Celebs’ Met Gala Facials Include Microcurrent Gloves, LED Therapy, and Vibrational Orbs

I know, because I got the Shani Darden exclusive treatment.

shani darden facial
(Image credit: Future)

I spent Saturday binging Under the Bridge, so you can only imagine my joy when I saw Riley Keough tag Shani Darden on Instagram on Sunday as the hands responsible for her Met Gala skin prep. You see, at the point of social media consumption, I was sitting in the lobby of the Greenwich Hotel, waiting to be called up to the top-floor suite for Keough’s exact facial. (Lea Michele stopped by earlier that morning, and Rita Ora came by just after I left the premises.)

riley keough getting a shani darden met gala facial

Riley Keough stopped by Shani Darden's suite for a Met Gala facial on Sunday, May 5.

(Image credit: Instagram)

As a beauty editor, I’ve been lucky to experience extravagant treatments. I’ve had hundreds of gold beads on my face to re-magnetize my facial field, and Joanna Czech slapped my face at the speed of light. Still, I’ve always wondered exactly what transpires during a pre-Met Gala facial. Nearly every attendee jets to NYC 24 to 48 hours before the red carpet, leaving them with dry, dehydrated post-flight skin and no time for resurfacing treatments or recovery.

And yet, upon arrival at the MET, skin is hydrating, glowing, and ready to be photographed by the 9,000 paparazzi lining the steps.

shani darden standing in the greenwhich hotel

Celebrity facialist Shani Darden spent the weekend at the Greenwich Hotel prepping clients for the Met Gala.

(Image credit: Shani Darden)

Within the next hour and a half, every lingering question plaguing my skin-obsessed brain—How do all their pimples disappear? What makes their foreheads so incredibly reflective? How are their lips never chapped?—would have an answer. As I cozied into the fluffiest massage bed of my life (Hästens, for your records) for my facial, I warned Darden I had a never-ending list of burning questions coming her way.

The takeaway: Met Gala facials are just as insane as you would imagine, complete with microcurrent gloves, LED therapy, vibrational orbs, and oh so much more. “All of my facials that I do have a lot of different things going on. I love oxygen therapy, cryotherapy, a custom mast, and I always do a chemical peel,” the Shani Darden Skincare founder shares. (I skipped the chemical peel because I’m recently recovered from a skin infection.) “I never want to use anything that would cause any peeling or downtime—it’s all just to give an amazing glow.”

A glimpse inside a celebrity Met Gala facial—and my unfiltered, eyes-closed, stream-of-consciousness thoughts—ahead.

Steam—and Side of Face Mask

The facial starts by opening up my pores with a constant stream of steam (well, you can’t really open pores, but you can loosen up the gunk that resides inside). While that’s blowing in my general direction, Darden whips up a custom face mask.

samantha holender recieving shani darden met gala facial

Beauty Editor Samantha Holender started off her treatment with a custom face mask.

(Image credit: Samantha Holender)

It’s similar to her Nourishing Face Mask, but is all doctored up. Some callouts: a blend of azuline, sulfur (for my nasty cheek pimple!), zinc, and cayolin clay. “I have a lot of things in there,” she says, “but it’s all nourishing, calming, and hydrating.

Blue Light Therapy

“I see blue,” I say. Well, that would be because there’s a big blue light over my head. “It’s oxygen, with a hyaluronic acid mist and blue light, which helps to kill bacteria,” Darden explains.

samantha holender recieving shani darden met gala facial

Blue light therapy has anti-bacterial properties, making it great for reducing inflammation and acne.

(Image credit: Samantha Holender)

The oxygen makes skin feel smoother and firmer, the hyaluronic acid delivers hydration, and the anti-bacterial blue light therapy is great for fighting acne breakouts and other rashes, which is ideal because I’m recovering from a bout of dermatitis.

Microcurrent Gloves

I’ve had microcurrent before—but not like this. For the uninitiated, microcurrent is a noninvasive electrotherapy that helps lift and sculpt the face. There are at-home tools like the NuFace or Foreo that work with continued use over time, but professional devices are much more powerful, showing results after just one use.

samantha holender recieving shani darden met gala facial

Microcurrent gloves are a signature part of Darden's facial.

(Image credit: Samantha Holender)

Typically, a silver tong or probe goes to work, making the musculature of your forehead or jawline twitch as the silver bulbs brush over it. But a glove that incites the same effect? It’s a weird sensation, to say the least. “I use microcurrent probes as well, but with my hands, I can really get there,” Darden shares.

Vibrational Therapy

I feel a device—smooth and circular—gliding over my skin. It’s painless; there’s no vibration or noise even. “This is vibrational therapy, right?” I was indeed, correct. It’s one of Darden’s favorite tactics for a red carpet glow. Using sound waves, her tool heats up the lower layer of my skin to boost circulation, and as a result, glow.

samantha holender recieving shani darden met gala facial

You can purchase Darden's Sculpting Wand to recreate results at home.

(Image credit: Samantha Holender)

Red Light Therapy

“You’re under red light for 20 minutes,” Darden shares, mentioning that it helps with skin tone and texture. When used over time, red light also has the ability to boost collagen and plump up fine lines.

samantha holender recieving shani darden met gala facial

Red light therapy wraps up the treatment, boosting glow and evening out skin tone.

(Image credit: Samantha Holender)

At-Home Skincare

My immediate thought post-treatment was, “How’s my pimple?” I walked in with a large red and pretty deep blemish that had been cooking for four days. During the facial, Darden applied salicylic acid. But she also sent me home with a sulfur treatment to use overnight to dry out the spot and remove excess oil—sans irritation. “I put everyone on a full routine and make sure you’re using the right products,” Darden adds.

The Day After

My appointment wrapped at 3:30p.m. Approximately 18 hours later, I wake up to a text from Darden: “How’s your skin?”

My skin looks—honestly—the best it’s ever looked. Not only has my pimple been flattened entirely (that sulfur really worked), but my face is reflective in the best way possible. Not to brag, but I’m the walking definition of a post-facial glow. See for yourself.

before and after shani darden met gala facial

On the left is Holender's skin before her treatment. On the right, is her skin directly after.

(Image credit: Samantha Holender)

While I won’t be walking the Met Gala red carpet tonight (I’ll be sitting on my couch, reporting on the best beauty looks in real time), I’m happy to report that I now know exactly how all the stars got their skin so good.

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Beauty Editor

Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and shares the breakdown on the latest and greatest trends in the beauty space. She's studied up on every ingredient you'll find on INCI list and is constantly in search of the world's glowiest makeup products. Prior to joining the team, she worked as Us Weekly’s Beauty and Style Editor, where she stayed on the pulse of pop culture and broke down celebrity beauty routines, hair transformations, and red carpet looks. Her words have also appeared on Popsugar, Makeup.com, Skincare.com, Delish.com, and Philadelphia Wedding. Samantha also serves as a board member for the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME). She first joined the organization in 2018, when she worked as an editorial intern at Food Network Magazine and Pioneer Woman Magazine. Samantha has a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. While at GWU, she was a founding member of the school’s HerCampus chapter and served as its President for four years. When she’s not deep in the beauty closet or swatching eyeshadows, you can find her obsessing over Real Housewives and all things Bravo. Keep up with her on Instagram @samholender.