Hollywood’s Go-To Esthetician Created a Cleanser That Feels Like a Serum, and My Skin Is Loving It

It’s plumping, removes all traces of makeup, and never strips.

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Shani Darden Cleanser Review

Shani Darden

I’ve always had a complicated relationship with face wash. I have combination skin that decides it wants to be super oily one day and irritated and dry the next, so finding the right cleanser has been quite the journey of trial and error. I’ve tried all kinds of textures, from foamy to creamy to transformative formulas that go from oil-to-milk, but nothing has truly wowed me — until Shani Darden’s Cleansing Serum.

I first learned of the face wash through a Sephora employee (shoutout to Simone at the NYC Flatiron District location for the recommendation!) who sold me on it so well, I had to try it myself. After explaining my skincare concerns to her, she deducted that the root cause of my combo skin problems was that I wasn’t using a cleanser that was moisturizing enough, which is where the Cleansing Serum comes in. 

Shani Darden Skin Care Cleansing Serum


Shop now: $38; sephora.com

Made with hyaluronic acid to retain moisture, olive and chicory leaf extracts to soothe irritation, and oat bran extract to protect your skin barrier, the face wash has a serum-like texture that never strips my skin, even though it’s a lathering cleanser. It plumps, moisturizes, and is an excellent makeup remover; it’s so good, it’s actually become my favorite skincare step. Who would have thought?

Perhaps I shouldn’t be so shocked at the results — the cleanser comes from a celebrity esthetician-founded brand, after all. Shani Darden is well-known in the A-lister community — she’s touched the faces of everyone from Jessica Alba to Rosie Huntington-Whiteley to Chrissy Teigen. While the Cleansing Serum is one of the brand’s more under-the-radar products (its retinol and lactic acid serums are most-popular), shoppers who have tried it are equally impressed with the results. 

One self-proclaimed “drugstore cleanser gal” raved that it’s the “perfect balance” of everything they look for: “An elegant formulation, gentle yet effective at removing mascara/makeup, hydrating instead of stripping, leaves skin supple, can be paired with retinol usage, and has a light lather.” Another customer said the cleanser reduced “70 percent” of their skin redness in “three days,” while someone else even claimed they would “marry this cleanser,” if they could. (I mean… same.)

Now that I’ve spilled my face wash secret, grab a bottle of the Shani Darden Cleansing Serum at Sephora before everyone else finds out just how good it is.

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