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We spoke to Isabelle Villeneuve from Laboratoire Dr. Renaud all about paring down your routine and fixing your skin barrier.
I have to admit, I’m a skincare maximalist. My usual routine has around 9 steps (face wash, toner, essence, serum number one, serum number two, face cream, eye cream, face oil, sunscreen) and that’s just in the morning. The thrill I get from a perfectly moisturized face isn’t cheap, but it starts my day off with a little treat yourself moment which makes even the most tiresome days feel sort of special. You’d have to rip this routine from my cold dead hands. But I’ll admit that Isabelle Villenueve from Laboratoire Dr. Renaud has some good points about minimalist skincare.
Villenueve has been working with Dr. Renaud for 27 years, and she is in charge of innovation at the company, which means she’s the point person for all things new and exciting. The Dr. Renaud brand started in France under the direction of the renowned dermatologist. But the Canadian arm of the brand took off, focusing on science-backed clean-beauty formulations, and is now completely separate from the French Dr. Renaud brand.
Villenueve says that Dr. Renaud has a whole team of research and development scientists that work to “create at-home and professional skincare that focuses on bio-mimicry.” She explains that this means that their products are meant to “stimulate the natural mechanisms of the skin with ingredients that are already in our bodies, like vitamins, enzymes and peptides.” This means the products are absorbed super easily, as they are already part of our skin structure.
Villeneuve said that a paired down routine can actually benefit your skin more than my maximalist approach, and I was hesitant. Surely all the products I use together would give the best results. But, her scientific background (and gorgeous skin) swayed me. When she said that their products provide both “instant gratification” (i.e. instant radiance) and long-term results (healing your skin over time), and aren’t full of harmful additives (like alcohols) I decided to leave my coveted routine behind and use hers for three weeks. Not to toot my own horn (face?) but the results have been great, my skin looks fab and has that fresh-from-a-facial glow.
Villeneuve says this pared-down routine is all you need for healthy skin. She notes that these Dr.Renaud products are meant to be used together with the intention of healing and/or maintaining your skin barrier (that means calming the redness and sensitivity) all while remaining easy to use. Most people aren’t looking for a million extra steps to their busy mornings. Now you don’t have to, and your skin can still glow.
Step one in my skincare overhaul was giving up my morning wash routine. That sounds easy because it is: just rinse with warm water. Villeneuve says while we are sleeping, our skin is “not exposed to pollution and we don’t have a very high production of sebum.” This means that you have nothing to actually cleanse in the morning. Just water (or a toner) will rinse your face off in preparation for the morning’s skincare. Plus, Villeneuve says that “over-washing is one of the main causes of skin-barrier disruption,” and we definitely want to avoid that.
This isn’t my first antioxidant rodeo, so I’ve gone through my fair share of vitamin C serum. Unfortunately a lot of these serums either smell strongly like weird old hot dogs (don’t believe me? see here) or are of such a high formulation that my skin ends up feeling irritated. That’s not the case with this one. It smells pretty normal (maybe a hint of hot dog) and my skin absorbs it really fast. Plus it hasn’t once ignited any sensitive skin flare-ups, instead face is (dare I say…) glowing.
Villeneuve said that a lot of people use too high of a percentage of Vitamin C, and that can be damaging and irritating their skin in the process. Their 10% Vitamin C Serum is gentle enough for sensitive skin while still being effective if your skin is less delicate. With continuous use, Villeneuve says the serum is meant to provide an “anti-inflammatory effect, rejuvenation and a bit of moisture.”
This cream lighter than any other day cream I’ve used in the past. It isn’t greasy at all, and I’m pretty obsessed with how it sets on my skin—it feels super smooth like a hydrating primer. Strangely, it smells like sunscreen but does not offer any sun protection.
Villeneuve says that the Triple Lipid lotion keeps your skin hydrated and supple for 24 hours while also healing it from the inside out with the use of niacinamide. Villeneuve says this cream is a “barrier-booster” and its formulation is not greasy but will keep your skin hydrated even during a dry summer.
I started using eye cream religiously around five years ago. My under eye circles might just be the bane of my existence, and I have yet to find an eye cream that truly fixes that issue (concealer is my angel in this department). However, this eye cream is very hydrating.Villeneuve says this cream is chock full of hyaluronic acid so it does the heavy lifting in terms of smoothing those fine lines and wrinkles. It leaves all my tiny eye wrinkles plumped up so that aforementioned concealer doesn’t set into them. It is also meant to help reduce puffiness and work to firm the under-eye over time.
Like all skincare experts, Villeneuve suggests a high-SPF sunscreen. But, she also mentioned that sunscreen alone can’t protect your skin against harmful UVs. Villeneuve explains that Dr. Renaud’s sunscreen pairs their mineral SPF with antioxidants because they work to neutralize the UV rays that sunscreen alone cannot stop. Which means you have extra protection against hyperpigmentation and faster aging.
This sunscreen is definitely thick in texture, which I don’t mind. This version is also tinted… and only comes in one colour (come on, Doc!). They also offer non-tinted sunscreen.
This cleanser just launched a few weeks ago. It’s made of a unique oil-in-water emulsion which means it’s soap free. The wash has a creamy texture and provides the same results as a double cleanse (aka it removes all my makeup and leaves my skin super soft). I am seriously obsessed with this cleanser: my face never feels dry or tight after using it. Plus, it’s scent-less which is ideal for me since I don’t like any perfumes in my face wash. Villeneuve says that it helps repair the skin barrier because “it contains niacinamide which helps the skin re-synthesize its own lipids (like ceramides).”
The newly launched cream is intended for mature skin. However, I’m hitting the big three-oh this year and can use all the help I can get. Plus, the night cream is a dreamy texture and doesn’t leave my face sticky (I also use it on my hands, because apparently they show your age and mine have seen better days). Villeneuve says this cream “acts as a booster for youthfulness,” which means your skin will produce more youth-molecules like collagen and elastin.
Villeneuve says to use Vitamin C twice a day for optimal effects, so that’s what I do. She also suggests keeping your Vitamin C serum in the fridge as it is heat-sensitive. I don’t do the fridge part, but the Vitamin C two-a-days have been keeping my skin feeling majorly fresh. Maybe I even look younger?
After three weeks of this full-on Dr. Renaud skincare overhaul my skin looks and feels pretty darn glowy. A lot of skincare brands claim they can make your skin glow, and in my opinion that’s a load of marketing lies. This is no get-rich ploy. My skin genuinely looks so good, I’ve stopped wearing foundation. Plus I haven’t had a single breakout since I started (of course, your mileage my vary).
Will I go back to my heathenish ways (aka multi-serums a night and tons of steps)? Well, maybe. I like all my little skincare rituals for the relaxing vibes they add to my day. But for now, I’m enjoying this quick face routine that allows me to get the most results while doing the least.
Disclaimer: Villeneuve suggests speaking to a skincare specialist to find your skin type and hone in on your own concerns before changing your routine completely! Everyone’s skin is different: what works for me, might not work for you.