As skin care continues to evolve, the space between what you can achieve in your bathroom versus an esthetician’s office is shrinking. And the latest innovation from Shani Darden—a Los Angeles-based esthetician who works with A-listers like Jessica Alba, Shay Mitchell, and January Jones—takes the at-home facial to the next level. It’s a chemical peel in a box, and was directly inspired by the facial she gives to stars when they need to look their best.
“Before a big event, my clients come into the studio for a professional-grade peel,” says Darden. “I created this so everyone could experience a red carpet glow at home.”
The Shani Darden Triple Acid Signature Peel ($125) is a two-step facial. It starts with an intense exfoliating peel followed by a neutralizing and cleansing clay mask. The exfoliating mask contains glycolic acid to clean and clear up congestion while lactic and mandelic acids exfoliate, brighten, and smooth skin. Ingredients are listed in order of highest concentration to lowest, and after water, lactic and glycolic acids are second and fourth in the formula, respectively. So you know this formula is the real deal right off the bat. The neutralizing mask uses a blend of kaolin and bentonite clay to deeply cleanse and refine pores by extracting dirt and oil without over-drying.
What it’s like using the Shani Darden Triple Acid Signature Peel
The experience starts with the packaging. While I usually take products out of their boxes and organize them within my vanity, I plan to keep this mask in its box. That’s because it’s smartly organized to house a facial brush, eight individually packaged peel solutions, and a tube of the neutralizing mask. Taking the lid of the box to reveal the steps of the mask laid out is the perfect start to this ritual. And I love that the peels are packaged individually because it means that you’re getting a fresh solution with every mask.
Following directions, I opened one of the peel solution packs and swept it over my skin and neck using the included brush. The box says to leave it on for one to two minutes, and because I have pretty tough skin and am used to strong acids, I left it on for two. I could feel it working as it caused a mild tingling sensation. It wasn’t uncomfortable though—I could tell it was doing its job without causing any damage to my skin barrier.
After the two minutes were up, I rubbed on the neutralizing mask. The second it touched my skin I felt the most intense burning sensation that went away after two seconds. It was jarring, to say the least, but fleeting. And the box did warn that I could experience tingling when applying the neutralizing mask so I was prepared. This part was mildly unpleasant but I loved that I could legit feel a chemical reaction happening on my face in real time. It truly made me feel like a pro.
I let this mask sit for 10 minutes before I gently removed it with lukewarm water and a cloth. I was worried that my skin might feel sensitized after but it felt great. Super clean, soft, and nourished. I followed the rest f my skin-care routine and layer on my sunscreen a little thicker than usual because peels can make your skin more susceptible to sun damage. Without a doubt, the Shani Darden Triple Acid Signature Peel is going to become a regular in my routine.
Watch Darden customize our senior beauty editor’s skin-care routine:
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