If you’ve been perfecting your skincare routine over the last few months of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, congratulations, because you’re about 100 steps ahead of me. I’ve been perfecting the art of watching Gilmore Girls all the way through for the fifth time in the last six months. But alas, since I’ve wasted so much time, I’m leaving the past in the past and looking ahead — right into the next several months of the new year to see what’s buzzing for 2021 skincare trends.
What makes a personalized skincare routine that much more special is that it’s something you do for you and no one else. You can pick it up, change it, and refine it as you choose. Say you, like me, have deemed 2021 the year you're going to get back on track. Best you and I do so the right way and follow what the skincare experts have to say about the year ahead. Will skincare routines get more complicated or simplified? Will something finally beat out hyaluronic acid as one of the most sought-after ingredients of the year? Will there finally be a service in which someone comes over to my apartment nightly and washes my face for me? Maybe not, but a girl can dream. Here’s a peek at what to expect in 2021 when it comes to skincare, according to the experts.
2021 Skincare Trend: Polyglutamic Acid
Skincare enthusiasts are always looking for the next best thing, because we’re addicted to results, baby. According to Dr. Hadley King, MD, board-certified dermatologist, in 2021, you’ll start seeing a lot more of an ingredient called polyglutamic acid, essentially the sister to hyaluronic acid. Polyglutamic acid is “a humectant that binds water, but unlike hyaluronic acid, the PGA molecule is a water-soluble peptide with a larger molecule size, which means it doesn't penetrate as deep into the skin,” says Dr. King. “Instead, it forms a hydrogel film on the surface of the skin that prevents water from evaporating, meaning that it helps the skin retain moisture.”
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2021 Skincare Trend: Niacinamide
Experts also predict the ingredient niacinamide, which began growing in popularity over 2020, will continue sweeping skincare shelves. Dr. Dendy Engelman, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologic surgeon, thinks the ingredient is likely to hit it big time in the mainstream. “It’s funny because niacinamide has been a dermatologist’s go-to for years,” she says. “It’s a fabulous active ingredient because it fortifies the skin barrier and has no irritating side effects. It is wonderful for aging, dryness, and sensitive skin. Niacinamides nourish [skin and] calm redness and inflammation.” It may sound similar to popular, familiar retinol (yet another ingredient that experienced explosive popularity in 2020), and that's because it is. Both work to strengthen your skin barrier; however, retinol does tend to come with potential side effects, like skin dryness or irritation.
2021 Skincare Trend: Serum Mania
If 2020 was the year you finally started moisturizing, get ready to add some more steps to your routine. Dr. King predicts that serums will be the new It Girl of 2021. “We continue to obsess about active ingredients and what they can do for our skin, so I think serums will continue to garner buzz,” she says.
2021 Skincare Trend: Humidifiers
The hype around any and every type of serum is somewhat expected, given 2020's spotlight on skincare in general. Although, Dr. Engelman sees a lesser-known frontrunner making headway in 2021. Given the continued need to stay home as the new year progresses, she predicts skincare devices for at-home use, like microneedling, microcurrents, and humidifiers, will gain tons of traction. Don’t have a humidifier yet? Dr. Engelman says you may want to get on that — especially as winter kicks into full gear.
“You probably don’t think of humidifiers as a beauty tool, but the truth is, they have been proven to have many health benefits,” she says. Yes, that includes skin health. Even better, most of them retail for under $30. “Think of your skin like a brick wall, where the skin cells are bricks and the mortar is what holds the cells together: ceramides, lipids, and cholesterol. The job of our skin barrier is to keep harmful pathogens out while retaining cell moisture. If you don’t have optimal humidity (40% to 60%), then your environment is actually pulling moisture out of your skin,” says Dr. Engelman.
2021 Skincare Trend: Luminous Skin
Turns out, the American obsession with glitter didn’t die with us ‘90s kids as we all inch closer to our 30s. OK, so the full-on chunks of glitter we slathered on our cheeks in 1998 aren't having a total renaissance, but Dr. King does foresee luminous skin continuing to trend in 2021, though in the form of a subtle shimmer added to the products you wear on a daily basis. “I've been noticing that many serums, moisturizers, and tinted SPFs contain ingredients like mica and silica that produce a very subtle shimmer that makes the skin glow,” says Dr. King.
2021 Skincare Trend: The Celebrity Skincare Line
No matter your feelings on the ever-popular Celebrity Skincare Line, Dr. Engelman says you haven't seen the last of 'em. And while some are top-tier, don't blindly believe every claim. “It started with perfume, moved to cosmetics, and now skincare,” she says. “Many of these celebrities have access to expert dermatologists and chemists, but be aware and do your research. They may be famous or an influencer, but it doesn’t mean they are qualified to advise on skin health.”
It's true. To look into the crystal ball of skincare's future and make an informed decision on what your skincare routine will look like, you don’t need a witch, a psychic medium, or a celeb — just a trusted dermatologist. Keep an eye out for these ingredients, trends, and products, and make sure to consult with your doctor if you have any concerns about irritation or skin reactions.