A Personal Trainer For Skin? We Tried It

Wendy Rodewald
Renee Rouleau

Celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau

Nobody ever taught me how to take care of my skin. The dermatologists I saw as a teenager with acne were happy to write me a prescription, but never explained how I should be washing or moisturizing my face. I chose products by reading magazines and packages in the beauty aisle. It wasn’t until I started writing about skin care as part of my job that I even knew what exfoliation was or why I should be doing it (and not overdoing it). I know I’m not alone in this. Even as a beauty editor with access to the smartest experts and newest products, I find the prospect of cobbling together a skincare routine totally confusing.

Know why celebrities have such great skin? Because, just like they have personal trainers and stylists and makeup artists on call, they have someone to figure all of this out for them. Someone like Renée Rouleau. The Dallas, Texas-based esthetician and skin care expert tends to the glowing complexions of Demi Lovato and Sofia Vergara, but she also offers her personalized My Skin Prescription service to the non-famous. For $250 ($100-$150 with one of her licensed estheticians; half of the amount is redeemable in product), Rouleau will coach you either in person or over Skype or phone to address your top skin concerns, offer nutritional recommendations, evaluate your current skin care products and provide a treatment plan.

When I saw Rouleau recently for a facial and skin consultation, some of her recommendations actually surprised me (know-it-all beauty writer that I am). For instance, I thought I was being consistent by following the same retinol-before-bed regimen every night, but she recommended I try a two-nights-on, one-night-off routine incorporating other treatments, too. She likened a skin care routine to a fitness plan: You wouldn’t just run every single day. You’d incorporate a couple days of weight training, or maybe a day of yoga, so your body is getting a good mix of workouts. The same idea goes for your face.

Another surprise: Rouleau assigned me one of her nine skin types that was definitely not the one I would have chosen for myself. I would have said my skin is oily, but my aforementioned retinol regimen meant I should actually be using products for the Normal/Sensitive/Red skin type. As it turns out, some of the staples in my current routine were too harsh.

I’m usually always trying new creams and mixing up my routine, but for the first time I’m using products handpicked for me from a single line (Rouleau’s own) — and the difference shows. My skin is smoother, less red and splotchy, and my complexion really is glowing (I’m guessing that glow is a direct result of the amazing Vitamin C & E Treatment, $62.50, reneerouleau.com). The best part? For once, I don’t have to wonder if I could be doing something better.

Read more: How Often Should You Switch Up Your Skincare?