Shani Darden’s Cleansing Serum has some positive qualities, but one questionable ingredient knocks it out of contention for being among the best.
Packaged in an opaque bottle with a pump dispenser, this fragrance-free face wash starts out as a gel that quickly turns into a creamy foam when it contacts water. It’s easy to spread and does a good job removing dirt, excess oil, and most makeup. We found that this rinses cleanly, without residue.
Turning to ingredients, as advertised this has some soothing and hydrating options, including sodium hyaluronate and oat extract, as well as moisture-binding glycerin.
Unfortunately, its primary cleansing ingredient is C14-16 olefin sulfonate, a detergent known to be drying. Though this is intended more for normal, combination, and oily skin that doesn’t need as many moisturizing ingredients as very dry skin, it’s still less than ideal (because drying skin out isn’t good for any skin type!).
Were it not for this one ingredient, this would be a product we would happily recommend. As it stands, you’re better off with a selection from our list of best cleansers.
- Gel-to-foam formula is easy to use.
- Does a good job removing dirt, oil, and makeup.
- Contains hydrating and soothing ingredients.
- Fragrance free.
- Includes a cleansing agent known to be drying.
Many foaming cleansers are too drying. I wanted to develop something gentle and effective that leaves skin feeling clean and fresh, but never tight. This luxurious cleanser creates a soft lather to remove makeup and pore-clogging impurities without stripping skin of natural oils or over-drying. It's packed with ingredients including hyaluronic acid and oat bran extract to restore skin's moisture, and olive extract to calm skin. It’s the best, and a little goes a long way!
Shani Darden Skin Care is the namesake brand of Shani Darden, an LA-based aesthetician to the stars who got her start working for one of Hollywood’s top dermatologists. As the story goes, Darden struggled with her skin during her teen years and says working with clients with severe skin issues – particularly acne - inspired her to create a line with those concerns in mind.
Starting with the brand’s flagship product, Retinol Reform, created in 2013, the Shani Darden line has expanded to include a cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and exfoliant - all catered to those with combination, oily, or acne-prone skin. As a result, the line features lightweight formulas with a focus on improving skin texture.
For the most part, the small lineup of products is good; we’re impressed with the packaging, which across the board features opaque, pump-style containers that protect beneficial ingredients from light and air. The two products featuring alpha hydroxy acids are formulated at optimal pH levels for exfoliation to occur and contain some good supporting ingredients to further improve skin health.
The drawbacks for this line are relatively minor, though still worth noting; fragrance is included in one product, and the cleanser contains a surfactant known to be drying to skin. Still, overall, while the price tag of these products attests to its Hollywood origins, this line is a solid option for those looking for promising options for combination to oily skin.
Check out our individual product reviews for more details, and visit shanidarden.com for more information on the brand.
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The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.