Humans may not hibernate in the traditional sense, but what we do all winter long is the closest equivalent: a state of relative inactivity, but for one day — New Year's Eve! — where we come out and make all the noise, drop all the balls, drink all the Champagne, and crawl back under the weighted blankets from whence we came.
But 2020 was a harsh year for all of us and now we are impatiently waiting for 2021 and hoping for better times to come. And there are many questions in our minds - Is everything going back to normal? What will be the new normal? Are we going to travel freely again, What will be the weather outside, What do we wear, who do we owe a text back, what do we put on our faces instead of the thickest possible moisturizer and a layer of oil on top to seal it all in?
Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves — next year isn’t here quite yet, and that economy-sized jar of Vaseline still has its purpose. But with the few months left of this sad year, there's a number of new skin-care trends set to make their way into the future 2021. Soon enough, things are gonna get better and these four trends will be fueling your shopping decisions.
Long hours at the office, high costs of healthcare, rising sea levels, balancing our social lives with our work schedules, literally anything on the news: With so many stressors everywhere we turn, it's only natural that we're, well, stressed. That fraught state of being — and the flood of cortisol it produces — inevitably shows up on our skin.
"Stress promotes an increase in certain hormones that prepare the body for the stressful environment," dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, explains. "Those same hormones can have a negative impact on the skin." While you're frantically live-tweeting the Democratic debates and waking up in a cold sweat from a nightmare that you forgot to file your taxes, your skin is manifesting it all in the form of dryness, irritation, breakouts, and impaired barrier function.
If a daily gratitude practice isn't quite cutting it for you on a superficial level, then there's a whole emerging category of skin-care products that promise to act as CBT for your epidermis. "These products that target the effects of stress aim to restore healthy skin function," Dr. Zeichner says. "They improve hydration, reduce inflammation, and promote collagen production." Of course, those benefits aren't limited to the skin of stressed-out people; a hydrating serum will still hydrate if you're the most blissed-out you've ever been. Just be sure you aren't expecting miracles when your money may be better spent on therapy — there's no topical Xanax just yet.
Clean beauty might have been considered a rising trend three years ago, but it's now become ubiquitous; the term "clean beauty" in and of itself is a matter of debate. This year, we'll continue to challenge the sheer definition of the category as it stands, looking deeper into the buzzwords, blacklisted ingredients, and hard science behind the movement — and, with that, the power it now holds over our wallets.
Plant-based beauty has come a long way from Whole Foods any way you swing it (and Whole Foods' beauty aisle has come a long way, too...), but true luxury, from packaging and ingredients to the actual research behind them, feels like a new innovation in the space. The tinted glass bottles are beautiful, the botanical extracts are a true treasure. Bioxelan is all that in a jar.
Gen Z might be the future, but the 14-to-21 age range isn't the one skin-care brands are scrambling to cater to right now: First, it's time for the 35-to-50 and beyond to get their due. Products marketed toward "mature skin" have historically focused on moisture and fine lines, never accounting for the realities of menopause — no doubt because of the residual taboo of discussing "the change" openly. "The concerns of women in this demographic tend to get overlooked in general. We call her 'the Invisible Woman,'" dermatologist Robin Schaffran, MD, says. "I think we are only now starting to talk about these issues and wake up to the needs of this group."
The average age of menopause worldwide is 51, but for some women, the hormonal changes begin to unfold as early as your mid-30s in a transitional phase called perimenopause. "During the perimenopausal period, estrogen (female-type hormones) decrease and the relative proportion of androgens (male-type hormones) increase," Dr. Schaffran says. When estrogen levels dip, the skin becomes thinner and drier; as androgen levels increase, so does oil production. "The pores don’t work as efficiently to eliminate this excess oil and dead skin," Dr. Schaffran explains, "ultimately resulting in clogged pores and new acne lesions."
Breaking out at the same time you're battling dullness and fine lines is beyond frustrating — but it's definitely not hopeless, especially not when a handful of new brands seeks to bring the skin-care needs of the "invisible woman" into the light.
For one reason or another, adult women are reporting more acne cases than ever — and the spot treatments that did the trick (and bleached our pillowcases) when we were 14 just don't hit the same.
"There’s been an assumption that the available products on the market are effective," Dr. Schaffran says. "Many of them are, but where innovation has been lacking is an understanding that for older women, issues like dryness, thinning of the skin, fine lines, and adult acne occur all at once. You can’t just tackle one in isolation."
Dr. Zeichner explains that familiar ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and adapalene still have their place in the category. But Dr. Schaffran argues that, while the more superficial acne you get when you're younger in the form of blackheads and pustules responds well to those actives, they're usually too drying for adult women, and don’t penetrate deeply enough to get to the root of adult acne.
For those who can't tolerate the over-the-counter standbys the way they did when they were 18, the new adult acne-fighting products are combining tried-and-true topical therapies with more modern formulas and ingredient innovations. They're revolutionizing the way we treat our breakouts, and saving our pillowcases, too — nowadays, we spend good money on those.