Shani Darden has an incredible story—one that includes offering facials in the guest house behind Jessica Alba's L.A. pad before scoring a client list that reads like a who's who of Hollywood. Now, as an established celebrity aesthetician and founder of her own skincare company, she's a force to be reckoned with in the beauty industry. She regularly treats the likes of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Lea Michele, Chrissy Teigen, and Jessica Alba (among others) and has created not one but two cultish anti-aging products, Retinol Reform and Texture Reform.
If you're a regular reader, you've most definitely heard each editor respectively singing their praises. If not, we do so here, here, and here. She seeks out active ingredients and science-driven skincare technology. The result? The products she makes and loves are genuinely effective.
So we met up with Darden and asked her to narrow down her skincare and makeup favorites to just five and explain why it is she loves them so much. Though it's hard (we're product hoarders and use a lot of them on a daily basis), the curated few are the crème de la crème of her collection—and they're guaranteed to be great. Below, find her favorites and her explanations of each. Watch the video and keep scrolling to buy each one.
Though the exact product Darden mentions has been reformulated, the second iteration is just as great—if not better. It's a dual-ended product, offering up a lash primer to boost length and volume and a creamy mascara to define and coat each hair without clumping.
Darden mentions her mascara and this lip gloss are the two makeup products she wears every day, explaining: "It gives me an amazing shine. It plumps your lips. I cannot live without it." The gloss is a translucent, high-shine formula that visibly plumps your lips courtesy of its cooling formula with emollient oils to soften and hydrate throughout the time in which you're wearing it.
Darden calls this one "youth in a bottle," and to be quite honest, I entirely agree. Texture Reform is a gentler retinol serum, formulated with retinyl palmitate. It does not cause the peeling, dryness, and irritation that other retinol serums may cause. It also has sodium PCA to help skin hold on to moisture, lactic acid to gently exfoliate, and aloe to soothe.
"This is the most important anti-aging product you can use," Darden says of her favorite sunscreen. "It feels just like a moisturizer," she explains. "It doesn't feel like a sunscreen at all, and the greatest thing is it won't clog your pores." It's water-resistant, offers an SPF of 50, and helps combat the skin dehydrating effects of sun exposure.
"I'm a huge fan of LED light because of all the benefits it can do for your skin," Darden notes. The mask she mentions offers nine different modes, including red light for anti-aging, fine lines, and collagen, as well as blue blue light for pigmentation and acne. Darden uses the mask every day and chooses which mode to use based on what her skin needs. "It keeps you young forever," she gushes.