If you've been reading Byrdie for a while (or, like, even for a week), you've likely seen Shani Darden's name bubble up. For years, the celebrity facialist has been sailing her skilled fingers over the faces of Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Lea Michele, Chrissy Teigen, and Jessica Alba (among others), and in the process has formulated one of the most legendary wrinkle serums on the market, her Retinol Reform.
The point is: Darden is a trusted and sought-after skincare authority, which is why we were so excited the other night, when Darden strolled us through her six-step nighttime beauty routine as a part of our #ByrdieBedtime series on Byrdie's Instagram Live. Though her regimen doesn't contain the 10 steps we've seen from other #ByrdieBedtime participants (we're looking at you, Charlotte Cho, you lovely thing!), each product packs a punch with intense active ingredients like retinol, hydroquinone, and hyaluronic acid.
Read on to see the products Hollywood's favorite esthetician uses every night to keep her skin looking impossibly youthful and glowy.
First, cleanser: Darden loves this gentle pick from iS Clinical, which is rich with vitamins and a little bit of salicylic acid for light exfoliation. What's interesting is that Darden uses gauze to cleanse, instead of her fingers, not only because she's a self-identified "germaphobe" but also because it offers a bit of extra exfoliation.
Darden doesn't use toner every night, but when she does, it's this hydrating aloe-infused product, which infuses the skin with moisture while removing any leftover dirt or debris.
"I'm a big retinol fan," Darden says. (No kidding.) Lately, she's been using this just-launched retinol serum from her own line, which is gentler than the classic Reform. (She recommends starting slow with this stuff—apply two pumps a few nights a week, then work your way up to using it every night.)
Next, Darden goes in with a prescription cream containing hydroquinone and tretinoin to treat the melasma she has around her eyebrows, cheeks, and lips. The formula is extremely potent, especially when applied on top of retinol, so she doesn't use it every day.
Next: A hyaluronic acid serum for hydration. (Darden uses this after her retinol instead of before so it doesn't interfere with the retinol's strength). Ths stuff provides enough hydration that she doesn't need moisturizer on top.
Darden's all-time favorite eye cream is the peptide and antioxidant-infused pick. "I've never found a better one," she says.
Before heading to bed, she spot treats a small, hive-like breakout on her cheek with over-the-counter cortisone, and voila! There is the elusive nighttime skincare routine of one of L.A.'s go-to skin gurus.