French Skin Care Investigation By Celebrity Esthetician, Renée Rouleau

Renee getting a facial skincare procedure

Partly due to my French heritage and my French husband’s stories about his mother being an esthetician, I’ve always had an interest in how French women care for their skin. On a recent visit to France, I visited with estheticians while getting facials and talked to many French women, and I have returned to the U.S. with some interesting observations in my quest to decide who has the better approach to skin care—Americans or the French.

Learn more about Renée Rouleau and how she got her start in the skin care industry.

French women rarely alter their natural appearance.

In France, both women and skin care professionals believe that when it comes to skin, you should accept what you’ve been given. Many French women rarely change or highlight their natural hair color except perhaps to cover their gray hair. They rarely opt for plastic surgery and they’ve yet to embrace injectables and fillers the way American women have. In short, French women prefer to celebrate their natural beauty and they prefer to age gracefully…

Unlike my French contemporaries, I’ve found that the American approach to beauty and appearance varies dramatically. While many American women will have a similar philosophy to that of the French, others, in an attempt to look younger, will be the complete opposite and alter their image in whatever way they can.

Beauty tip: When consulting with a cosmetic professional, always look at their skin. Do they look natural? Do you like the way they look? If you do, this might be someone to consider trusting your skin with. People will do on you what they think looks great on them. So if you go to someone to have Botox® and they don’t look natural, there’s a good chance you might not either.

French women get facials often.

The French have both invented and perfected the art of the facial and getting regular monthly facials is part of their culture. There are countless facial salons in France—and French women both believe in facials and love getting them to keep their skin healthy and looking its best. And it’s not uncommon for a French woman to even get facials every week!

In the U.S., while facials are very popular, a woman might only get a facial several times a year.

Read: Ten Reasons To Get A Facial

For many French estheticians, microdermabrasion is a no-no.

Many French estheticians never embraced microdermabrasion technology because it seemed too harsh on the skin and French estheticians are all about being gentle. Even AHA’s (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) aren’t as popular in France as they are here in the U.S.

It’s true that American estheticians are more aggressive with the skin. We love to embrace the newest anti-aging technology, even if it’s not always tried and true–and this is not always a good thing.

French women seldom wear sunscreen—or stay out of the sun.

The concept of staying out of the sun and wearing sunscreen every day hasn’t really caught on with the French. Many French women still love to go to the beach and get a tan, and skiing in France certainly brings on damaging UV rays. Since UV exposure from the sun (even on a cloudy, winter day) is the #1 cause of aging, this isn’t working in their favor.

As a matter of fact, after every facial I’ve ever had in France, NOT ONE esthetician ever put sunscreen on my skin as the final step in the facial. I would never leave my clients fresh, new skin unprotected when they walk out of my door. That would be a complete skin sin. Wearing an SPF moisturizer on the face, neck and chest 365 days a year, rain or shine, inside or out is something I preach to my clients, family, and friends pretty much daily. Check out our best-selling Daily Protection SPF 30 with 7% Zinc Oxide.

French skin is lacking a glow.

Many French women still smoke and of those who don’t, many are exposed second-hand hand smoke in cafés and bars, and by virtue of being around friends or family.

Many French restaurants and clubs have recently started no-smoking policies, so that’s helpful for non-smokers. It’s a fact that smoking starves skin cells of oxygen, which results in dull, sallow, tired-looking skin with an absence of a glow.  Added to this is the genetic makeup of French skin. Like many European complexions (with the exception of the Irish and the Scottish), French skin is thicker so the blood circulates slower which results in tired-looking skin.

It’s my belief that glowing skin is beautiful skin. Something French estheticians don’t seem to focus on that at all. Since the micro-circulation of the skin is compromised due to smoking and genetics, I’d think they’d talk about this more and they don’t. Yes, facials definitely help to get your skin glowing because they increase blood flow and breathe new life into the skin, but French estheticians don’t enforce doing this at home.

By the way, three years ago when I walked into a facial salon in Paris, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The receptionist was smoking! Yes, actually smoking while she greeted me! Wow, you would never find this in the U.S.—thank goodness!

Has your skin lost its glow? Read skin tips to get your skin glowing. Also check out our amazing Glow Enhancing Cream.

French estheticians believe Americans have the most beautiful skin.

I’ve asked many estheticians in France what they observe about American skin versus French skin and hands down, most will say that American skin is more beautiful.  I heard French estheticians say again and again that “Americans have smaller pores, tighter skin with fewer lines and wrinkles, and they don’t go in the sun”.

Which products are right for your skin? See our nine skin types and get products recommended.

Going back to an earlier point, European skin has definite genetic traits; thick, oily, and flaccid (lacking tone), large pores, and under-circulated. Something that’s true of French, Italian, and Greek skin. Genetics do play a part in how your skin will age, but the biggest contributor to the look of your skin is how you take care of it. It’s estimated that 30 percent of how your skin will age is due to genetics, while 70 percent is up to you! So, if your skin is genetically prone to being thick, oily, flaccid, and under-circulated, with the right skin care program (both at home and in-spa) and good skin care habits, you can really make a difference.

Many French women aren’t disciplined when it comes to caring for their skin at home.

I’ve heard French estheticians say this again and again: that French women are extremely dedicated to their monthly facials, but they aren’t very diligent about wearing sunscreen every day, washing their skin before they go to bed, and exfoliating—all necessary steps for healthy, younger-looking skin.

Read: Five Reasons To Wash Your Skin At Night

Facials and skin procedures are all helpful in the quest for healthy, beautiful skin. But what you do to your skin every day at home plays an even bigger part. If you worked out with a personal trainer four times a week but then you ate junk food at home, would your body really be that healthy? No. Using good quality products at home—products that are exclusively formulated for your skin type, and practicing good skin care habits is essential.

And Americans do that so well.

So, “Who does skin care better?”— My answer is Americans.

Hands down, we take better care of our skin.

And I believe it shows.

Read: Six French Beauty Tips

Read: Renée Rouleau Attends Paris Beauty Week

Read: How Do Renée Rouleau Products Compare To Other Skin Care Lines?

Which skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take the Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

Need expert advice from a licensed esthetician? Schedule a virtual consultation to get customized advice in person, over the phone or online via Skype or FaceTime.

For more expert advice check out the blog. Also sign up for our skin tip e-newsletter, follow Renée Rouleau on Twitter and Instagram and join the discussion on our Facebook page. You’ll be your own skin care expert in no time. Get the #ReneeRouleauGlow!

Disclaimer: Content found on and, including text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.


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  1. after all the hype of french beauty, french aesthetics, french beauty products, americans do it better? gimme a break! what a bunch of crap this is. i dont believe americans do it better at all and i am american! if anyone really knows how to take care of their skin naturally, how to eat healthily and look radiant for as long as possible its most definitely the south americans… without a doubt.

    Posted By: ana sofia  | 

  2. I’m a French beautican skincare therapist trained in france.
    I’m the owner of my beauty salon

    I’m absolutely professionnal and extremely diligent with skin of my clients.

    Come into my Salon to know the real french “savoir faire”.

    Posted By: Julie  | 

  3. Some of what you say is true but I am a skincare therapist trained in both the uk and France and have been working with French dermatologists for 25 years. The thing that I know of my friends is they are religious with home care and treatments monthly or weekly. Circulation and digestion is how they work on skin as well as keeping the top layers of the skin intact as opposed to americans who want to break it down with retin A and other skin thinners ( or shall we say skin agers).
    The training I have received is all about manual micro-circulation and detox through lymph work.

    I like your dedication to French skincare….

    Posted By: Jill jansen  | 

  4. I really enjoyed reading this artcile. I am currently an esthetician student and dreaming about working in a Paris Spa as an esthetician but reading your article has made me rethink this. Thank you for this insight.

    Posted By: Diana  | 

  5. Thanks Renee! I read all of your blogs and find them all so helpful that I pass them on to my friends and family. Like the comment above me, I agree that this blog makes me want to be even more dedicated to a great skin-care regime with as many of your products as I can afford on my college student budget! I have learned so much thanks to you! You encourage me to wean myself off of tanning (both in the sun and in tanning beds) because I realize how awful it is for me. It’s hard to do living in Southern California but I’m trying my best! Thank you!!

    Posted By: Christina  | 

  6. What a revealing post! Given the focus placed on facials, and the expense of it all, one would think that French women maintain good skin care practices at home as well. Makes me even MORE dedicated to my at-home care.

    Posted By: Marcy  | 

  7. Fascinating look inside French Culture- that’s both hysterical & horrifying about the woman smoking in the spa!

    Posted By: PeaceLoveLipgloss  | 


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