7 Fall 2021 Skin Care Trends Experts Are Buzzing About

Though it’s the dog days of summer and many parts of the country are currently experiencing unprecedented heat, cooler weather is right around the corner with the transition from summer to fall. Just as you’ll have to reassess your wardrobe by layering or switching out seasonal pieces altogether, it’s time to take the same approach with your skin care repertoire. Luckily, you have some guidance in the form of fall 2021 skin care trends.

Bustle spoke with top dermatologists to get their intel on just what will be big this season, and we’ve learned there will be two common threads you’ll notice on the shelves. The first is post-summer skin recovery — as beach time wanes and hours of sun exposure decrease, it’s your chance to begin reincorporating sun-sensitivity-inducing treatments and ingredients you began avoiding after Memorial Day (think benzoyl peroxide and potent chemical exfoliants).

The second theme is the return of maskne and other COVID-related skin ailments (womp womp). While it seemed that a maskless normalcy was on the brink of a return, pandemic numbers — in large part due to the Delta variant — are surging again. So as health measurements are put back into effect, your skin will have to adapt once more to the changing tides.

As you switch out your beauty cabinet, read on for the fall’s biggest skin care trends to watch for.

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1

Chemical Peels

Even if you carefully abide by the laws of SPF, your skin can still experience seasonal wear and tear or sun damage. That’s where the rise of both at-home and in-office chemical peels come into play, according to board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Adeline Kikam, M.D.

A quick refresher: A chemical peel is, in short, a treatment where a potent concentration of chemicals — typically lactic acid, AHAs, BHAs, fruit enzymes, or retinol — are applied to the skin. The top layers are then shed to reveal a brighter glow with reduced hyperpigmentation and scarring.

“Peels counteract sun-induced hyperpigmentation and blotchy skin from the summer,” she says explaining that this will drive their popularity in the coming season. “Cooler temperatures and decreased intensity of UV rays make the fall one of the best times to get chemical peels to allow for optimal recovery.” That’s because the treatment can cause irritation and make you hypersensitive to the sun. “We are starting to see increased demand for these services as people look to rejuvenate skin post-summer,” Kikam says.

2

Skin Care Devices

The pandemic caused a surge in the facial tool industry. Technology that was traditionally only accessed at the derm’s office has become much more widely accessible for home use, in large part because of the booming demand from consumers who were cut off from their professional-grade treatments during quarantine. And the growing popularity of these devices will continue, predicts Kikam and board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Mona Gohara, M.D.

“In the fall we’re going to see a rising interest in at-home LED devices such as face masks and wands for conditions like acne, as well as microcurrent devices that promise skin tightening benefits,” Kikam tells Bustle.

Gohara says that people will be looking to quash skin dullness, which is why she expects to see microneedling and microdermabrasion devices become more popular as well. “These treatments will keep your summer glow going while treating sunspots, facial marks, evening skin tone, and stimulating collagen,” she says. Microneedling uses teeny, tiny needles to cause micro-tears on your skin to stir up collagen growth, which results in a more even complexion and helps with scarring, while microdermabrasion buffs away buildup on the skin’s surface via an abrasive tip for similar effects.

3

Microbiome Skin Care

The pandemic has meant a quick rise of intensely sanitizing and cleansing products. While these are obviously necessary for safety reasons, the formulas tend to be harsh and cause damage to the skin’s moisture barrier, according to Kikam.

As a response, Kikam sees an uptick in microbiome-focused skin care that helps nourish, hydrate, and soothe the complexion. “These are products that do not strip skin of moisture or affect skin’s microbiome but rather replenish it,” she explains. Essentially, the formulas use fermented ingredients and probiotics to support the healthy bacteria on the top layer of your skin so that it stays healthy and strong.

4

Maskne Treatments

Maskne has become the skin care scourge of the 2020s (so far). While strides have been made in regards to the epidemic, the current status of COVID-19 can still be described as “raging on.” And so: “Maskne will remain a relevant complaint going into the fall amid surges in COVID and calls for even more masking,” Kikam says.

You may already be familiar with the ingredients that address mask-related breakouts — like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and topical retinoids — but Kikam notes that brands are now simplifying the process by creating products and kits specifically for the skin concern, making it easier than ever to treat.

6

Pre & Post-Sun Skin Care

The proverbial sun is setting on the summer, but that doesn’t mean you can throw your SPF awareness to the wind. “UV reflects off the snow as much as the sand,” Gohara says. Sun protection will continue to be worked into a vast range of skin care products to make it easier than ever to prevent damage, whether that means an SPF serum, a tinted sunscreen, or a brush-on powder.

You can simultaneously expect to see a rise in helpful post-sun ingredients incorporated into skin care formulas. Both Kikam and Gohara point to antioxidants like vitamin C and aloe vera, both of which help heal the skin from the ravages of the summer elements.

7

Denser Formulas

When the weather cools down and the days are no longer punctuated by a thick humidity, your skin regimen will need more heavy-duty care. For Kikam, this means looking to richer formulas.

“People will be more about incorporating moisture-retaining ingredients like ceramides [as people] change out their lightweight, oil-free moisturizers for denser, lipid-rich ones that can hold onto hydration longer,” she tells Bustle. Hyper-moisturizing all-stars also include avocado oil, shea butter, and fatty acids.

Studies referenced:

Rendon, M. (2010). Evidence and Considerations in the Application of Chemical Peels in Skin Disorders and Aesthetic Resurfacing. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921757/

Experts:

Dr. Adeline Kikam, M.D., board-certified dermatologist

Dr. Mona Gohara, M.D., board-certified dermatologist

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