The face is usually your priority for cleansing, dutiful serum application, and exfoliation, day and night. But these self-care efforts should unquestionably extend beyond the jawline — epidermis concerns like sunspots, wrinkles, dryness, and blackheads happen all-over the body, from the scalp to the toes. Hence, the rise of the body-care movement. Everything from laser resurfacing treatments to body-contouring is increasingly popular and plays into 2020’s body-care boom. With a new year mere days away, it’s onto the head-to-toe treatments making up 2021’s body care trends, and according to the pros, things are intensifying, from all-over body exfoliation and soothing treatments to at-home micro-needling and light-based laser therapy.
“Whole-body care has been taken to the next level due to the pandemic,” says Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, a board-certified dermatologist and medical advisor at Hims and Hers. “It makes sense as people have needed to stay home more than ever, and with that, have more time to focus on themselves and their overall self-care.”
Dr. Emma Taylor, a dermatologist and chief medical officer of Symbiome, also notes 2020’s emphasis on hygiene and its effects on the skin. “The increased use of soaps, sanitizers, and cleaning products have had a negative impact on skin, especially on your hands,” she says. “Pandemic-related stress induces the production of cortisol, which reduces the natural lipids that maintain our epidermal barrier, and disrupts our skin microbiome.”
Incessant hand washing has further contributed to transepidermal water loss, or TEWL, in many people, according to Dr. Taylor, resulting in skin dryness and damage to the skin barrier’s function, which is essential for protection against infection and disease. “To combat this issue, we see strong demand for ultra-hydrating and protecting creams and oils rich in linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid to maintain epidermal barrier function) and ceramides,” she explains.
Increased Zoom communication has placed a greater emphasis on the face and other areas of the upper body visible on camera, like the neck, décolletage, and hands, Dr. Taylor adds. “Products and in-house dermatology treatments that once addressed anti-aging and sun damage on your face, like Fraxel and microneedling, are now even more popular for these targeted areas,” she explains. “With more people working remotely, there is less concern for downtime, so we are seeing an increase in treatments to address these photodamage and aging concerns.”
With that, keep scrolling to discover 13 body care trends dermatologists and aestheticians are betting big on for 2021.
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2021 Body Care Trend: All-Over Exfoliation
“I believe 2021 will be the year of body exfoliation,” Amy Peterson, a Miami-based licensed medical aesthetician and owner of Skincare by Amy Peterson, says, though not in the form of oil-infused scrubs. The market is rife with products to hydrate the body, but as Peterson points out, fewer options to exfoliate with multi-layered acids at home have existed until now.
“This body exfoliation process helps the underlying causes of dryness and dullness [that] so many clients talk about,” the aesthetician explains. “It also helps aid in the absorption of any product applied after [exfoliating] to treat laxity, cellulite, or hydration.” Peterson says two exfoliating sessions a week will drive results — hardly too much time added to one’s daily regimen. Her top two recommendations: Dennis Gross’s newly-launched Body Exfoliating Treatment wipes and Biologique Recherche’s P50 Corps. “It’s all about increasing cell-turnover head to toe,” she says of the gentle retexturizing formula.
An at-home peeling kit is another way to exfoliate body skin as you would for the face. Board-Certified Dermatologist Jason Emer says a peel like his Aerify Complexion Kit will help stimulate collagen, tighten skin, and reduce scars and stretch marks. He also recommends his Nudeskin Lemon-Aid Glow and Detox Micropeel for body exfoliation. “You can use this daily on the body to exfoliate areas like the elbows, knees, or even buttocks if you have pesky butt-acne,” he says.
2021 Body Care Trend: Protective Hand Treatments
Hand sanitizers are a necessary part of life, especially now, but Dr. Taylor says they’re leading to skin dryness and eczema. “Ultra-hydrating moisturizers targeted for hands, such as Aquaphor, Cerave cream, Vanicream, and others rich in ceramides and linoleic acid, are trending due to the excessive use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers for COVID prevention,” she tells TZR. “Thicker emollients such as ultra-rich creams and protective oils are needed to restore the skin barrier function.”
Also key for healing dry skin? The right cleanser. Dr. Taylor recommends formulas that include oils, such as The Renewal by Symbiome, and gentle cleansers such as Dove liquid soap, that maintain hydration without stripping the skin.
2021 Body Care Trend: Retinol Body Products
You’re probably used to seeing retinol products come in slim tubes or small tubs, but Dr. Skotnicki says larger quantity bottles with the science-backed ingredient are becoming a new body care staple.
“Retinol body creams and oils, as well as neck creams, are a new growing trend, but as Dermatologists, we have been recommending them for the backs of hands and décolletage for years,” Dr. Skotnicki explains. “Retinol is still the ingredient with the most proven science and has been shown to decrease pigmentation and fine lines.”
2021 Body Care Trend: Vitamin C Body Serums
“Vitamin C face serums have been trending for a few years now, but body serums are starting to take off given they help with sunspots — or lentigo — on the arms and legs as well as chest,” says Dr. Skotnicki.
Of course, SPF is key for sunspot (and skin cancer!) prevention, and Dr. Skotnicki says a vitamin C body serum wouldn’t be a necessary addition to your routine if you wear it daily.
2021 Body Care Trend: Tinted Sunscreen
“In 2021, I predict tinted sunscreens for the body that provide protection and a faux-glow will be on the rise,” Dr. Orit Markowitz, an associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai, tells TZR. “I personally love mixing the Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster for Body from Clarins with my body moisturizer.”
Additionally, Dr. Emer recommends the Fusion Shield SPF 30 — a first-of-its-kind tinted matte sunscreen — to brighten and tighten skin. “[It’s] matte, has no film, [and] is a great makeup primer with a physical blocker, vitamin C, and marine extracts,” he says.
Dr. Skotnicki adds, “Let’s make SPF a trend in 2021 — as a dermatologist, I beg you!”
2021 Body Care Trend: At-Home Spa Treatments
Self-care for wellness or to reduce stress is a body care trend Dr. Taylor is betting big on for 2021. “I think people will continue to buy tools for self-massage,” Dr. Taylor predicts, especially in combination with hydrating body oils. The dermatologist says derm-rollers will continue to be popular and used with high-performing serums and nourishing oils on the face, neck, and décolletage for increased hydration.
2021 Body Care Trend: Using Silicone For Fine Lines And Wrinkles
If you’re combating fine lines and wrinkles at home, Gabrielle Hope Bradley, a CIDESCO aesthetician and laser technician at Flash Lab Laser Suite, says silicone is an on-the-rise trend for 2021. “Medical grade silicone can treat scars and has been used as recommendations by doctors for years,” the skincare expert tells TZR. “Anyone that’s facing aging and wants a natural approach to fine lines, look here for your answer.”
How does it work exactly? According to Bradley, a silicone patch can trick the skin into thinking it’s healthy and more moisturized to provide a healthy skin barrier on top, which will help smooth out lines or improve the look of scars anywhere on the body.
2021 Body Care Trend: Prescription Body Acne Cream
Though you’ll find plenty of acne body washes in your local drugstore, Dr. Skotnicki says body acne cream is the new-wave and far more effective than over-the-counter equivalents like vitamin A derivatives and antibiotics. “Body acne creams are different than over-the-counter body acne washes because creams stay on your body longer,” the skincare expert explains. “When its prescription cream, it enables derm-favorite actives like tretinoin and clindamycin more time to fight acne on your skin,” she adds.
Since tretinoin or clindamycin-based prescription creams are more potent than over-the-counter products, Dr. Skotnicki recommends them for those with moderate acne who are looking for effective long-term results.
2021 Body Care Trend: CBD
“I noticed many new products launched in 2020 in the body category, which is also contributing to more interest in body care,” says Dr. Markowitz. Among them: CBD body products, which she’s beginning to recommend to patients with eczema to relieve inflammation. “CBD has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, and the interest in CBD in body care will continue to rise in 2021 as the push to legalize CBD continues, and more clinical trials and studies determine the efficacy of CBD in skincare are put forth.”
2021 Body Care Trend: Microneedling At Home
According to Bradley, at-home microneedling has gained attention as a dark spot, anti-wrinkle, and acne scarring treatment and is a helpful tool for brightening skin and stimulating new collagen. Her 2021 prediction: more at-home use, but not necessarily as a replacement for in-office treatments.
“Microneedling has become a staple for many millennials using a derma roller or microneedling patch at home,” Bradley explains. However, the biggest mistake she sees with these skin-pricking products is a lack of proper cleansing before use. “Remember to make sure your skin is super-clean and wiped away with a toner or even alcohol and understand that in-office microneedling can go so much deeper than what you can buy online,” she adds. “The benefit of going in the office versus at home is that we can go up to 3mm in depth to target acne scarring, wrinkles, and so much more.” In comparison, the skincare expert says most at-home microneedling tools will go approximately 0.1 mm up to about 1.00 mm deep to target melanin, which is not deep enough to penetrate the skin’s dermis.
Dr. Ermer says, “I have all of my clients do body microneedling twice weekly at home for stretch marks and fine wrinkles on the stomach, arms, or elbows.”
2021 Body Care Trend: Microcurrent And Radiofrequency Body Contouring
Microcurrent and radiofrequency treatments will continue to trend in 2021, according to Bradley, to benefit skin firmness and body contouring.
A quick breakdown: microcurrents stimulate and train muscles to go up, instead of down, with upward movement to create a more sculpted look, Bradley says. Radiofrequency is a type of energy delivered through a wavelength that produces heat to gently warm up the skin’s dermal tissue and encourage cell turnover to tighten and build more collagen. According to Bradley, “Radiofrequency is clinically proven to be safe and gently stimulate new tissue with ease.”
Dr. Emer tells TZR that TruSculpt ID and TruSculpt FLEX treatments to burn fat and tone muscle with radiofrequency energy are becoming more popular. “[It’s] like working out in the office with minimal downtime,” he says. The difference between the two treatments: TruSculpt ID burns about half of the fat in one to three treatments while TruSculpt FLEX tightens muscles of the buttock, thighs, legs, stomach, and arms in 45 minutes, “as if you had just worked out for hours,” he adds.
Another increasingly popular body-contouring service Dr. Emer provides: his Bright and Tight anal rejuvenation treatment. “[It’s] a combination of deep heating with microneedling and then a laser on top with minimal downtime to remove sun damage, shrink pores, and improve complexion,” he explains. According to the derm, this treatment can be useful for cellulite, stretch marks, wrinkles above the knees, elbows, and the belly button where wrinkles and sagging can occur.
For an at-home version? Bradley recommends a skin-toning tool, like NuFACE’s non-invasive device. “The handheld device uses microcurrent technology to tone the microfibers in the skin to help achieve a more even and tightened look across the legs, glutes, and stomach,” she explains. “This body treatment is best to use daily and is perfect for the dimples all across the body.”
2021 Body Care Trend: Light-Based Laser Resurfacing
Whether you’re looking to reduce brown spots and wrinkles or address more severe photodamage, Dr. Emer says light-based laser resurfacing is his top-pick for better-looking skin, anywhere on the body. He recommends the new non-ablative wavelength laser, Moxi, and the new BBL HERO, the most advanced light-based therapy with minimal downtime.
“[BBL HERO] removes over 50% of brown spots and sun damage in one treatment,” Dr. Emer says. He also notes its ability to cover large areas like the back, arms, and chest — something lasers could not do before its development. “The high-cooling limits allow for treatment areas like the back and arms to be treated when they couldn’t before,” he adds. No numbing cream is needed for BBL HERO as it utilizes rapid output. You can even combine it with other treatments.
After any laser treatment, Bradley says basic aloe or hydrocortisone products are best and to avoid anything with fragrance. “I usually don’t recommend anything else other than the basic essentials,” she says. “Hyaluronic serums are great to lock in moisture too! Especially after laser.”
2021 Body Care Trend: At-Home Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is another traditionally in-office body care procedure that’s seeing an at-home spike. But Bradley cautions, an at-home device using IPL isn’t quite the same. “IPL isn’t an actual laser — it’s a form of scattered light and isn’t focused and targeted on each one hair follicle,” she explains.
While results can vary from person to person, the aesthetician and laser technician says some people will see hair regrowth after using an IPL device. “Using an actual laser in-office can be much more permanent than an at-home device,” Bradley explains, emphasizing the benefits of an in-office treatment. She says a well-educated laser technician understands the scope of different lasers and can help determine the wavelength, fluence, energy, and melanin of a person’s skin to ascertain the best settings to eradicate their hair follicle permanently.