If you are an esthetician, you may be wondering how you can scale your business so it isn’t reliant on just your services—especially since you can only do so many in a day. If you need some inspiration from your fellow “esthis” who have taken their skills to the next level by creating consumer products then we got you covered. Below are four skincare brands founded by celebrity estheticians that should definitely be on your radar.
Celebrities like Kelly Rowland, Shay Mitchell, and Chrissy Tiegen are fans of celebrity esthetician Shani Darden’s high-performance skincare. While you may not be able to make it to see Darden in real life at her flagship studio in Beverly Hills, California for a facial, you can buy her skincare range from her eponymous brand to use in the comfort of your home.
Darden launched her first product, Retinol Reform, now a cult-favorite, nine years ago when she couldn’t find what she wanted for herself. “At the time, I never thought about building a whole skin care business,” Darden tells me when I recently interviewed her for Forbes. “Over the years, I have worked with so many clients of all different ages, ethnicities, and skin types and have been able to see what ingredients really work on skin. My clients were always asking me about launching more products, so I finally decided to take all of that knowledge and put it into developing my own skin care line.”
One of the signature treatments in Darden’s facials is incorporating sound therapy, which prompted the creation of her latest device, the Facial Sculpting Wand. “I’ve been using vibration therapy in my facials for over 16 years. It’s something I really wanted to develop for people to use at home,” shares Darden. “I got to see how effective it is at treating fine lines and wrinkles. The Facial Sculpting Wand is easy to use and is effective for achieving more toned, tightened, and lifted skin, especially with consistent usage. It's a great non-invasive treatment that all skin types can benefit from.”
When I ask Darden about the benefits of sound therapy for the skin she explains, “Sound waves can penetrate up to 2.4 inches below skin’s surface boosting circulation optimizing skin’s oxygen uptake targeting not only the skin, but the layers of tissue and muscle beneath. This helps promote healthy collagen resulting in a smoother, more toned appearance. There are numerous peer-reviewed studies citing the effects of vibration therapy (often referred to as acoustic sound wave) and its ability to firm and tighten the skin.”
The device provides two adjustable frequencies—100Hz, which is the default and 50Hz, which is the second setting. “Level 1 produces a soothing, continuous massage while Level 2 provides a stimulating, tapping massage,” Darden tells me. “There are three intensity settings as well: light, medium, and strong. The wand starts at the lowest intensity setting and can be gradually increased according to your goals and comfort level. More intensity will allow for a deeper treatment, but all settings will produce results.”
Darden’s Facial Sculpting Wand can be used on the face and neck and can be used in conjunction with other treatments. “All of my facials start with a few minutes of vibration therapy, and then I combine it with microcurrent, high frequency if needed, LED light therapy, and more,” continues Darden. I must say that the products I have tried from Darden’s line have worked wonders and I absolutely love the wand and its benefits to my skin.
Since the age of nine, celebrity esthetician Georgia Louise has been whipping up her family’s homemade skincare recipes. “After beauty school, I continued my professional training in France, Switzerland, and the United States before opening my first salon in London in 2003. I embarked on a natural formulation course in 2008 to perfect my formulations and have spent the last 13 years developing my cult hero skincare products working with some of the best formulators globally, “she told me when I interviewed her for a recent Forbes article. In 2012, Louise launched her namesake skincare brand and she launched her first at-home tool, the Lift + Sculpt Butterfly Stone, in 2013. In 2015 she opened her first atelier and in 2019 she opened her Los Angeles location.
In all honesty, I have tried only a few skincare products from the brand. But I absolutely love the Enzyme Peeling Mask, which is gentle enough for my sensitive skin, but very effective at brightening, removing dead skin cells, and cleaning out the pores. What I do regularly use is Louise’s Hollywood EGF Micro Needling + Ion Infusion Kit, which not only provides a safe at-home microneedling experience, but also has an ion function (also referred to as galvanic current) that targets fine lines, enlarged pores, and an uneven skin tone. “The micro-needling device is designed to trigger the skin's micro-rejuvenation response, allowing new skin cells to grow,” explains Louise. “By using the device, you are creating tiny micro-channels which create a healing response to grow healthy new skin from the inside out. This helps to not only soften fine lines—but also tightens pores, and our skin. In addition, the micro-channels allow for serums and products to absorb deeper into the dermis.”
The device has a few unique features that make it stand out when compared to some of the other at-home microneedling devices including one-time use packs of BPA-free plastic microneedles that make it more sterile than ones that require the user to sterilize the device each time after use. “Second it comes with two shields, thick for thinner skin and thin for regular skin, to make it softer and less aggressive on the skin giving the skin extra protection by cushioning against anyone potentially pushing the device too hard across the skin,” continues Louise. The handheld device is also automatic. “It penetrates the skin 5,000 times per minute using 20 soft tip needles, allowing for quick and gentle absorption of skincare products.”
The kit also comes with Louise’s EGF serum that contains a blend of powerful ingredients that support and encourage firmer, brighter looking skin. “These include five polypeptides to help with regenerating and brightening the skin, hyaluronic acid to plump and nourish the skin, and green tea and copper to calm and soothe the skin. I recommend my clients use the device 1 x per week for long-term benefits.” This device has become a weekly staple of mine. My forehead lines, which have gotten more pronounced as I age, are almost completely smoothed away after a few weeks of use.
Melanie Simon (ZIIP)
Over the last two decades, celebrity esthetician Melanie Simon has created a cult-like following for her high-tech facials that combine various combinations of electrical currents including micro and nano currents that rejuvenate the skin and deliver dramatic results that are highly addictive. After years of demand from her clients, she decided to create ZIIP, an at-home microcurrent device that is as beautiful as it is functional and delivers professional grade facials in the privacy of home.
ZIIP delivers groundbreaking tiny, energetic currents that infuse the skin with specific electrical waveforms that increase ATP, a key factor in collagen production. Unfortunately, since ATP cannot be stored in the body, using the ZIIP device regularly 1-3 times per week will result in creating more collagen and elastin, heal tissue, stimulate lymphatic drainage, increase blood circulation, and diminish bacteria in the skin to create younger looking and healthy skin. ZIIP comes pre-programmed with Simon’s “Energize” cocktail, an all-around treatment created for all skin types that firms, tightens, and brightens skin, while simultaneously preventing further damage.
Through the ZIIP Beauty app, you can download several more specialized “cocktails” to your device to target specific issues like puffiness and dark under-eye circles or breakouts. Currently, ZIIP offers seven full facials that range from 4-14 minutes, seven targeted treatments two-three minutes a piece, and five treatment plans that range from five to thirty days that address a variety of common skin complaints including breakouts and hyperpigmentation.
There are so many aspects that I love about my ZIIP. Besides the visible results, the fact that Simon has created a high-tech beauty device where the treatment options are regularly evolving makes this one tool whose functions will never get boring to you or your skin.
Barbara Close (Naturopathica)
Naturopathica products are created using the principles of naturopathic medicine, which emphasizes doing no harm, treating the individual, and addressing the root cause of skin imbalances, not just the symptoms. The brand was founded by esthetician and herbalist Barbara Close when her mother was diagnosed with cancer during her academic training in herbalism. It was helping her mother with herbal remedies like lemon-balm tea that helped ease her mother’s anxiety, calendula salves that soothed her radiation burns, and weekly aromatherapy massages that alleviated her pain, that sparked the idea to merge herbalism with skincare.
In 1995, she opened the first Naturopathica Healing Arts Center in East Hampton, NY with holistic facials, massage, and herbal consultations where they offered tips and remedies to treat the source of skin and body imbalances. “The products were a natural progression soon after opening the healing arts center to make sure that our homecare aligned with our ingredient standards,” Close tells me when I interviewed her for Forbes a few years back.
The brand is best known for being a destination for safe and sensorial skincare, especially for sensitive skin types. Some of the brand’s most beloved products include the probiotic Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm, which was a winner of Oprah, Self, Glamour and NewBeauty awards, the skin-saver Carrot Seed Soothing Facial Oil, and the Vitamin C15 Wrinkle Repair Serum, a brightening serum that smooths and plumps without redness and sensitivity.
One of Close’s favorite products, the Sweet Cherry Brightening Enzyme Peel, is also one of my favorite Naturopathica products. She tells me, “This peel is a universal treatment for brightening and refreshing dull skin. Although most people think to invest in serums and creams, exfoliation is critical because it removes the dead skin cells that keep your serums and creams from penetrating.” Not only does this peel smell like a delicious, freshly made cherry pie, when you rinse it off you get the added benefit of tasting it too.
A career as an esthetician can be incredibly gratifying. But once you have mastered your craft and have built a following (and high-profile clients can help with this), you may want to scale up your business and create a skincare line or even devices for home use. These four estheticians have done just that very successfully and can offer some great inspiration should this be a path you are considering.