These Will Be the 10 Biggest Skincare Trends of 2021
These Will Be the 10 Biggest Skincare Trends of 2021
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These Will Be the 10 Biggest Skincare Trends of 2021

When it comes to taking care of your skin, I am evangelical about the importance of committing to a regular routine and investing in products that truly work for you, so to talk about skincare in terms of trends can feel somewhat counter-intuitive. After all, a current penchant for dewy skin or a buzzy new ingredient doesn't always equal good skin health, and, let's be real: Healthy skin is something that will never go out of style. However, much like with fashion, there are trends that come and go in the world of beauty, and in 2021, thankfully, a focus on skin health is very much at the forefront.

To find out where it’s at when it comes to skin trends for the year ahead, I reached out to an array of experts for their 2021 skincare predictions. From dermatologists to brand founders, the consensus was pretty much unanimous: Our skin went through a lot last year, and 2021 will be all about combatting the effects of stress on the skin. Alongside personalised formulations and expert advice at the touch of a button, there will be a renewed focus on self-care and taking our routines back to basics. And I have to say, I'm all for it.

Keep scrolling for all of their expert insights alongside the trending products that we’ll all want in our bathroom cupboards for 2021 and beyond.

Ask anyone what type of skin they have and most of us will reply with sensitive, oily, normal, or dry. And traditionally, that’s the way that many of us still shop for our skincare products. However, consumers are becoming increasingly aware that this general approach to skincare just isn’t delivering when it comes to results. After all, our complexions are, well, complex. 

“We are all different and so is our skin… One size does not fit all,” says Ben Esdaile, MD, consultant dermatologist at Skin + Me. Esdaile believes that 2021 will be all about “tailor-made and custom-blended skincare prescribed for the individual based on their skin type, life stage, skin concern, and lifestyle.” That way, consumers will truly get the results they are looking for.

For this to work, skincare needs to get technical. "Consumers’ ever-changing and individual skin needs must be catered for via digital skin analysis," explains Karen Lee-Thompson, founder of Wo, an innovative skincare line. That means online questionnaires, AI photo analysis, and even digital dermatologists (but more on that later). "As much as we’d love to go out and browse in shops, it is unlikely that we are able to do so safely in the first half of 2021," says Lee-Thompson. "Brands need to push personalised skincare capabilities to the next level, [without being] gimmicky, and recommend the most suitable products for users."

Brands like Skin + Me, Wo, and Function of Beauty are already paving the way when it comes to using diagnostics tools and quizzes to determine exactly what their consumers' skin needs are in order to provide the tailor-made products to suit. However, we should expect to see even more brands emerging with bespoke skincare solutions in 2021.

The trending products:

There was one skin concern that surfaced time and again amongst all of our skin experts: stress. "With us all dealing with ongoing global concerns, people are experiencing anxiety, depression, and stress—all of which can lead to many skincare issues," says Gregory Brown, MD, founder of Révive Skincare. "The internal reaction it has on your body can trigger the stress hormone cortisol, which revs up oil production on the skin and leads to flare-ups."

"The effects of stress on the skin will be a huge focus coming out of the pandemic," agrees Georgie Cleeve, founder and cosmetic researcher at Oskia Skincare. "It is the actual underlying stress and anxiety that we are all feeling… That is resulting in the skin breakouts and redness, which even those with perfect skin have fallen foul of."

In fact, Esdaile goes as far as to say that there has been a direct correlation between skin issues and "lockdown stress." "Rising rates of female adult acne, rosacea, flares of eczema, and psoriasis" are all becoming increasingly common as we all adjust to a more unusual way of life, he adds.

So how do we combat the effects of stress on the skin? "Hopefully, we can take a holistic approach to treat them," says Bree Johnson, co-founder at Frank Body. Indeed, there is no quick fix for stressed-out skin, so 2021 will see a shift towards consumers taking a more well-rounded approach to skincare. Skincare supplements in conjunction with efficacious, pharmacy-led products and natural ingredients should do the trick.

The trending products:

Face coverings are here to stay in 2021 and, sadly, so are the blemishes and breakouts that have been cropping up on our cheeks and chins as an unwanted side effect. "I imagine we will still be tackling clogged pores and breakouts from the use of mask wearing," agrees Anne Chapas, MD, dermatological advisor for Noble Panacea.

When it comes to dealing with maskne, it's important to take a two-fold approach. First comes prevention. "I opt for silk face coverings so they are less irritating to my skin and wash them frequently," advises Marianna Hewitt, co-founder of Summer Fridays. "I also like to mist a toner inside my face mask for extra skincare benefits." It's also important to make sure that you aren't already using products that could be causing congestion. Chapas suggests using formulas that are "non-comedogenic and won't clog pores on the skin." 

If you're already seeing the effects of frequent mask wearing, however, then you'll be pleased to learn that maskne quick fixes will be everywhere in 2021. From mask mists to spot treatments, expect an influx of trending products formulated to calm, treat, and control blemishes.

The trending products:

One of the biggest skincare trends of 2021 will be a focus on eye care. With increased mask wearing, our eyes have never been more on show, and the delicate skin around our eye area requires specific products to really take care of it. "Only showing our eyes when we are out and about plus more hours spent Zooming in front of screens means more of us have become aware of dark circles, puffiness, and fine lines around the eye area," says Lee-Thompson.

Esdaile refers to this phenomenon as the "pursuit of perfection." And whilst I'm all about embracing your natural skin texture—lines, dark circles, blemishes, and all—it's easy to understand how our increased screen time over the last year has contributed to this shift in perception for many. "The last 10 months of Zoom and constantly looking at images of yourself will drive the pursuit of skin improvements in 2021," Esdaile explains.

Get ready to seek out a plethora of hard-working eye creams boasting active ingredients like brightening vitamin C and skin-plumping collagen to improve dark circles and reduce the appearance of fine lines. To combat puffiness, cooling eye masks will be key to calming inflammation.

The trending products:

"Skincare brands have always been very good at focusing on actives, whether plant or synthetic, but I believe a focus on ingredients already found within the body will become a huge importance," predicts Cleeve. Yes, 2021 will be all about skincare from the inside out as we embrace the importance of good bacteria for skin health and get acquainted with our microbiomes.

"We have recently launched a new supplement designed to support the immune system, gut microbiome, and skin health," explains Cleeve. "Rather than using nutrients that are known to support the immune system, such as vitamin C and zinc, we have used a chemical directly involved in our natural immune system itself, produced and found throughout the body, which I believe to be a far more effective tool—in this case, lactoferrin and glutamine."

When it comes to products, "seeking the antibacterial aspects in skincare but also the probacterial" will be key, explains Elizabeth King, Weleda's skincare expert. "Creating a healthy, balanced environment is necessary for good bacteria to thrive [on our skin]. Absolutely essential since our skin is our first line of defence." 

The trending products:

The beauty industry has a long way to go in terms of sustainability, but one of the biggest skincare trends for 2021 will see consumers cutting back on elaborate, multistep routines to minimise waste and create effective, sustainable routines. Lisa Payne, senior beauty editor of Stylus, puts this shift down to behavioural changes triggered last year. "Consumers stuck at home had the time and space to rethink their beauty routines, pulling out what didn’t work and adding in harder-working multifunctional products," Payne explains. "The wider trend for decluttering seen across the world transcended into beauty, fuelling the fire of 'skinimalism,' where fewer, smarter products do a better job of many."

April Gargiulo, founder and CEO of Vintner’s Daughter, agrees. "Now, people are craving and need more substance in their lives. Consumers are starting to think, 'Okay, I’ve got 25 different products in my drawer, but they’re all the same product in different packaging. How are they servicing my skin?' So as conscious consumers, we are recognising the need to buy fewer but better products, products you really believe in and know they work, which has been at the core of Vintner’s Daughter’s approach to nutritional skincare since day one."

Look out for two types of skincare brands flourishing this year: those with modest product collections, like Vintner’s Daughter and A.D.C. Beauty—each with just two products apiece—and those with a focus on potent ingredients to target specific skincare concerns, like Allies of Skin.

The trending products:

Singing "Happy Birthday" whilst we wash our hands might have seemed fun at first, but months later, the skin on our hands is in a less-than-celebratory mood. Increased handwashing and sanitising means that our skin is suffering, but luckily, hand care will be having a moment in 2021.

"The pandemic has certainly made all of us focus more on hygiene in every possible way," agrees Lee-Thompson." Consumers will want to avoid any potential contamination risks [but] will demand products to be hygienic as well as luxurious." Think nourishing hand lotions, decadent balms, and pampering masks.

The trending products:

Previously seen as the domain of celebrities and beauty editors, dermatologists will become accessible to all, with 2021 seeing an influx of online services launching one-to-one skincare consultations for accurate skincare advice and tailored product prescriptions. Companies like Skin + Me have a whole team of dermatologists, pharmacists, and skin experts on board to diagnose your specific skin concerns at the click of a button, whilst brands like Cult Beauty are hosting weekly skincare Zoom sessions—as part of its Up Close on Skin Care campaign—to give consumers direct access to industry experts.

Alongside this, Esdaile believes that "there is likely to be a rise in home-driven procedures, [such as] handheld laser hair removal and LED devices for ageing and acne. Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy, so we can expect to see a boost in sales of skincare tech tools alongside clinically proven products."

"We are seeing an increase in consumers seeking out specific ingredients that are clinically proven," explains Brown. "Ingredients such as retinol, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide are being sought in skincare formulations because consumers are educated on their benefits." 

The trending products:

It's no secret that a lot of us have entered the year feeling more than a little frazzled, so it's no surprise that wellness is booming. In fact, Cult Beauty reported that its Wellbeing sales doubled in 2020, with consumers searching for candles, essential oils, and supplements most frequently on the site. Its Bath & Body category tripled in size.

“As a category, Wellbeing is increasingly enmeshed within Beauty, and in turn, wellness has come to encompass the twin pillars of mental and physical health," explains Alexia Inge, founder of Cult Beauty. "Regimes took on a symbolic meaning as cleansing became the erasure of worries and masking not only replenished our skin but our energy levels, permitting us time to relax and recharge."

Facial massages, uplifting scents, and slower routines will not only help our skin to regenerate in 2021 but will also act as a self-care moment for us. If I had to pick a favourite skincare trend for 2021, it just might be this.

The trending products:

Forget trending acids and glow-boosting treatments—2021 will be about skin recovery and rest. "Over the last few years, there has been so much emphasis on boosting cellular regeneration to counteract a vast scope of skincare issues—think acids and retinols—that I believe 2021 will see a huge and much-needed focus on skin recovery and rest. Less boosting and more skincare," advises Cleeve.

Look out for simple formulations with moderate ingredients lists to look after your skin without irritation. "Our new Rest Day range is exceptionally simple and designed to repair the barrier function of the skin and allow skin to rest," says Cleeve. A welcome relief indeed.

The trending products:

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