Blame it on Zoom or spending a significantly increased amount of time at home, 2020 saw our interest in all things skincare peak to new heights. Frantically Googling the best skincare formulas to slather on our skin, we became a nation obsessed with the hardworking ingredients that promised to boost glow, plump, firm and smooth. So, what ingredients should we be looking out for in 2021? Here, find the top seven skincare buzzwords we’re touting as big news in the new year.
Forget salicylic and glycolic, there’s a new acid in town: Succinic. Perfect for those with spots, it’s a gentle exfoliator that helps peel dead skin cells from pores while also preventing them from clogging again. Naturally found in amber, succinic acid has antimicrobial properties and recent studies have shown it’s also excellent at defending the skin against external aggressors, thanks to its antioxidant properties. Keep an eye out for The Inkey List’s Succinic Acid Blemish Treatment which launches in January. But for now, you can also find it in Zelens’s Z Hyaluron Hyaluronic Acid Complex Serum Drops and Elemis’s Pro-Collagen Energising Marine Cleanser.
Prebiotics and probiotics
Like the gut, our skin is home to millions of bacteria that make up our unique ecosystem—the skin microbiome. These micro-organisms that live on our largest organ contribute to skin’s health, immunity and pH balance—so a strong, stable microbiome is key to healthy, glowing skin. But age, stress and environmental aggressors can throw our microbiome out of balance—this is where probiotics in topical skincare come in to repair, restore and regulate natural balance. A form of friendly live bacteria of its own, probiotics break down on skin’s surface and evolve into post-biopics, which include hyaluronic acid, peptides and vitamins—all essential factors for hydration, cellular renewal, acne reduction and barrier function. These work best when boosted with prebiotics, which act as a growth booster for optimal results.
While you might occasionally enjoy a glass of milk to keep your bones strong, did you know that calcium is also important for the skin? “The skin has what we call a ‘calcium gradient’ which plays an important role in creating a strong skin barrier,” explains Dr Ellie Bradley, a senior scientist at Boots. “The calcium gradient is lost with age, meaning skin renewal becomes thinner as you get older. By adding calcium to the top outer layer of the skin, it helps support optimal skin renewal and strengthening of the skin.” Get your fill via L’Oréal Paris’s Calcium Day Cream, Vichy’s Neovadiol Rose Platinum Night Cream or Herbivore’s Orchid Youth Preserving Facial Oil.
As AHAs and BHAs popularity jumped when everyone wanted to exfoliate in lockdown, PHAs, too, rose through the skincare ranks as the newest acid to take over ingredients lists and top shelves the world over. Polyhydroxy acids fall under the AHA family, but are much larger in molecule size compared to glycolic and lactic acids. This means they don’t penetrate as deeply into the skin and work more on the surface layers—making it ideal for sensitive skin types. Considered the “gentle giant” of chemical exfoliants, these are proven to be non-irritating even for those with rosacea and eczema; are natural humectants, meaning they help your skin retain moisture; come packed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties; while also being able to fight glycation, the process that depletes collagen and elastin in your skin. So not only will you get a good exfoliation by incorporating this in your skincare routine, you’ll also get refined, brighter and plumper skin.
We all know that collagen is one of the building blocks of healthy, firm skin but 2021 will see more of an onus on applying it topically. “It’s a great ingredient to incorporate into your skincare regime if you want plump, smooth skin, plus it helps reduce the appearance of lines,” explains Dr Bradley. Alexia Inge, founder of Cult Beauty, also believes that marine collagen, in particular, will be big in 2021 thanks to the beauty industry’s obsession with ingredients found in our oceans. Boots will launch its Collagen Youth Activating Day and Night Creams in January, while Dr Dennis Gross’s Hyaluronic Marine Collagen Lip Cushion continues to be the ultimate lip product, working to deeply hydrate and plump.
One of K-beauty’s most beloved ingredients isn’t going anywhere for 2021. In fact, it’s getting a luxe makeover in the form of Dior’s must-try Cica Recovery Balm, which promises to soothe, soften and revitalise skin for up to 72 hours. Then there’s the well beloved Dr.Jart+, with its bestselling and ultra-effective Cicapair range in tow.
Bright skin is always in, and for that liquorice root can help. An extract from the root of the liquorice plant, it’s also a potent antioxidant and helps soothe the skin, making it perfect for sensitive, red or blemish-prone skin. “Due to its brightening abilities, this is the ultimate skincare ingredient for those who want glowy skin,” says Dr Bradley. Find it in No7 Laboratories Clearing Skin Paste and 111 Skin’s luxurious Celestial Black Diamond Cream.