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I think I've only done this post once before but I quite enjoyed the addition to my end-of-year lineup last year so it's back! This is pretty much what it says on the tin; my predictions for the beauty world in 2021. Though, this year (as my content has been) it's more biased towards skincare. Let's dive in...
Is 'full glam' dead?
2020 changed the entire world to a point where I think certain things will never go back to 'normal'. A tiny little side-effect of this has been that many of us aren't wearing makeup daily any more, and - perhaps cognizant of this (and perhaps of the fact that many people don't have the same amount of disposable income as they did this time last year) - we've seen a huge slowing in that conveyor belt of new makeup. The new makeup launches we have seen haven't exactly been fun, colourful and bold, on the whole either. I think some of this was an organic shift; like most industries, the beauty world moves in cycles and I think the current shift towards 'real skin' and skincare has seen brands like ColourPop and Morphe launching tinted complexion products, something which would've been unthinkable in 2016! Whilst I still admire elaborate eye looks by talented artist on Instagram, it's perhaps a bit difficult to convert that into a sale; I don't know about you, but with a drawer full of palettes and my 'wearing makeup' average down to once weekly, there's just no purchasing intent there. Even for a Zoom party, I feel more inclined to pop on a tinted moisturiser and dab on a cream blusher than go all-out, though the festive season has seen me up the glam a bit. I see these trends and changes in consumer behaviour converging into a 2021 of easy, natural makeup. Though, as this phase of the cycle matures, I'm sure the full glam trend will re-emerge sometime in the future.
Following on from this trend towards 'real skin', there have been some really cool, innovative skincare-makeup hybrids. Ilia released a tinted sunscreen with some amazing skincare ingredients, Typology launched their serum with a hint of colour and I only see this trend expanding throughout 2021. It was only a matter of time before the consumer interest in what's in skincare transferred to wondering what ingredients are in their makeup. I'm intrigued to see where this goes and what sorts of innovations we might see in this area going forwards; maybe eye cream concealers, misting primers, concealer spot treatments, conditioning mascaras (that actually work!), the possibilities are endless...
If I had a penny for every time someone asked me if they could mix x single-active serum with y single-active serum I'd have retired a very wealthy woman by now! I feel like after the rise of the Ordinary and the many active-driven brands that followed, this part of the cycle has matured and we're moving back around towards blends of different actives within our skincare products. I think the Ordinary changed skincare forever, though, because we now know what our skincare ingredients do and how they're going to work to address our skin concerns, in a way I'm not sure we appreciated before. I don't think we'll ever go back to the £60 'hydrating serum' with basic ingredients and a so-so formulation, but I do see blends of different actives making a comeback with a difference; the focus is now on all these amazing ingredients and I see there being increased transparency on this given the scrutiny formulations are now under. I think this will be the trend of 2021 and hopefully it'll mean we get the best of both worlds!
Facetheory Exaglow Serum with Tranexamic Acid, Lactic Acid, Licorice & Vitamin C* | £18.99 | review coming soon
Good Molecules Discolouration Serum* | $12 | review coming soon
Focus on formulation
As I've discussed; the skincare community has been down this ingredient-focused rabbit hole for a long time. Of course ingredients are important, but at the end of the day; you have to trust your skin and the skincare reviewers whose opinions you have faith in. Active ingredients are everywhere now; if you want arbutin you can go to the Inkey List, Good Molecules, the Ordinary and a whole host of other brands, so really it's going to circle back around to who formulates these ingredients in the most stable, effective and pleasant product.
Stronger isn't always better
It's almost as though all of the 2020 trends in the skincare industry are interlinked, because the next thing I want to discuss is an idea that propagated this year; that a higher percentage of an ingredient automatically equals improved results in your skin. This isn't necessarily true; most ingredients reach a plateau in terms of what they're going to do for your skin and, as you continue upping the percentage of it, it's just going to be more likely to irritate the skin. There's really no need for this if the studies say the ingredient is effective at 5-15%. At lower concentrations, your actives are less likely to irritate your skin and more likely to play well with other products you're using. After this trend reached its logical extreme in the Ordinary's niacinamide powder, I think there was a general realisation that we'd gone far enough, so in 2021 I see there being less focus on what the percentage of an active is in the formula and more focus on how it performs.
The return of fragrance
There hasn't been a skincare component more maligned in the past year or so than fragrance! And some of it is a bit misplaced, in my humble opinion. My personal philosophy is that if fragrance doesn't agree with you; don't use it. If your skin is irritated or compromised, maybe avoid it (alongside stronger actives) and focus on reparative ingredients. I also feel more comfortable with listed essential oils than 'parfum' because I know exactly what's in the product and I'm not exposing my skin to too many potentially irritating ingredients. For my skin; rose never causes me irritation and I actually find it very moisturising. However, parfum can be a bit iffy if my skin is feeling sensitive. I think it's important to know your skin and what it does and doesn't like. Shea butter is considered a very safe ingredient, but I know several people who have a sensitivity to it. I don't go around digitally yelling at anyone on Instagram who dares recommend a product containing it. Skincare in 2020 has been all about self care, in these strange, uncertain times when we've spent so many days, weeks and months at home, and fragrance is part of that sensorial experience. For the majority of people, skincare isn't 'meant' to be joyless and functional; it's a ritual we enjoy and I think the inevitable backlash-on-the-backlash of the anti-fragrance movement is only around the corner...
This is an area I've seen gain some real traction during 2020 and I only see this expanding next year. At the end of 2019 / start of 2020, I was really interested in this concept but couldn't really find options that were that accessible here in the UK. Rewind a few months and there are a ton of options out there. Function of Beauty (whose personalised haircare I reviewed here) launched their take on the concept, and I discovered some really great new indie brands I've linked below. It actually makes perfect sense; instead of trawling through a million options trying to find formulas and ingredients that target your specific skin concerns, you're telling the brand what you need and they're adapting to that. Of course, there are limitations to the scope of what they offer; they're only going to have so many different options and product types, but it's great for those who are feeling a little overwhelmed by skincare and want to simplify their routine, or those who are buying 5 different serums to layer to hopefully get the result they're looking for. Watch this space, because I think more and more of these brands are coming in 2021.
Mineral sunscreens for dark skin
This year has really had me interested in what we should be doing differently for skin of colour and I hope to explore this concept further in 2021. It seems to me that the last frontier of inclusivity in the skincare space is going to be mineral sunscreen. Whilst I eventually found a formula that works for me, many people are still stuck, and if they have sensitive skin they may find that chemical filters cause irritation. I think that with the knowledge, experience and expertise available in the beauty industry right now, it's only a matter of time before a brand 'cracks' the problem of white cast and flashback on deeper skin tones when it comes to mineral sunscreens. And, I think said brand is about to make a lot of money and have a lot of copycats! I actually wouldn't be that surprised if it was Fenty Skin, but we shall see...
I feel like brands such as Lush have been doing the 'packaging free' thing for a long time and Back to MAC has been going for years, but reusability and refill-ability has really gone mainstream this year with brands like Fenty Skin. I think there's going to be some real innovation in this space during 2021 and I'm excited to see how brands tackle the challenge of waste and excess packaging.
What do you think of my predictions? What would you add to my list?