Pandemic Personal-Care Products Meet Our Unprecedented Needs

Photo: Stocksy / Studio Firma
All parts of wellness had a shake up this year—how we work out, what we eat, the products we put on our faces, the way we rest—and the reverberations of those changes will be felt into 2021 and beyond. Here's how the innovations born of this year will usher us into the future.

“Many products and trends are born out of necessity,” says Monica Arnaudo, chief merchandising officer of Ulta Beauty. And in 2021, we’ll see the rise of a whole new category of beauty products aimed at solving the skin-care woes brought forth from the mainstays in our COVID-19 lifestyles: increased hand-washing, face masks (not the moisturizing kind), and days spent entirely indoors.

"Hand washing has become a more frequent part of our skin routine for obvious reasons. Like the rest of us, the skin barrier wasn’t ready for all of this," says Mona Gohara, MD, a New Haven, CT dermatologist. "As we cleanse we strip away essential lipids and proteins that comprise our moisture barrier." To counteract this, luxury beauty brands likeNécessaireAugustinus BaderHanacureKate Mcleod, and Ouai have all launched skin-friendly soaps, sanitizers, and creams since the onset of the pandemic. In 2021, expect even more products for your hands formulated with the ingredients usually reserved for your face: Pai Skincare just released a hand “serum,” YesTo is launching a hand cream infused with avocado oil and hyaluronic acid, and Linné Botanicals will offer a vitamin E-rich “Nurture Balm” that’s gentle enough to be used on your hands, body, and face.

“Maskne” (mask-bred acne) entered the lexicon along with the pandemic, with mentions of the issue on the popularr/skincareaddiction subreddit spiking 400 percent in July and continuing to rise since then. The increase in new products targeting “mask face” has been just as swift: Masque Bar released a first-of-its-kind sheet mask designed to be worn under your PPE mask, Untamed Humans developed a mask-relief mist, and Dr. Barbara Sturm launched a maskne set that includes four irritation-fighting products. At the same time, there’s been a massive uptick in products featuring the ingredient niacinamide, which dermatologists regularly recommend to fight acne. The Ordinary launched its 100% Niacinamide Powder in August; IT Cosmetics will release its new niacinamide-infused retinol cream that soothes skin irritation and acne at the same time in December; and First Aid Beauty’s Niacinamide Dark Spot Serum will hit the market in January to help fend off the marks our maskne’s left behind.

Finally, our increased time indoors and in front of screens has brands pivoting to create blue-light defense products—in January, J.Lo Beauty is launching with an SPF product that’s meant to combat UV damage indoors and outside. Treating the long-term effects of blue light (think hyperpigmentation, collagen degradation and free radical damage) is also a new priority for brands: Cellular MD just launched with a line of products that repairs the DNA damage brought on by blue light, and in February, Goodhabit will release itsRescue Me Rest + Reset Mask and Moisturizer, which is designed to reverse signs of blue light damage.

SPF brands are also getting in on the blue-light fighting game. Elta MD, will also launch a vitamin C-spiked SPF, and Colorescience will launch a new pigmented, liquid sunscreen in May that’s meant to prevent damage and repair skin using antioxidants.

“COVID-19 isn’t going away any time soon, so our 2021 skin-care routines will undoubtedly have to help us protect our hands from constant disinfecting, fight maskne, and defend against blue light from our never-ending zoom sessions,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a New York City dermatologist. “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed life as we know it, and that includes our skin-care routines.”

Shop pandemic personal care

1. Kate McLeod Daily Stone, $14

Pandemic Personal Care
Photo: Kate McLeod

Shop now: Kate McLeod Daily Stone, $14

2. Masque Bar Soothe & Shield Hydrogel PPE Facial Under Mask, $4

Pandemic Personal Care
Photo: Masque Bar

Shop now: Masque Bar Soothe & Shield Hydrogel PPE Facial Under Mask, $4

3. Maia MD Texture Renewal Antioxidant Pads, $32

Photo: Maia MD

Shop now: Maia MD Texture Renewal Antioxidant Pads, $32

4. D.S. & Durga Big Sur After Rain Hand Sanitizer, $30

Pandemic Personal Care
Photo: D.S. & Durga

Shop now: D.S. & Durga Big Sur After Rain Hand Sanitizer, $30

5. Byredo Vetyver Hand Wash, $65

Pandemic Personal Care
Photo: Byredo

Shop now: Byredo Vetyver Hand Wash, $65

6. Tata Harper x Jonathan Simkhai Silk Mask Pack, $68

Pandemic Personal Care
Photo: Tata Harper

Shop now: Tata Harper x Jonathan Simkhai Silk Mask Pack, $68

Explore the rest of our 2021 Wellness Trends

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