Lactic Acid vs Retinol Reform | Shani Darden Skin Care

Shani's Advice

“Retinol is the gold standard for anti-aging. It can help to minimize fine lines, discoloration, age spots, and can even help with blemishes. For clients who cannot use retinol, cannot tolerate it daily, or are in need of immediate brightening benefits, Lactic Acid is an amazing alternative. My new Lactic Acid Serum will deliver smoother skin, increased radiance, and more even-toned skin, overnight.”

—Shani Darden

Product Recommendations

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Who should use Retinol Reform®?

Retinol is a retinoid (derivative of vitamin A) proven to boost skin's elasticity, fade dark spots, and soften fine lines & wrinkles. Shani’s Retinol Reform is an alternative to traditional harsh retinoids—delivering a steady stream of encapsulated retinol throughout the night for firmer, brighter, more youthful-looking skin.

BEST FOR: Fine Lines • Wrinkles • Dark Spots • Uneven Skin Tone


Who should use Lactic Acid Serum?

Lactic Acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that sweeps away dead skin cells, refines pores, and reveals maximum radiance. Shani’s Lactic Acid Serum balances potent exfoliants with a soothing, nourishing complex—transforming dull and congested skin into a smooth and glowing complexion by morning. Lactic Acid Serum is highly recommended for those who cannot use retinol, or who cannot tolerate it nightly.

BEST FOR: Dull Skin • Uneven Skin Tone & Texture • Blemishes & Congested Skin • Enlarged And Clogged Pores


Frequently Asked Questions

Lactic Acid Serum does not take the place of Retinol Reform—retinol is the gold standard for anti-aging, minimizing fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots while firming & brightening. Lactic Acid can be a great alternative to retinol for clients who cannot use retinol or cannot tolerate a retinol nightly, for its smoothing, brightening benefits. 

If your skin can tolerate it, you will experience the best results if both products are incorporated in your routine. If you are currently using Retinol Reform, Shani recommends using Lactic Acid Serum on retinol rest days, alternating the nights you use Retinol Reform and Lactic Acid Serum.

Your skin naturally sheds dead skin cells to make room for new cells every 30 days or so. Sometimes, dead cells don’t shed completely which can result in dry, flaky patches and clogged pores. It is important to exfoliate to prevent this and help keep your skin silky soft
and smooth. By regularly exfoliating, you are removing these cells and allowing other skincare (retinol, moisturizers) to penetrate deeper and work harder.

Shani advises clients with sensitive skin to use Lactic Acid Serum first as a 15 minute leave on treatment and then trying it as an overnight treatment as your skin builds up tolerance. The serum is also formulated with soothing ingredients like Aloe and Green Tea to make sure it minimizes any irritation and curb redness making this great for most skin types. Retinol Reform is generally well tolerated by most clients with sensitive skin, but it is highly recommended that you build usage over time, beginning with only one night per week, and adding a night each week, as your skin can tolerate.

Shani created Retinol Reform because many of her clients were unhappy with the harsh side effects of prescription strength retinol—flaky skin, blemish "purges" and irritation. Retinol Reform is formulated with an encapsulated Retinol at a lower strength than most prescriptions, and works by slowly releasing the ingredient into the skin, to prevent irritation. Some clients report happier, more calmer skin when switching to Retinol Reform after using a prescription.

It is not recommend to use both serums on the same night to avoid any irritation and redness. However, it is recommended to use Lactic Acid Exfoliating Serum at least 1-2 alternate nights a week when using Retinol Reform.

Lactic Acid Exfoliating Serum & Retinol Reform are formulated with soothing ingredients to combat irritation. However if irritation occurs, reduce Retinol Reform usage to once per week or once every other week, and slowly build up your tolerance. You can always wait 3-4 days after using Retinol Reform before using Lactic Acid Serum. Shani advises clients with sensitive skin to use Lactic Acid Serum first as a 15 minute leave on treatment and then trying it as an overnight treatment as your skin builds up tolerance.