When I look at the year ahead, I see paradoxes. Some trends are about to have the whistle blown on them (not before time) and others that are emerging may not even be good ones. A paradox with a welcome outcome is that while the skincare industry is taking advantage of environmental pollution to sell us more products, at the same time, we are going to more consideration towards the planet. My crystal ball also shows some genuinely interesting developments on the ingredient front. Here are some of my predictions for skin care in 2017 — from the debatable claims to the buzzy ingredients.
The backlash against natural beauty
Late in 2016, I was at the offices of Refinery 29 listening to one of the senior editors opine that consumers have become very skeptical about “natural” claims and no longer believe that “all natural” necessarily means all good. She was responding, rather sternly, to two new beauty companies who were both pitching their products as the only — that’s right, only — natural anti-aging brand on the market. One of them sent me their products the next day and there was a lot about them that was a very long way from natural. They were also completely undifferentiated characteristics between the two, including a couple of peptides, botanical extracts, and the usual suspects in terms of solvents, silicones and the like. I could see what the Refinery 29 editor meant. Savvy consumers — and I like to think that everyone in the Truth In Aging community can raise their hands at this point — are looking beyond hollow claims about natural ingredients and want products that make real and robust claims about what they can do. This means that brands will be hard pressed to offer transparency and deliver on all their promises.
Safe not clean claims
This follows from the natural backlash mentioned above, but I am going one step further to predict that the rather silly notion of “clean” ingredients will be elbowed out for the meaningless label that it is and replaced by “safe.” Not all natural ingredients are safe and not all synthetic ingredients are unsafe. For example, peptides are synthetically generated in a lab, but they are not lethal chemicals. They are amongst the best anti-aging ingredients that we have. I am hoping that 2017 we will see consumers and formulators take an intelligent approach to, respectively, demanding and formulating safer skin and hair care products that work.
Conquering the microbiome
2017 will see skin care entering the age of bacteria. Probiotics in face creams are already beginning to look like a rather unsophisticated loan from the yogurt industry. Now it is all about the microbiome, the bacteria that lives on your skin. It has even been called the second skin by L’Oreal’s head of technology. Bacteria protect our immune system and exchange nutrients with the skin. Only the other day, Johnson & Johnson announced it is working with a biotech company to make microbiome-based solutions for skin issues such as acne. I’ll be looking out for ingredients that nurture, rather than disrupt the skin’s microbiome — and so should you.
Natural alternatives to harsh anti-agers
Hyperpigmentation, whether in the form of dark spots or uneven skin tone, is one the most common challenges in skin care. Solutions tend to be harsh, such as retinol, and even dangerous like hydroquinone. But we are now starting to see some interesting botanical alternatives, and I predict they will become more ubiquitous. For instance, rumex occidentalis is in Elena Rubin Lighten Up ($119 in the shop) and is pitched as a natural and safe alternative to hydroquinone. Bakuchiol is nature’s answer to retinol without the side effects and can be found in Ao Skincare Rewind Retinol ($119.95 in the shop) and in its sunscreen Ao Protect ($59.95 in the shop). Turmeric is a skin whitener and is becoming increasingly popular with formulators. Your Best Face Defend ($130 in the shop), Your Best Face Control ($160 in the shop), Your Best Face Prep ($80 in the shop), LIFTLAB Purify + Clarify ($65 in the shop) and Sonage High Impact Vitamin C Serum ($32) all contain the spice.
Scientists have discovered that the sun isn’t the only culprit when it comes to aging skin. It turns out that pollution may be much worse. Researchers found that those exposed to increased particulate matter from soot and traffic exhausts had more dark spots and wrinkling. This year, we will see a spike in products that claim to prevent or treat damage from pollution. Pollution depletes oxygen in the skin, but it can be replenished with an active called perfluorodecalin, a perfluorocarbon that mimics the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to the skin cells. There is a hefty dose in the Truth Vitality Treatment Gel ($49 in the shop). Another detoxifying ingredient is snow fungus (tremella fuciformis) and it can be found in Lifeline Stem Cell Skincare Recovery Night Moisture Serum ($190 in the shop). Ferulic acid is another ingredient that combats environmental stress. Your Best Face includes ferulic acid in its Prep Microdermabrasion face mask and scrub ($80 in the shop) and Antioxidants Concentrate ($65 in the shop), both of which are chock-full of powerful antioxidants and vitamins. Dr. Dennis Gross has embraced ferulic acid across his range, including Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic and Retinol Moisturizer ($72 in the shop). Since hair suffers from environmental pollution as well as skin, we added ferulic to True Vitality True Volume Shampoo ($29 in the shop) where its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers aid healthy hair growth.
What would you like to see from the skin care industry this year?