The 7 biggest hair, make-up and skincare trends for 2021, according to the experts

The 7 biggest hair, make-up and skincare trends for 2021, according to the experts

January 8, 2021

Even during lockdown, beauty can bring pockets of joy to your day – whether it’s to relax or express yourself creatively. Here, we asked industry hair, make-up and skincare experts to break down the biggest beauty trends for 2021.

If, like us, you’ve decided to forego setting resolutions for 2021, it’s still a great opportunity to practice self-care and take more time for yourself.

For some, this comes in the form of our beauty routines – something we have a lot more time for at the moment. Whether it’s completing lazy Sunday chores with a hair mask slathered over your hair, applying a new skincare ingredient while you binge-watch Bridgerton or just attempting winged liner with the radio on during your Tuesday lunch break; there’s a lot of experimenting to do.

Here, we asked three experts within the beauty industry across hair, make-up and skincare to run us through the top trends they predict will be big for 2021 within their respective fields. And yes, you can try each one of them within the comfort of your home…


Multipurpose Products

While we’re spending more time on our skincare routine, there’s also the risk of overloading your skin with too many steps and ingredients. “Following on from reducing the need for a multi-step skincare routine, consumers are going to start making wiser choices about which products they truly need to be using,” says Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at Skin55. “One way of minimising the products we need is to choose ingredients or skincare which are multi-purpose in nature.”

“For example, why use an AHA toner and then a retinol if you have a product which incorporates both, like Alpha-H Midnight Gold Reboot Serum, £70.

“Likewise, if you’re keen on retinol and bakuchiol, why use them separately in multiple layers if Paula’s Choice 0.3% Retinol and 2% Bakuchiol Treatment, £53 has them formulated together? Using one product rather than multiple ones to achieve the same end point cuts on waste and also reduces the risk of irritation and sensitivity to the skin. This is the future of streamlined skincare.”

  • Alpha-H Midnight Gold Reboot Serum

    Shop Alpha-H Midnight Gold Reboot Serum at Cult Beauty, £70

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  • Paula’s Choice 0.3% Retinol and 2% Bakuchiol Treatment

    Shop Paula’s Choice 0.3% Retinol and 2% Bakuchiol Treatment at SpaceNK, £53

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Representation of Skin of Colour

“After the political events of this year and the Black Lives Matter movement, there will be two direct knock-on effects into the beauty industry,” says Dr Mahto. “The first will be a valid expectation that brands need to be representative of the population they serve – more shade options, diverse models and choice of influencer or spokesperson.” 

“Secondly, there is also likely to be a mushrooming of new Indie brands targeting issues specific to skin of colour such as pigmentation. Popular ingredients which can disrupt the pigment pathway such as mandelic acid, kojic acid, alpha-arbutin, and tranexamic acid are likely to be key players in the formulation of these types of products.”

  • 4.5.6 Skin To Be Clear – Exfoliant Mask

    Shop 4.5.6 Skin To Be Clear – Exfoliant Mask at 4.5.6 Skin, £52

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  • Murad Replenishing Peel

    Shop Murad Replenishing Peel at lookfantastic, £48

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Improving sunscreen technologies

No matter the time of year, it’s important to ensure you’re protecting your skin against harmful UV rays. “We are aware that ultraviolet light from the sun is a key player in the development of both skin cancer and skin ageing,” says Dr Mahto. “However, a large part of the population also suffer with issues of pigmentation, which in darker skin tones is driven in part by the synergistic action of UVA-1 and visible light from the sun.”

“Based on current scientific data, this can only be effectively blocked by iron oxide-containing sunscreens and there are only a relatively small number of these on the market.

“As knowledge grows on visible light, companies need to respond accordingly and start producing effective sunscreens with the right ingredients to filter this out; simply using antioxidants will not be the answer based on current data for pigmentation.”

  • NeoStrata Sheer Physical Protection SPF50

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  • SkinCeuticals Mineral Eye UV Defense SPF30 Sunscreen Protection

    Shop SkinCeuticals Mineral Eye UV Defense SPF30 Sunscreen Protection at lookfantastic, £28

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Mood-enhancer make-up

Of course, you may not be applying make-up as often as you were pre-pandemic but the contents of your make-up bag can provide nuggets of joy in your day, whether it’s to bring a slice of normality to your day or to have fun with experimenting.

“It’s hard to predict makeup trends when we’re in the grips of a global pandemic but one thing is for sure: make-up will absolutely continue to be the fantastic mood enhancer it is,” says make-up artist Hannah Martin.

“At a result, I predict a longing for mood-boosting make-up. This includes soft cream highlighter, like the Westman Atelier Super Loaded Tinted Highlight, £69, if you’re looking to splurge or Maybelline’s Master Strobing Stick, £7.99.

“There’s also going be a surge in experimentation with pops of colour! Bright shadows – look no further than the BPerfect eyeshadow palettes, £27.95 – neon graphic liners and glossy eyes from people who previously may have been too self conscious. Now, they have the freedom at home to have a go.”

  • Westman Atelier Super Loaded Tinted Highlight

    Shop Westman Atelier Super Loaded Tinted Highlight at Cult Beauty, £69

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  • Maybelline Master Strobing Stick

    Shop Maybelline Master Strobing Stick at Superdrug, £7.99

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  • BPerfect Stacey Marie Carnival Palette

    Shop BPerfect Stacey Marie Carnival Palette at Beauty Bay, £27.95

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Barely-there make-up

“I also think that no-make-up make-up is on the up,” says Martin. “I think the beauty consumer is excited to see the new wave of ‘lesser done’ looks as a kick back to the intense make-up that has been so popular in recent years.

“Think a barely-there base, freckles on show (either real or fake), feathery brows and a skincare-curated glow.”

  • Faux Freckle Cosmetics Neutral

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  • Bobbi Brown Extra Illuminating Moisture Balm

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Experimental but safe at-home hair colour

Of course, hair trends usually span haircuts too but with salon doors remaining shut due to the pandemic, this year’s focus is shifting to colour and treatment.

“People will experience with creative colour via conditioners that have colour in them,” says hairstylist Paul Edmonds. “They’re easy to use and wash out – although it’s harder with green pigments so watch out for those. Davines Alchemic Collection is the perfect at-home solution for this.”

While colouring your hair can require a lot of upkeep, Edmonds recommends opting for styles that are low maintenance in the long run. 

“An inverted ombre look is interesting, think blonde roots to pink ends, or grey roots to black ends,” he says. But the most effective and lowest maintenance of all, according to Edmonds? Balayage.

“You should aim for a semi-permanent colour,” he explains. “This allows you to have a temporary colour which will fade over the winter period ready for you to bump up your colour again without worrying about damage or maintenance. This process deposits tone but also works with the inner tone of the hair.”

  • Davines Alchemic Conditioner

    Shop Davines Alchemic Conditioner in Chocolate or Silver at Paul Edmonds, £22 each

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  • Josh Wood Colour Shade Shot Gloss

    Shop Josh Wood Colour Shade Shot Gloss at Boots, £19 each

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Nourishing at-home hair treatments

“In salon, [processes like colouring] are combined in treatments,” says Edmonds. “During 2020, we saw an increase in scalp concerns, dryer hair and weakened hair. This required treatments to either add strength, boost shine, support the hair’s fibre to improve colour result or reduce heat damage and oxidation.

“These help in combination with products that have memory, like Shu Uemura’s The Art Of Styling Netsu Design Heat Protecting Blow Dry Cream, £24.45, to hold and reshape hair through heat styling.”

Edmonds believes these treatments and innovative products will help to minimise damage and improve your hair’s condition in the long run.

  • Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Weightless Mask

    Shop Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Weightless Mask at lookfantastic, £33

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  • Shu Uemura The Art Of Styling Netsu Design Heat Protecting Blow Dry Cream

    Shop Shu Uemura The Art Of Styling Netsu Design Heat Protecting Blow Dry Cream at lookfantastic, £24.45

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Main image: courtesy of brands

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