another product, such as a skin oil, to give the skin a dewy glow. While this may look nice, you’re altering a carefully crafted formula and can no longer guarantee you’re getting the full protection indicated on the label. Some people will apply an oil over their sunscreen instead of mixing the two together, but the oil could degrade your sunscreen faster throughout the day leaving your skin more vulnerable to damaging UV rays.
Of all the skincare products you want to work well, sunscreen is number one on the list. Apply it generously, and don’t interfere with the formula. Here are 5 ways you may be unintentionally making your sunscreen less effective.
15. Drinking Water is the Least Efficient Way to Hydrate Your Skin
While drinking water is obviously important for your overall health, this is actually the least efficient way to hydrate the skin. Water runs through the intestines, is absorbed into your bloodstream, and is then filtered out by the kidneys. At this point, it will hydrate the cells inside the body and isn’t very likely to make it all the way to the outer layers of your skin. Instead, hydration levels within the skin have more to do with what you apply topically. To maintain proper hydration levels in the skin, use well-formulated moisturizers, serums, and alcohol-free toners.
16. Making DIY Skincare Products From Foods Found in Your Kitchen Won’t Give Your Skin Much Benefit
An ongoing trend in skincare is using items found in your refrigerator and pantry to make your own skincare products. This has been fueled, in part, by the “green beauty” movement (learn more about my thoughts on green beauty and the safety of products.) The thought of using something in its natural, unadulterated form seems like the healthiest, most non-toxic way to go—right? Unfortunately, achieving clearer, healthier, younger-looking skin isn’t as easy as using ingredients found in your kitchen. Here’s the real truth.
When you eat something, your saliva starts to break it down. It then passes through the digestive tract, and nutrients from the food are distributed throughout the body where they are needed. The skin doesn’t have the same processes as the digestive system; therefore, it isn’t really possible to put food on your face and expect the nutrients to easily enter the skin. This is where cosmetic chemists come in—a huge part of their job is figuring out how to make ingredients bioavailable to your skin so that it can actually reap the benefits.
17. Never Exfoliate Your Skin daily
If you’re exfoliating your skin every single day, you’re probably damaging your skin’s protective barrier. Since I started out as an esthetician, I’ve noticed a sharp rise in damaged skin barriers and this is definitely due, in part, to the increased popularity of exfoliating products. I know the glow they give can be addictive, but overdoing it on exfoliation will lead to inflammation that leaves your skin looking and feeling strained. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good at-home peel, facial scrub, or exfoliating serum, but be sure to give your skin a break so you don’t stress it out. Here’s your guide to the different types of exfoliants and how often to use them.
18. Change Up Your Look With New Makeup, Hairstyles, and Clothing
An image consultant once said it to me best: “There is nothing more aging for a woman than never changing her look.” Shortly after receiving that advice, I changed my blonde hair to pastel pink. I really try to stay fun and open-minded when it comes to my appearance instead of getting into a rut.
Fear of change could be what is holding you back from being your best, most vibrant-looking self. Spice it up!
19. Be Sure to Use a Vitamin A Product—Like Retinol or a Prescription Retinoid—for the Rest of Your Life
At the start of my esthetics career, I got the opportunity to meet Dr. Thomas Fitzpatrick, a renowned dermatologist who created the “Fitzpatrick Skin Type” system. I’ll never forget the time he showed me his hands and said, “Renée, can you see the difference in my hands?” I looked down and couldn’t believe my eyes. One hand looked so much younger than the other; it had less wrinkling, fewer brown spots, and a more even texture. How did he get one hand to look so much younger than the other? The answer is a prescription retinoid.
For many years, Retin-A was a topical cream used exclusively to treat acne. Since it had harsh side effects, such as dryness, redness, and peeling, a doctor would need to give very specific instructions to their acne patients about how much to use to minimize these negative effects. Dr. Fitzpatrick would always demonstrate by taking a pea-size amount (which was his recommended amount for the entire face) and rubbing it on ONE of his hands. He would do this, day in and day out. To his surprise, he began to notice that one hand looked much younger than the other! This realization was what led Dr. Fitzpatrick to become one of the doctors instrumental in getting the FDA to recognize Retin-A as a cream that could help reduce wrinkles.
I saw with my own eyes the amazing effects in reversing the visible signs of aging when used long-term and so it’s something I shout from the rooftops. Experiment with over-the-counter retinol before you upgrade to prescription strength, and follow this guide to avoid negative side effects when starting retinol.
20. Dry Skin and Dehydrated Skin Are Not the Same and Need Different Things
The difference between dry and dehydrated skin is something a lot of people don’t understand, but it’s so important to know which you’re dealing with so you can treat it appropriately.
Dry skin is a genetic skin type that lacks oil and requires richer, oil-based products to keep it moist and flake-free. Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, is more of a skin condition than a skin type. If your skin is dehydrated, it means you’re lacking water content and need to hydrate with lighter-weight, humectant-rich ingredients. It’s so important to understand this difference when choosing the right products for your skin. If you’re not sure which one you’re dealing with, consult with a skincare professional for guidance instead of going it alone.
21. The Food You Eat Doesn’t Affect the Skin as Much as You’re Led to Believe
“You are what you eat.” “Eat clean and your skin will glow.” Ever heard these sayings? We all have, but there’s a lot less truth to them than you might think. I know plenty of people who eat a poor diet yet their skin is perfection whereas so many people who have challenges with blemishes will eat perfectly clean, yet still find themselves dealing with acne.
The connection between food and skin is far from black and white, and it’s important to remember that we’re all unique. Every person’s skin will respond differently based on what it’s exposed to so it can definitely be worth experimenting with what you eat. But in general, I’ve found that while certain foods may exacerbate or improve skin conditions to an extent, diet is more peripheral than many other factors when it comes to the state of your skin. Long story short: eating a certain way can support overall skin health, but it probably isn’t going to “cure” anything outright. These are some of the ways in which I’ve personally seen food affect people’s skin.
22. Not All Blemishes Are Equal
Pustules, whiteheads, papules, closed comedones, cysts, and nodules are all various names for blemishes and clogged pores. Since they are so uniquely different in how they appear and therefore how they are best treated, it’s important to get educated in your quest for clearer skin. The biggest mistake I see people make is using a blemish spot treatment on all of these and then wonder why their skin isn’t responding.
23. Don’t Wait Til Bedtime to Perform Your Nighttime Routine
What I mean by this is that, ideally, you should perform your nighttime skincare routine earlier in the evening rather than right before your head hits the pillow.
There are two benefits to performing your routine earlier in the evening:
- You’re less likely to be lazy if you do it earlier. Meaning, you might skip out on doing a post-cleanse mask or applying eye cream if you’re exhausted. This way you’re more likely to pamper your skin!
- Your skin will be in the best possible place to benefit from your nighttime products. It was always thought that the skin’s repair processes kick in during sleep, but it’s now believed to start as soon as the day goes from light to dark.
24. Your Skin Doesn’t “Get Used” to Products and They Don’t Stop Working
Let’s set the record straight on this: your skin doesn’t build up an immunity to skincare products over time. They don’t just stop working one day. This is because there is no direct mechanism for your skin to become immune to the effects of products. When you apply a product, your skin’s receptors will take it in, and, assuming it’s a well-formulated product, it will go to work immediately to perform its functions. However, since your skin is a living organ that does evolve over time, changes can occur in your skin that may require you to make some tweaks to your routine as needed.
25. Practice Self-Acceptance
At age 52, I’m definitely noticing changes in my skin (and ones that I don’t particularly like). Since I’m the face of my company and the spokesperson for my brand, people will inevitably judge my product line based on how my own skin looks. Sometimes, this makes me feel pressure to have perfect-looking skin. This can get overwhelming, though, so I insist that I keep a good, healthy balance. On the one hand, I do pursue treatments that can improve my skin, but I don’t want to go so far as to do things that make me look unnatural. I don’t put all of my focus on my looks and I won’t book a derm appointment every time a wrinkle shows up. Instead, I do things for myself that bring me pure joy and confidence. Whether it’s riding my Triumph motorcycle, setting a fitness goal, or challenging myself to new experiences like moving to Austin six years ago just to change things up, I try to embrace all that life has to offer. The fuel this gives me on the inside is what brings me confidence on the outside.
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”