REVIEW: Celebrity Esthetician, Renée Rouleau Gets A Facial In France

Renee Rouleau getting a facial

Whenever I travel to France to visit my husband’s family, I always make a point of researching skin care while I’m there. I get facials, talk with estheticians, attend trade shows and visit pharmacies where an abundance of French skin care lines are sold. I’ve long been fascinated with learning how the French care for their skin because it’s part of my heritage (my father’s side of the family is French Canadian), they practically invented the facial and it’s such a big part of their beauty culture. There is no shortage of facial salons (called Institut de Beauté) and French girls begin getting facials at a young age.

So what’s it like for me, an esthetician with 25 years of hands-on experience, to have a facial from someone else? Well, on my most recent visit, I had a facial at a renowned skin institute. I have read about this place for years as giving one of the top facials in Paris so I was excited to go and experience it for myself. One of the things I had heard about their technique is a massage they do inside your mouth. They claim that by working on all joints of the face (inside and out), the lifting effect of a facelift is given.

When I emailed to inquire about an appointment, I was surprised at the price of the treatments. An appointment with the owner is the price is 1300 euros (about $1700 USD). With her first assistant, it’s 690 euros (about $900 USD) and with the second assistant, the cost is 490 euros (about $640 USD). I’ve had many facials in France but never at this high price. I decided that $640 was more than plenty to pay for a facial so I scheduled with the second esthetician. At that price, my expectations were very high. After all, I charge $450 for a skin treatment when and that’s considered high by U.S. standards. My estheticians are significantly lower. One nice part about this Paris facial salon is that no matter who you have your appointment with, it’s a two hour facial, which is longer than most.

Whenever I have a facial with someone else, I usually never tell them that I’m an esthetician. Not because it’s a big secret, estheticians get facials from other estheticians all the time, but simply because I want to truly be just a regular client and not get into a conversation about work.

Read: How To Find A Reputable Esthetician Or Skin Care Professional In Your Area

My esthetician was very nice. She spoke a little English and I speak some French so we were able to communicate fairly well. I had filled out a facial intake form with details about my skin and she started the treatment by reviewing them with me briefly and asked clarifying questions. She was surprised I was age 44 and told me I looked 35. Yay! The treatment itself was very basic. It included cleansing and exfoliating with an electric rotating facial brush. The brushes are an older technique based on physical exfoliation that I personally haven’t used in over 20 years, but are still commonly used in France. Most of the American facials switched over a long time ago to using chemical exfoliants (light enzyme and acid peels), microdermabrasion, and ultrasonic exfoliation as these give better results than simply just rubbing a brush over the skin.

Extractions were performed to clean out my pores (no steam was used beforehand) which my skin always needs to control bumps and blackheads. French estheticians tend to be pretty aggressive with extractions which I appreciate but some American estheticians won’t even do them anymore. Many American estheticians feel like exfoliants (peels) and machines can clear out the pores without having to squeeze at the skin but I don’t personally agree with this philosophy. I am a believer that as long as the skin is properly softened up beforehand to avoid red marks, manual extractions is the most effective way to remove clogged pores.

Read: Professional Extractions That Won’t Scar Your Skin

The facial massage was long and thorough–about 30 minutes. French estheticians really believe in performing a long and extensive massage to increase blood flow to bring new nutrients to the skin. Many French men and women smoke and even if they don’t, they are exposed to tremendous amounts of second-hand smoke, so increasing circulation through massage is helpful to get the skin glowing. She massaged my lips a lot which was different, but nice. I never received the massage inside my mouth which they are known for. When I filled out the intake form, they had asked if I had dental surgery and I wrote that I recently had a root canal so I’m assuming this is why she didn’t do it, although I wouldn’t think this would matter. I never asked her why she didn’t do it and truthfully, I’m not sure if I really missed out on anything miraculous but who knows.

The facial concluded with a cream-based mask that was brushed on my face and neck and a tingly lip mask was applied. I loved the idea of applying a lip mask as that is part of the face. I might just incorporate that into our facials! After 15 minutes, everything was removed with a hot towel and moisturizer was applied. She told me to get changed and to meet her out front.

When I was changing, I observed my skin in the mirror and it looked pretty and glowy and felt nice. However, she did break one of my capillaries under my eye. I guess she got too close to the skin under my eye when she did extractions, but thankfully it disappeared a few days later. I never, and teach my estheticians the same, to not extract in that thin eye area.

I went out front and she proceeded to talk to me about products to use at home. I had told her that I use an acid serum (BHA Clarifying Serum) twice a week and on alternate nights I use a product with retinol (Advanced Resurfacing Serum). She told me that those were too harsh for my skin and to completely stop using them. (Wait, she said I looked ten years younger for my age, so isn’t what I’m doing working?) The French believe in minimal exfoliation and it’s usually with traditional facial scrubs so this is the philosophy she promotes. She told me “Americans can be excessive with their skin care routine” and that I should be gentler and keep it simple.

Sunscreen was never recommended. No surprise here. Wearing sunscreen daily is something I have never heard French estheticians promote as they don’t practice it themselves. Sunscreen is reserved for visits to the beach. One esthetician told me years back “You Americans are into that sunscreen thing.”So all in all, my facial was average. Truthfully, it’s hard to dazzle me as I have so much experience but I try to keep open-minded. But there just wasn’t much to it. It was a traditional facial (and a very expensive one) with no bells and whistles but my skin did look good and needed the attention after a nine hour airplane flight, so I was pleased about that.

I have talked a lot about French skin care on my blog and when I’m in the hands of a French esthetician, I’m reminded of how the American approach to skin care is better, at least in my opinion. I do believe however, that how they live and how they eat is so much better than in the U.S. and it may be one of the reasons why I rarely see French teens or adults with acne.

Every esthetician, no matter where they live, has their own personal beliefs about how the skin should be cared for and all estheticians are sincere in their quest to help others have beautiful and healthy-looking skin. It’s usually the reason they got into the skin care profession in the first place.

If you’re an esthetician, I highly encourage you to schedule a facial elsewhere. Put yourself in the shoes of being a client as there is always something to learn, and learning means growing.

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  1. Ok have been trying to use good products on my skin since my mid twenties. I was always interested in the newest and best advances in skincare. I’m 63 years old and my skin is in very good condition, always trying to stay out of the sun, clean my face with good products as well as trying to use good products, however recently I was recommended a vitamin c serum for use in the morning followed by sunscreen and moisturizer. At night I wash it using a good oil followed by retinol serum and a different moisturizer. The reason why I’m writing you is because I can’t get a straight answer about the product even from the company which concerns me. The product came highly recommended like I said. Its called Dermadoctor Kakadu vitamin C serum with Ferulic Acid and Vitamin E. The product is a serum, but has golden color to it, not light yellow, and not orange but the best way I can describe it is golden. When Ice called the company and another skincare store they told me that because of the fruit it’s made out of, it should look like that. In my mind I tend to disagree because although it doesn’t smell it’s sticky and I don’t agree that it should look like that, I tend to think it’s either been on the shelf under bright lights too long and it’s oxidizing. I don’t want to hurt my skin after taking good care of it for so many years. Have you ever heard of this product because it is carried in the top beauty stores as well as prestigious department stores. Please help me as my mother who has passed did have skin cancer which was the precise reason why I took such good care of mine. I’m sorry for the prolonged post, but I’m very concerned. Thank you, PK

    Posted By: Penni Kalliche  | 

    • I really can’t speak for other products but you need to go with what your gut is telling you. Read this post.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

  2. Hi Lora,
    Sorry im just getting back to you. I have not been on for a while. Send me your email and I will give you the info with pleasure.

    Posted By: RTG  | 

  3. I also had a similar experience going to one of the major celebrity estheticians in NYC. $500 later, 1/2 the time out of the room and stories about how the celebrities love her and I wanted to just laugh in her face. I fell into the hype, but at least my self-esteem as an esthetician was back where it should be with my $100 facial

    Posted By: Lora  | 

  4. I also think I know where you went for your facial. I am a New Yorker living between my city of birth and Paris since the mid 1980′s and in all that time I have only had one facial in Paris. I have not found anyone to compare to the lady in New York who I have been with for 20 years. She is from Poland and trained in the Eastern European style and I have been following her advice to the letter since I was in my 30′s and I am now 54. My skin is pretty flawless.

    The facial that I had here was decent but no wow factor. And I feel the same about nails. The corner nail place in New York is much much better. I do find that body treatments over here are amazing with real results and I have those regularly.

    One more thing. I also bought products from that facialist that I think you went to and your products are so much better. I hope to have a facial with you personally one day.

    Posted By: RTG  | 

    • RTG would you be willing to share her name? I love in NYC and used to have a polish esthetician I LOVED but she moved back to Poland, sadly. Still looking for a new one…

      Posted By: Anna  | 

  5. I believe I know where you went Renee. I have some of her products which I really like, but I don’t think I will ever want to pay that much for a facial. I’m sure there are many talented facialists who do a great job at a fraction of the price.

    Thank you again for a wonderful post. You have again, persuaded me that the American approach to skincare is much more effective and better.

    Posted By: Panglu  | 


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