Fresh Start Austin
Renewed Beauty

Austin celebrity skincare expert dispenses the best beauty advice

Austin celebrity skincare expert dispenses the best beauty advice

Renee Rouleau
Renee Rouleau relocated her beauty empire from Dallas to Austin in 2015. Courtesy photo

Even though Renee Rouleau now counts celebrities like Demi Lovato, Emmy Rossum, and Sofia Vergara among her devotees, she remains accessible to those of us slightly less famous. So when we needed some beauty advice to jumpstart our new year’s resolutions to look and feel better, naturally we turned to the Texan celebrity aesthetician.

Rouleau got her start 27 years ago, inspired by her grandmother who had her own beauty salon — an entrepreneur at a time when most women stayed at home and raised children while the men went off to work. But Rouleau was equally impressed by the power her grandmother wielded.

“Growing up, I observed how women would come in to [my grandmother’s] salon feeling down and would leave glowing — both inside and out,” she says. “I never underestimate how looking good can positively affect women’s self-esteem. So, from a young age, my goal was to get people to like what they saw when they looked in the mirror.”

Last year she moved her headquarters from Dallas to Austin, where she’s finally settled and soaking in the Capital City scene. (She also does pop-up spas in New York and Los Angeles.) Unsurprisingly, Rouleau, who also has a high-performance line of products, was eager to share her skincare do’s and don’ts, as well as her fitness obsession and new guilty pleasure.

CultureMap: What’s the No. 1 most important behavior when it comes to taking care of your skin? Nos. 2 and 3?

Renee Rouleau: No. 1, make caring for your skin a priority. Most people will be surprised to know that approximately 30 percent of how your skin ages is genetics, and 70 percent is up to you. You really have a say in the matter of how your skin looks.

Practicing good skincare habits — washing your face morning and night, always using an alcohol-free toner and moisturizer after cleansing, treating your skin to a facial or chemical peel every now and again, and giving your body plenty of beauty sleep at night — will make all the difference in the appearance of your skin. Just like anything in life, the more attention you give to something, the better results you’ll get.

No. 2, find a sunscreen that you’ll enjoy wearing every single day of the year. Sunscreen is the No. 1 best anti-wrinkle product on the planet, but so many formulas available are too heavy and pore clogging for a lot of skin types, so people just give up and don’t use one — which is a huge mistake.

There are many lightweight sunscreens out there; you just need to find one that works for you, and then use it faithfully on both the face and neck. (This one is a used daily by Sofia Vergara.) It’s much easier and less expensive to prevent wrinkles than to get rid of them.

No. 3, know your skin type. It is my belief that to get the best results from your products, you must use those exclusively for your skin type. Many people think they understand what their skin type is, but I find that many people get it wrong.

Common mistakes people make include only focusing on one or two of their skin’s needs instead of looking at the big picture, not understanding the difference between dry and dehydrated skin, and misunderstanding the true meaning of sensitive skin. Always consult a professional aesthetician for product advice or you can take my quick and easy skin-type quiz to help determine your skin’s unique needs.

CM: If there’s one behavior you could get your clients to stop doing, what would it be?

RR: Caring for blemishes the wrong way. People are in the habit of automatically picking at a blemish the minute it appears and/or applying a spot treatment to immediately dry it out — which is all wrong. For most type of blemishes (not including cysts), the infection wants to come out through the surface of the skin as part of the body’s healing process.

When a spot treatment is applied immediately, it dries out the surface of the skin and keeps the infection trapped under the skin when it desperately wants to come out. Then at some point in the blemish process, people will pick and squeeze at it prematurely to get it to come out when it’s not ready.

The best way to handle a blemish (and prevent unnecessary scarring) is to leave it alone, let the infection rise to the surface, and only when you can see the visible whitehead is it okay to gently squeeze it out. Then, applying a spot treatment is beneficial to help dry out any remaining infection that is remaining in the pore.

CM: Assuming you fall down on your beauty regimen on occasion (please tell us you are human!), how do you get back into a good routine?

RR: My version of falling down in my beauty routine is not being regular about applying eye cream at night or doing a mask once a week, which are habits I preach to my clients. I get tired and lazy like most, so the way I get back into my routine is to leave those products out on the counter so they are staring at me and serve as a reminder to use them.

CM: Any product lines you like — besides your own, obviously?

RR: I love turning my shower into a spa experience with Malin + Goetz peppermint body scrub, Whole Foods 365 eucalyptus oil (for inhalation therapy), and Rituals Hammam shower gel in the rosemary/eucalyptus scent.

CM: What kind of makeup do you use?

RR: I dust ColoreScience SPF 50 mineral powder on my skin and hands throughout the day for a quick and easy reapplication of sunscreen. I keep one in my bathroom to dust on in the morning over makeup, one in my handbag for touching up on the go, and a third in my gym bag so I can apply before outdoor workouts. Although it does provide a bit of coverage to even out my skin tone, I think of it more like a skincare product to prevent wrinkles and skin cancer.

For liquid foundation, I like Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation. It makes my pores appear smaller, as well as the wrinkles around my eyes. I also like the overall radiant look of my skin when I use it. It doesn’t feel heavy like a typical liquid foundation makeup and works well for my skin type, which is No. 2.

CM: How do you stay in shape? Do you have a favorite workout?

RR: I love to bicycle around Austin when the weather is nice, and I’m a loyal, five-day-a-week CrossFitter. I love the variety CrossFit offers, because it keeps me motivated.

The W.O.D. (workout of the day) changes daily, so no muscle is left untouched, and I never get bored. It challenges me physically in ways that I never would do on my own, such as weightlifting or sit-ups.

I also started running two months ago, so I’ll add that in a few times a week too.

CM: What’s the one item you always have in your handbag?

RR: iPod shuffle with my favorite playlists. I have thousands of songs, but a few artists include Flight Facilities, King Krule, Blood Orange, and Bright Eyes. There’s no going wrong with The Beatles or Van Morrison.

CM: Do you have a new year’s ritual? Something you do every January? Like clean out your closets or go on a cleanse?

RR: I start journaling about new adventures I’m planning for the year. Sailboating in Croatia, skiing in Québec, riding motorcycles throughout the East Coast, and visiting London and family in France. We moved to Austin last year and relocated our corporate office [from Dallas], so now that things are getting settled, my husband and I are itching to explore the world again.

Oh, and I want to host a Halloween party in our new Austin home too!

CM: What’s your favorite healthy meal?

RR: We frequent Elizabeth Street Cafe in Austin, and I love having pho with chicken breast and grilled lemongrass skewers. I load it up with cilantro and mint leaves and bean sprouts and jalapeño. To keep it kind of low carb, I only have them add in a small amount of the flat rice noodles.

CM: What’s your favorite splurge meal?

RR: All things pizza, but Gino’s East is probably my favorite. The deep-dish pizza with sausage is incredible.

CM: Any other advice you’d like to dispense to inspire others this January?

RR: When it comes to achieving goals, accountability is everything. I met a girl at CrossFit, and we both said we wanted to start running outside of our regular workouts. So we created a private message on Facebook, and we report in daily about how we are doing.

We’ve now looped in a few other people, and we all give daily encouragement to one another. Find a partner who shares your same goals, and commit to each other to stay on track.