2020 stalled our lives in myriad ways due to the global pandemic of COVID-19, including our in-person skin treatments. Between business shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, safety considerations put our monthly facials and dermatological treatments on hold. Still, experts are anticipating a resurgence of our in-office beauty rituals in the new year and predict beauty's top in-office skin treatment trends in 2021 below.
"Because of the pandemic, many of us have not visited our dermatologists or estheticians as much as usual," NYC-based board-certified dermatologist Hadley King tells TZR. "Once the vaccine gets distributed and we feel safer about booking these kinds of appointments, I think there will be many people eager to restart their treatments."
The results of such a stressful year appeared on our skin in new and unexpected ways. Worry lines, downturned facial muscles, mask-induced congestion and breakouts (which we not-so-fondly call "maskne"), and the emphasis on the face while taking video calls, are just a few of the concerns driving a new set of in-office treatment trends in beauty.
Experts note several lifestyle factors linked to our "new normal" that are driving their trend predictions. For starters, there is what NYC-based board-certified dermatologist Marie Hayag calls 'The Zoom Effect.' "With video conferencing becoming more and more widely used, people are concerned about flaws they've noticed while they're on video calls," she says to TZR. "Procedures and treatments to address double chins, wrinkles on the face and neck, and eye bags will all be in very high demand."
Downtime following in-office procedures is another consideration. "With less socializing and working from home continuing into the new year, people are going to be more willing to try [in-office skin treatments] as they won't need to clear their schedules to account for downtime," Joshua Ross, celebrity esthetician and founder of SkinLab, tells TZR. You can easily hide lingering redness, flaking, or swelling at home or under a mask.
"So many of us want to purge 2020 from our skin's memory, and I keep hearing others say how much they feel they've aged when they look in the mirror," says holistic esthetician Julie Civiello Polier, founder of the LINEA Method. For many, monthly facials were a form of self-care, and if tightening and toning the skin comes along with our favorite form of stress-reduction, we can hardly argue with that.
Here are what skin care experts say will be the top in-office skin treatment trends of 2021.
2021 In-Office Skin Treatment Trend: Laser Resurfacing Treatments
Ross notes that advances in laser technology have made resurfacing laser treatments more efficient and less invasive, addressing multiple skin concerns like unwanted pigmentation, acne, scarring, fine lines and wrinkles, and texture inconsistencies with one device. "Instead of [using] four to five [different] lasers, there are now lasers that can address a whole myriad of skin concerns at once, making them far more appealing," Ross says. "[Requiring] a lot less downtime, or even no downtime or mild downtime (i.e., three days of no makeup or exercise), people are going to be more open to trying them."
NYC-based plastic surgeon Jennifer Levine adds that laser treatments can be combined with other treatments for amplified results, helping to combat the oxidative damage caused by COVID-induced stress.
2021 In-Office Skin Treatment Trend: Neuromodulators
Injectable neuromodulators like Botox, Dysport, Jeuveau, and Xeomin will continue to be top in-office picks for treating lines and preventing the deepening of wrinkles. "Neuromodulators are a perennial favorite and I don't think 2021 will be any different," King tells TZR. "These injections are very effective for treating lines and wrinkles that result from facial expressions — most commonly the crow's feet, horizontal lines across the forehead, and the vertical elevens between the brows." Depending on where you get your injections, you can even keep your mask on during the treatment.
2021 In-Office Skin Treatment Trend: Radio-Frequency Microneedling
Beverly Hills-based board-certified dermatologist Ron Moy and Levine anticipate the growing popularity of skin-tightening treatments, particularly for the neck. "Skin sagging is one of the most common complaints as we get older," Moy says. "Dermatologists, facial plastic surgeons, and patients want non-surgical procedures [to avoid surgery], such as radio-frequency microneedling."
Ross agrees that the combined efficacy of radio-frequency and microneedling will grow in popularity in 2021, stating, "It combines two powerful technologies that address more concerns (i.e., hyperpigmentation, texture, pore size, acne, wrinkles, and skin tightening) than traditional microneedling."
2021 In-Office Skin Treatment Trend: Regenerative Skin Care
"I believe that the focus will be more on regenerative medicine," says cofounder of THE ROUTE, Nurse Nancy Pellegrino NP, AKA Nurse Nancy, referencing the use of pro-healing growth factors in treatments. "Using your body's own biological material such as growth factors to rebuild skin quality and health with treatments such as Microneedling with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) [will be a rising trend]."
The use of your body's own PRP, a healing serum which is obtained by drawing and spinning your blood in a centrifuge, can be applied topically or injected into treated skin to enhance the results of your treatments. Popularized in the Vampire Facial, this healing adjunct to in-office skin treatments — including laser treatments on their own, or coupled with microneedling — maximizes results and promotes healing.
2021 In-Office Skin Treatment Trend: Regenerative Eye Enhancements
Board-certified dermatologist Tess Mauricio MD of M Beauty Clinic says, "[Eye-area rejuvenation] will be one of the top in-office skincare trends of 2021. We will be using masks for an indefinite amount of time, and our eyes are front and center when the face is covered."
She recommends two regenerative treatments featuring growth factors for the eye region, noting, "As people look for more natural alternatives to fillers, these regenerative products will become all the rave in 2021." For example, the Sublimax Eye Opener is a plasma treatment that removes the extra tissue (i.e., loose skin and wrinkles) around the eye area by converting it to a gas, without making any incisions. Platelet Rich Fibrin Matrix (PRFM) utilizes your body's own growth factor serum to create what they call "Plasma Filler," which can be injected into the hollows beneath the eyes to treat a sunken appearance, dark circles, eye bags, and loose under-eye skin.
2021 In-Office Skin Treatment Trend: Natural-Looking Filler and Injectables
"Natural-looking enhancements, instead of radical alterations, will continue to be among the top trends in 2021," says board-certified dermatopathologist Michelle Hure, founder of OC Skin Lab. "The emphasis will be on achieving facial optimization while maintaining individual uniqueness. We now have an arsenal of newly FDA-approved resilient hyaluronic acid (RHA) filler technology to help us achieve these results."
Kybella is another sculpting injectable that board-certified cosmeticand medical dermatologist Lily Talakoub, owner of Mclean Dermatology and Skincare Center and CEO of dermtodoor.com, has tapped as a top trend. "Kybella [is used] to melt fat along the chin," she explains. In addition to treating double chins, the injectable can be used to slim the face and decrease cheek fullness. "The reason it has gotten so much more popular is that it normally causes swelling for five to seven days. Now, with masks and working from home, no one must be seen in person."
2021 In-Office Skin Treatment Trend: Hydration, Vitamin, & Oxygen Infusions
Celebrity esthetician and skin care line founder Kat Rudu points to treatments that infuse hydration, vitamins, and oxygen for quick pick-me-ups to the skin for 2021. "This will provide quick, noticeable results with treatments such as microneedling, oxygen infusion, and vitamin shots or IVs," Rudu says.
"When [microneedling] is paired with hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, it increases [the] hydration of the skin, promotes the formation of new collagen, and enhances blood supply," she continues. "The oxygen infusion is great for dark circles as well as tired and brittle skin. It helps to hydrate at a deeper level than the average at-home mask, leaving the face immediately smoother and plumper."
2021 In-Office Skin Treatment Trend: Decongesting Treatments
Celebrity esthetician and skin care expert Olga Lorencin believes that decongesting our skin and pores will be a major focus in 2021, while Levine agrees that patient complaints of maskne will continue to be pervasive. "We will continue to wear a mask [in 2021], so there will continue to be a lot of congestion around the chin area," Lorencin says. "Every esthetician will use their own system, but the best way to decongest the skin is with a combination of Alpha Hydroxy peels, extractions, microdermabrasion, and [to] finish with a hydrating mask and LED light."
Cosmetic dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank, Chief Medical Officer and Founder of PFRANKMD, notes another in-office protocol for maskne that has been met with growing success at his practice. "We have made improvements to patients' active acne, redness, and inflammation while improving leftover hyperpigmentation and scarring using laser therapy, cryo-therapy, and a prescription-based, topical antibiotic."
2021 In-Office Skin Treatment Trend: Collagen-Boosting Treatments
Celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas, founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skincare, thinks clients will be all about collagen-stimulating treatments in the new year to help ameliorate wrinkles and supplement skin "bounce." "The top trend for 2021 will be focused on technology [that boosts] collagen production," Vargas says. "Our newest treatment, the hands-free Evoke Face Booster radio-frequency treatment, is the only hands-free device in the world." This is particularly notable since in the COVID-era, the "hands-free" beauty trend helps us avoid exposure to germs found on the digits.
2021 In-Office Skin Treatment Trend: Microcurrent Facials
Civiello-Polier believes that microcurrent treatments, performed with devices that send electric current into the facial muscles, will remain a top trend in 2021. "Also known as the non-invasive facelift, [this] gentle treatment stimulates the muscles in the face and neck, reminding them to return to their original position."
She points out that the relaxing treatment's electrical waves are almost identical to the brain waves that induce bodily healing. Thus, microcurrent can effectively mimic the body's innate healing process, bringing the fluids, fascia, muscles, and even bones into alignment. Note that in-office microcurrent treatments are significantly more effective than at-home devices, serving to contour and de-puff the face, provide serious lift to the cheekbones, and even to minimize the appearance of crow's feet. By moving the lymph fluid in the face, treatments also promote bodily detoxification.
2021 In-Office Skin Treatment Trend: Light Emitting Diode (LED) & Near-Infrared (NIR) Therapy
Civiello-Polier also favors medical-grade, FDA-cleared, in-office light emitting diode (LED) devices, which provide stronger doses of light therapy to the face than our at-home devices. "Many dermatologist's offices have LED technology that has all three lights (red, blue, near infrared) at once, so in a 30-minute session, it's like receiving [90 minutes' worth of LED therapy]."
"Blue is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and can heal and prevent acne," Civiello-Polier explains. "Red is regenerative at the cellular level, increasing collagen and elastin in the face." Over time, this softens fine lines and wrinkles, and can even help to heal scarring and pigmentation irregularities, while Near-Infrared Light (NIR) delivers anti-inflammatory, circulation-boosting, and pro-healing effects.
Danielle Gronich, co-founder of CLEARSTEM Skincare and owner of San Diego Acne Clinic, loves using LED therapy with microcurrent treatments. "I find that microcurrent and red light go exquisitely together," says the clinical esthetician and acne specialist. "Doing [these treatments] at the end of a [facial] seals in all of the product that we used during the hour. The immediate plumping effect is delightful and does not require much additional time or cost."
2021 In-Office Skin Treatment Trend: Chemical Peels
If you're wary of receiving a heat-based laser treatment (certain lasers are notably not appropriate for all skin tones or conditions like melasma, so always consult with your dermatologist), Civiello-Polier adds that trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peels provide intense chemical exfoliation to help resurface away dead skin, soften fine lines, and clear up uneven texture, scars, and pigmentation. "Within three to four days the skin peels in patches, revealing younger skin that may be firmer, brighter, and smoother," she says. These can be performed by an esthetician or in-office at your dermatologist's.
2021 In-Office Skin Treatment Trend: Vibration Therapy
Celebrity esthetician and skin care line founder Shani Darden believes that vibration therapy will show up in our in-office requests in 2021. "I see the focus continuing to shift more to non-invasive treatments that help achieve and maintain youthful skin. Treatments such as vibration therapy...can really transform the skin, minimizing the need for more costly, invasive treatments later," she says.