8 Skincare Trends That Will Be Huge in 2021 (And the Two We’re Leaving Behind)

The global pandemic has changed the way we do pretty much everything. The way we work, the way we school, the way we shop for groceries, and the way we approach our skincare.

As we spend more time behind screens and their dreaded front-facing cameras, more people are seeking “Zoom glow ups” and at-home treatments have become the (groan) “new normal.”

Though it’s hard to predict what 2021 will look like in many aspects, we have a pretty good idea of what skincare trends will be big thanks to our expert roster of dermatologists, plastic surgeons, scientists and aestheticians in the field.

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2021 skincare trends maskne treatments
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1. Maskne Treatments

With mask-related breakouts on the rise (and face masks here to say for the foreseeable future), Dr. Elsa Jungman, who has a Ph.D in Skin Pharmacology, predicts the prevalence of more skincare products that are gentle and supportive of your skin barrier and microbiome to help balance the impact of irritation from mask wearing and frequent cleansing.

“I’m seeing a lot of promising new innovations around acne treatments such as bacteriophage technology, which can kill specific bacteria causing acne,” she adds. “I’m also a proponent of skin replenishing ingredients like oils and lipids to reinforce the skin barrier.”

And if you’re looking for an in-office option, Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, a cosmetic dermatologist and founder of PFRANKMD in New York recommends topical antibiotics to start and also offers a “three-pronged treatment that includes NeoElite by Aerolase, a laser that is great for targeting inflammation and is safe for all skin types, followed by a cryotherapy facial to decrease swelling and redness, and finished off with our own PFRANKMD Clinda Lotion, an antibiotic face cream to clear and prevent future acne.”

2021 skincare trends at home chemical peel
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2. At-home Chemical Peels

With the unpredictable nature of when and how long certain cities will be in lockdown, we’re going to see more potent home versions of popular skincare treatments like chemical peels. Featuring professional-grade ingredients and step-by-step instructions, home kits like this one from PCA SKIN, are offering safe-to-use treatments that refresh a dull complexion and address specific skin concerns such as aging, discoloration and blemishes without having to go in to see your esthetician or dermatologist.

2021 skincare trends lower face treatments
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3. Lower Face Treatments

Dubbed the "Zoom Effect,” more people are seeking out ways to lift and tighten their faces after seeing themselves so often screens. “Patients are looking specifically for ways to address laxity or sagging in their midface, jawline and necks,” says Dr. Norman Rowe, a board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of Rowe Plastic Surgery.

Dr. Orit Markowitz, an Associate Professor of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York agrees and predicts that “there will be an increase in skin tightening treatments that focus on the lower part of the face—including the lip, cheeks, chin and neck.” Think fillers in cheekbones and in the chin, Botox placed in the neck muscles and radiofrequency with microneedling for overall tightening. (There’s also the convenience of being able to recover at home after a procedure and the fact that we’re wearing face masks in public anyway.)

2021 skincare trends category
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4. Lasers And Microneedling

“Because many patients haven’t been able to go into the office for procedures this year, I think there will be an uptick in in-office laser treatments like photodynamic therapy and a combination of YAG and PDL lasers, which use light to target broken blood vessels in the skin," explains Markowitz.

Dr. Frank is also predicting more advanced microneedling in 2021. “When microneedling first started being done in dermatology, I was a little skeptical, but it has since come a long way. For example, the new Fraxis by Cutera combines radio frequency and Co2 with microneedling (which makes it great for patients with acne scars),” he adds.

2021 skincare trends transparency
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5. Transparency In Ingredients

Clean beauty and better, fuller transparency around what ingredients are used in a product (and how they’re sourced) will continue to be important in 2021, as consumers want to know what’s in their skincare, as well as, what’s behind the mission of the brands they choose to support,” shares Joshua Ross, a Los Angeles based celebrity aesthetician for SkinLab. (Lucky for us, the higher demand for clean beauty products has made it more accessible than ever.)

2021 skincare trends cbd skincare
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6. Cbd Skincare

CBD isn’t going anywhere. In fact, Markowitz predicts that “the interest in CBD will only grow in 2021, as the push to legalize marijuana in more states continues and more clinical trials and studies to determine the efficacy of CBD in skincare are put forth.”

2021 skincare trends blue light skincare
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7. Blue Light Skincare

“Blue light protection will become increasingly important as we continue to spend a majority of time working from home on computer screens, cell phones and tablets, which can cause premature aging from HEV light,” shares Ross. (His go-to sunscreen for both UV/HEV protection is Ghost Democracy Invisible Lightweight Daily Sunscreen SPF 33.)

2021 skincare trends sustainability
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8. Smart Sustainability

As global warming is becoming more of an issue, beauty brands are looking for smarter ways to address sustainability via their packaging, formulations and optimizing to reduce their carbon footprint at a larger scale. One such example? “We use recyclable green polyethylene bottles manufactured from sugarcane waste, which actually reduces carbon footprint, and by 2021, we’re shifting entirely to mono-material packaging, which will have a negative 100 percent carbon dioxide emission,” says Dr. Barb Paldus, PhD, biotech scientist and founder of Codex Beauty.

2021 skincare trends ditch
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And Two Skincare Trends We’re Leaving Behind In 2020...

Ditch: Practicing medically questionably TikTok or Instagram trends
Stick to trying makeup trends on TikTok (and maybe err on the side of caution with skincare). “We’ve seen everything from using actual glue to remove blackheads to fixing self-tanning streaks with a Magic Eraser. The problem with a lot of these DIYs is that they can cause irritation or injury to your skin,” warns Dr. Stacy Chimento, a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Florida. Bottom line: Hold off and consult a dermatologist before practicing anything that seems unorthodox.

Ditch: Over-exfoliating your skin
“People treat exfoliation like they’re power washing a building façade,” says Chimento. This is definitely unnecessary, and you should actually only exfoliate once a week. “Start on the lower end and increase your frequency to twice a week, if your skin can tolerate it. Any more than that can result in irritation or throw off your skin’s pH balance,” she adds.

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Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...