Celebrity Aesthetician Shani Darden Has One Rule: Don’t Talk to Her During Your Facial

The celebrity aesthetician on her love for Naomi Campbell, favorite tinted moisturizer, and why she hates receiving facials.

Shani Darden headshot
(Image credit: Future)

Welcome to Beauty Around the Clock, Marie Claire's weekly peek into the daily lives of some of the most game-changing men and women in their industries. Ever wonder how they get it all done in a day? Here's your answer.

An aesthetician who doesn't like receiving facials? Seems like an oxymoron, but that’s the norm for celebrity esthetician Shani Darden, who has beautified the faces of Jennifer Anniston, Chrissy Teigen, and Kelly Rowland (to name a few.) Even if you haven’t been lucky enough to enjoy a facial in her flagship studio in Beverly Hills, you’ve probably seen her gray-white packaged products at your local Sephora. In fact, this year she celebrated the 10th anniversary of her Retinol Reform Anti-Aging Serum—the product that launched her line, and unsurprisingly, currently sells at an average rate of six per hour. 

But back to Darden and facials. Admittedly, she doesn't like when people touch her face, but she feels “normal and most relaxed” while giving a facial. “I always pray they won't talk,” she exclusively tells me. “It's kind of rude, but we don't need to talk. You just relax. It's almost like my Xanax is giving a facial.” 

Here, the leading beauty gives us a glimpse into what 24 hours looks like in her universe.

Rise & Shine

I usually get up at 5:00am and go into a TikTok experience where I'm spiraling and looking at things to cook and stuff. And then I get on the treadmill. After the treadmill, I frantically clean my house and mop my floors and vacuum because I have a crazy OCD cleaning thing. I even fluff a lot of pillows. After all of that, I get ready and that entails helping my daughters with their hair and getting them out the door.

Morning Maintenance

My morning skincare routine is simple. I start with a cleanser and I try to do my Déesse PRO LED Light Mask. Next I'll use iS CLINICAL vitamin C serum. Then, I apply Supergoop Play Everyday all over. Sometimes I also use NARS tinted sunscreen. But, if I'm putting on a tinted moisturizer, then I wouldn't use the Supergoop I just use the NARS.

For food, I usually just have black coffee. Usually, it happens once I get to work. I'm more of a lunch and dinner person, and my lunch is just very early, so it's like brunch. Because I don't really like breakfast food, so it just depends. I'm planning what I'm eating in my mind at nine o'clock in the morning, but I'm not eating until probably 10:30am, 11:00am. And it's something weird. I do like to talk about food. It's something I do all day long.

Fitness Fix

I don't really like to work out, so I do the Peloton bike. I just do about four miles a day and that's it. I don't want to do it. It's not fun for me, but it's just what I have to do.

To make it fun, I watch The RealHousewives while I'm doing it, so I don't even pay attention to any instructors. I'm not a big TV watcher, but The RealHousewives is my favorite. I wish I was a person who loved working out though. There's people who just love it so much. I just look at it as like, I have to do this.

Self Care Ritual

Honestly, taking care of myself looks like hanging with girlfriends. I'm not a big massage person, but I get them done every two weeks because of my work. But it's not fun for me to do. When I get a massage it's literally maintenance. I have someone come to my house every few weeks. I've known her forever, and she begs me not to text during the massage. I have really crazy ADD and I'm all over. I just need to be on the move at all times. Laying down for that long is so hard. Agonizing, actually.

I don’t like facials either but I get them because it's what I do. I get facials by one of the girls that I work with and she's lucky if she gets 40 minutes of my time. I get all of the important things like peels and things, but I don't want you to rub me and don't make this an experience. I don't want any of that. Just get in there, do the extractions, peel me, keep me young, micro current, done. Let's move on.

So, that’s why spending time with close friends is really me taking care of myself. It’s relaxing to me.

Signature Makeup Look

I don't really wear makeup. Just my tinted moisturizer from NARS. I've never owned foundation. If I go out at night, I use that same tinted NARS SPF and then I might put on some eyeliner. That’s the exciting part of the look and maybe a little NARS blush. But otherwise, I'm not really great with makeup. I'm not a big makeup fan.

However, my favorite, favorite mascara is Honest. I think they have the best mascara. I've been really into brown mascara and Charlotte Tilbury has a great brown mascara. For brows, I use the Kosas Clear Brow Gel. And my go-to gloss is Chanel Clear Gloss. That's pretty much it. It's so boring. I wish there was more!

Signature Scent

I wear Frederic Malle’s Carnal Flower. I've been wearing a lot of Phlur, too. I have a lot of their scents.

Hair Help

There's so much to my hair care. My hair routine is always changing. I have someone who does my hair for me once a week. Her name is Kristen, and she's amazing. I actually switched up my shampoo and conditioner. I'm always trying new ones, but my favorite is Davines. I also really like Olaplex. I don't really put products in my hair other than hair oil.

Beauty Icon

My go-to is always Naomi Campbell. You can't get better than that.  I don't know her personally, but she would be it.

I don’t want to give her a facial. They say never meet your heroes. Right? And, I don't want that pressure.

Daily Playlist

I'm a wild person. I really think that I've just realized that today. I don't really listen to music, and I know that's the weirdest thing in the actual universe, but I don't. I do have a playlist in my studio by Nikki Penny, who is a well-known DJ in Los Angeles. She has a playlist that she made for my studio, and she changes it, and everyone thinks that I'm so cool. It always has the best songs, and I usually don't know any of them at all.

I have two young kids, so I know Taylor Swift songs. I went to the concert. I have that blasting sometimes throughout the house. I beg for them to turn it off because it's so loud, and I want silence. 

Backup Career

I don't know what I would be doing if I wasn't doing this. I think it definitely is my calling, it's what I’m supposed to do. What I'd like to do is be an interior designer as well. That would be the next thing that I would like to do. I don't know that I would be good at it, but I really enjoy it. I would love to have the money to be able to own property, fix it up, and sell it. That would be something I would really, really enjoy.

P.M. Routine

When I get home I immediately take my makeup off with Garnier Micellar Water. I literally walk in my home, go upstairs, and I take it off. If I'm not going to be doing anything else, which typically I'm not, I will then do my nighttime skincare routine around 4:00pm. 

First I put on Retinol, then eye cream. Right now I'm using my weightless oil-free moisturizer. I kind of hang out, decide what we're going to eat. Actually, I would already know what we were eating. That was a lie. Then I hang out with them and decide what we're going to do.  I usually get into bed pretty early. I'm trying to convince my younger daughter to come hang out with me at 8:00pm in bed. I won't go to sleep until 9:30pm, maybe 10:00pm, but I do like to just lay. And that's when I usually do all my emails. I've looked through everything. I've caught up on anything, all DMs, any of that stuff.

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Deena Campbell
Beauty Director

Deena Campbell is the Beauty Director of Marie Claire where she oversees beauty and health content on all platforms. Deena joined Marie Claire after a decade-long career as an editor in print and digital media. Before joining the brand, she managed editorial content for L’Oréal owned Makeup.com and Skincare.com. In 2015, she launched Essence.com’s hair channel where she received Time Inc.'s Henry R. Luce Award, shortly before joining Allure.com’s staff as Senior Beauty Editor. Along with her editorial positions, she also consulted on content and marketing strategies for beauty companies including DevaCurl and Dove, and has appeared at various speaking events and live television segments.