Well, team, we’ve officially made it to 2021. Congrats all around! To be standing here, on the other side of the hardest year ever, is an accomplishment worth celebrating. Although the challenges of yesteryear trolled the hell out of us, they also taught us a ton of new skills to keep in our beauty arsenals. Maskne? We know how to handle her. Overgrown roots? Not for long. But one of the biggest lessons we learned is that a lot of products we’ve been using don’t deserve to accompany us into the New Year. Harsh but true.
While we’re not totally out of the woods with all of the craziness we faced last year, we’re certainly moving in the right direction toward a much more peaceful new normal. As such, purging our beauty routines of any dead weight is a must. Thankfully, my fellow beauty editor Erin and I have each deep-dived into our routines to share the products we’re dropping and why. Ahead, check out our official 2021 beauty forecast of the products and practices that are being left in the dust along with everything taking their places.
I spent a long, long time living in complete fear of oil and was convinced even the most trace amount of any type of oil in any type of product would break me out. Well, I’ve come a long way this year and have really started to embrace different types of oil as long as they’re noncomedogenic and don’t aggravate my congestion-prone skin. Spoiler: I’ve been breaking out less! Mutha’s new Face Oil is divine and doesn’t contain any pore-clogging ingredients (just make sure you layer it on as your final step!), and this nighttime moisturizer/leave-on mask from Allies of Skin has really made a significant difference in the clarity and texture of my skin—it contains delicate yet effective ingredients like organic rosehip oil and medical-grade manuka honey. It’s magic.
I used to be a complete mani snob and loved treating myself to monthly (at least) salon appointments. This year, however, I’ve really leaned into doing my nails at home. Whenever I use Olive and June’s iconic system, I get compliments on how “professional looking” the results are, and I’ve also been experimenting with press-on nails. The ones from Chillhouse have the coolest vibe, and Tella Nails really gets the sizes right.
I’m sure I’ll eventually jump back on the lipstick train, but between spending 98% of my time at home and wearing masks, I can count on my hands the number of times I’ve picked up an actual tube of lipstick. (And I kind of don’t miss it?!) I’ve actually found I prefer how low-maintenance and pretty tinted stains, balms, glosses, and oils are. The sky is the limit, and I have lots of favorites, but I’ve become pretty attached to Pat McGrath’s Lip Fetish Balms for the perfect ratio of hydration and color.
Don’t get me wrong. If I’m going to smother some kind of tint all over my face, I want some damn coverage. (Barely-there tinted moisturizers seem pointless to me.) But considering how much time I’m spending at home, a heavy, full-coverage base just isn’t my thing anymore. And I think I might break up with it for good. Lancôme makes this amazing CC cream that not only gives you the most radiant (yet not greasy-looking) finish but that is also packed with sun protection. Ilia and It Cosmetics also make great formulas.
I love glowing, baby-soft skin, but I’ve always secretly hated how harsh and gruff most body scrubs are. In fact, many leave my skin dry, red, and inflamed, which feels rather counterintuitive. Therefore, I’m super excited that some new, less intense options have hit the market that effectively slough off dead skin buildup and dullness without compromising the health of my skin’s dew point or barrier. These brand-new wipes from Dr. Dennis Gross are game-changing, and I am legitimately obsessed with Glossier’s new Exfoliating Bar.
I’ve actually been getting better about being less reliant on hot tools, but this year has really taken it to the next level. I’ve used a blow-dryer maybe five times total and my irons and wands even less. I’ve realized that more is less where product is concerned (especially if I’m trying to keep some volume and texture in my hair), but this new texturing spray from Camila Coehlo’s line Elaluz is my latest addiction for day-three (or four or five) hair, and I’m also loving this new wave-enhancing spray from R+Co. It has tons of nourishing ingredients that bring out shine, color, and texture, but it’s the antithesis of those dreaded salt or sea sprays, which I personally can’t stand due to how sticky and crispy they make my strands.
It’s funny how finding a product that’s truly amazing makes you realize that other products in your routine really aren’t working. I started using this luxurious hair balm from Sisley’s Hair Rituel line through my lengths and ends as a once-weekly treatment before washing, and it quite literally transformed my hair. It’s softer, stronger, shinier… I don’t even know how it’s possible. We’re taking instant, long-lasting gratification here. I made the mistake of letting my mom try it, and now between the two of us, we’re nearly through the tub. My old collection of hair masks can’t hold a candle to this treatment, and it also smells amazing.
My most exciting product discovery this year has been this bizarre-looking rod from Surratt Beauty, and I’ve noticed other brands (like Hourglass) following suit with similar models. I haven’t tried the latter, but the tint from Surratt is quite literally the best thing to ever happen to my lashes. I can’t explain it, but it practically doubles the length of my lashes, and it’s so buildable and light that you don’t have to sacrifice separation, lift, or curl. It’s expensive, so I’ve been trying to save it for special occasions, but it’s made me feel dead inside about all of my other mascaras (except for maybe Glossier’s Lash Slick because it’s that amazing.)
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of the term anti-aging. I think it’s overused and outdated, and the idea that aging has been colored as the most terrible thing that can happen to you is just silly. Life is a gift, and advancing in age should be celebrated! This isn’t to say that I don’t understand or relate to the urge to slow down the visible signs of aging—I absolutely get it. But if you ask me, healthy, glowy skin is the key to keeping a youthful appearance. Ask any doctor, and they’ll tell you that achieving this starts with mitigating inflammation in the skin and body. I don’t think people place enough emphasis on identifying and reducing inflammation, which is so crucial for total-body health. I’m not giving up my retinol, but in the new year, I’ll definitely be prioritizing anti-inflammatory ingredients like niacinamide and panthenol to keep any inflammation in my skin at bay and encourage healthy, happy skin.
Speaking of inflamed skin, going overboard on exfoliation is one way to make sure your skin stays flaky, red, and dry. I’ve been guilty of overexfoliating in the past, and while I’ve since gotten a handle on the habit, I’ve definitely noticed myself slipping into more frequent exfoliation again this year. I think all the time spent at home has a lot of us looking at our skin under a proverbial microscope, and the appearance of one tiny dark spot can trigger an exfoliation frenzy. Instead of using products laced with AHAs and BHAs every day, I’ll be leaning into weekly at-home peels to get my exfoliation done. I recently rediscovered the Red Carpet Facial from Olga Lorencin’s eponymous line, and it’s just as potent as I remember. (Big shout out to Halle Berry for the reminder.)
It’s a fact that a well-executed contour can enhance your makeup and face a whole lot. But these days, I’m less interested in creating so much drama with my makeup. I’ve always loved blush, and I’m getting more comfortable using it beyond the apples of my cheeks to create a more subtly contoured look using one less product. Even in the times of little to no makeup, blush is still a go-to of mine for bringing life into my face for all those camera-on or socially distanced IRL occasions. Cream blushes, especially the one by Fenty and ones with a bit of luminosity to them like my beloved Chanel pick, are my favorites.
I’ve always considered eyebrows to be the linchpin of a well put-together face, but now that they’re one of only a couple of facial features that can be seen while wearing masks, they’re even more important. I really can’t be bothered to fill in my brows with powder anymore, but I’m always down to create a laminated-looking brow with wax. It’s a great way to create those enviable fluffy brows. If more filling is needed, a few flicks of a great pen like the Anastasia Beverly Hills Micro-Stroking Detailing Brow Pen ($22) should do the trick.
I’ve never gotten eyelash extensions, but I’ve been known to wear a strip lash in my day. Walking around like Mr. Snuffleupagus is extra unappealing now, so instead of OTT, dense lash enhancers, I’ll be sticking to softer, natural-looking, and fluttery lash looks as we head into 2021. I’ve yet to try LoveSeen, the new line of elevated false eyelashes by fashion industry veteran Jenna Lyons, but I’ve heard nothing but good things from everyone I know who’s given them a test-drive. Mostly, though, I’ll be embracing my eyelash curler to give my natural lashes a good boost before applying my favorite mascara.
I’ve spent so many years pampering my face with the very best skincare out there, but my routine has always stopped at my hairline, and I have a feeling I’m not the only one. I’ve severely neglected the skin covering my skull, and it’s definitely catching up to me. My scalp is a mess—an itchy, inflamed, uncomfortable mess. My skin is doing great, so I’ll be shifting my focus north to better care for my scalp. And hey, maybe the extra love will have some impact on the health of my hair, too.
Like Erin, I’ve spent quarantine detoxing from my addiction to straight hair. Honestly, I don’t see myself returning to the weekly, sometimes daily, use of heat that had become normal up until 2020. In case you hadn’t heard: Natural hair texture is in! So instead of being married to my straightener, I’m investing in the long-term health of my hair by getting to know and nurturing my 4b texture. I won’t say I’ll never straighten my hair again, but I’m much more interested in seeing what my curls can do when I care for them instead of burning them into straightened submission.
In recent years, I’ve been pretty committed to sandalwood-heavy fragrances. I was a fiend for Le Labo’s famed Santal 33 and could barely get myself to wear anything that wasn’t decidedly masculine. While I’ll always have love for the androgynous allure of woody scents laced with notes of vetiver or bergamot, I’ve learned that there are plenty of sweeter-smelling fragrances that aren’t as powdery or “grandma-like” as I’d always thought. One that’s captured my heart recently is Ellis Brooklyn’s Sweet. The name is a little on the nose, but I can assure you it’s not overly saccharine like the moniker might suggest. It’s a beautiful blend of floral and fruity notes like pear, ambrette, bergamot, violet, and white amber.