I’ve had the pleasure of receiving a Shani Darden facial, and let me tell you: This woman is magic. The celebrity esthetician (whose clients include Jessica Alba, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Shay Mitchell) has a refreshingly no-nonsense approach to skin care. I remember during my facial, she took the time to evaluate my skin, accurately noting how sensitive it was, and adjusted accordingly. There are no add-ons or special extras you need to pay up for: She just gives the skin what it needs. Each facial is specifically created for the client’s skin, in that exact moment.

We also chatted throughout the facial, during which she took the time to educate me on what she was doing, why she was doing it, and what I should be doing at home. She’s also the founder of her eponymous skin care and facial tool device brand, Shani Darden Skin Care, so those who can’t score a sought after appointment at her Beverly Hills spa can get a taste of the treatments at home. 

I recently caught up with Darden on this week’s episode of Clean Beauty School. Throughout the episode we talk about her approach to skin care, her must-have products, and her favorite skin care technology at the moment. 

Tune in to hear more from the famed facialist—and in the meantime, enjoy some of my favorite takeaways. 

If you’ve looked into retinol usage tips, you’ve likely heard that you need to ease into it: Starting sparingly, and working your way up to nightly use. And that’s true! But what lots of folks don’t know (myself included up until Darden told me during this episode), is that you need to do that every single time you switch retinol formulations.

“The biggest problem I see is when someone is like, ‘Oh, I’ve used this retinol and my skin’s freaking out.’ So I usually say, ‘Well, how did you start it?’ And they’re like ‘I started using it every other night because I was already using another retinol.’ Nope—doesn’t work that way,” Darden explained. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve used retinol in the past. They’re all different: There are different ingredients formulated with it and different kinds of retinol. You have to start again and be patient.” 

Essentially: You can’t jump around between retinols, assuming you’ve built some sort of tolerance for it. Every retinol formula is unique, and you need to allow your skin to adjust the current one. 

We don’t spend a ton of time in the depths of lifestyle skin care, but Darden notes she’s a big believer that diet influences skin health. “I think eating clean is really important. Eating too many carbs, sugar, all of that does pay a toll on your skin. So just make sure you’re careful about what you’re eating,” she says. “Of course, we all have to splurge, but if for the most part you’re eating clean, you’ll definitely see a big difference.”

She notes this is especially true for those with acne. “[When I was an esthetician at a dermatologist’s office] I would see a lot of patients who were struggling with acne for so long, and changing their diet made a huge difference. What made the biggest difference was removing dairy,” she says. 

Looking for more skin care insights? Tune in here: 

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Harmony Evans is an award-winning author of Harlequin Kimani Romance, African-American romance, and so on. Harmony Evans is an award-winning author for Harlequin Kimani Romance, the leading publisher of African-American romance. Her 2nd novel, STEALING KISSES, will be released in November 2013. Harmony is a single mom to a beautiful, too-smart-for-her-own-good daughter, who makes her grateful for life daily. Her hobbies include cooking, baking, knitting, reading, and of course, napping and also review some of the best-selling and popular brands and services in the market and also write comprehensive blogs.


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