Style & Beauty

21 Beauty Trends for 2021

Is this the year to update your look? Let’s see what our experts say is in store. 

By Mariève Inoue

1 Even more inclusivity

Inclusivity has come a long way, and the movement is bound to continue expanding with a focus on celebrating all bodies, makeup lines suited to every skin tone, and ads featuring models of every age. Brands are finally targeting a wider audience. Although efforts towards inclusivity can sometimes come off as mere marketing, some companies have truly been making strides and offering more varied ranges; L’Oréal Paris, for example, has been catering to older women specifically for the past few years.

2 Blue beauty amplified

Clean beauty is nothing new, but have you heard of blue beauty? Focusing on how products affect the environment, and more specifically the oceans, the movement also looks at natural and organic products, carbon emissions, ingredient traceability, and plastic production, inviting consumers and brands to rethink their choices.

3 Local brand support

The COVID-19 pandemic brought with  it renewed enthusiasm for supporting local businesses, from smaller brands to major Canadian players on the international stage.

Innovation at every turn

Bespoke skin care, personalized fragrances, apps for trying on makeup, and contactless consultations: although technology is constantly evolving, the pandemic has forced brands to innovate even further. This is true for everything from services (such as the Kiehl’s Koncierge live chat and Bite Beauty’s virtual Lip Lab) to product formulas. What to watch for: nail polish that dries in the blink of an eye and targeted treatments inspired by cosmetic procedures.

Beauty from within

Popular in Europe and Asia, beauty supplements have been around for years, but now they’re gaining popularity here: capsules, jellies, effervescent tablets, drinks—you name it! Collagen, vitamins A, C, and E, biotin, and other ingredients work to make your skin, nails, and hair healthier. Not everyone is convinced of their effectiveness, but we haven’t seen the last of this trend.

Microbiome-friendly skin care

The word probiotics is more likely to make one think of yogourt than of face cream, but the idea that certain skin concerns could be linked to the skin’s microbiome is gaining ground. As a result, more and more skin care formulas contain probiotics and prebiotics.

One ingredient at a time

Despite the popularity of multifunctional skin care that combines different active ingredients, some brands are going back to basics and favouring simplified formulas and packaging. The Ordinary and The Inkey List—two brands that tend to focus on one ingredient per product—come to mind, as well as targeted formulas and treatments launched by other well-established brands.

Eastern influences

The K-beauty (Korean beauty) craze seems to be dying down, but products inspired by Japanese and Korean skin care can be found at every turn in the beauty aisle. In addition to sheet masks, you’ll also notice an increasing number of hydrating toners, cleansing oils and balms, facial essences, and exfoliating sticks.

Chronobiology-inspired formulas

Your skin is in protective mode during the day and repairs itself at night.
Next-generation skin care formulas consider how the skin is influenced by circadian rhythms and seek to provide it with what it needs at the right moment.

10 Powerful peptides and PHAs

AHAs (fruit acids) and BHA (salicylic acid) have been in the spotlight for a while, but PHAs—polyhydroxy acids, the molecules of which are gentler and work at the skin’s surface—aren’t as widely known. Peptides aren’t new, but there has been a renewed interest in the ingredient, which helps stimulate collagen production in the skin.

11 Hybrid skin-care and makeup products

Hybrid formulas are all the rage—from good-for-your-skin foundations and colour correctors with blemish-soothing ingredients to strengthening mascaras, lipsticks that are as nourishing as lip balms, and concealers with caffeine to stimulate microcirculation.

12 The return of lip gloss

The ’90s are back, and the lip gloss trend is no exception. But that’s not to say that lipstick is out, despite masks being part of the new normal. The workaround: lip formulas that won’t transfer onto your face covering.
Liner and primer are musts. For virtual encounters, apply a darker or brighter lip hue to liven up your screen-ready look.

13 Your skin at its best

The pandemic has changed our habits, with many people trading in their regular foundation for a tinted moisturizer or BB cream. A product with lighter coverage lets your natural skin tone and texture shine through.

14 Get creative

Colourful makeup is a fun way to switch things up. Rediscover the joy in playing around with different looks. Glitter in broad daylight—and not just for the holidays—colourful eyeliner, and artful effects: unleash your creativity!

15 Natural, bushy brows

Eyebrows play a crucial role when it comes to facial expressions—and that’s even more true when you’re wearing a mask. Brow pencils, pomades, pens, and other tools help create the illusion of denser arches—as do in-salon treatments such as brow lamination: according to Naomi Arvelo, a technician at The Ten Spot Griffintown in Montreal, this semi-permanent technique lasts four to eight weeks and helps to open the gaze.

16 The haircut to watch for

On trend this year is a lightly layered cut that falls just below the shoulder, with a fashionable new fringe: longer than the curtain bangs that have been popular for the last few seasons, it grazes the cheeks and can even be flipped outward a little, Farrah Fawcett-style. More key trends for 2021: bobs, deep side parts, and curly locks.

17 Yes to grey and white!

The first phase of lockdown was the perfect opportunity to try a more natural hair colour, and grey and white looks are increasingly trendy. Not ready to commit? Naturally dark hair usually turns a beautiful combination of salt and pepper, but blondes and lighter brunettes can benefit from highlights to even things out while adding a pearly finish.

18 Fiery locks

To balance out current clothing styles featuring more neutral hues and textures, red hair is making a comeback in a plethora of shades ranging from warm blondes to fiery reds.

19 Scalp pampering

Some brands have been advocating the philosophy for decades, but the concept that ingredients used in skin care can also be beneficial in shampoos, conditioners, and hair masks is catching on. Scalp care is also important: keeping your scalp healthy ensures your hair is in top shape, too.

20 Nude manicures

The idea isn’t necessarily to leave your nails 100% bare but rather to care for them as you would the skin on your face, body, and scalp. Treat your cuticles to a nourishing oil, and then apply a strengthening base to your nails before painting them a nude hue, or simply topping them off with a coat of clear polish.

21 Mismatched nails

Combining different shades on the same hand is an easy way to express yourself while trying something a little different—no special skills required! You don’t have to choose bright colours (although you certainly can); try neutral hues, soft pinks, or darker colours in similar shades for added interest without any complicated application techniques.

Photo: Marc-Antoine Charlebois.