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Shani Darden Skin Care

Retinol Reform

1.00 fl. oz. for $ 88.00
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Brand Overview

Shani Darden’s Retinol Reform is one of the line’s most impressive products – a retinol treatment what it claims.

Packaged in an opaque plastic bottle that’s topped with a pump dispenser, this fragrance-free lotion’s delicate ingredients are protected from both light and air, which can cause them to prematurely lose their effectiveness. What’s inside is remarkably lightweight, absorbing instantly into skin with no residue or tackiness – meaning it works well both over and your other skin care products.

Turning to the ingredients, as the name states, this contains a good amount of retinol, which has more than 40 years of research proving its effectiveness fighting signs of aging including fine lines, wrinkles, discolorations, and uneven texture.

What’s questionable is the claimed percentage of retinol. Darden is claiming 2.2% encapsulated retinol, which sounds as though you’re getting a high amount of this vitamin A ingredient. Based on retinol’s placement on the ingredient list, we suspect the amount is much lower than that, likely 1% or less (which is still plenty of retinol to see great results).

We’re basing this supposition on the other claim that this contains 2% lactic acid. Assuming the ingredients are listed in descending order as they should be, lactic acid appears before the retinol. In all likelihood, the claimed percentage of 2.2 includes other ingredients blended with a lesser amount of retinol.

Backing it up is 2% lactic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid that in higher concentrations (5% or above) can exfoliate. Though it can’t do that here, in this amount is does provide hydration benefits which can potentially offset the drying effect retinol can have on skin.

There are some good supporting ingredients as well, among them antioxidants apple extract and vitamin E, plus soothing green tea and aloe extracts. Overall, it’s a good combination to meet this product’s claims to provide glowing, youthful skin.

While the price tag certainly isn’t on the inexpensive side, this is good anti-aging option if you’re inclined to try it!

  • Texture is lightweight and absorbs quickly.
  • Contains a good amount of proven anti-aging retinol.
  • Contains antioxidant and skin-soothing ingredients.
  • Packaged to protect its light- and air-sensitive ingredients.
  • Fragrance free.
  • Claims around the percentage of retinol aren’t supported by the ingredient list.
Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No

Retinol Reform® has become the go-to serum my clients swear by. With 2.2% encapsulated retinol, this effective, yet gentle formula provides multiple anti-aging benefits without the dryness and irritation often experienced with other retinol products. It helps boosts collagen production and improve cell turnover to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, uneven tone, dullness, blemishes, and acne scars. It also contains 2% lactic acid, which helps to brighten and smooth skin, so you get both immediate benefits and long-term results. It’s an essential treatment for glowing, youthful-looking skin.

Aqua (Water, Eau), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Lactic Acid, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Lactobacillus Ferment, Isohexadecane, Retinol, Copernicia Cerifera Cera (Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Cire de Carnauba), Glucosamine HCl, Plankton Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Tocopheryl Acetate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Linoleic Acid, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterols, Phospholipids, Propanediol, Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Polysorbate 60, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Extract, Tocopherol, Cyamopsis Tetragonoloba, (Guar) Gum, Maltodextrin, Xanthan Gum, Lecithin, Hydrolyzed Algin, Xylitylglucoside, Anhydroxylitol, Xylitol, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, BHT, BHA, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol.

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 for more information on the brand.

About the Experts

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.

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