On the outside looking in, estheticians have it pretty good: They don't necessarily have to book monthly facials or spend a ton on skincare products, because more often than not, they can DIY their own treatments or just pick a potion from their own personal collections. That skill and access didn't just happen overnight, though: Aside from schooling and studying for licensing exams, these pros are just like everyone else when it comes to finding a routine that works for them. It takes trial, error, and a strong knowledge of active ingredients. So you'd better believe that esthetician-recommended skincare products are the best of the best... especially when they come from the pros' own lines.
Take Renée Rouleau, for example. Although her eponymous line contains dozens of products to address nine different skin types, her own routine is a simple six-step one that has all of the basics: cleanser, toner, serum, and SPF. Shani Darden, who works with Chrissy Teigen, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Jessica Alba among others, is also a stickler for a pared-down night routine, and likes to exfoliate with glycolic, salicylic, malic, lactic, and citric acids twice a week. In fact, all of the estheticians I talked to have pretty straightforward routines... and with their glowing, flawless complexions, I should probably rethink my own complicated combination of products.
Ahead, see how Rouleau, Darden, and Joanna Vargas wash their faces.
"I wash my face with the Moisture Protecting Cleanser which is a non-drying, low-foaming, sulfate-free gel," Rouleau tells TZR. "Some people feel as though cleansing in the morning isn’t necessary since you just washed the night before and nothing [other than your nighttime products] are on your face. I believe cleansing in the morning is very important because when you wash your skin in the morning, you’re removing toxins and sebum that were produced while you sleep along with your nighttime products so that your daytime products — particularly sunscreen moisturizer — can get into the skin better.
"Within 60 seconds of washing, I use a toner. I do it within 60 seconds to avoid moisture evaporation from occurring. While toners are misunderstood, I believe they are a very important part of a skin routine because, when left damp on the skin, they give your skin a drink of moisture before applying serum or moisturizer," she says.
The third step in Rouleau's routine involves using Vitamin C&E Treatment. "Everyone knows of their importance, but I prefer the esters of vitamin C versus acid forms since my skin is sensitive," she explains. "Esters, like tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, are oil-soluble forms and use liposomal delivery systems. Oil-soluble forms of vitamin C are generally retained longer in the epidermal layers providing prolonged benefits while staying stable and not causing sensitivity."
And step four is serum. "I always rotate nights between retinol Advanced Resurfacing Serum an acid serum Pore + Wrinkle Perfecting Serum and a peptide serum Firm + Repair Overnight Serum. Variety is the spice of life, and the skin appreciates the signals it receives from using different active ingredients."
The last two steps in Rouleau's morning routine involves sealing in the toner and serum with a moisturizer, and applying an eye cream to finish.
"At night, I cleanse with a Daily Cleansing Serum," Darden says. "After gently drying my skin, I apply the Texture Reform, which is my gentle retinyl palmitate serum. For an added boost of moisture, I like to use a hyaluronic acid serum like Dr. Nigma’s Serum No 1. Hyaluronic Acid, which helps to attract moisture and plump up your skin.
"Next up is eye cream. My favorite is the iS Clinical Youth Eye Complex, since it has peptides and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and brighten. I finish my routine with the Daily Oil-Free Moisturizer, which provides lightweight hydration with natural extracts and light humectants. Then twice a week, I exfoliate with the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads."
"The Daily Serum from my line continues to be my hero product. It's a green juice for the skin — the greens oxygenate, de-puff and increase circulation while the hyaluronic acid hydrates without clogging the pores.
"I never go to bed without washing my face! I use my Vitamin C Face Wash, which is a foaming exfoliating cleanser. I take my makeup off with that as well because I hate fussing with tons of products.
"I follow with my Daily Serum — the skin needs greens, and my formula is packed with vital greens for the skin. I apply it all over, even to the eye area. It makes the skin hydrated and lightens and brightens my face for morning. If I have a big event the next day, I will sometimes go to sleep with my Exfoliating Mask on my face. It really brightens and exfoliates for a nice clean palette in the morning for makeup!"