Q&A with celebrity esthetician and trusted skincare expert
What inspired you to become an esthetician?
I was inspired by my grandmother, a hairstylist who was an exceptional woman and worked tirelessly in her own beauty salon. I observed how a woman would come into her salon feeling down and would leave glowing— both inside and out. I always knew the beauty business was my calling. However, I discovered in my teen years that skincare was my passion. It led to me becoming an esthetician at age 19 and opening my first skincare salon at age 26 with a partner. Eventually, I moved to Dallas to create Renée Rouleau Skincare at age 26, which I’ve had for almost 24 years.
What is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
Always keep learning. Never stop. Don’t ever think you know it all. My teacher at esthetics school told me that I asked more questions than any student she had ever had, but this was because of my deep desire for learning, and this continues to this day.
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When was the turning point in your career? When did you consider yourself a success, and how do you define success?
To me, success is simple: Doing what I love with people I love, making an impact, being compensated appropriately, and having time for other passions. The turning point in my career was when I started to get celebrity clients who would talk about me and my skincare line to the media. We got a lot of press from this, and it really put me on the map. For any esthetician, nothing feels better than getting your work shouted from the rooftops for the world to hear.
What is your skincare philosophy?
From the beginning of my career as an esthetician, 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 and oily. So I began formulating my own exclusive high-performance products based on nine skin types to ensure my clients achieved the results they desired. My website offers a Skin Type Quiz so people can get a perfect match along with a curated routine to give the best results.
Can you explain the process of your personalized skin consultations? What are three crucial questions that every esthetician should ask the first time they meet their client?
I spend a lot of time asking a lot of questions. I consider myself a skin detective. While I ask for more than three questions, the main goal is to really understand what changes they want to see with their skin, the current state of their skin, and the history of what has worked and what hasn’t.
1 What are your top three skin concerns in order of priority?
2 When I look at your skin today, is this a typical skin day for you or is there anything out of the ordinary?
3 What have you tried doing for your skin up until now? What has helped, what hasn’t?
Based on their answers, I deliver my opinion and come up with a plan that meets their goals and budget.
Any secret tricks you use in the treatment room?
I would say that I get really clear on the client’s expectation of the treatment they will receive. For example, some people come for relaxation while others want a lot of time spent on extractions. So, my trick is to consult with them to ensure they leave feeling like they got what they came for.
How have you built a strong and repeat client base over the years? I make my clients’ lives easier by giving them personalized attention. I don’t just focus on the treatment we’re doing when they are in my chair but how they are going to keep up with the results once they are out the door and into their everyday life.
I do a lot of check-ins throughout the year to see what kind of changes they have going on in their life that could affect their skin so that I can modify their routine as needed. I also send them blog posts that I know they will enjoy so they can continue to learn from me even when we are not together.
How has creating a blog helped your career? What advice would you give to estheticians who are trying to find their voice and establish a unique brand in the world of social media or blogging?
The blog is my true labor of love. It is everything I know about skin written down in words for everyone to learn from. Ultimately, the blog has made me a very trusted esthetician, and at the end of the day, trust is everything.
My best advice is to come from a place of serving others through education first and foremost. Don’t just be a salesperson trying to sell them products as this will be a turn-off, and you’ll lose trust with your clients.
What have been the biggest challenges of opening your skincare business? How do you balance having a product line, owning a spa, and still being a service provider?
I ran a spa for 23 years and recently closed it down allowing me to give 100% of my energy to the product line and educating consumers through my growing blog, social media channels, speaking engagements, and any other opportunity that allows me to continue to do what I love-educate consumers on how to achieve their best skin.
When I had the spa, keeping my estheticians’ schedules busy was something that always was an area of focus. They relied on my marketing efforts to stay booked. Unlike getting your grey roots colored or getting a manicure, professional skincare treatments aren’t seen as a necessity—especially if someone doesn’t really have any major skin issues. So, it’s continual education on getting clients to see the importance of coming in regularly.
As for balancing all of the responsibilities, I had to learn early on to delegate. Ultimately, there are only so many hours in a day, and certain areas of the business can get neglected. If any area wasn’t getting a lot of attention, it would suffer, so I would make sure to find someone on my team to pick up where I left off.
How do you find time for yourself? What do you like to do in your free time?
In the early years when I was building my company, it was a 7-day a week job, so I didn’t take much time for myself. Fast forward to now, I have a great team around me that has taken a lot of responsibilities off of my plate so I can enjoy the fruits of my labor.
I absolutely love working out, and my health is a huge priority. I love riding my motorcycle and hanging out with friends and listening to live music.
I also travel a lot—both for business and pleasure.
You said that you would love for your business to be recognized as the best company to work for, what do you think makes a good workplace environment and builds morale in your employees? I have gotten many accolades during my career, but to get recognition as the best company to work for is truly a dream of mine. We have five core values in our company that we use when we hire, manage our team, and as a decision-making tool. Everyone on our team has bought into these values along with my vision, and this is regularly communicated. So, we’re all rowing in the same direction, and it allows for less conflict and encourages a healthy team.
You believe that every esthetician should have a mentor. What qualities do you think make a great mentor and mentee? Who has been your greatest mentor throughout your career?
A mentor has to be in a place in their life where they can be giving of their time to bring value. A mentee has to be open-minded to new ways of thinking. My best mentor is a fellow esthetician named Elizabeth Kosky. She took me under her wing when I was 19 and shared everything she knew about skin and was incredibly generous with her time. After 30 years of knowing her, I still lean on her now.
Current favorite skincare trend and your least favorite skincare trend: I love chemical peels and think that they can make such positive change in the skin—especially for improving acne. My least favorite trend is mixing ingredients found in your kitchen to use on your skin. (I have a whole blog post talking about why I dislike at-home skincare recipes.)
Your favorite treatment to perform on your clients:
I always include both physical and chemical exfoliation along with ultrasound to enhance product penetration, and I usually do several masks.
Three superhero skincare ingredients:
Retinol, salicylic acid, and vitamin C (specifically tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate).
Renée Rouleau has dedicated 30+ years to the art of skin perfection. 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. This makes her the go-to expert for many of today’s most skin enviable personalities including Demi Lovato, Lili Reinhart and Madelaine Petsch. She is also on the advisory board for Woman @ Austin, an organization that is on a mission to advance women entrepreneurs striving to grow their companies. For additional information on Renée Rouleau or Renée Rouleau Skin Care, visit www.RenéeRouleau.com.