Ask an Expert: Celebrity Facialist Shani Darden’s Skincare Secrets

“When I was a teenager, I struggled with rashes and acne—experiencing first-hand how hard it can be on your confidence when you’re dealing with skin issues. This motivated me early on to help others with their skin,” says Shani Darden, founder of Shani Darden Skin Care.

As one of the most famous estheticians in the world, Shani has developed a cult following—think famous fans like Jessica Alba and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley—as well as a range of cult products.

A believer in treating skincare concerns from both the outside and in—just like The Beauty Chef team—she shares her top tips for nourishing your skin at home below…

How did you launch your brand, and how would you describe your skincare philosophy?

“I moved to Los Angeles in my early 20s to model and ended up being booked into a few music videos. [But] I ultimately realised my calling was skincare and went back to school to become an esthetician. 

My first job out of school was for an amazing dermatologist named Dr. Erma Benitez. This was an incredible experience for me to work with different skin conditions and ingredients—and this is when my love for retinol really came into play, too. I saw what an amazing transformative effect it could have on the skin—like boosting collagen in the skin, minimising fine lines and wrinkles, reducing hyper-pigmentation, and even helping with acne. But I couldn’t find a retinol product on the market that had all of the benefits of a prescription retinol product without the dryness and peeling, so I decided to develop my own formula that is incredibly effective but without the harsh side effects. Retinol Reform has both retinol and lactic acid, so you get immediate smoothing and brightening benefits from the lactic acid and longer-term anti-aging benefits from the retinol. 

My skincare philosophy is less is more. It’s not about having the most products, but the right products for your skin type.”

With in-person treatments not an option for many of us at the moment, what are your three top tips for taking care of your skin at home?

“Wearing sunscreen every single day—UV exposure can still pass through windows so it’s important to keep your skin protected, even while at home. Sun damage is not always immediately visible, but it shows up years later in the form of pigmentation and it also breaks down the collagen in your skin. This leads to a loss of firmness in the skin, sagging, and wrinkles. 

It’s also important to figure out exactly which products work best for your skin. With more time spent at home, this is the perfect opportunity to focus on tailoring your skincare routine to figure out exactly what you need. What works for someone else, may not be great for your skin. Some of the signs of using the wrong product for your skin type are dry, itchy, or tight skin. Your skin could also be inconsistently oily or breaking out. If any of these symptoms are surfacing, chances are that you aren’t using the right products. When you’re using the right products, your skin will be balanced, glowing and well-hydrated. 

And finally, make sure you’re exfoliating regularly to offset dull skin. When you’re not exfoliating regularly, your treatment and hydrating products won’t absorb properly and won’t be able to do their job. I love a chemical exfoliant like the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads to effectively remove dead skin on the surface and clear out congestion in the pores for more glowing, smooth skin.”

As a busy mum and business owner, what does your beauty routine look like?

“First thing in the morning, I wash my face with Cleansing Serum and spend 20 minutes in my Deesse Pro LED Mask. It’s the perfect relaxing ritual to start my day. Following that, I’ll apply an antioxidant serum like iS Clinical’s Pro-Heal Serum to protect and brighten the skin. I also always wear sunscreen to keep my skin healthy and youthful. I love Supergoop’s Play Everyday Lotion because it’s lightly hydrating, yet won’t cause congestion.

At night, I cleanse again with Cleansing Serum which is a gentle, yet effective cleanser that doesn’t strip the skin. Next, I use Retinol Reform to boost collagen, minimise fine lines and wrinkles, and even out my skin. Following that, I’ll use an eye serum like Cosmedix Opti-Crystal to deeply hydrate and brighten the under eyes. If I need a little extra hydration, I’ll add in a hyaluronic acid serum like iS Clinical’s Hydra-Cool to deeply hydrate and plump up the skin followed by Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer. I have a slightly oily t-zone, so I prefer an oil-free formula that will hydrate without causing congestion.” 

Do you have any lifestyle or nutrition practices that you incorporate to complement your outer beauty routine?

“Working out can boost circulation and give you an amazing glow so I try to go on a long walk every day or do a Peloton class. The increased circulation delivers oxygen and nutrients to your skin cells to make it glow. Working out also reduces stress. As stress causes a spike in cortisol, it can lead to inflammation that can show up on your face in the form of breakouts. Working out, however, can help to offset that stress which is especially necessary right now. 

Another important facet when it comes to achieving glowing skin is your diet. What you eat can definitely show up on your skin. Processed foods, sugar and carbs can all cause inflammation in the skin which then leads to breakouts, so it’s important to limit these in your diet. Nourishing your body from within can have a really positive effect on your skin.” 

What do you anticipate to be the next big paradigm shift in the world of beauty? Any new ingredients or treatments we should be on the lookout for in 2021?

“I think there will be more of a focus on non-invasive treatments to keep skin looking youthful. I love treatments like microcurrent and LED light therapy along with retinol to transform your skin. Microcurrent is a great treatment that really does so much to tone, tighten, and lift the skin, which minimises the need for botox and other treatments. Another great, non-invasive treatment is LED light therapy. It boosts collagen in the skin to plump up fine lines and also boosts circulation to give you an amazing glow. The best part is that they can be done at home with the NuFace Trinity Pro and Deesse Pro LED Mask! Including these treatments along with a great skincare routine filled with all the right products for your skin type can yield amazing results to keep skin looking youthful and healthy.” 

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