My experience with Shani Darden Retinol Reform for the past 5 weeks.
The first time I applied Shani Darden Retinol Reform to my skin was in the evening on January 28th. I know it was that day because I had just taken part in an interview with Shani during a Sephora Squad event and was extremely interested in trying her products after hearing more from her about them.
Her name sounded familiar and I clicked back over to Anna Mae Groves’ Instagram page and confirmed that this was the same product Anna had been raving about recently. I was struck by the before and after that Anna shared on her page (you can watch it all on the highlight called “Retinol”) and was so happy to give it a go.
Full disclosure: I did receive the Shani Darden Retinol Reform as well as the Intensive Eye Renewal Cream as a part of a gratis package as a Sephora Squad member, but I have since bought an additional two bottles because I don’t want to ever be without it.
Prior to using this product, my most similar experience was with a plant-based retinol alternative product by Biossance called the Squalane + Phyto-retinol Serum. I had great results with it, and I was pleased to try a plant-based product first because I imagined it to be more gentle on my skin.
Retinol, while effective, can sometimes be tough on the skin. There are side effects like redness, peeling, sensitivity, and more. It’s important to use it very sparingly at first, and slowly build your skin’s tolerance up to a level that works for you.
You may be wondering? What is so great about retinol anyway?
Retinol, which is a gentle yet effective Retinoid, is a synthetic form of Vitamin A. The term “retinoid” is an umbrella term for any synthetic vitamin A. Retinol is good for encouraging cell turnover, revealing more radiant and even skin. It can help lighten dark spots, and work to improve some signs of aging on the skin.
While it’s always important to wear a daily SPF, it is especially important when using a retinol product regularly as the skin is being renewed.
I was nervous about the side effects that some can experience when introducing retinol to your skincare routine. It’s advised to use a retinol product sparingly at first, and slowly build up frequency of use based on how your skin tolerates the product. As someone with sensitive skin, I followed these directions carefully.
The first night I applied Retinol Reform, I followed it up with the Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Dream Face Cream. That is a night cream I have been using for a long time, and I knew it agreed with my skin really well. So I washed my face, applied Retinol Reform, waited a few minutes, then applied my night cream. I then did all my other serums like brow serum, lash serum, eyelash conditioner, eye cream, etc.
I went to sleep and, to be totally honest, I was sure I’d see some redness or side effects in the morning. As it turns out, I saw nothing but perfectly happy and glowing skin. I am not going to lie, I think my skin looked noticeably better the very next morning, but I convinced myself it was probably just what I wanted to see. Now that I’ve had 5 weeks of experience with it, I kind of believe that I saw immediate improvement.
So here is my face before I tried the product.
This is a screenshot of a video I shot for a campaign, so I apologize that it isn’t totally clear. My skin is sensitive, I have dryness around my nose, and I’m prone to hormonal + mask-wearing induced breakouts along my chin. I see uneven tone, dullness, and a lot of dark spots along the bottom half of my skin.
My hope was that my skin would be more even and that I would see some of my dark spots lighten up a bit.
Here are a few shots of my skin after one use of the product. I am wearing a moisturizer here, just to be clear.
In general, my skin was in a pretty good spot in these photos. And at this point, I had already started to see more evenness in tone and it felt softer as well.
I took the following photos on February 18th. At this point, my obsession with Retinol Reform was thriving. I hadn’t had a single new blemish arise, and my skin was glowing and healthy. And again, just to be clear, I was wearing moisturizer in this photo as well as sitting in front of my lighted mirror.
So I’m now on my 5th week of using Retinol Reform as a part of my nightly skincare routine. I typically apply it 4-5 times a week at night. Very occasionally I will skip it if I plan to use the Ole Henriksen Lemonade Smoothing Scrub** the next day. I’ve found that I don’t feel the need to exfoliate as often as I did before, which is probably due to the Lactic Acid.
The most noticeable changes for me, that I hope are coming through in the photos for you, are fewer breakouts, more evenness in tone, softer skin, and radiance. Honestly, I feel like my confidence got a huge boost from using this product because my skin is so clear and even. I am beyond pleased that I haven’t experienced any, I mean ANY, negative side effects. I was really concerned about redness and flaking, and I haven’t had any.
A few common Q & A’s:
One. Why are you using this and not a prescription from your dermatologist? For one, I wanted to use the exact product that Anna was using because she had such great things to say about it. I also wanted to use something that anyone would be able to purchase for themselves as well.
Two. Are your results better than when you were using the plant-based retinol alternative? It’s hard to say because I went about a year or more between the two products, but in general, I saw results faster with the Retinol Reform.
Three. How frequently do you use it? I started with one night a week, then the following week I did two nights, and continued adding in nights from there. A slow build-up is key for watching for a reaction on your skin.
**The Ole Henricksen Lemonade Smoothing Scrub has AHA and it’s not recommended to use a product with AHA while also using a Retinol.
So overall, as I’m sure you can gather from this post, I am really impressed with this product! I’m incredibly pleased that I haven’t had any negative side effects and I’m so thrilled with the positive changes to my skin thus far.
Just like any time you are intersted in trying a new skincare product, make sure you do your research and do your best to figure out which would be best for you!