Snob Essentials

French Skincare Investigation by Renée Rouleau: PART DEUX


I recently returned from a trip to Europe where I attended Paris Beauty Week in France, an amazing trade show featuring new innovations in skin care ingredients and technology – a true playground for this esthetician and skin care expert! In addition, I met with clients to consult about their skin, indulged in luxurious French skincare and visited my husband’s family.

Whenever I am there, I spend a lot of time talking with my French colleagues, clients, friends and family to understand their philosophy about skin. On this recent trip, I came away with some new observations which is an update to my previous post on Beauty Snob. Read: French Skin Care Investigation by Renée Rouleau

– Many French women will only cleanse their skin once a day – instead of twice. The French are all about keeping moisture in the skin and many estheticians will tell their clients that it’s not necessary to cleanse the face in the morning since you don’t want to wash away your previous night skin treatments.

Personally, I don’t believe in this philosophy because as long as you’re not washing your face with something harsh, you won’t strip the skin of its moisture. Secondly, in order to get the best performance from your daytime antioxidant serums and sunscreen, you need a clean canvas for the products to work their best. And lastly, your skin produces sebum (oil) while you sleep, and oil breeds bacteria resulting in breakouts, which are never a good thing.

Many of the young French women I have spoken with are starting to feel that maybe twice a day cleansing would be more beneficial for their skin, despite what they have always been taught. (Note: I believe the French women are far more diligent than American women about washing their face at night.)

– The French focus is predominately about moisturizing – and less about exfoliation. When I get facials in France, there is very little exfoliation included, because many French estheticians don’t believe in it as much American estheticians do. For home care, the French are all about serums, masks, eye creams and moisturizers, and often a facial scrub is an afterthought.

Acid serums are hard to come by in France, whereas they are practically in every U.S. product these days–which is not necessarily good thing. But many French women read American magazines and they see how much attention we put on exfoliation, particularly with professional chemical peels and at-home peels. Especially for those with aging, sun damage, brown spots, lines and wrinkles, clogged pores or blemishes – they realize using a facial scrub once a week is not enough to give them the best results for their skin. Without a doubt, regular use of exfoliants can transform your skin. I believe in a balance when it comes to exfoliation–not too much but definitely not too little.

– French women encourage the concept of “aging gracefully.” Unlike many Americans who will fight aging every step of the way, French women have a confidence about their appearance and don’t go to extremes to look younger. They simply want to look their best but they work with what they have. I love this about them. At the trade show, I didn’t see anyone there, both from exhibitors and attendees, that looked like they had any cosmetic procedures. At U.S. skin care trade shows, you’ll definitely see people looking pulled too tight, with big lips and frozen faces.

– Wearing sunscreen daily is not always encouraged – unlike in the United States. A French esthetician told me “You Americans are into that sunscreen thing.” And in every facial I have ever had in France, including the ones I had on this recent visit, sunscreen has never been applied to my skin at the conclusion of the facial, even when it’s in the middle of the day and the sun is shining. Even at the trade show, I saw very few sunscreens being promoted. My French clients have heard from both me and American magazines that sunscreen should be worn daily and they are starting to adopt this habit. While French skincare products certainly include sunscreens, they just aren’t promoted very much by many professionals. It’s a shame considering the #1 reason for premature aging is from daily UV exposure. Sunscreen should be worn 365 days a year, rain or shine, and inside and out since damaging rays can come through windows in your home or office.

Without a doubt, the French have been pioneers for facials and the importance of caring for your skin, far earlier than Americans ever were. Being an esthetician in France is a popular and well-respected industry and facial salons are abundant, more so than in the United States. I have learned a lot of great techniques from my French colleagues and I certainly feel many of their philosophies about skin are very valid. In fact, I’m launching some new skin care services and products in 2012 which are all French-inspired. Stay tuned!

What I also know is that our approaches to skin care can be quite different and each person needs to decide what is best for them based on the results they want to achieve. At the end of the day, what’s important is how you feel about your skin when you look in the mirror. And my wish for you is healthy, glowing and beautiful skin – no matter which philosophy you may subscribe to.

Renée Rouleau is a skin care expert & celebrity esthetician who believes there’s more to skin than the one-size-fits-all approach. Her exclusive skin care line is based on nine unique skin types, rather than the standard–dry, normal and oily. Her skin care products, Dallas skin care spas and her LA pop-up spa attract a celebrity clientele which includes Demi Lovato, Jessica Simpson, Amber Heard and Katie Cassidy. Visit for more information.


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