Photo by Lululove Photography NOLA
Family Life, Parenting

Renée Lapino

Aside from being a celebrity facialist, superstar mom, and Starbucks aficionado, Renée Lapino, above all, is keeping it real when it comes to sharing her story and the silly antics she gets into with her “mini-me,” Ophelia. As a born-and-raised New Orleanian, she hadn’t planned on moving back home from London, England until after discovering she was pregnant. Ophelia was born in London (hello eternal bragging rights!) but Renée knew she wanted to raise her daughter in the same streets she grew up in. Read on to discover more about her jet-setting journey and how she juggles contemporary caregiving in New Orleans. 


What inspired you to pursue your career?

RENÉE: I had really reactive skin when I was younger. If I used any new product, I would get breakouts. I went into bridal modeling in my late teens, and when you have new makeup artists using heavy makeup, you don’t really have a say over what they put on your skin. So I would break out all the time. I started getting facials once a week to keep it cleaned out and keep it as smooth as possible. I was going to school to be a child therapist at Texas Women’s, and my sister passed away. I didn’t know what I was going to do, and I took a leave of absence from school.  I was telling my facialist— who I was still seeing every week— “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”  She said, “Well, Renée, why don’t you do this?” So that’s how it started; my facialist said, “You should do this.”  And I was like, okay, then I’ll do that.

What do you love most about your job?

RENÉE: When you change somebody’s skin, you change their life. If somebody has really bad acne, or they have really bad or even just moderate pigmentation, they don’t feel confident getting out of bed and leaving without makeup. During the pandemic when I couldn’t treat, I didn’t realize how much value I took from that. You develop such a strong relationship with your patients and you really do impact their feeling of well-being and even their appearance of well-being. And then I get messages from all my patients— especially in London— that say, “Oh my God, I need you! I can’t see anybody else!” So yeah, that’s probably what I love the most.

What are your top skincare tips?

RENÉE: The main thing that I always have to debunk is that people will tell me, “Oh, well, I don’t need to cleanse [my face] morning and night,” or “Oh, in the morning I just rinse my face with water.” Every time you cleanse your skin, you’re removing the dead skin cells. If you don’t want to wash your face every morning, maybe you don’t get pimples, but you’re slowing down your collagen production and your new healthy cell production by doing that. So I tell everyone to wash morning and night with an oil-based cleanser. Oil-based cleansers remove dirt, debris, and oil from our skin, and they also help to hydrate our skin. Now, anyone over the age of 16, I’ll tell to use an oil-based cleanser for at least one of their cleansers. It’s also going to remove all your makeup, and if you use the right oil-based cleanser, it’s going to deep clean any congestion. When it comes to skincare, less is more. You need to use professionally-prescribed products. Don’t just go to Sephora and buy whatever they tell you; they’re not professionals, they’re just salespeople. You want to go to a professional. We’re passionate about what we do, which is helping people with their skin. My most important tip is that there’s only so much you can do to the surface of your skin if you aren’t taking supplements. Liquid collagen is the most important thing you can take because your whole body is made out of collagen. By taking a collagen supplement, that’s where you’re actually going to feel a difference overall, and it allows your body to use that energy for your face. It doesn’t translate to: drink this, your face will look good. It translates to: drink this, your body’s going to function as best it can, which means your face will also look better.  

What are some joys and challenges of being a mom?

RENÉE: I would say that every day is joy after joy. This child has just changed my whole life. She wakes up, and she has a running commentary about everything we’re doing; she asks questions; she’s very opinionated about all of it; you never know what she’s going to tell you; and she doesn’t want to do everything the same every day. It’s also challenging in a sense that I don’t think I’ve taken a bath by myself in a year, and it’s really hard to prepare food when a tiny person has to sit on the counter, sit on my hip, get down, climb up, run in the other room saying, “Mommy come with me outside!” The lack of showering alone and sleeping for more than four hours straight or going literally anywhere quickly, that’s probably the challenge: there’s this whole other person now. 

Photo by Lululove Photography NOLA

What is your and Ophelia’s favorite thing to do together?

RENÉE: We are at City Park a lot. Sometimes we ride— well, we don’t ride our bikes, I ride my bike. She hangs out on the back of it—  we’ll ride our bikes over there. We’ll go to Cafe Du Monde. The whole Children’s Museum knows us. They really know all of our names, and we probably go there at least twice a week. Storyland is really cool. She’s finally tall enough to do some of the Carousel Gardens. She’s very, very active, and it’s just a beautiful space. Even NOMA is super friendly, and they don’t care— especially when it’s hot out— that she’s running down the hall cracking up laughing. Because we’re going during the week, there’s not that many people, so I think City Park is probably our favorite. There’s just so many options, it’s so much fun, and you get to see alligators!

How would you describe your parenting style?

RENÉE: I would say officially, and because I went to school for this, it’s a mixture of authoritative and gentle. You can’t be that authoritative with [two-year-olds] because they can’t comprehend that. So if I’m like, “If we don’t leave the Children’s Museum right now, we can’t go somewhere later because you’ll be too tired. She’s like, what?” And they apparently don’t even really understand time yet. So it’s a lot of redirects and constant activities. I always have activities planned. If that doesn’t work, snacks are great. It’s gentle, but not permissive.

How are you and your child similar and different?

RENÉE: We’re very similar. My parents accidentally call her Renée all the time. We’re both extroverted introverts, so we love to go out and be social, but we need our time at home. I asked my partner, “How are we different?” He said, “Your only difference is in name and height.” And so I guess we are very similar. We probably butt heads because of it. But also, if she wants to go play in the rain, I’m like, why not? Let’s go play in the rain and we’ll get soaking wet, and she’ll be worn out and then whatever. So we just kind of do what we want. When you only have one child, you’re super involved in everything they do. But they also are like, “You are the end-all, be-all, and what that I should emulate.” So it’s really funny to see her with her baby dolls because everybody that sees her will be like, “She’s just a miniature Renée.”

How do you make time to relax?

RENÉE: It’s become a little more tricky now that I’m about to start working again, and I’m opening this new clinic location in Covington actually. So I’ve been kind of struggling with, how do I relax?  About once a week, I go do something that’s just for me. Whether it’s an appointment at Dry Bar, or I go get my nails done, or I go have drinks with my friends, it’s something that I do that’s not with him, and it’s not with her; it’s just for me, and it’s nice. It kind of lets me feel like a person and not just a mom.

How has parenthood changed you?

RENÉE: I’m a lot more patient than I used to be. One day I realized I had on mismatched shoes, and normally I would have been like, “I need to go home.”  But I thought, “All right. Well, I have mismatched shoes, and if anybody cares about me enough that they care about my mismatched shoes, good for them.” Also, now I work out more for strength and energy than I do for my bikini body, which my child kind of trashed. So, you know, what are you gonna do?  Being pregnant at 40 is hard, so I would say it’s just made me a lot more patient, a lot more chill, and just go with the flow.

Any advice for other parents?

RENÉE: I am not an expert, but I would say that my personal philosophy is to remember that she’s only two, and she doesn’t know what she’s doing. She doesn’t know that throwing rocks at my car means I’m going to need a paint job on my car, and it’s going to be thousands of dollars. She doesn’t know that running through the house with ketchup on her hands, shrieking, laughing, is terrifying for me. Just remember that they’re only little, and they don’t understand. As much as you want to have nice stuff, it is just stuff. Realize that they’re only little once. I’m fortunate that I’m not planning on having any more [children] so I’m kind of like, “Okay, once we’re through this stage, we’re through this stage, and we’re done.

Quick Q’s

  1. Guilty pleasure?……………………………………………..Starbucks drive-thru
  2. Girls night out or alone time at home?……………………… 50/50; I need both
  3. Favorite girls night out?……………………Jolie and The Columns
  4. Favorite NOLA hangout?………………………Hotel Monteleone Carousel Bar
  5. Favorite London hangout?…………………………………………Swift SOHO
  6. Favorite travel destinations?…….Barcelona, the Caribbean, Greece, Croatia, Istanbul; It just depends
  7. I’m always laughing at……………………………………………………..My child
  8. The first thing I do when I wake up is……………………..Kiss my baby’s head

This article was originally published in April 2024.

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