This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
You can pick makeup trends off a red carpet or identify hair-color phenomenons with a single scroll through Instagram (without even leaving your bed!), but the next big thing in skin care isn't going to pop out at you from a celebrity face or an A-list hairstylist's feed (unless they're being paid to make sure you know about it). It's hiding in dermatologists' offices, in estheticians' glowing recommendations, in lengthy, inscrutable ingredients lists, in the sudden realization while shopping at Sephora that, hm, you sure have been seeing a lot of bar soaps lately.
Skin-care trends ride a smaller wave, and they don't always make lists of "The One Fall Trend You Absolutely Must Try Or Suffer The Consequences." But this fall, it's time to cash in on the season's coolest, most advanced new skin-care trends to try. People may not ask you about your favorites the way they might ask you about your newfound commitment to red eyeshadow, but you will enjoy the satisfaction of being ahead of the curve when everyone starts talking about how amazing ceramides are six months from now.
Trend: Growth Factors
Augustinus Bader The Body Cream
In February 2018, one of the world's leading stem cell and biomedical scientists launched two facial creams inspired by his decades of research into how the body's own stem cells can be triggered to repair trauma. Less than two years later, the brand is beloved by celebrities (including Victoria Beckham, Diane Kruger, and Margot Robbie) and beauty editors (us) alike, and has earned its reputation as "the cream that works."
Professor Augustinus Bader's latest addition to the line, a luxe, indulgent body butter, brings the same proprietary skin-renewing technology below the neck. Using amino acids, vitamins, and molecules found naturally in the human body, The Body Cream activates the skin's biological growth factors to produce collagen and elastin and signal cells to repair damage — whether that's the disfiguring burns Bader specializes in or sun damage and stretch marks (a clinical study found a 31% reduction of the latter after eight weeks).
Augustinus Bader The Body Cream, $, available at Violet Grey
Perricone MD Growth Factor Firming & Lifting Serum
Perhaps one day we will be able to obtain the gravity-defying effects of a facelift straight from a bottle. Until then, this potent serum replicates the polyamine growth factor that occurs naturally in living organisms — and declines with age — to encourage cell growth and proliferation, resulting in visibly firmer, younger-looking skin. Paired with eggshell membrane (yes, the stuff that protects the egg white and yolk from the horrors of the outside world also nourishes and increases elasticity in the skin over time) and encapsulated time-released retinol to stimulate collagen and hasten the natural cell-renewal process, $129 for the promise of liquid youth seems a relatively small price to pay.
Perricone MD Growth Factor Firming & Lifting Serum, $, available at Perricone MD
Trend: Sustainable Everything
Bloomeffects Royal Tulip Nectar
The beauty industry is notoriously wasteful, and taking care of your skin without sticking it to the environment used to mean mixing up your own clay masks in the kitchen or limiting yourself to only a handful of earth-friendly brands. But increasing consumer awareness means products are safer and, yes, more sustainable than ever. Like the terms "clean" or "green," the beauty industry's definition of sustainability is admittedly murky — but opting for products in recycled and recyclable packaging, with responsibly-sourced ingredients that aren't an affront to the planet's waterways, seems like a safe bet.
From Holland's vast tulip fields comes Bloomeffects, a skin-care brand that utilizes the parts of the flower that typically get chopped off and composted (as in, everything but the brightly-colored bulb). The glass jars are recyclable and reusable; the tubes are made of wood from 95% renewable resources; and the proprietary tulip extract is rich in antioxidants, amino acids, and natural moisturizing factors to nourish the skin in preparations like this repairing balm.
Bloomeffects Royal Tulip Nectar, $, available at Bloomeffects
UpCircle Fennel + Cardamom Chai Soap Bar
Bar soap, a cleanser category once relegated to the sliver of Irish Spring on your great-aunt's sink, is cool again, and its return has undoubtedly been motivated by the same environmental consciousness that sees plastic pumps moving out of favor. To that end, switching to bar soap no longer means exchanging your go-to cleanser for Dove and only Dove, as more and more brands churn out options for every skin type and preference. With a base of shea butter and green clay, this chai spice-infused formula is gentle enough for both face and body and leaves skin feeling soft and hydrated, not squeaky clean — and, as with all of the brand's products, it's sustainably made with ingredients and packaging that have been reused and repurposed.
UpCircle Fennel + Cardamom Chai Soap Bar, $, available at Credo
Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Moisturizer with Ceramides
Like a marbled slab of Wagyu beef, your skin-care routine is best when a little fat is involved. That's where ceramides come in: They're the waxy, lipid molecules that occur naturally in the upper layers of skin as part of its protective barrier, preventing moisture loss and keeping it supple. Your naturally-occurring ceramides can deplete based on environmental factors (i.e. anything and everything, from age and sun damage to hot water and cold weather), resulting in a compromised skin barrier, which results in dryness, redness, and visible dehydration.
Luckily, ceramides can be replenished with the right products. This cult-favorite moisturizer was recently remixed with three different types of ceramides, plus phytosphingosine, a ceramide "precursor" that encourages the skin to produce more of the stuff on its own. It's the perfect complement to a formula that also contains a blend of hydrating oils and fatty alcohols to soothe, restore, and deeply moisturize thirsty, unbalanced skin.
Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Moisturizer with Ceramides, $, available at Sephora
Sunday Riley ICE Ceramide Moisturizing Cream
There's no complexion too dry, too irritated, too wind-battered, or too flaky to find relief in this frosted jar of what looks and feels like buttercream icing. Along with the requisite ceramide complex to help rebuild the moisture barrier, red algae, coconut, and beet root extracts work to draw hydration to the skin, lock it in, and throw away the key. The meringue-like texture feels rich and decadent at first, but quickly melts into skin for a dewy, lightweight finish.
Sunday Riley ICE Ceramide Moisturizing Cream, $, available at Sephora
Trend: Better Brighteners
Farmacy Very Cherry Bright
The industry's go-to skin-brightening ingredient, vitamin C, has the distinct honor of being both beloved for its efficacy and reviled for its scent (hot dogs or pennies, depending who you ask) and instability in product formulations. Every bottle is a ticking time bomb for oxidization, which means decreased potency and an increased risk for skin reactions, plus its acidic pH can leave sensitive types feeling red and itchy. But vitamin C's tone-evening, dark spot-reducing powers are unparalleled — which is why smart brands are looking for new and innovative ways to maximize its benefits without the drawbacks, often by cocktailing multiple sources of the antioxidant for best results.
This non-sticky serum contains four different forms of vitamin C in total, but the acerola cherry extract is the biggest boon for anyone whose nose is as sensitive as their skin: Not only is it naturally packed full of vitamin C, but it makes the formula smell like cherry-flavored La Croix (which is to say, like the shyest, most inoffensive whiff of the fruit in question). A host of soothing and strengthening ingredients, like calendula, allantoin, and sacha inchi peptide — plus four different forms of hyaluronic acid — offsets the more potent qualities for skin that's not just visibly brighter, but smoother, softer, and more hydrated, too.
Farmacy Very Cherry Bright, $, available at Farmacy
Summer Fridays CC Me Vitamin C Serum
With a texture that's noticeably richer and more substantial than your average serum, it's no surprise that this multitasker does more than just brighten — in fact, it does a little bit of everything, including minimize pores and impart enough moisture to make even dry, dehydrated skin glow with or without makeup. Decongesting niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, gently clarifies without irritating, and squalane mimics the skin's natural oils for hydration that never feels heavy. The peptide complex works to protect and strengthen skin over time, and two forms of vitamin C top off the ingredients list to guarantee more luminous skin by the time you finish the bottle.
Summer Fridays CC Me Vitamin C Serum, $, available at Sephora
Trend: Gateway Acids
The Inkey List Polyhydroxy Acid Toner
The enduring popularity of products like Biologique Recherche's P50 has proven that the people love a good liquid exfoliator — but some prefer to wade into that world slowly rather than dive headfirst into the most potent, rank-smelling formula possible (even if it is the gold standard).
For those who are still finding their footing in the kiddie pool, the market is increasingly flooded with beginner-friendly options, like this formula that relies on the polyhydroxy acid (or PHA) gluconolactone. Because of their larger size, PHA molecules don't penetrate the skin as deeply as alpha-hydroxy and salicylic acids, making them gentler and more suitable for sensitive types who still want some exfoliating action. Gluconolactone's natural moisture-preserving properties are optimized by aloe vera and niacinamide to soothe redness.
The Inkey List Polyhydroxy Acid Toner, $, available at Sephora
BareMinerals Poreless Exfoliating Essence
You could use orange, lemon, bilberry, and noni to put together a very tart, very expensive fruit basket, or you could take advantage of the naturally-occurring acids and antioxidants in each to get brighter, healthier-looking skin. When used topically in a gentle formula like this one, the produce-aisle mainstays work to treat dullness and enlarged pores, while chia seed extract balances oil production and prebiotics build a stronger moisture barrier over time.
bareMinerals Poreless Exfoliating Essence, $, available at Ulta Beauty
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