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Skincare Guru Renée Rouleau Shares 25 Skin Secrets

In celebration of her brand's 25th anniversary, the skin guru shares her best skin secrets.


Photo: Shutterstock

Longtime skincare expert Renée Rouleau’s eponymous skincare line is about to celebrate its 25thanniversary. In honor of this auspicious occasion, this skin pro with a cult following has shared 25 informative, interesting, and eclectic revelations that most profoundly shaped her growth as a skin expert, brand founder, and human being. 

1.   Hang your head upside down for two minutes at night. 

“Circulation slows down with age,” says Roulou. “On most nights, I hang my head upside down off the side of my bed to increase blood flow to my face. This helps to increase oxygen and bring fresh blood and new nutrients to the skin cells and gives an instant, glowing boost to the skin.”

2.    Fashionista to be a complexionista. 

A fitness enthusiast, Roulou spends a lot of time wearing workout clothes. To avoid messy sunscreen application, she avoids wearing tank tops and opts for crew neck t-shirts (often long-sleeved). This makes protecting the chest easy by using clothing coverage. “It’s a lot easier to prevent daily skin damage than trying to get rid of it once it appears, so keep that body covered,” she says.

When shopping for regular clothes, she advises clients to avoid yellow-based colors (mustard, olive green, khaki, bronze, and burnt orange shades) that can make the skin appear sallow and dull. She prefers cool-toned shades of pink, light blue, and silver that generally enhance the skin’s natural glow and brightness.

3.   Always close the window shade on an airplane to block out skin-damaging UV rays. 

When you’re 30,000 feet closer to the sun, skin is put at a higher risk for damage. Did you know that airline pilots have a higher risk of developing skin cancer, because airplane windshields only filter about 50 percent of dangerous ultraviolet (UVA) rays? Rouleau says she closes the window shade whenever she travels on planes.

4.    Nine different skin types philosophy. 

Esthetician school addresses skin narrowly – categorizing types as dry, normal, and oily. In real life, Rouleau observed a much broader range of unique concerns that transcended this limited view. This realization is what led to her Nine Skin Types and Skin Quiz. 

5.    The daily foundation. 

Upon moving to Texas from Boston, Rouleau made a skin-altering discovery—Southern women had fewer visible wrinkles and a smoother skin texture. She quickly concluded that makeup-loving Texans were unknowingly packing on extra skin and sun protection from daily foundation wear. “After that, I started wearing foundation makeup or a mineral powder every single day and encourage my clients to do the same,” she says.

6.    The real glow up. 

Rouleau says that the secret to glowing skin can be found in a jar of skincare. She recommends using “performance” formulas that increase the skin’s moisture and glow. And for extra radiance, Rouleau adds glow-boosting makeup like pore-minimizing makeup primers, “blurring” foundations, and shimmery powders that allow the skin to reflect light for a healthy, dewy complexion. 

7.   For treating under eye dryness, don’t rely solely on an eye cream. 

Exfoliate the eyes to hydrate, combat dullness and fine lines, and maximize how your eye cream performs. Consider an eye-specific exfoliating treatment like her Overnight Eye Serum, a gentle acid-based serum made for the delicate eye area that dissolves and removes dry skin cells. When used regularly, the product’s moisturizing effects boosts overall hydration for the eye area.

8.   To make a blemish go away fast, you must treat it in sync with its life cycle. 

Blemishes have a life cycle, and it’s best to address a breakout swiftly and carefully.“The biggest mistake I see people make is aggressive treatments using harsh drying spot treatments that dry the skin, trap the infection, and prevent the whitehead from exiting the skin’s surface,” says Rouleau. “The infection, or bump, can stretch out the skin tissue and create melanin activity, which leads to a longer-lasting discolored mark.” According to her, less is more and no picking!  

9.   Neck neglect. 

Don’t think treating the neck with leftover SPF residue from a face application is enough.“If you’re someone who applies sunscreen to your face, and then carries down whatever is left over onto your neck, you’re making a big mistake,” says Rouleau. “The neck needs its own generous application. I always apply one generous layer to my face and then another for my neck, the sides of the neck and the ears.”

10.  Avoid drinking out of narrow bottles or bottles with a straw. 

“Similar to squinting this repeated facial expression actually breaks down collagen and elastin fibers over time,” she says. “When drinking a beverage, avoid using straws or narrow bottles, because pursing the lips can lead to unnecessary lines and wrinkles around the mouth, like smoker’s lines. Little lifestyle changes can make a difference over a lifetime.” Instead, drink out of a wide-mouth cup.

11.  The ‘Golden Minute’ rule. 

Skin cells are like fish and need water to live (it’s what makes the skin look plump, dewy, and bouncy). Keep cells thriving and avoid dehydration by working through your routine quickly. “Within a minute of cleansing, apply an alcohol-free toner to deliver water to thirsty cells followed by a serum and a moisturizer,” says Rouleau. “In doing this, skin never gets an opportunity to become tight, dry, or dehydrated as a result of osmosis.”

12.  Heat (not from just the sun) can be a trigger for hyperpigmentation. 

The sun isn’t the only culprit behind sunspots. Heat also worsens pigmentation by increasing melanocytes activity when the skin’s internal temperature is raised. That means protect UV-exposed skin and reduce heat-induced activities when possible, like cooking over grills or spending time in saunas and steam rooms, and some forms of exercise (particularly hot yoga).

13.  Skip complexion cocktailing. 

Trendy skin care mixing and layering is just that, not an effective strategy. Because the skin can only absorb so much, Rouleau says excessive product won’t add benefits, it’s just a waste. Skin acts like a sponge and can only take in so much moisture before it starts to pour out. So, when you mix serums together, you not only cut results in half due to dilution, you also waste money. Instead, she says to alternate serums nightly so skin can absorb all the good benefits each formula has to offer in full.  

14.  Never interfere with your sunscreen. 

Sunscreen is clinically tested to perform optimally straight out of the tube. When diluted or mixed with serums or oils, it degrades effectiveness. Apply SPF last and don’t interfere with the formula.

15.  Drinking water is the least efficient way to hydrate the skin. 

Drinking water is essential to good health, but it’s far less efficient at hydrating the skin. Water runs through the intestines, is absorbed into the bloodstream, and then is filtered out by the kidneys. It hydrates the cells inside the body, but not the skin. Apply moisture topically to maintain ideal hydration and use well-formulated moisturizers, serums, and alcohol-free toners.

16.  Recipes for wellness, not skin. 

Rouleau is constantly being asked about DIY recipes for the skin using fresh ingredients from the kitchen or refrigerator. “Although it seems a natural and unadulterated approach to healthy, non-toxic benefits, it’s not effective,” she says. When you eat, saliva starts to break down the food that then passes through the digestive tract. Nutrients from the food are distributed throughout the body where needed. The skin doesn’t work this way, so it isn’t possible to topically apply food and expect the nutrients to benefit the skin. 

17.  Exfoliate with care. 

Daily exfoliation is not only aggressive, it can also be damaging to the skin’s protective barrier, allowing moisture to easily escape. This can cause skin inflammation, lack of radiance and bounce. “While I love a good at-home acid peel, facial scrub, and exfoliating serum, I give my skin a break every few days to not stress out my skin’s protective barrier,” says Rouleau.

18.  Change up your look with new makeup, hairstyle, and clothing. 

An image consultant once told Rouleau: “There is nothing more aging for a woman than never changing her look.” Shortly after receiving that advice, she changed her blonde hair to pastel pink. “I really try to keep it fun and open-minded when it comes to my appearance—never getting into a rut,” she says. “Fear of change could be what is holding you back from being your best, most vibrant-looking, youthful self.” 

19.  Be sure to use a vitamin A product like retinol or a prescription retinoid for the rest of your life. 

Early in Rouleau’s career, she had the opportunity to meet Dr. Thomas Fitzpatrick, a renowned dermatologist who created the “Fitzpatrick Skin Type” system. “It was then that he showed me his hands and asked, ‘Can you see the difference in my hands?’” she says. “I couldn’t believe my eyes; one hand appeared so much younger with fewer wrinkles, brown spots, and less uneven texture.” Why? Fitzpatrick made a point of demo-ing to his patients how to use Retin-A, a popular prescription acne medication, to counteract its harsh side effects. By applying it repeatedly on the same hand, he started to notice retinol’s anti-aging benefits and then went on to become instrumental in the FDA’s approval of retinol to reduce wrinkles. Since then, Rouleau always promotes and practices using retinol for the long term. Experiment with retinol before you upgrade to prescription-strength.

20. Dry and dehydrated aren’t the same. 

Usually lumped together, dry and dehydrated skin types are very different. Dry skin is lacking oil and requires richer products to keep it feeling moist and looking flake free. Dehydrated skin can produce oil but lacks water, requiring more lightweight, humectant-rich formulas. “It’s so important to understand this difference when choosing the right products; consult with a skin professional for guidance,” she says.

21. The good skin diet. 

You are what you eat? Eat clean and your skin will glow? Not quite. Rouleau knows plenty of people with a poor diet and perfect skin and vice versa. Although it’s always worth experimenting with your diet to observe patterns, you can’t eat your way to great skin. However, there does seem to be a link between consumption of dairy and cystic breakouts on the chin and jawline area. If this is your issue, try cutting out dairy and see if your skin shows improvement. 

22. All blemishes are not equal. 

Pustules, whiteheads, papules, closed comedones, cysts, and nodules are all various names for blemishes and clogged pores. Each unique in how they appear, they need to be treated that way too. “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,” says Rouleau.

23. Don’t wait to perform your nighttime routine right before going to bed.

Try to perform your nighttime skincare routine in the early evening versus bedtime. Here’s why:

  • You’re less likely to be lazy; meaning, you might skip out on doing a post-cleanse mask or applying eye cream if you’re exhausted.
  • You’ll increase nighttime products’ benefits. It was previously thought that the skin’s repair processes kick in during sleep, but it’s now believed to occur when the day goes from light to dark. 

24. Skin doesn’t get bored. 

Skin doesn’t build up an immunity to skincare products over time and stop working. There is no direct mechanism for skin to become immune to the effects of products. When product is applied, the skin’s receptors will take it in, and, assuming it’s a well-formulated product, go to work immediately to perform its function. As a living organism, skin can change over time and require modifications and tweaks for optimum care.

25.  Finding Self-Confidence.  

“At age 51, I’m noticing changes in my skin, and ones that I don’t particularly like,” says Rouleau. “Because I’m the face and the spokesperson for my brand, people will inevitably judge my product line based on how my own skin looks. This can put some pressure on me to have the look of perfect skin.” However, she insists that she keeps a good, healthy balance of continuing to pursue treatments that can improve her skin, but not overdoing things that make her look unnatural. “I don’t only focus on my looks and book a dermatologist appointment every time I see a wrinkle,” she says. “Instead, I do things for myself that bring me pure joy and confidence like 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 and the fuel this gives me on the inside is what brings me confidence on the outside.”

About The Author

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures,, E! Online,, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.