Facialist Shani Darden’s Guide to Surviving Winter With Oily Skin

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A close-up of a woman's face covered with flitter on her skin and red lips behind a water stained su...
Marilyn Minter

It seems like a paradox to have oily skin during the coldest, driest months of the year. But it’s an issue many women grapple with—while it’s true that most deal with dry, irritated skin amid colder temperatures, there still are so many who struggle with oily skin all year round. And the advent of mask-ne has not made matters easier; the harsher, extreme climates paired with continual use of a face mask has only exacerbated the problem further. Enter Shani Darden, the L.A.-based aesthetician who has steadily become one of Hollywood’s most in-demand facialists. We reached out to her for expert advice on how to tackle oily skin, particularly during winter. Below, Darden reveals to W her recommendations for clearing, calming, and evening out your skin for the season.

Before we discuss anything else, should people with oily and acne-prone skin use face oils?

I recommend that those who have oily and acne-prone skin stick to non-comedogenic ingredients and oil-free formulas. Oils can sadly cause a lot of congestion, so it’s best to stick to products that are formulated without oils.

What do you recommend in terms of exfoliation for those with oily skin during the colder months?

I love the Dr. Dennis Gross Peel Pads for weekly exfoliation. They come in an original strength and an extra strength depending on what your skin can tolerate. They combine AHAs and BHAs to remove dead skin on the surface and clear out congestion in the pores.

What ingredients should we look for in serums this time of year?

If you’re already using a retinol, I recommend you continue using it. Look for ingredients that will hydrate skin without causing any congestion. Ingredients such as hydrolyzed collagen will help to plump skin and restore suppleness—they’re featured in my own line in the Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer. It also has one of my other favorite ingredients, which is hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid will deeply hydrate and plump up the skin, which is essential in the colder months. I recommend a hyaluronic acid serum in the morning before sunscreen. Is Clinical’s Hydra-Cool is a hydrating and calming serum that I love. For deeper hydration, I recommend Dr. Nigma’s Serum No 1 which also features marine peptides and plant stem cells to keep skin glowing.

What’s best in terms of skin masks for wintertime? Sheet masks or creamy, leave-on masks?

Both are great! Lately, I have been loving Dr. Nigma’s Treatment No. 1 Sheet Mask. It’s a deeply hydrating and brightening sheet mask that instantly perks up your skin.

What do you recommend for those with mask-ne?

I recommend keeping the skin underneath the mask as clean as possible. Limit wearing foundation if you can, and avoid heavy moisturizers that may cause congestion. Also, it’s so important to always make sure you’re wearing a clean mask. I change mine out once or twice a day so that I’m always wearing a clean mask. The humid environment under a mask is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria—but keeping the skin clean can help.

Are there certain face tools to keep skin looking vibrant—in addition to proper nutrition, rest, and product use?

The Facial Sculpting Wand is a vibration therapy device that uses acoustic sound waves to target wrinkles below the skin’s surface, along with boosting circulation for smoother, firmer, more glowing skin. I’ve been using vibration therapy in all of my facials for many years and have seen the amazing benefits it provides. It’s easy to use at home and can really help to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles.

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