Star facialist Shani Darden talks skincare staples and the under-$100 retinol Jennifer Aniston ‘loves’

Shani Darden knows what’s “in” for skin.

The celebrity esthetician’s spent years working with famous faces like Jessica Alba, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Aniston — the latter of whom is a major fan of her brand’s cult-favorite Retinol Reform Serum ($89). 

“She knows so much about skincare, and I’m honored that she loves Retinol Reform,” Darden tells Page Six Style of the “Friends” star, who once called the product “fantastic” in a Byrdie interview.

Retinol Reform Serum
Shani Darden

After all, you don’t need to book a coveted facial to get Darden’s signature glow at home; the skin pro tells us that while there’s no “one-size-fits-all” routine, she recommends her clients stick to a few simple steps.

“The biggest mistake people make is overdoing it,” says the facialist, who recommends using cleanser, moisturizer and SPF — like Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen ($38) or Colorescience Face Total Protection Face Shield SPF ($49 $47) — followed by active skincare ingredients like retinol at nighttime.

ColorScience glow sunscreen

“Retinol Reform is perfect to rotate a few nights a week with my Lactic Acid Serum to promote cell turnover, decrease visibility of wrinkles and improve overall skin texture,” she explains.

Her arsenal also includes the Triple Acid Signature Peel ($125), which she was inspired to create during the pandemic to bottle her famous facial.

Lactic Acid Face Serum
Shani Darden

A triple acid face peel
Shani Darden

“Before an event, I love to give my clients a lactic acid peel, because it’s great for all skin types and not overly harsh; it doesn’t cause any dryness, you just literally walk out glowing,” adds Darden, who performed the professional version of the treatment on stars like Irina Shayk, Riley Keough and Janelle Monáe before this year’s Met Gala.

And while she’s still checking career firsts off her list — such as getting stars glowing for fashion’s biggest night — Darden’s Hollywood rise all began when Jessica Alba happened to get booked with her at an LA spa.

Irina Shayk at the Met Gala
Shani Darden prepped famous faces like Irina Shayk for the 2024 Met Gala. Getty Images

Shani Darden and Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba is one of Darden’s longtime clients and friends. Getty Images for Shani Darden

“It’s actually a funny story. We didn’t talk much at first; I like to let my clients relax during facials and I tend to get really focused and quiet,” says the skin pro, recalling their “whole relationship changed” when she later told Alba she was six months pregnant. 

“It was the start of an incredible friendship,” she recalls. “She loved sharing anything to do with kids, inviting me to do baby things and even encouraging me to go out on my own and start my own studio.”

Now, years (and countless celebrity appointments at her studio) later, Darden’s still hesitant to say she’s had a “made it” moment in Hollywood. 

“It’s just an honor that they’re coming to me and trust me,” she says.

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This article was written by Hannah Southwick, Commerce Writer/Reporter for Page Six Style. Hannah spies deals on actually affordable celebrity-worn styles, puts Hollywood’s favorite labels to the test and finds the beauty products that keep stars red carpet-ready. She consults stylists and industry pros — including celebs themselves — for firsthand product recommendations, trend predictions and more. In addition to writing for Page Six since 2020, her work has been featured in USA Today and Parade.