Shani Darden on her top 25 winning product, Retinol

This year's Top 25 was full of bangers – the decade's biggest hits in beauty in every category. But you don't just end up on such a list. It requires thoughtful formulation, lots of testing and a good foresight to land on a product that will do its thing better than any of its competitors. We sit down with the founders of the brand behind some of our favorite products to get the full story – and next time aestheticist Shani Darden. Here is the story of the Retinol reform, in the words of Shani.

& # 39; I initially thought I would be a massage therapist. I went to school for massage therapy, but I quickly figured out that massage therapy is not something you can learn in school. I really believe it should be a gift, and I didn't have it. But then I switched to aesthetics, and as soon as I started, I just knew that skincare was the thing I was supposed to do. After coming out of school, someone I knew helped me get a dermatologist. I learned so many things I wouldn't have learned to work in a spa – things like rashes and conditions, and acne. This is where I also learned about retinol, and I fell in love with it. I saw all the benefits of it, but also how annoying and dry it could be.

If they were to break out, people would come to me to fix them.

Then I got a job at a very well-known spa and started building my clients. Then Jessica Alba called me in Allure magazine and everything has changed. Makeup artists started reaching out to me about their clients – if they were breaking out, people would come to me to fix them. I knew I needed an affirmative retinol for my clients, but I didn't find one I really liked. Back then, PCA made a retinol, and Skinceuticals was growing up – they had two. I can't remember how many different retinols I've tried. I wanted it to have the same effect as the prescribed retinol I saw with the dermatologist, but without all the irritation. I decided to save money and take my idea to a lab to make my own.

I came out to a bunch of different labs that were all in California – I had no one to ask about these things, so I just did my research. Then I told them that there are two ingredients I need to have this thing. The first is retinol, and the second is lactic acid, which immediately glows you. I don't think a combination existed in one product. And then I wanted it to be mixed with things to minimize the irritation that I know could cause retinols. The formula we ended up with has an oil-free aloe base, but a lot has been tested.

Testing is a big deal for me as an esthetician. I want a product to really work because I want to use it. And just because it works on me doesn't mean it works on other skin types, so I tested everything on my clients. I have had the same customers for so long that at this point they rely on everything I give them and also give good feedback. I would give example to sample, and the people I would like to give people should take home and try. To some people they would be wonderful, and then others would say, & # 39; No, I think it could be stronger. & # 39; I think I should drive people crazy because I take so much time to test things, but it is very important to me to go through the process with my clients.

Just because it works on me doesn't mean it works on other skin types, so I tested everything on my clients.

Initially, I had really unattractive packaging and put the bottles in boxes myself. It was really just me. I started selling Retinol Reform in my spa, and shortly after that I started posting online. It blew up a year later. Obviously, you never know that things will be so successful. But I knew that people would love it – I tested it for so long, I knew it was a very good product.

Do I still think retinol is the gold standard ingredient? Oh, absolutely. But people get really scared to jump into retinol. If you do it slowly, you will be able to see if you are getting dry, or getting red, and you can adjust how you use it. If this is your first time using it, you start once or twice a week and go really slowly – I actually think that's what you should do with prescription retinoin as well, although many dermatologists don't say it. Tretinoin can dry nicely. And if you already have a prescribed tretinoin that you use several times a week, you can replace it with Retinol Reform. This way, you use a retinol every night, which is the best. You will stay young forever. "

– as told to ITG

Wondering what other products made our 2019 Top 25? Check out the full list here.

Photo via ITG

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