The Interview — Renée Rouleau, Esthetician and Skincare Expert
Welcome to Talking Top 10, a recurring series in which we feature the founders, CEOs, creators, and leaders who are shaking up their industries. Ahead, read our Q&A with celebrity skincare expert Renée Rouleau, and keep scrolling to shop her Top 10 must-haves.
A life-long skin enthusiast, Renée Rouleau has dedicated over 30 years to the art of skin perfection. That passion helps drive her successful blog covering her top advice, expert viewpoint, and problem-solving approach to skincare. She’s considered a complexion coach and blemish-busting hero by many thanks to her magical touch and ability to make skin concerns quickly disappear.
Renée’s commitment to skin perfection led the way for her to create a new way to analyze and treat the skin: “Nine Different Skin Types." This broader view of the skin’s unique needs eschews the skin industry’s traditionally narrow view about skin types and instead expands the conversation to ensure all skin concerns are targeted with the correct solutions. Her namesake product collection, Renée Rouleau Skin Care, easily navigates these customized needs by using ingredients and formulas that are innovative and effective.
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What inspired you to start your own business and skincare line?
The lightbulb moment for me was when I saw a gap in the marketplace for truly customized skincare. From the beginning of my career as an aesthetician, I recognized that every person's skin is unique. But the skincare industry mostly relied on a one-size-fits-all approach. Product lines were, and still are, catered to very generic categories of skin—dry, normal, oily. I began formulating my own exclusive high-performance products based on my theory of the nine skin types. I developed these nine skin types and formulas that cater to each type to ensure my clients achieved the results they desired. So I started my company in 1996 and have been shouting this unique philosophy from the rooftops ever since. I have been an esthetician now for 30 years and still continue to learn and grow, but the one thing that remains is that everyone's skin is truly unique and needs to be treated as such.
What were some challenges you faced as you built your business? Was there a moment you felt like you made it?
One of the challenges I faced in the early years of my company was trying to find labs that would make custom formulas for me with small minimums. Because my skincare line is extensive as it caters to so many skin types, I needed to have an extensive line (currently there are 50 products), but most labs require such large opening orders for each product and I didn’t have enough clients to be able to sell through all of these products. So I had to work my relationships with different labs to ensure them that my company was growing and so naturally, my ordering would grow too—and it quickly did.
I felt like I “made it” when I started working with celebrity clients like Demi Lovato and Lisa Rinna. They have been my clients for over 10 years, and they have been very instrumental in my growth. I have developed very good, close-knit relationships with each of them, and I'm proud to call them friends. They have been very generous about sharing their skincare journey with others and how I have played an important part in keeping their skin clear and looking its best. I have since added on many other high-profile clients like Lili Reinhart and Madelaine Petsch, and they have been amazing with sharing their success with my line.
View Renée's Essentials
What does a typical workday look like for you?
A typical day for me is doing what I love with people I love. I work in the office once a week, so while I'm there, I'm usually in a lot of meetings, connecting with each person on my team and checking in with them. My meetings are about product development, operations, inventory, solving issues that come up, and new blog posts that I'm working on. Then the other days out of the week, I work from home and this is where I spend a lot of my time writing content for my blog and continuing my skin research.
If someone is short on time or just not one to commit to a ten-step routine, what ingredients and products would you tell them to prioritize?
Sunscreen, of course. Next up, retinol and vitamin C. We can now safely speed up the skin renewal process without unwanted dryness and irritation with products that contain retinol. It’s important to note that not all retinol products are equal. Vitamin C has been the most extensively researched antioxidant in skincare. It’s found to be extremely effective in interfering with many aging free radicals found in the environment such as sunlight, stress, and pollutants. It is recommended to be worn daily under a moisturizer containing sunscreen. This antioxidant not only gives your skin its daily dose of healthy aging but it is also helpful with reducing discoloration and brown spots. As for retinol, I suggest slowly introducing it in your late 20s—once your acne is behind you.
What’s it like to work with so many celebs?
What’s really important to understand when working with high-profile people is that the relationship has to be built on trust. Allow them to talk about you and you can share what they say with your following, but don’t go blabbing about them first. Celebrities know that their names provide benefits to a brand, but you need to tread lightly so as not to jeopardize these important relationships. Basically, play it cool.
If you were to recommend buying one product from your skincare line, which one would it be and why?
I would most likely pick my Rapid Response Detox Masque because so many skin types can use it. Everyone deals with clogged pores at some point and those stubborn breakouts that act up every once in a while. The Rapid Response Detox Masque provides the skin with a total reset to get it to play nicely. This is especially helpful after flying on a plane as it can disrupt the skin’s ecosystem.
What does your personal skincare routine look like?
My morning routine and evening routine have similar steps. I start with cleanser, then toner, apply a serum, and then follow with a moisturizer. In the morning I use a cleansing gel, and in the evening I usually use a cleansing lotion because they remove sunscreen and liquid foundation makeup better. During the day, I use a vitamin C serum and at night, I rotate nights between a retinol serum, a peptide serum, and an exfoliating acid serum followed by a moisturizer and an eye cream. There's never a day that I do not have some sort of face makeup on my skin. I think of makeup as skincare because it provides additional sun protection above and beyond sunscreen. You can find titanium dioxide in a lot of face makeup, and this ingredient is also used in sunscreen. I am very, very consistent about my routine, and here are the skincare rules I swear by.
I treat my skin to masks and peels about once a week. This extra love I give my skin really improves the texture and overall health of my skin.
How would you spend $20 in the drugstore beauty aisles?
Tell us your all-time favorite spots in ATX.
1. Nixta for tacos
2. Barton Springs for swimming (it’s a natural spring)
3. The White Horse for country music and dancing
4. By George on South Congress for shopping
5. Counter Cafe for brunch (their blueberry pancakes are everything)
6. River Place Trail for hiking
7. Penny Backer Bridge to catch a sunset
What’s next for you and your business? Do you have any exciting new products in the works?
I've been working with my lab on quite a few new products. I am currently working on two new products that will help repair the skin's barrier when it's compromised from things like prescription retinoids and topical acne products. Barrier repair is a big area of focus since at-home products are driving better results for improving the skin, but when used too often, your skin can be out of balance. I’m also working on a new cleanser as well as a facial scrub. The process takes a long time when I'm seeking absolute perfection.
This upcoming August, we will be celebrating 25 years of Renée Rouleau Skin Care for which we’ll be doing all sorts of celebrating! I can't believe that it's been a quarter of a century since I moved to Texas by myself, without knowing anyone, and took out a small business loan to start a small skincare spa in Dallas. Sometimes it’s just so hard to believe how much the company has grown since my humble beginnings. Pinch me, is this all a dream? Grateful for what was, what is, and what will be—and all who helped along the way.